QUESTIONS AND RESPONSES: THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR MUSEUM
How do you plan to present the history without favoring one or another point of view?
We are committed to helping visitors understand the full scope and breadth of this American experience in ways that create deeper connections to the past and greater understanding of the personal, political and social dynamics of the Civil War era.
Some people have objections to or discomfort with anything related to the Confederacy. Others have expressed the view that we are denying Confederate history or attempting to sanitize the story.
Our goal is to tell the comprehensive story of the Civil War and its impact on all Americans of the time: soldier, citizen, merchant, politician, man, woman and child. Our purpose is to ensure historical – not political – accuracy. Our intent is to respect and acknowledge our combined American experience without showing favor to one group or another.
You are going to tell the full story of the Civil War. Are you going to fly a Confederate flag and play Dixie when you fly the US flag and play Battle Hymn of the Republic or the National Anthem? Are you going to fly a Confederate flag if you fly a US flag?
The goal of the American Civil War Museum is to help a diverse national and international audience learn American Civil War history in all its breadth and scope. If a particular object, whether flag or song or whatever, is pertinent to telling the story it will be included. With respect to the flags, it is our intention to fly the flags that flew during the period and which represented the United States and Confederate States governments. Specifically, they are the 35-star American Flag and the Confederate First National Flag.
Will the White House of the Confederacy be forced to change its name?
During the Civil War, the stately home on Clay Street was the Executive Mansion of the Confederate States of America. From August 1861 to March 1865, it was the official residence of President Jefferson Davis, his wife Varina and their children, and was the social, political and military center of the Confederacy. Beginning in 1890, members of the Confederate Memorial Literary Society referred to it as the White House of the Confederacy. We believe that name has historical significance and will continue to refer to the structure as such.
How do you respond to those who believe “War Between the States” – rather than “Civil War” – is the proper way to refer to the conflict?
For the better part of the past 150 years there has been debate concerning what to call the conflict of 1861-65. It has been referred to in many ways, including the War Between the States, the War of Northern Aggression, the War of Southern Rebellion and many others. MOC Historian John Coski wrote a detailed article on the debates in the January 2006 issue of North & South magazine.
“…Students of the war also need a name that they can use not to provoke discussion, but merely to designate the subject of their study – a name that is common currency,” Coski wrote in conclusion. “That common currency is Civil War. It was a name that Jefferson Davis, Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Henry Hallack, Nathan Bedford Forrest, and William T. Sherman used. If it were good enough for them, it should be good enough for us.”
We believe the term “American Civil War” is historically accurate and the most easily understood descriptor for the conflict, for Americans and the thousands from abroad who visit and donate. We have thus chosen it for our new name.