GDG- NPs & Slavery

Peter Skillman pskillman at
Tue Jan 3 08:50:13 CST 2012

Agreed wholeheartedly, Charles!

One of my initial impressions of the new VC the first time I was there (back when the museum was free) was that I LOVED the approach of walking through the entire timeline of the war - they didn't just include Gettysburg.  My thoughts then (and now) echo yours - Gettysburg will probably be the first (if not only) exposure that many people get to the Civil War, and people travel from all over the country - from all over the world, in fact - to visit.  The inclusion of more information will not only lead to better contextual understanding in the grand scheme of where the war fits in US history, but also where Gettysburg fits in Civil War history (i.e. it was not the ONLY battle).

Someone visiting from Tennessee might learn of Chattanooga, Franklin, or Nashville and go see the battles that happened closer to home.  A family from Mississippi might decide to check out Vicksburg as a day trip.  Someone from Kansas may leave with an appreciation for the events of "Bleeding Kansas."  Heck, even British visitors may acquire some understanding of how their country's dependence on cotton factored into the events leading up to the Gettysburg campaign.

We all know that the more personal a connection you can make to something, the more it will stick.  The more information included at the most-visited battlefield park in the country, the more chance that new interests will form, and that new historians will be born.

 - Pete

On Jan 3, 2012, at 9:09 AM, Charles T. Joyce wrote:

> Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
> The thing that everyone is missing here who complains about the mention
> of slavery in the VC movie is that, for many Americans, Gettysburg will
> be their only taste of CW History.  It may be still, after 150 years, be
> comfortable to for some to face, but without the South's allegiance to
> slavery there would have been no secession, without secession there
> would have been no war, and without the war there would have been no
> Battle of Gettysburg.  It's inclusion in the overall discussion of the
> battle isn't just appropriate, it is in my view essential.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: gettysburg-bounces at
> [mailto:gettysburg-bounces at] On Behalf Of Tom Ryan
> Sent: Tuesday, January 03, 2012 8:52 AM
> To: GDG
> Subject: Re: GDG- NPs & Slavery
> Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
> <<Well- IMHO, the NPS has put slavery into the stories of the CW because
> it
> is Politically Correct!>>
> I generally agree with this statement at least in the Gettysburg
> context,
> and find it disconcerting to watch the introductory movie at the
> Gettysburg
> VC because of the heavy infusion of slavery in the presentation.  There
> is a
> time and place for everything.  The detailed discussion of the slavery
> issue
> IMO is more appropriate at a memorial devoted to the CW in general.
> The primary focus for an introduction at Gettysburg should be the
> Gettysburg
> Campaign itself, a period of roughly two months from June 3 to August 3,
> 1863, and the detailed discussion and presentation at the VC should be
> about
> the actual events during this period (with a strong emphasis on the
> three-day battle) and their significance.
> Again IMO the NPS has overreached in their presentation of slavery at
> Gettysburg, and my sense is that it succumbed to pressure from groups or
> individuals who have an agenda to promote the slavery issue even if it
> is
> the wrong time and in the wrong place.
> Regards, Tom Ryan
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