Wednesday, 26 December 2012

American Slaves and Emancipation

This is a great article examining the history of Emancipation, and how former slaves used photography to emphasise their freedom. Some examples can be seen by following the link:

"If the grand experiment fails"

In 1846, James Macbeth argued that slavery was poisoning the United States, the land of self-professed liberty, and it's such a powerful statement I had to replicate it here. 

“...if the grand experiment of the American republic fails – and through the fierce passions which slavery engenders, it is provoking danger every hour from within and from without – then woe to the cause of liberty over the earth. To save that republic, its slavery must be abolished, and if it be not extricated by the energetic action of its churches – at present so shamefully lethargic – it will not be extricated peacefully and the last lingering tints of the bow of hope on that western sky may soon disappear in a revolutionary storm – in a shower of blood…”

That "shower of blood" would become the Civil War.

(|Macbeth, James, “No Fellowship with slaveholders: a calm review of the debate on slavery in the Free Assembly of 1846, addressed respectfully to the Assembly of 1847, and to the members and kirk sessions of the Free Church”, Glasgow, 1846, pp.3-37.)

Monday, 24 December 2012

The Christmas Truce

A letter has been found recording the famous football game that was held between British and German soldiers during the Christmas Truce of 1914.

In some areas along the Western Front, soldiers from both sides yelled christmas greetings to each other, sang carols, and even walked across No Man's Land to exchange cigarettes.

Sergeant Clement Barker recorded how a game of football started when the British kicked a ball across No Man's Land. The letter is an incredibly important document, especially in the light of the centenary anniversary of the start of the First World War in 1914.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Memorial to Black Soldiers of the Revolution

A memorial to over 5,000 free and enslaved African Americans who fought in the Revolutionary War has been given the go ahead by the Senate. A small section of federal land has been provided for the National Mall Liberty Fund D.C., although federal money will not be used to install the monument. Plans for the memorial have been under construction for thirty years.

It will be interesting to chart the course of this memorial, as with anything to do with public history, it is bound to be controversial. On a separate note, I think Britain should do something about this Revolutionary legacy - I mean, we promised thousands of African Americans freedom and then decided to "conveniently" forget about this.

Americans and their Confederate Heritage

The Confederate flag has always been a controversial symbol, now arguably even more so - and famous figures always receive praise or abuse for flaunting it. Trace Adkins wore a Confederate-styled ear piece to turn on the Christmas lights at the Rockefeller Centre, and he has sparked another debate about its meaning. Racial symbol or a mark of Southern heritage? That's the tricky thing about 'symbols', they mean different things to different people, especially when it is taken out of historical context and used for present (or political) ends. I personally don't agree with it, but tell that to the state of Mississippi - its flag still contains a Confederate cross.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Trench Talk

This article from the Telegraph is really interesting - two historians have been researching words and phrases that originated during World War One. Terms like "pushing up daises", "blighty", "fed up" and  "lousy", all began in the 'war to end all wars.'

Is this the Iceberg that Sank the Titanic?

A photograph taken of a peculiarly shaped iceberg two days before the Titanic sank has surfaced, and some experts believe that this may have been the iceberg that collided with the infamous ship. The unusual shape and its position in the Atlantic offer compelling evidence to suggest it might be...

On the 12 April 1912, Captain W.F Wood took this photograph, printed it, and recorded the coordinates of this huge iceberg. According to some survivors of the Titanic, the iceberg had an interesting elliptical shape, much like the one in the photograph. The size of the iceberg, and the fact that it was roughly ten miles from the Titanic's position have got many Titanic enthusiasts very excited.

The photograph is due to be auctioned next week, and is expected to reach between $8000-10,000.