From John Hennessy [update: see the comment from Robert Moore for a couple of links to items that elaborate on this theme.]
In July 1891, Virginians took the 30th anniversary of the First Battle of Manassas to memorialize Stonewall Jackson anew–by reinterring him beneath and dedicating a new statue in the cemetery in Lexington, Virginia. The event attracted tens of thousands, including a brigades-worth of veteran of Lee’s army. It was, and remains, one of the most vivid expressions of Lost Cause nostalgia.
The monument over Jackson's grave, dedicated July 21, 1891.
By 1891, such events were an accepted part of the American landscape, as the spirit of reconciliation was in full national bloom. By any measure, the reconciliation that America undertook is astonishing when compared to the common fate of rebels and rebellions in other parts of the world. Part of the ostensible deal: former Confederates could have their glory too. Indeed, Confederate glory would, over time, be amalgamated into American culture.
Across the nation, Americans joined the chorus that surrounded Stonewall Jackson’s reinterment, or at least witnessed it in silence. But, not everyone proclaimed the accepted theme of reconciliation. While we sometimes like to see our history in simple terms, there was in fact a strong undercurrent of unhappiness and bitterness that flowed both ways (North and South).
As evidence: this editorial from a Michigan newspaper, the Jackson Citizen Patriot, written in response to the ceremonies in Lexington on the 30th anniversary of Manassas. (Jackson, MI is claimed by some to be the birthplace of the Republican party, and it was almost certainly the birthplace of the Ritz cracker, though that’s less relevant here.) In noting the ceremonies in Lexington, the Michigan editorialist foreshadowed his dark take by noting that the “remains of the heroic traitor” had been buried beneath the new statue. He conceded that Jackson was “scarcely second to Lee as their military hero” and that “no one need object to that,” except, he said, “that no public monument should ever be permitted in this nation in memory of a man who violated his oath of allegiance and sought to destroy the government he was educated and trained to defend.”
On that Bull Run anniversary in Lexington, the keynote was given by former Unionist turned Southern patriot Jubal Early. As the unhappy Michigan editor wrote, “Gen. Early closed his oration with the following words, which ought to be memorized by every union soldier for the purpose of denouncing them:
‘If I should ever apologize for any part or action taken by me in the war, may the lightning of a righteous heaven blast me from earth, and may I be considered as spawn of the earth by all honest men.'”
The thousands in attendance cheered Early’s words, to the utter annoyance of our editor in Michigan. Continue reading