tv The Civil War CSPAN June 11, 2016 6:00pm-7:16pm EDT
announcer: a panel of historians talk about efforts to include ,he history of reconstruction describing work by the national recentlyice and published books as a larger effort to start a national conversation on the events of the reconstruction era. the university of south carolina and historic columbia posted this event. >> this afternoon, our panel is about interpreting reconstruction, challenges and opportunities. just to briefly say who the panelists are, michael allen will be the first speaker. he is a community partnership specialist with the national park service. downs is an assistant --
associate professor of history at the university of california, davis. kate masur is a -- is a professor of history at northwestern. have been looking at ways to incorporate the history of reconstruction into the national park service sites and they will report what the national park service is doing. is ahen, jennifer taylor phd candidate right here at the university of south carolina who helped to develop very impressive exhibitions and tours of the woodrow wilson family home, which focuses heavily on the reconstruction era when he lived in columbia. just by sayingin
this littlent in part of reconstruction history whenback to the year 2000 i received a phone call from the secretary of the interior, bruce professor, isaid, have just read your book on reconstruction. i said, that surprises me. i hope he was not insulted. that cap really think and a members had a lot of time to spend reading long history books. know there are some who do have a strong sense of history. invited me to washington to talk about ways the national -- that there was no recognition of reconstruction at that time. even now a national park service
sites -- the only exception is the andrew johnson homestead in the great smoky mountains, in greenville? i was there once. they haven't heard about the new interpretations of reconstruction of their. -- up there. news doesn't travel very fast to eastern tennessee. [laughter] iyway, the secretary and to develop the idea of a national park service in south carolina to exemplify many of the themes of reconstruction. it has not happened yet. it's sort of kicked off discussions in the national park service about how to deal with reconstruction. i am anxious to hear what is
happening now. i will turn the floor now over to michael allen. [applause] good afternoon. i'm with the national park service and it is great to be with you today. i was there in 2000, as well. then-outgoing secretary of the interior bruce babbitt and 2000. visited buford in mission; to look at the buildings, the landscape, the environment of buford which was essential to understanding reconstruction potentially with an opportunity to establish some
sort of park service presence in that area. is in 2016, there are no national park service directly associated that talks about the history of reconstruction. just to give you some background, we began our journey after the doctor and the secretary of the interior left. we then transitioned into the bush administration and we still to accomplish that task. likeached out to partners on city of buford, folks hilton head island. we try to cast a wide net of partnership and inclusion in an
effort to go about the task. from the political side, we reached up politically to come at that point, the congressman and representatives of buford, joe wilson. accomplish -- and we asked for his support. got boththe game, we of them, so we continue to move forward. as we moved forward, we began to hear the voices of rumbling. rumbling that came from the group that we did not reach out as well as we should have, in that group was the sons of the confederate veterans. the head of the national park service was inquired, what are you doing in buford? because we are public, we had shared to hide, so we with them what our thoughts was,
the impetus is why we were doing it. this is what we do as a national park service. well, we reported back to them. i guess they digested what we sent and it was presented to us by joe wilson perhaps this is overhe time nor the season the place to have a conversation about reconstruction. unfortunately, in 2002, we were told to cease. that's what we did. in the back of many of our minds , we knew that the day would come when the national park mantle would take up the again to have a serious conversation about reconstruction in our agency. ,ow and behold, five years ago i got a call one day indicating that two of our historians were
in the ford to look at historic landmark sites. it a to take them around part of them coming was to see these particular sites had connectivity to reconstruction. historians around buford in every place that we went in 2000, we went again. they were still there. and so, that worked out well. and then i got another e-mail saying over associate director for the southeast region wanted buford andook around so i picked her up and again, every place that we went in 2000, we went again, because they were still there. and by that time, we realized that there was some effort afoot
in the national park service to begin to address this matter. we went to another meeting in washington and one of the senior leadership's pulled me to the side and i said, what have i done out? she said, we are moving forward, looking at reconstruction in buford and we needed to be a part of this. .gain, we are going forward at that point, i had been afraid -- i said, madame, the last time we engaged in this journey, we were not as well prepared as we should have been. there were fundamental things that we should have addressed that we did not. in some places, we may have been uncomfortable or afraid. i said, i know this time we will be successful. if you ask me to be a part of the process, i'm going to bring
my a game. in the things that we did not do last time, we will do this time. one of the first things that we did, we gathered a number of historians to actually sit with us. history andhe whole the spectrum of reconstruction, the impact, the legacy, the connectivity to life today into big into look at the themes we could begin to address and the concept of this type of process. the next thing we did is we pulled together to great americans that we called part of our team, greg and kate here. then to have scholarship on our side as we move forward. and then we also realized, the
size andrew johnson, i have to defend my friend. mineay is a good friend of -- >> to be clear, you mean libby is your friend -- michael: she realized the challenges that come with it. we move forward in terms of roi needs to be done. just has to continue to engage the community that they will move forward, as well. was bringingstep us together but also realizing several things to put into place. buford, weooked at made a tactical decision to look at the entire southeast in to look at all of the states of the confederacy and the dynamics that came with that in terms of reconstruction. in my view, there are other parts of our nation beyond the
byth who are also impacted reconstruction. that does not mean we are going to cut off the rest of the nation. our working campus is the south, .irst step earlier today, you heard -- anssman clyburn outline of reconstruction. 1865-1877. one year ago, i shared with him that on this journey our 1861-1895. he grumbled a little bit when i said that to him. for our purposes of our work, we bringingng at 1861, the experiences of hilton head all the way through plessy versus ferguson in 1898.
we haven't gone to the 20th century and. the next decision we made is that in addition to looking at places in buildings across the landscape, we need to look internally. look at the existing park service sites in the southeast that have connectivity to reconstruction but perhaps at the present time are not addressing it. and so we pull together another team working out of atlanta, looking specifically at park service sites across the south specifically and their connectivity to reconstruction. from a broader context, we reached out to the state historic preservation offices across the south, universities, -- thattions, whomever can bring this information. we are cataloging locations,
buildings assisted with reconstruction across the entire southeast, because we realized that reconstruction in many minds is a challenged subject. inare going to move forward terms of having a conversation about that time in our american experience. we needed to people where they can experience brady's physical vestiges are located. we are doing that both internally and externally in a way that, in the end the day, this will not be a report on a shelf, but this can be a report used by the american public. to that end, one of the things i , many of youight have probably visit park service sites across the united states. and perhaps when you go, you purchase a handbook. i hope you do.
i am holding in my hand a thattly released handbook says the reconstruction era. is your tax dollars at work , because we are putting your iney where our mouth is, terms of having a physical, tangible product that talks about the history, the legacy of reconstruction in the three people sitting at this panel have some part to what is in this document here. remember the last time, we did not do this. so now, this is something tangible that is coming out of the work that we are doing good the last thing i want to share with you is that we realize that reconstruction is a challenged subject in many american minds but we try to put it in a context that people perhaps can relate to the work that we are doing.
so we looked at some themes arc service the staff, civil unrest and violence . building, theion churches, businesses. in franchise meant in new duma -- in franchise -- federal power, modernizing of the south. those are our broad themes. day, when thishe is all said and done, i think we will have not only a primer but a textbook -- a roadmap. the reality is, as we look around our nation today, a lot tiesr conversations have to the efforts of reconstruction. many americans may not know that
there is connectivity to reconstruction, and so, it is the mission, vision, goals of the national park service to have a concerted conversation about this time. many of you in this room supported us the previous 4-5 years during the sesquicentennial which was also another challenging time of how do we interpret the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the civil war? how do we do it in a way that is holistic and diverse? i can say we survived. he is survived that. so the next chapter in our american saga is reconstruction and so it is my goal, my mission ly -- thenligent we can, as i often say, reconstruct reconstruction. thank you. [applause]
gregory: before i came out here, i called a friend of mine from said, i amina and i flying out to: via to talk about a museum they are developing on reconstruction and he is a bit older than i am and he paused and he said, for or against? [laughter] .regory: i said, for and he said, you are doing is voluntarily? so i said, voluntarily because they believe in it and he said, south carolina has come a long way, not to say there is not more to go play want to thank you for having us here and it is amazingly heartening for the things that we do in large present the country where reconstruction is barely mentioned or kind of hidden in euphemisms to see a place that is really embracing the idea of its country already to their
culture, history, development, and i feel like you all will be a model not just for the kinds of ideas that we'll talk about with the national park service but i hope a model to lots of other communities. i will quickly give you a sense of how kate and i came to be interested in this before i do that, i will about how i got to be there. along with that, the propaganda of history. nobody can talk a south carolina and in crazy stories but i grew up in central kentucky and in the center of the town square, there is a cannonball stuck in a brick with an arrow pointing to it and if from,k people what it was it was the union army, of which was no such thing -- the united states army had fired at the town of when it was held by
confederates and then if you walk a couple blocks off is that there was a marker and it said, george custer, custer stayed in when he wasown overseeing efforts to collect .axes against moonshiners both of these are total nonsense. the first thing was at the town square burned to the ground in 1929 and when it burned to the walked throughy and pulled out the cannonball them when they rebuilt today got on a ladder and stuck it out there. the second thing is that the town, a a unionist patriotic town, not a treasonous town -- i mean, kentucky has a lot to answer for it as you will see, -- and that there can in was fired by confederates attacking the town. the third is that custer was elsewhere because the
seventh calverley had been sent in both in the green river valley in kentucky but then down the train lines elsewhere to put down a wave of insurrectionary violence against african americans and loyal whites -- a second wave of what had followed after the date on the ku klux klan in the carolinas in 1871 -- not to collect taxes from moonshiners. but this is the same propaganda, right yakov the problem of if we do not -- the problem of why we misunderstand reconstruction is tied up with the problem of flight we misunderstand the civil war. it is necessary to have a propaganda about reconstruction to support a propaganda about the civil war in that if we are going to undo that propaganda we cannot just undo the propaganda of the civil war and then stop at they have to be interconnected. for the reasons -- now, kate and i have individually been writing about
you know, books on reconstruction, it seems like there is nothing new to be set and there is an uncanny way in which you think of something and think it is any pickup aaron's book anyone like, how to use me that in their? which anticipates sort of everything that one would want to be said that she had written a book about reconstruction and civil rights in washington dc here and i wrote one on north carolina which i apologize for that i picked the wrong carolina and then won on the u.s. army and the occupation of the south in the middle of this together collected new scholarship for this book. but we began we were speaking during the sesquicentennial -- we were increasingly dissatisfied that as we would go around we would ask people in the new york times about the civil war which we and others participated in -- what are you going to do about reconstruction
yet can the answer was nothing, right yakov the new york times -- and many historical societies seemed to imagine you get to mathematics and you close the door and you are done can enter it in the civil war and any something else -- appomattox in then you close the door to the civil war and then something >> we are certainly not unique in that pure we enter this with the feeling that having done the historical research it was also incumbent upon is not the sort of sit in in the towers but to follow the example of eric and many of the people in this room and drying figure out how to fulfill our responsibilities to the public and we weren't mad with the help of the american historical association and others in national park service where we were lucky to find for the reasons mike and a group of people in the park service who had been working toward this employment for this for a long time, right? so it was a harmonic convergence and so what
i will do is talk about the poorest piece of that and cable talk about the second piece. and so one of the things it has to be met and we talked about was the problem that eric as usual anticipated and last night which is that at one point, there was a stage in which a lot of people of generations had reconstruction that over the generational [indiscernible] periods it seems like an especially so among the that they have no view of reconstruction at all. and anyway, that means we don't have to undo the mistakes of the past but they don't have any idea why it is important. [indiscernible] they understood that it was important. and that we had to be put a figure how to convey to people that it mattered. and so this was the motivation behind the group of us at the national park service and kate and myself on the handbook that mike mentioned in what we aim to do is to provide information but also contemporary interpretations of reconstruction that are aimed at
a lay audience waited is not present that you committed all iteric's book to memory that is a requirement by the time they finish but that people who have interesting curiosity by not knowledge to pick it up. we also aim to while i didn't have the good sense to study south carolina we included people who do including tom -- native south carolinians among many others including eric and many others and that the goal of the book was to convey to people why reconstruction mattered so that the people who walk into a park and say what is this about have a place they can turn to that is really aimed for them to capture their interest, so i will very quickly sum up how it begins and ends in an alternative or to kate, so i am happy to say despite my unbiased toward north carolina and actually begins a guy and not making this up -- in south carolina -- and it begins -- i have not making this up either
-- with robert small, right? sitesmation on multiple -- what he needs to think about this transformative figure out somebody who goes from a slave, plants -- the u.s. blockade, his political involvement over decades, constitutional convention of congress and also, the disappointment that congressman clyburn name written at the end of his career as a way to understand that revolutionary change in of the disappointed conclusion of reconstruction. identity and we talk about his value of the introduction is valued -- of the province of today not just that it has anything that a coincidence with questions of civil rights but also particular statute, constitutional commitments and shape reconstruction, and the civil rights movement and continue to shape it today and as we conclude in sending reconstruction offers america's messages that are at once heartening and disheartening, it reminds us that american values of democracy freedom and equality are not simply slogans
or legal doctrines, they are processes that must be defended and redefined not just by the government by the by the people themselves. [applause] kate: thank you. i want to reiterate my thanks for you all for inviting us here and me here and for having this been as a person who mainly works in academic history and kind of has gotten increasingly involved in his public history venture working with the national park service i feel like it is a huge honor to be up to be part of this process of trying to have all the weversations about how remember history and how we remember in particular this really important and difficult period. what i'm going to do is mostly thes on another part of work that greg and i and the national park service is doing
this and the creation of what is called a national historic landmark theme study and that is the official name of the kind of study that the national park service commissioned from time to time. there has been a number of instead is already on all kinds of different topics. there is one of the history of american aviation, there is one on public accommodations and civil rights of a kind of range out of it than that anything you can think of in american history that the park service might be interested in. with the preservice does is commission these kind of study is to get a sense of the lay of the land, what is this thing and we are talking about, this theme or topic in american history? and then a concrete question, how should it be remembered? what structures, what places, what sites exist when we can tell the story? i'm going to touch on a few things that mike already talked about but i will give a different spin on it as someone who has been outside the park service and that is that the
idea that the park service has in parking on this multifaceted project in the history of reconstruction is especially significant in light of the fact that the park service has been so incredibly involved in the interpretation of civil war battlefields for such a long time, right? to really understand the glaring omission of not having a reconstruction site, one way of thinking about that is to think that most of the time when people go visit a historic battlefield from the civil war they are at a national park service site and many of you are probably familiar with discussions over the years about how those battlefields are interpreted, right? and the movement of the national park service made from mostly only talking about civil war battles in his between two great armies and uniforms and guns and acknowledging because of the civil war -- to really talk
about why it happened in the first place. a bold move of the time that the park service made several years ago to officially come out and say, that slavery was at the heart of because. -- of the cause. that is part of the mission of the park service to say that. to make sure that visitors understand that they come to visit. nevertheless, you begin to see that the park service begins to tell the story of slavery, and emancipation as part of the history of the military conflict , but then the omission of the reconstruction becomes clear. what happened next? you just cut it off in 1865 and leave us hanging. what is the next part? another question is, why? before this not happen if the park service is so interested -- why is there an omission. the answer is clear. most everyone in this room knows, one reason for a long
time many people thought, why would you want to remember a time so horrible. why would you say, let's commemorate this. time when most people associate it with a series of errors, trauma, unfair policies on the defeated south. why member something awful with no redeeming features could be run -- one reason why this was not part of the story of the national park service told. which historically was more invested in commemorating things that felt like things the american people could be proud of. the other thing, of course, academic history writing has moved beyond best for many decades the idea there is no redeeming, good qualities in reconstruction. i'm going back to 1988 reconstruction -- but before that, quite a while before that
it was a dramatic revision of how we understand reconstruction. it was associated with the civil rights era. 1960's and forward, the scholars and historians have been turning out studies that talk about the democratic mobilization of free people. they talk about this as a time of development of public schools for the first time in the south. they talk about the creation of the civil rights laws that were often overturned or forgotten. it also talks about the overthrow of the democratic possibilities through a range of behaviors that we would now they are highly disreputable including violence, violence by white people against black people as well as extreme amount of political corruption of just about every kind. there was this huge revision, and almost a kind of 180 degree turn, but it had not sort of somehow made it out, percolated out into the.
public. . perhaps one thing that was stopping it was there were no venues to the national park service. -- for the national park service. a place to tell the story. there is a complete change in how people in universities are understanding and teaching, by the way that has struggled into textbooks, including eric's. mainstreamways that text books are introduced to students. i have begun to change. nevertheless, the sense that intel recently there has not been very many ways the public has interacted with this new history actually about 50 years old or more. so then the question becomes, why now? what makes it possible now at this moment to change? isn short-term explanation anniversaries give us a great opportunity to talk about things. it is really exciting and delightful that we can tag all
of this to the 150th anniversary of this time. i think there are a couple of other reasons why now it is possible for the parks service and other entities to begin to talk more about reconstruction. i would be curious to hear more reflections on this, but one is, linked to the reinterpretation of reconstruction, people identify it as something americans should embrace and feel proud of. i would be possible -- positive changes. the ways this was an incredibly democratic movement in american history. the constitutional amendment that emerged. we have to understand, these are not amendments that just appeared in the constitution, they were there for a reason, to do particular work. it is important to understand the context. which we cany in kind of publicly talk about the positive aspects of this.
--iod, and the ways it makes the ways it gives us things to feel good about. we have seen that in the presentations here. the other thing happening is increasing ability, on the part of a lot of organizations including the parks service to memory things uncomfortable. do not always have to feel like you're commemorating something we can all feel great about, but rather it is important to engage peoplests that bring into uncomfortable conversations. maybe they cause people to reflect on problems, rather than triumph. the parks service again has really kind of embraced this with anxiety park service sites on japanese internment. site by the united states soldiers against native americans in colorado. it was the first park service
site to recognize as a massacre, something that u.s. soldiers perpetrated. it is not a massacre against white americans, as some of the other kinds of stories in the west were told, but a massacre by u.s. soldiers against abel marble population. -- a vulnerable population. the park service has been able to find ways of commemorating difficult histories. organizations.r i want to reference elsa's talked this morning, the importance of talking about racist violence in the u.s.. she talked about it in relation to talking to teachers. another project that i have been following closely is equal justice initiatives project to commemorate lynching and to identify them, to count them, to accurately get a sense of how many there were. to work with communities to find ways that make sense locally of kind of commemorating and
recognizing that these things happened. i think we are in a moment where there is a new kind of grappling with this. just to briefly touch on a little bit about the study we are working on. mentioned, we had a meeting in washington dc. with historians from universities and also with people from within the parks service. it was a big brainstorming session where we defined the parameters of this study. we are focusing on the states of the former confederacy. south --st that in its in and of itself was a huge task. we also look at the reconstruction of the far west, north, midwest, for that matter we are not even closely focusing on a slave state within the unit -- union. we just had to start somewhere. truly dynamic because of how
policymaking work, there is a particular kind of story that is shared by the former confederate states not shared elsewhere. 1861 tolso going from the end of the 1890's, as mike mentioned. we're beginning with the earliest days of u.s. occupation of the confederacy. in places like coastal virginia where u.s. soldiers came on shore. the process of the destruction of slavery began with slaves escaping from slavery to find freedom and security within the lines of the u.s. army and the conflicts that a sick -- that ensued. they had repercussions all the way back to washington. the question of what would happen to those people? would they be considered free people? would they be returned to their owners? it also consequences locally with some of those areas becoming long-term settlements of former slaves. that is where we begin.
the traditional cut off for the end of reconstruction is 1877,the compromise of there are good reasons to think time this as a sweeping that begins with the beginning of emancipation and ends with the kind of consolidation of the jim crow order at the end of the 1890's. i'm not going to go into that here. we have come to the idea that this actually makes a lot of sense as a kind of broad cycle of american history. point is kind of an artifact of a certain kind of political history narrative that does not make as much sense if you look in a more holistic way. things that happened in the end of the 1890's marked the end of an era are the plessy versus ferguson decision of 1890, the williamson massacre in williamson, north carolina, and also the voting rights decision in 1898. there are a lot of markers the end of the 1890's that are
helpless -- helpful. we identified six different themes that are associated with reconstruction. that allows us to kind of think about what kinds of sites would allow us to talk about which seems. some sites might be identified with all six themes. some maybe two or three. landl say again, they are and labor, the struggle over how labor relations would be organized, who would get access to land. african-american institution building, including the creation of independent black churches, the consolidation of families in the wake of slavery. the creation of other kinds of black civic urbanization's -- organizations. the creation of a new democracy. this area focuses on voter rights, voter registration, right to vote. including the struggle of that time over the question of women's voting rights. that reverberated in local
areas, but also the u.s. congress where women's rights activist lobby congress to do something when they were doing federal policymaking. obviously it did not happen, but there is a lot of interesting debate going on. the fourth theme is federal power -- changes in federal power and changes in structures of federalism. the extension and new uses of the u.s. military. the long-term ramifications between the states and federal government. the fifth is violence and civil unrest. that is clearly mostly about white violence against african americans and also white unionist. the ways that violence where political and kind of left exclusively political violence, that is the way that people use violence to influence the outcomes of elections and influence it was in charge of political power, but also interpersonal violence over things like the control of labor, land. because our time goes all the
way to the end of the 1890's it would include the rise of lynching. the modernization of the south because as for example, the woodrow wilson museum shows this is also a time of intense economic development. also kind of initiated by the republican reconstruction government, but also continued by the democratic successors, building railroads, schools, public institutions. because that is also a signal, part of this time, that is also part of the study. that is kind of what we have been doing. the shape of it. it has been, again, a really exciting opportunity to bring the kind of work we do in our own research and writing into a different context. the work continues. thanks. [applause] jennifer: hello, my name is jennifer taylor.
i am going to move us in a different direction. we are hearing a lot about me national parks service, but i want talk about the woodrow wilson family home. we believe it is the first season of reconstruction in the nation. some of the successes and challenges we have seen there, which may actually be of use hopefully things move forward with the national park service site. i'm a little short. is it on? is that better? ok. i am currently writing my dissertation on the woodrow wilson family home and its transformation from a shrine to woodrow wilson, the first historic house museum to voted to woodrow wilson into the museum of reconstruction. i was brought on a couple of months before it opened on presidents' day 2014. knowing a little bit about the struggles that the nps had or trying to get this nps movement in buford started, i was
nervous. i know the veterans had been powerful. i am not from the great state of south carolina, but i was aware that other -- there is a ,tronghold on the lost cause particularly that interpretation of reconstruction. that congressman clyburn talked about his background as a teacher, i suspect at some point more than likely have to deal textbook, as many in the audience did as well. i wasn't sure exactly what i would find when ike -- when people came into the home. i was nervous. i was pleasantly surprised about what i found. i know you're thinking, first off, what is -- what does woodrow wilson have to do with reconstruction? test connection, i think the doctor mentioned this last night in the keynote, the birth of a nation. he screened the film in the wood -- white house. it is a tale about reconstruction in south carolina. one has to imagine whether he
thought about the place where he once lived when he watched the film in the white house. beyond the extends screening of the film in 1915 while he was president. woodrow wilson as a teenager is living in this time and place in columbia. he makes this. remarkable transformation he has a black representative that is up the road at the statehouse. he is living in a largely presbyterian world as the black community begins to really build a strong black church. a variety of dominant -- denominations. he is also going to be the president will sign the 19th amendment, yet as a teenager he will hear debates and probably have conversations and his own parlor about the 15th amendment. granting suffrage to black men. a lot of these issues he experienced growing up, they're certainly going to come back around as an adult and president. we knew we had this opportunity where we could use this very
influential great man to talk about a subject that is very complex. it is kind of difficult to get asked -- at. took this opportunity to use him as a lens to think about how complex we construction was. we have this wonderful home he lived then, the first home his home ever owned -- his family around. a showplace. experiencingo be reconstruction with others south carolinians, both the successes and of course the eventual demise. haveew that we wanted to docents lead the experience, but we also created a 21st century exhibit that went within the house. because reconstruction really lacks a lot of material culture, objects to be a challenge. i don't know how many of you visit historic house museum's, but they tend to be full of a lot of furniture, pieces.
we knew that was not something we would experience with the woodrow wilson home. to explain the complexity of reconstruction required a lot of panels. a lot of information. some folks like to read, some folks don't. some people want to be told a little bit about what they are supposed to take away. we knew we wanted a semi-guided experience. part of what i did for historic columbia was create a semi-guided tour. of the volunteer and paid weekend docents staff could conduct. we decided to continue the lens of woodrow wilson and reconstruction. give background on both and open up some of the larger themes that people have been talking about over the course of this symposium in alaska for hours -- in the last 24 hours. one of the things i wanted to do was gauge what the public knew about reconstruction. the very beginning of the tour we designed a question that said -- when i say the word, reconstruction, what comes to mind? a lot of people could actually
tell you post civil war. era, theyivil war knew it was rooted somewhere in that time. the most popular answer after that was carpetbaggers. it didn't matter whether you are northern, midwestern, southern -- this is what the american people seem to gravitate to. what they remember from their history lessons in middle school and high school. had sort of demonstrated we our work cut out for us as the tour began. one of the things i think michael hit on this a little bit, what we discovered come at you in the first year, about 3000 people came to the home in the first year. about a quarter of those individuals filled out evaluations and we were able to learn a little bit about what they were able to retain going out. themerwhelming 88% of learned new information. that gives you an idea of how little reconstruction really
registers in people's minds today and how much they really know about it. we also had some challenges as we moved through the home. one of the things dr. brown talked about in the panel this morning, that is the subject of violent. we had several participants today that have spoken a little of about this long history violence, particularly against black bodies, not just in the south, but across the nation. i think this is one of the things that many docents struggled with. we know that a lot of museums typically are institutions created by white staff. they are often attended by white visitors. so conversations about violence can be difficult to have both as a visitor and as a docent. i did some interviews for my dissertation with some of the docents. one of the things that came out was they felt that when of the most powerful stories they could tell, the one that most resonated with them and visitors
was when you got to be next to be last rim in the house and you talked about the redshirt him of the overthrow of reconstruction on the state level in 1870's asked, of course we know the plan operating throughout the south -- klan operating in a south, but doing justice to that narrative and what that meant. and the long-term implications we still see today. some docents found that they were nervous to talk about this issue. one because they wanted to do proper justice to it. others were more comfortable talking about this violent in the moment because they had things like a redshirt on display. they had rifles, things that really cemented the violence that was alive in this time. there was evidence on panels about massacres that certainly strengthened their argument, they didn't feel they could be contested. connecting that with woodrow wilson, and you touched on the epidemic of lynching that would have been around under wilson's administration, it becomes more challenging as we start to bring
ourselves into the 20th and 21st century and thinking about these issues and how they might still extend beyond reconstruction. there was an issue of, i think, hidden voices. both in the historical record and woodrow wilson's world. sometimes i will refer to him as tommy. that is what he went by when he lived here in columbia. we don't know very much about the men and women that work for the family. we had to fill in the gaps with some of the academic literature. one of the things someone talked about with women moving out of the plantation. the opportunities they had. being able to incorporate that into a space where we knew very little about the people that were moving in these spaces also presented a challenge. without a doubt, what we found were that people were ready to hear this story. success rate, i think from visitors that came into the home that did take the evaluation.
26% found their extreme good. 73% found it excellent. these are people that came into the home initially knowing very little about reconstruction, or having a very lost cause interpretation of it. for those that did not fill out the evaluation, we will never know how they feel. there are at least in president -- presented the narrative, and they are going home and they have to sit with it for a while. we are planting seeds as some of my docents have said and laying the groundwork i think for hopefully in the next 10-12 years as we celebrate the anniversary, hopefully beginning to change the public narrative. we know that the doctor has done great work to correct the academic narrative. that is really important as well. i look forward if you have questions about the process, discussing this with you today. thank you. [applause] >> thanks to all of the panelists for fascinating discussions.
just one little point, peopler's point about knowing about carpetbaggers and that is about it, reminds me that maybe 20 years ago there was an educator, ed hirsch published a book called cultural literacy where he listed 800 or thousand things that you had to know to be an educated person. i got the book and i thought, i wonder if reconstruction is in there. no. it is not. you can be a fully educated person and not knowing anything about it, but carpetbagger was in it. according to professor hirsch, who does not mind me saying this because he left all the way to the bank with this, you can know know about you can carpetbaggers, but if you do not know about reconstruction -- i guess that is not really the way to know if somebody is educated. one of the points that comes out
is there is no one single way to bring reconstruction. to the public. local sites like the woodrow wilson home -- there is only one so let's hope there will be more. but certainly this kind of thing ought to be replicated in many communities around the south. indeed as we heard this morning, you could do it in the west probably. that takes local initiative. people willing to spend a lot of time. you have the national park service is a whole different system. one of the things i wanted to ask about that is, you mentioned briefly, but maybe a little more about what can be done to make places like civil war site -- sites that already exist deal with reconstruction. i think in the 1990's, jesse jackson junior got congress to instruct the national park service to make sure that
slavery is dealt with comprehensively in national park service sites, civil war sites, of which there are many. as we all the. and gave the park service instruction and the backing, so to speak to go around and do that. i was involved in doing that at gettysburg. many other -- charleston, fort sumter is excellent on this. a law declaring this, to the park service just say the antietam battlefield or any other one, you have to talk about what happens after this. you at least have to introduce something about reconstruction and how the civil war leads into don't really have the ability and a sense to make existing sites revamp how they do or don't deal with it? >> i come from two angles. i was a part of rally on the high ground in 2001 in which the
national park service came to grips with slavery as one of the central tenets of the civil war. at rally on the high ground we all met's in ford's theater. in that theater, the secretary of the interior said we shall. the director of the park service said we will and shall. major historians came and said, you will need to. as a result of what was shared with rally on the high ground that provided us the foundation to address slavery. the essential tenet of the civil war. it also provided a foundation of how we commemorated this at centennial -- the sus continual. a part of this process, as we i haveking internally -- seen his preliminary work, he has identified a number of sites -- park service site in the
southeast or he has compiled in credible information that is related to reconstruction and ties into that part, history, mission, vision, and goals. one of the things -- you all maybe not know, this coming august, the park service turns 100. it is the centennial. it was signed into law by woodrow wilson. 1916. as we move towards the centennial, we are being challenged by the current director of the national park service in terms of relevancy, diversity, and inclusion. with that he is asking, what has worked? the previous 100 years? what has not worked in the previous 100 years? what can we take into our second century they can make us better than we were in the first century? to answer a question, i believe , oncehe work we are doing
that is all said and done and put into place, i don't think it will sit on a shelf. conversations to us as an entire agency, as we have done in the past will i think, precipitate. it is another piece to this -- you, the american public. you know now that we are doing this. it is not a secret. preclude you from reaching out to the national park service official to share within your knowledge of this this is ensure that being utilized by park staff across the national park service. i don't think this will go for not. i think when it is said and done, this will be utilized by the agency. >> are you planning to have, just as a leading question, rally on the high ground was a meeting for national parks service people. are you planning to have another such meeting at some point for national park service directors and site superintendents and everything on reconstruction to
sort of emphasize the point. bring people together, like the civil war? >> i am not the director. however, i think what you said credible -- is credible. between kate and greg and i, we can report. we have been concerned. we have voiced their concern. -- our concern. when it is all said and done, what a surety this will be done and used. i think this will take the senior leadership to ensure it happens. heard from greg and kate about the responses you got when visiting some of these places. i know from the civil war one, there were super nintendo and -- there were superintendents not interested in going down this route. they wanted to know a kind of cannonball they were using, whether it was in the war or not . they wanted to know other
things, they didn't want to know what happened before or after the war. there was resistance. there was a lot of openness as well. what did you find among -- i'm not asking you to criticize people. did you find openness, did you find people saying, this is working perfectly well now. >> i suspect, mike, the people we talked to, i really felt like there is an amazing amount of openness. i do think many of the people who, at least the ones we met our of the generation that was sort of coming to maturity at the moment when these fights over the civil war were happening. they understand that. i think, at least for the ones you introduced us to, conceptually they understand it. many of them know much less about reconstruction than the civil war because of their training for their expressed a strong desire for information to make sure what comes out of this process gives them things to work with. the other thing i want to speak
for parks service employees, one thing we heard is that there is also a challenge of money. he can have a superintendent who wants to do it, but it does require funding in order to change exhibits, change materials. i think there is a concern about us delivering them an unfunded mandate. that is where i think putting pressure on your congresspeople, or the park service to make sure there is institutional support might help. that i agree and have the same feeling as greg did about the kind of openness in terms of the people we met with. we didn't choose the particular people we met with. we don't know who else is out there. remarkable, asis you might expect if you are somebody interested in the history of your era -- area is
that when we got to the places that we visited, we were shown around and met people who cared andt local historic sites what to make an argument for the national importance of their particular local his work sites -- local historic sites. to give you an example of how much information about reconstruction people have locally, but don't necessarily have the resources to kind of put it out there for the public. when we were in natchez, mississippi, a town with a long history of historic preservation, but a local mimiria in -- historian, weller maybe, a local historian was very involved in the historical society had been collecting information on that time of emancipation and reconstruction for a long time and has given lots of two wars and worked with a lot of graduate students.
there is a large kind of national park service presence, there is also the home of a --ed african-american person it is a park service site of a freed black person, it is periphery connected to reconstruction. there's a lot of park service stuff there, but we got a tour of some plantations thereby that had -- nearby that had a fascination -- fascinating read construction, for example one where free people purchased a plantation of their former owner in the early 1870's. one of the same family that bobby plantation or bobby plantation in which they were born. -- one of the same family members bought a plantation in which they were born.
i wanted to mention a story because it makes me -- -- moves me -- we went to a house on a conventional tour. it is an architecturally significant house, the largest octagonal structure in north america. it was built by a unionist family. they were unionist -- never completed because it was still being built when the civil war began. the local -- you might go there as a tourist and you might tour this architecturally significant house and see what lovely re, there is in the amazing fan of the dining room table. you might not hear anything about the enslaved people who lived there, or for matt -- for that matter what happened after a mess patient -- emancipation. news history and found a article from the summer of 18 six, after the reconstruction act that act had passed.
people were going to mobilize to become voters. in natchez, thousands of african americans gathered in the streets to march to his particular plantation where the owners had allowed them to have a celebration. it was a fourth is the -- fourth of july celebration. there was a long description in the newspaper of people coming together, veterans, people from the community, thousands marching down the road a few miles to the plantation. in that area, it was significant because vicksburg fell. that area of mississippi fell -- it was deputed around -- beaded around july 4. the celebration is a national holiday. it was something they did not celebrate.
you have this account that nobody that visited -- it happened right there, but nobody that visited whatever no would ever know. not necessarily out of malignancy of the people who run the place, but because that is not the usual story. i am telling that story to say that these stories are everywhere. people that the research, people begin to look at the digitized newspapers in the 19th century, you can find the stunning stories of this time from all across the south that are kind of hiding in plain sight. it was a kind of moment of, this oozing, but we don't know. >> i would be remiss if we did not mention one of my colleagues on the national park service has been coordinating with local people about how to build locally-based commemorations. violence and how to
deal with it that came up -- he found people, especially tied to different civic organizations in mississippi, they are having the first-ever commemoration of the massacre of memphis and $.18 -- 18 626 in a few weeks -- 1866 in a few weeks. the historic commission has helped with markers to commemorate it. it has been building momentum for ways to capture the testimony that people of memphis, regular people come a grocery store workers and so on gave to the congressional committee that came into the investigate what was mislabeled a race riot, but was really a massacre in 1866. the hope is this will be a model for all kinds of community bases. violente no shortage of -- violence and massacres that
have been covered up or rememberedut barely even on the site. unfortunately we will be going through the anniversaries of those. not of those do produce, all, but like memphis, interesting testimony from people on the ground. they do make for a compelling capture the duality both of the violence and terror of the white insurgency, but also ,he voices of african americans newly able to speak to the national government in this moment where nobody could be sure how things work. think way, lest anyone the problem of correctly dealing with reconstruction is confined to southern sites, i live 10 blocks away from grants to -- , i loveomb in manhattan the national park service, but sometimes dealing with governmental bureaucracies takes a long time. i had a stroll up there one day some years ago and i noticed
that in the historical -- grant was president for eight years. they dealt with reconstruction, but some of the labels were definitely from the dark era. they had not been changed in a long time. i spoke to be superintendent there, as i wrote a few suggested changes in the labels. even to change a label requires going through so many different -- the newureaucracy york city director, the regional director, eventually we talking about three or four years to change one sentence. it takes a while. terms ofto ask, in this -- we know that in many places, including south carolina and let's say old plantation homes and many of them are trying to introduce real candid consideration of slavery, not just furniture and things.
we have said that the woodrow wilson home here is the only historic house fully devoted to reconstruction anywhere. have you had any indications since this opened from people in other homes like this elsewhere that they would like to try to -- have you inspired others to do this? maybe you don't know. i don't know if we have inspired other organizations yet. i like to think we are on the path. i know we have inspired visitors to seek them out. i have had several docents with visitors so overwhelmed with the narrative and this different experience they have by not just looking at these homes and thinking about complex issues, they want to know where other institutions that do similar things are. do they deal with reconstruction? obviously not. giving us tools and resources we know that historic house museum's are built on shrine mentalities.
we have learned today that women are often ignored. there are ways to use these places to find these hidden stories. we can find women's voices. massacre, approaching the anniversary, if you read the newspaper accounts when those that are held accountable for the massacre go to trial, you can hear these women telling me stories of finding their loved one's bodies and that trauma. it is maybe a profound as anything i have read. these are ways we can connect on a local level. >> yes, very good. i think national consciousness of reconstruction will be given a big boost in the fall when the new museum of african american history opens in washington dc. in which reconstruction will be featured, very strongly.
it is an entire history of african americans, not just about the civil war. there will be a lot about reconstruction. several million visitors are likely to come each year. they will go back to their communities, we hope, knowing more about reconstruction and wanting to find out on the local level. thanks to everybody who organized the two days. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2016] >> on american history tv on c-span3, sunday morning, we will simulcast c-span's washington journal live from 9:00 eastern. with guest craig shirley. then at 10:00, on "road to the white house rewind" the 1976 republican national convention and a close race between ford and ronald reagan for the nomination. acceptance speech and
remarks by reagan. >> i believe the republican party has a platform that is a banner of bold unmistakable colors with no pale pastel shades. crexendo 6:00 on "american artifacts" we visit the women's equality national monument in washington dc and cb work of nina allender. >> she creates a youthful, invigorated, intelligent woman. in this image she is very slender. her skirt is above her ankles, quite different at that time. you see the changing face of fashion at the time. her hands on her hips. she throws her hat into the ring of politics. >> a political cartoonist from the national women's party from 1914 until 1927, she contributed over 150 cartoons in the support of the women suffrage campaign. 8:00, ening at >> a tent of the black population would lead the race
to freedom and develop this notion at the beginning of the century. there were 9 million african-americans. of this 9 million less than 20,000. >> georgetown university professor, or east jackson on w.e.b. dubois. role as anife, his educator, and relationship with other activists. approach ofth the the anniversary of the smithsonian, we will showcase a series of films. this weekend we look at the 1966 film "science reporter." it examines the problem of feeding astronauts on long-duration missions. fungi,use of algae, plants, bacteria, or a combination of thereof where we do have essentially a small farm in space or microcosm.
you would produce your own food. you would region a rate oxygen and pickup fuel. >> for the complete schedule go to c-span.org. >> next, on "american history tv" law professor gabriel chen discusses whether the initial intent of the 1965 immigration act was to diversify america or if it was an unintended consequence. the professor argues that despite much racial tension in 1965, lawmakers at the time knew a much more diverse america was inevitable. the lecture is part of a two-day symposium hosted by the u.s. capital historical society on the history of immigration. it is about 40 minutes. >> our next speaker is gabriel chin