GDG- NPs & Slavery

Peter Skillman pskillman at
Tue Jan 3 09:39:24 CST 2012


What are we REALLY talking about here?  The introductory section of a 12-minute movie that goes on to give a decent overview of the battle and ends with a reading of the Gettysburg address?  Hardly a high "degree" of slavery information - even if we're talking about it taking up 1/3 of the film.

It is also a pretty good stretch to say that it is "imposing views" on anyone.  YOU made the choice to go to Gettysburg, YOU made the choice to go to the VC, and YOU made the choice to view the movie and museum.  Agree or disagree as you wish - at least it starts a conversation and gets you thinking about it.  

If you'd rather just grab a book and head out onto the field, you can order from Amazon beforehand and drive right out onto the park - there isn't even a ticket-taker or anything.  Heck you could even just show up believing in Sgt. Kilrain and head straight to LRT and Devil's Den only for the view, and not learn anything at all.  No one will stop you.  No one will impose any kind of corrections to your misconceptions.

Besides, everyone knows that the only "imposition" involved with the movie is the price.

 - Pete

On Jan 3, 2012, at 10:22 AM, Tom Ryan 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.>>
> Charles,
> I think you are missing the point in this discussion.  I have no objection
> to the "mention" of slavery in the introductory film; however, I do object
> to the hijacking of the Gettysburg story to fulfill an objective that should
> be accomplished elsewhere.
> The fact that Americans will get their only taste of history at Gettysburg
> is a non-starter.  It is not the responsibility of the NPS at Gettysburg to
> fill a void left the educational system in America regarding the slavery
> issue.  The government and/or the NPS itself can and should do this
> elsewhere -- not at Gettysburg.
> Again, it is all a matter of degree.  From my perspective, people come to
> Gettysburg by the millions to learn more about what happened "there."  It is
> not the time or the place to conduct a tutorial on the slavery issue.  In
> fact, by doing so, it would only tend to distort the understanding of the
> import of the battle itself.
> Your concern about slavery being seen as the cause of secession is certainly
> legitimate, but people should be given the opportunity to pursue the issues
> related to the Civil War at their own leisure and level of desire.  It is
> inappropriate IMO for the NPS to impose itself on these visitors with a
> politically correct agenda that dictates that these visitors will learn
> about the slavery issue whether they want to or not.
> Tom Ryan
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