Civil War and The National Park Service

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In this week’s reading of,” Confederates in the Attic” and “Imperiled Promise the State of History in The National Park Service” we observe how today the very prominent racism and segmentation that was once well-known during the Civil War era is still just as pronounced in today’s society. Racism and segregation today, take the form of only white covenants that have been embedded in the deeds old to houses for years. In addition, we take a look at the National Park Service and the service of preservation that they provide to help and further the learning of people in historical history like the Civil war.
In today’s society, we see racism and segregation that activists have been fighting for so long, lying quietly within the old deeds to houses. The Spokesmen Review printed an article titled, “Whites-only covenants still exist in many mid-century Spokane neighborhoods,” notes how a “27-year-old, graduate history student, named Logan Camporeale who goes to Eastern Washington University, ” found and amassed a list of “racist covenants” by prowling through many “ Historical archives and decades-old property atlases to locate lots and boundaries.” According to Logan Camporeale’s research, these covenants are “legally attached to the deeds of homes on the South Hill, the North Side and Spokane Valley in the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s. . . though not enforceable by law.” No matter the circumstance, once identified, these covenants are not easy to appeal. In an interview the Spokane County auditor, Vicky Dalton, “said she understands why people would object to the covenants, but that her office has a duty to record the history of the community.”
Vicky Daltons idea that it is historians and many others “duty to record the history of the community,” is not just the Spokesmen Reviews job but others as well. You can see this in Tony Horwitz book ” Confederates in the Attic”, Horwitz, book specifically decides how Horwitz, himself got into historical reenacting, and how we the people recoiled our fantasies, about the Civil War. Horwitz, became obsessed with the civil war when he was just “6 years old,” Horwitz’s grandfather, “Poppa Isaac” bought him a book of Civil War sketches, as a result, Horwitz, began to paint pictures of Civil war reenactments on the walls and ceiling of the Attic. (Horwitz,3) Nevertheless, years later, Horwitz, met with many people that he referred to them as “hardcore” reenactors, however, Horwitz recalls they these reenactors much rather liked being called, “living historians” then reenactors. Still, Horwitz also recalls the many habits the reenactors used, like in the case of “losing weight” and urinating on coat buttons,” to portray and preserve history correctly. Throughout many of Horwitz travels he stops and conducts a conversation with Shelby Foote and Horwitz “lobs” a couple of questions at Mr. Foote. Horwitz asks, “Why did the South, in particular, cling to the remembrance of the war?” Foote remarked that the reason for this is because the Civil War happened in the confederates “backyard and you’re not apt to forgetting something that happened on your own property.” (Horwitz, 146)
According to the National Park Service’s article, “Imperiled Promise: The State of History In The National Park Service”, notes that the “nation’s Civil War battlefields are among American’s most iconic landscapes. They are the grounds where Americans died by the thousands, they are today not merely historic sites, but sacred places, these lands were recognized and preserved as significant cultural resources.” (33) Just like the reenactor of the Civil war, the National Park Service also preserves and protects history. “In 1935 passage of the Historic Sites Act, which not only authorized a vast new coordinated program of research, survey, documentation, acquisition, and preservation of historic properties.”(Horwitz, 21) In addition, the NPS, also, “raised the professionalized field of historic preservation studies in the wake of the landmark National Historic Preservation Act or is also known as the NHPA of 1966 has brought indisputable benefits for preserving the nation’s built environment.” (24)
When looking into a deeper perspective it is easy to see that the preservation is everywhere, in reenactment individuals as well as federal agencies like the National Park Service.

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3 thoughts on “Civil War and The National Park Service

  1. Great post! When you were talking about how in Imperiled Promise the Civil War battle grounds and monuments are considered sacred to many I was reminded about when Horwitz traveled to Fort Sumter and the park guide had to remind people not to try and take a piece of the fort home with them. There was also the part, I think it was also at Fort Sumter, where people were more interested in taking pictures of dolphins instead of looking around the fort. So, clearly some people do not see these places as sacred, but in reality they really should.

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  2. Hi Ashley,
    Great job bringing up the specifics from Confederates in the Attic! Horwitz does a great job of highlighting the ridiculous levels of historical accuracy that some reenactors will go to. I also liked how well you tied in Spokane and the Spokesmen Review article.
    -Katie

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