Here’s a good piece on Civil War Reenactments in Texas. It’s well timed too, since my Monday post will be on historical reenactments.
Here in Texas, it’s becoming popular to celebrate the war as the opening salvo in the conservative campaign for states’ rights. Neo-Confederate organizations and pro-secessionists are among the leading groups in organizing Texas’ commemorative events. Their version of history downplays the role of slavery in the Civil War and encourages anti-federal government political ideology. They make no bones about it: They’d be happy to see Texas secede again
“The Sons of Confederate Veterans are the Holocaust deniers of American history,” said Michael Phillips, professor of History at Collin College in Plano and the author of White Metropolis: Race, Ethnicity and Religion in Dallas. “They have undertaken a long and deliberate campaign to whitewash our history—I deliberately said ‘whitewash.’ The Sons of the Confederate Veterans offers a version of history that makes great theater and does shape the public’s understanding of what happened during the Civil War.”
North Texas history professor Randolph B. Campbell said each year he faces college students who insist that the Civil War was fought over states’ rights. “Sure, the states’ right to allow slavery,” he said. Campbell has written eight books on the Civil War and Reconstruction, including An Empire for Slavery: The Peculiar Institution in Texas. Campbell said there is no debate about the facts. When Texas broke away from the Union, it issued “A Declaration of the Causes which Impel the State of Texas to Secede from the Federal Union.” The document says Texas “was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery—the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits—a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time.”
The Texas Historical Commission could be taking the lead on commemorating Texas’ role in the Civil War. By allowing the Sons of Confederate Veterans to use Texas historic sites for its re-creations, the commission gives the impression that the events have tacit approval from the state.