Saturday, April 4, 2009

Civil War's Sesquicentennial is Approaching

If you haven't realized it, the Civil War's 150th anniversary will soon be upon us. Just google "Civil War Sesquicentennial" and you will see that planning and events are well underway in many states. Some "with it" states have established sesquicentennial commissions or committees, and some have started web sites just for education and event announcements. Some of these web sites are impressive, such as North Carolina's, Arkansas', and Virginia's, while other leave a little to be desired (I'll be nice and not point those out...see for yourself). Others don't seem to be so on the ball yet in setting up accompanying technology...come on Tennessee you should have something too Maryland, and Kentucky also. Maybe these states are waiting to see what happens like they did in the real war. Ouch!

Virginia being the hot bed of Civil War history is already off and running with their first major event, which is only about three weeks away. The University of Richmond is hosting an all day conference titled "America on the Eve of the Civil War," on April 29.

The conference is free but pre-registration is required as seating is limited. Featured speakers will include Edward Ayers, David Blight, Charles Dew, Gary Gallagher,Gregg Kimball, Nelson Lankford, Elizabeth Varon, and Joan Waugh, among a number of others. Topics of discussion will include: "Taking Stock of the Nation in 1859," "The Future of Virginia and the South," "Making Sense of John Brown's Raid," and "Predictions for the Election of 1860." The intention of the conference is to have speakers discuss events of 1859 and their effect, limiting themselves only to what would have been known at that time. This should make for some very interesting conversations and will eliminate the "hind-site tendency" that creeps into so much history.

Although it is only 2009 (translated to 1859, 150 years ago) important events that helped precipitate the Civil War were already happening. There is no need to wait until 2011 to get the ball rolling on this commemoration. I encourage you to use the technology you have available to learn about what is going on in your area to remember those terrible four years in American history; then act on what you find that interests you, and go out and learn something new. I promise, you'll be the better for it.

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