Skip to main content

tv   The Civil War James Longstreet and Reconstruction  CSPAN  May 5, 2018 11:10am-12:01pm EDT

11:10 am
not envision it to go this far when we started. our thoughts were let's clean up tyler, texas. it is amazing what has happened. our cities tour staff recently traveled to tyler, texas to learn about its history. and other about tyler stops on our tour at you're watching american history tv all weekend, every weekend on c-span3. next, on the civil war, university of virginia professor elizabeth varon talks about former confederate general james longstreet and his reputation after the civil war. she describes how longstreet joined the republican party during reconstruction and often had to defend his military service to other former confederates to suggest he was a traitor to the south for his views in politics. this 50-minute talk was part of a conference hosted by the
11:11 am
university of virginia center for civil war history. prof. varon: in march of 1867, james longstreet was thriving. he was regarded in the former confederate states as one of the great heroes of the civil war, having commanded the army of northern virginia first corps and won confederate victories at fredericksburg, among other battles. longstreet had been robert e. lee's work horse. settled where he he achieved economic success working as a cotton broker and enjoyed the company of other confederate generals, such as beauregard who was also living in the crescent city. longstreet was widely admired and liked by his fellow confederate. but, what a difference a few months made.
11:12 am
by june of 1867, longstreet's reputation was in tatters. he had become a pariah among former confederates in new orleans and across the south. reviled as a traitor to his party, his country and his race. what happened? the answer is clear. wall street published a series of letters -- longstreet published a series of letters in march, april and june of 1867 expressing his support for reconstruction and the republican party, the party of lincoln and emancipation. these letters exploded like a bomb in american politics and they changed the course of longstreet's life forever. today, i'm going to familiarize the context of these letters and survey the public reaction to them. somewhat surprising. and then i will come back to longstreet, the man, and try to shed some light on his motivation. modern scholars have cast longstreet as politically naive and inept.
11:13 am
i will offer an alternate image of james longstreet as a true iconoclast who rejected his society's demand for ideologically purity. our story begins in march of 1867. when a prominent new orleans democratic newspapers solicited the views of the leading citizens on what was the dominant question in southern politics. should former rebels comply with the reconstruction program or resist it? let me do a little stage setting. congress' program divided the former confederate states into five military districts who had the purview of a commanding general. these military commanders were to supervise the creation of a new electorate, including african-american men and excellence some unpardoned rebels. that electorate would create new state governments in the form of confederate states. congress was, in essence,
11:14 am
establishing new biracial coalitions in the former confederate states. the congressional program was designed to override and supplant president johnson's own controversial reconstruction program. johnson assumed office after lincoln's assassination. he had overtime abandoned his wartime alliance with the republican party and reasserted his identity as a southern democrat. he granted thousands of pardons the former confederate leaders, permitting them to return to power in the south. state governments urge to push the former slaves through a harsh regime of the so-called black code and violence, into a state of subordination as close as possible to slavery. johnson essentially went to war with the republican congress, vetoed its efforts to grant free people of the rights of citizenship.
11:15 am
johnson's erratic behavior alienated and republicans in congress are able to institute their own policy. in louisiana, which had been the scene of much of this postwar violence and turmoil, congressional reconstruction went into effect in march of 1867 under the direction of philip sheridan. this plan was opposed and decried by former confederates, most of whom were democrats and favored and supported president johnson. this is the setting in which james longstreet offered up the first of his letters. on march 1867, longstreet wrote to the new orleans times the following -- "there can be no discredit to people for accepting the conditions offered by their coffers or any for feeling of humiliation.
11:16 am
we made an honest fight but we have lost. let us come forward and accept the terms as we are in duty bound to do." longstreet wrote the times a few days later developing a theme. again, longstreet spoke of the need to accept defeat, only this time he enumerated exactly what he felt confederates had lost in the war. he wrote it involved "the surrender to the claim of the right." "the surrender of the armor political relations to the negro." "the surrender of the confederacy." the south's duty was to speed the work of reconstruction and put our people in a condition to make their own laws. he noted in this letter that he was aware of the prevailing
11:17 am
southern opinions that "we cannot do wrong and northerners cannot to write. cannot do right." but, he urged that each should extend charity if they expected in return. among former confederates, longstreet's initial letters did not spark much of a reaction. reaction was muted. his sterling military reputation gave him the benefit of the doubt. as one newspaper put it, military commanders were presumed to be men of chivalry and honor and practical in all cases. longstreet was simply advising the south to face reality. the self no longer had the power to fight so it must conform with the law. longstreet's letters were initially interpreted as a plea that southerners participate in reconstruction politics in orders to make the best of a bad bargain, as none other than confederate former rear admiral put it.
11:18 am
this early press coverage interestingly often aligned longstreet with other confederate leaders, robert e lee and beauregard and a few others, who publicly urged southerners to be law-abiding and focus on rebuilding their political influence within the union. even newspapers that were more critical of these initial letters refrained from writing long street off altogether, pronouncing his letter a curiosity. the augusta constitutionalist stipulated because of his wartime deeds of valor, longstreet deserves a respectful hearing. the paper rejected his position, saying the south should not accept the degrading terms of the reconstruction act. a memphis paper took a similar tact, respectively instructing longstreet that the south could assentense -- could not
11:19 am
to a plan that is so punitive. longstreet's letters filled the mind of his admirers with regret. this regret soon turned to rage. on june 3, longstreet wrote a third letter. this one appeared in the new orleans republican and reprinted with extensive commentary across the country. this letter was addressed to a former union soldier and staunch new orleans republican, the brother-in-law of union general benjamin butler -- no friend of new orleans. parker was one of a number of republicans who made overtures to longstreet after those initial letters had come out, inviting him to attend a republican rally in may of 1867, featuring a speech by a massachusetts abolitionist, henry wilson. longstreet attended the rally and had rather a good time. his june letter began by saying so. he wrote "i was agreeably surprised to meet such fairness
11:20 am
in a politician who i have been taught to believe was opposed to the white people of the south." longstreet professed in this third letter to offer a practical approach to reconstruction with the aim of peace and prosperity. then, he made it all arresting rhetorical pitch. "it matters not whether i'm bear the mental of mr. davis or mr. sumner, so long i can help to bring the piece of good will to men." this was highly provocative language. jefferson davis, the former president of the confederacy. sumner was charles sumner, loathed by confederates and had been for many years. this letter would get more provocative still. longstreet offered the self-evident proposition that the highest of human laws is the law that is established by appeal to arms.
11:21 am
he then deduced since the sword decided in the favor of north, northern principles had become law. it was the duty of the defeated south to "abandon ideas that are obsolete." among the things that longstreet classed as obsolete was the democratic party itself. [laughter] which was nothing more than a vehicle for old prejudice. his words. sounding a lot like a republican, longstreet described congress' reconstruction act as peace offerings which would give the south a fresh start. he directly addressed the issue of race relations, casting black suffrage in the south and arguing that the spirit of black voting should be extended to the north and fully tested, as he put it. a few days later, longstreet offered a fourth letter, a coda
11:22 am
to the june 3 offering where he reiterated his claim that the war was made upon republican issues and the summit should be -- the settlement should be made accordingly. these june letters by longstreet ignited a political firestorm. southern newspapers opposed to reconstruction disected them in a spirit of wrath. longstreet's letter writing have become chronic. it is a very difficult thing to know when to speak and how often to speak. some found longstreet's characterization of the reconstruction act as a peace offering to be ludicrous and chided longstreet with a nautical metaphor -- "in accepting the reconstruction act, we are accepting a hard bargain driven by a heartless and unrelenting enemy who would be glad to sink us many fathoms deep in the ocean if possible."
11:23 am
referring to the likes of charles sumner, republicans were led by "ranting, raving new england puritans." such views were common among southern democrats that were appalled that longstreet jumped ship. the louisiana democrat specifically took aim at the passage where longstreet declared it mattered not whether he bore the mantle of davis or sumner. if it matters not for general longstreet, it matters a great deal for those who fought under him, the paper objected. adding, just imagine general lee classing sumner with that of jefferson davis. longstreet was a tool of the radical republicans. he would be left to starve by his new allies, they predicted, as soon as they took advantage
11:24 am
of his enviable reputation. a key point -- no longer after these june letters, the democratic papers likened longstreet's advice -- instead he was in a category of his own. alone in his apostasy. southern newspapers classed him with benedict arnold for his wicked desertion of his friends and country. that is a quote. some southern papers targeted longstreet as arbiter proposition. war never settles any principles whatsoever, the shreveport southwestern insisted. adding the only thing settled by the civil war was the assertion of thesuperior power north. the charleston mercury went even farther in condemning longstreet's position. "according to the radical logic of general longstreet, when our
11:25 am
lord was crucified, christianity should have died. christ was an imposter and it -- and if general longstreet was one of his disciples, he would have joined christ's murderers and helped them to prosecute his other disciples and crushed his cause." not content with this, the mercury added that longstreet would have sided with the inquisition against galileo. [laughter] the man who asserts that force settles truth, it concluded, was hardly worthy to have either a conscious or a god. some of his southern critics cast longstreet a race traitor. the mobile daily tribune simply wished longstreet dead. it wrote "it had become a subject of regret that the wound he received at the battle of the wilderness was not mortal."
11:26 am
we would have been spared the mortification of being with his -- of seeing him with the enemies of his country and race. these papers were developing arguments that had a long history. we could trace them back to the spring of 1865. at the very moment of surrender, confederates began laying the building blocks of lost cause ideology, claiming the north victory was one of might over right, of superior numbers over resources and claiming that the confederates fought flawlessly for a still righteous cause. this lost cause take on defeat was designed to preempt social change by denigrating the northern victory as a mere show of force. southerners hoped to deny northerners a political mandate for reconstruction.
11:27 am
his letters seemed to his critics to be a wholesale rejection of his confederate position of lost cause ideology and embrace of the heretical idea that the union won a moral and military victory in the civil war. in reality, longstreet was not as much of a outlier as his critics made him out to be. there were southern whites willing to affiliate with the republican party. indeed, southern whites formed the dominant element in the coalition, working in tandem with black southerners and northern transplants to the south. most of these white southern republicans, like longstreet, saw the republican party as the means to an end. relatively few had an interest in racial justice. from the start of reconstruction, opponents of the congressional program used propaganda, fraud and violence
11:28 am
to draw these southern whites in the republican coalition back into the democratic hold. the demonizing of longstreet was an essential element of that project, as he was the most prominent former confederate to join republican ranks and set a potentially dangerous example. it was a threat that had to be neutralized in their minds. the anti-longstreet ire of southern newspapers was stoked by northern enthusiasm by the -- enthusiasm for the rebel's general's letters. republican newspapers lavished praise on longstreet and held him up as a bellwether. the san francisco daily bulletin saw evidence that a "revolution in opinion has begun in the late slave states and the reconstructing act opened the way for national ideas to enter the south and for the
11:29 am
organization of a strong republican party there." naturally, republicans relished longstreet's critique of the democratic party. as the philadelphia north american and united states gazette put it, the war had discredited the democrats in the south and north so much so, that as a national party and political power, they were lost. some northern papers used longstreet's letters to get in a dig at the copperhead democrats, those that were opposed to lincoln and emancipation during the war. a pennsylvania paper wrote of ohio's notorious -- acknowledge that he was wrong. the context for these northern reactions was northerners abiding faith in the possibility of southern deliverance.
11:30 am
their hope that they could distance raw white southerners, particularly the non-slaveholding masters to concession a slaveholding elite so that the rebels would renounce their own confederate leaders and re-embrace the union on the north terms. this belief in changing southern hearts and minds was a part of the union or -- war effort. it was at work in lincoln's wartime offer of amnesty to those that repented. and it was at work in grant's surrender terms at appomattox. longstreet's letters were hailed by republicans because they represented a best case scenario. that some of the old elite even would see the light and exert benign influence. interestingly, again and again, northern coverage played up longstreet's military stature to amplify his potential political
11:31 am
influence. precisely because the general had displayed such firmness and devotion to the south, southern people could safely follow his lead and guidance during reconstruction. interestingly, republican commentary on the longstreet letters often contrasted the honorable comportment of surrendered confederate soldiers with the defiant posture of demagogues, editors and politicians, the very men who criticized longstreet so harshly. the new york tribune, a very popular paper, offered the most memorable defense of longstreet. the following was quoted in many northern papers. he said, "longstreet space the mind of thousands of most sensible, but the poor general was shouted down by a growling,
11:32 am
yelling, and snapping in southern editorial dens. lampooned, fire eating southern editors, who, during the war boldly stayed at home, flung metaphorical flags to the breeze, charged in the abstract and vanquished theoretically." he was on a roll and he continued -- "what do you ask was james longstreet doing at this time? nothing, sir, absolutely nothing. only meandering listlessly about in the wilderness managing to get himself wounded, eating less meat in one week than our editors eat in one breakfast. unreconstructed rebels with clamor and rage but all will come right. a small cadre of republican newspapers that were taking root
11:33 am
in the south joined this chorus of praise for longstreet. the new orleans republican, for an example, used a military metaphor, arguing that longstreet's letters had exposed masked batteries of unrepentant rebels. "general longstreet's batteries shelled the wounds where these people were in ambush. he threw their fire and enabled us to see what their position is. it is simply this. what they failed to accomplish by war, they now seek to accomplish by political stratagem." in other words, unreconstructed rebels were angling for power. some of these unionists republican papers in the south were every bit as breathless as counterparts in characterizing longstreet's conversion as a bellwether a good sign. the union flag of jonesboro, tennessee declared "we look upon
11:34 am
this change in his political course as a change in the sentiment and feelings of the entire southern people. the sword of truth and justice will conquer and overthrow the error which has long enslaved the southern people." just as longstreet's letters are a window for us in two divisions within the south between those who supported reconstruction and those who opposed it, the letters are also a window into the division in the north. just as longstreet has southern supporters, he had northern critics. some of those northern critics offer up some of the most overblown in the activists hurled at the general. conservative northern democrats who opposed lincoln, copperheads who opposed lincoln and emancipation and now opposed black citizenship joined with confederates in condemning james longstreet.
11:35 am
the new hampshire patriot and gazette cast longstreet as a dupe who debased himself only to receive absolution from the hands of the radicals. "longstreet eats dirt with a hearty relish. it evidently agrees with him. it seems to be his natural diet. it added did the gallant rebel ever hear of the spider's invitation?" the bedford gazette of pennsylvania tore a page out of a democratic playbook by arguing that there was a national affinity between radical republicans on one extreme and secessionists, as both sets were educators who were disunionists. this paper wrote it was only
11:36 am
natural that these radicals took to the general as fleas to a dog. no other newspaper came close to its anti-longstreet investments of the old guard, the new york copperhead paper edited by chauncey burr. burke loaded with glee the editor that wished longstreet died in the wilderness and offered its own indictment of longstreet, calling it the mongrel congress and the enemies of the caucasian race. dismissing longstreet's professed desire for peace and insisting that all white men must oppose reconstructing to their final breath, burr hissed "in the grave, there is peace in honor, but there is eternal unrest." longstreet, burr concluded, had miserably tarnished a once bright and honored name.
11:37 am
all of this press turmoil raises a question -- how can we explain james longstreet's actions in the spring of 1867? his modern biographers have argued that longstreet was in over his head. he was politically inept and misunderstood. in their view, he did not mean when he wrote these four controversial letters to repudiate his confederate identity or his commitment to white rule in the south. but, hampered by political naivete, beleaguered by ambition, longstreet in their view did an ineffectual job of explaining to his fellow southern whites what his true intentions were. those intentions to reestablish the white south's power in regional and national politics. this scholarly interpretation has some merit. there is ample evidence that longstreet did indeed seek to hasten the return of the white elite to the power in the south.
11:38 am
as he put in a private letter, "we should do the work of politics ourselves and have it white instead of black and have our best men in office." revealingly, the new orleans tribune, which represented the city's free black population argued in 1867 that longstreet was not to be trusted as a real republican, not to be trusted as an ally. according to that paper, longstreet cynically hoped the experiment of black suffrage would fail so that both north and south would reject it forever. longstreet looks to the best mode of disenfranchising the colored people, the paper wrote. he is a leader looking forward to taking back our rights. if longstreet had more clearly communicated these intentions to his fellow southern whites, his modern biographers suggest, he would not have been branded a traitor and misunderstood.
11:39 am
longstreet compounded his woes, modern scholars emphasize, through his inept efforts to set the record straight on his own military performance during the war. as many of you surely know, for decades, longstreet zealously defended his generalship against critics who sought to make him the scapegoat for confederate military defeat. these critics, led by jubile early, argued that longstreet had been a judas in war as he was in peace. they accused him of traitorous disobedience to robert e. lee on july 2, 1863. his failure to carry out a morning attack on the lines of gettysburg. a cadre of confederates tells marshall and richard taylor, devoted themselves after robert
11:40 am
e. lee's death, to canonizing lee as the marbled man of the confederacy whose brilliant, infallible generalship and flawless character exemplified the moral invincibility of the lost cause. in the view of these men, longstreet was guilty of not only disobeying lee, but of slandering him. they highlighted, for example, a quote for may 1866 history by swinton in which longstreet was criticized lee. early in his cadre claimed in other words that longstreet had dared to pick a fight with the saintly lee and to cast aspersions on lee's good name. longstreet was deeply resentful of these charges. he disputed them. he remained proud to his dying day of his confederate identity and he professed profound love and respect for robert e lee.
11:41 am
he stayed close to certain officers. he attended reunions and ceremonies of his beloved first corps. he cherished support from his troops, he threw himself into writing articles on the war for journals such as century magazine and into writing a 690 page memoir which was published in 1896. in all of these activities, longstreet presented himself as se republican party affiliation should in no way supplant his standing as a proud confederate. but longstreet was his biographers have noted his own worst enemy when defending his military dictation. he lashed out in fury against his retractors. he showed a unbecoming jealousy of lee's reputation.
11:42 am
as a result, while some former confederates, particularly men who served closely with him , were willing to praise his military record, most confederates were not willing to separate the two. there was no room for republican scalawags or for a critic of lee in the confederate pantheon. in my mind the image of , longstreet as inept and misunderstood doesn't fully capture his political views or abilities. he comes across in the secondary literature as a slow witted dullard. i read a lot of his writings. i did not find that. i think he could turn a phrase and i will propose to you that we ought to think of longstreet as a critic of his own society. we should note first that longstreet was keenly aware in 1867 that he was taking
11:43 am
political risks when he wrote these letters. before he released his 1867 letter, he ran it by his uncle. the uncle was a very well-known proslavery ideologue. a defender of state's rights. the old man deemed longstreet's letter too direct for the time warning it will ruin you, son, if you publish it. right after the letter appeared in print -- that june 3 letter, longstreet sought the endorsement of robert e lee. he wrote lee asking for his support and he was sternly rebuffed by lee. lee wrote to longstreet "i cannot think the course pursued by the dominant political party in the best interest of the country and i cannot say so or give the republicans any approval." longstreet in other words knew
11:44 am
he was out on a limb. he had ample and repeated opportunities to retreat to safety and he chose not to. instead, he became starting in 1867, deeply immersed in republican party politics. the party rewarded him for this support. it granted him full pardon and restoration of his political rights and the stowed -- and bestowed political office on him in 1869. he served as a surveyor for the port of new orleans. again, longstreet had opportunities to retreat. the republican party of louisiana was deeply factionalized. longstreet could have chosen to ally in the early 1870's with the more conservative of the louisiana republican factions,
11:45 am
the so-called liberal republicans who favored removing federal troops from the south and granting broad amnesty to confederates. instead, longstreet chose in louisiana's bitter gubernatorial election cycle of 1873, to back the faction led by union veterans. william h kellogg and pbs punch back led that coalition. in the battle of liberty place in 1874, longstreet led the largely african-american new orleans metropolitan police and state militia and literally fought to defend the republican state government against a violent takeover by the white supremacist group, the white league, which was a paramilitary arm full of confederate veterans. some of his former soldiers of the democratic party. battle, longstreet was taken prisoner by the white league and it took federal
11:46 am
troops sent by president grant. longstreet could no longer remain in new orleans after this and in 1875 he decamped and resettled his family in gainesville, georgia. he in no sense turned away from politics. he remained an active republican party officeholder. he held posts as a internal revenue service collector postmaster and ambassador to the , ottoman empire. at each turn, he vociferously denied accusations that his partisanship was motivated by a desire for the emoluments of office. he wrote to a virginia newspaper in 1875 -- there has been no room at any time for doubts as to my motive and wishes into regard to our politics. when they were first announced i , stated expressly that i could see no other way by which the
11:47 am
southern people could reinstate themselves in proper sympathy to the government. there commenced and ended all my reasons and motives in reference to this matter. my letters of so plainly expressed my views that no one can misconstrue them except through malice. longstreet felt he was not so much misunderstood as maliciously misrepresented. emphasizedlars have that southerners proved susceptible to democratic threats and appeals and were persuaded to turn against reconstruction. as i have suggested longstreet , was no weak link. he made a lifetime commitment to the republican party and he did not retreat from it even in the face of intense pressure. how can we understand this commitment to the republican party is longstreet's deep and enduring and unlikely friendship
11:48 am
with ulysses s. grant. the two men met in the early 1840's, when they were both cadets. they came from different backgrounds. they quickly became fast friends despite these differences. they were both posted to jefferson barracks, missouri after graduation and win grant cousin, a distant longstreet was his groomsmen. their paths didn't cross again until the two met in appomattox. grant approached longstreet and invited him to recall the days that were so pleasant. longstreet was delighted but not surprised. how my heart swells out to such a magnanimous touch of humanity.
11:49 am
why do men fight who are born to be brothers, longstreet would later recall. from that moment on, grant was longstreet's political polestar. an image persists in the popular culture of lee and grants having a meeting of the minds at appomattox jointly embracing peace. as i have argued elsewhere, they were ideologically worlds apart in appomattox. in reality, it was longstreet and grant who had a meeting of the minds in appomattox. longstreet understood the spirit grant intended them. as a invitation for southerners to return to the fold. through all the turmoil of reconstruction, longstreet stuck with grant. longstreet publicly endorsed grant during the presidential race of 1868 describing him as
11:50 am
my man, adding i believe he is a fair man who will bring a prosperous restoration of the union. it was grant who appointed longstreet to federal office of surveyor of customs when grant became president. in the factional battles of new orleans politics, he chose the side that grant supported. longstreet wrote to and consulted with grant frequently during reconstruction and after his death in 1885, longstreet described grant as my lifetime personal friend -- kindest when i was most fiercely assaulted. and as the truest as well as the bravest man who ever lived. needless to say, this reverence for grant flew in the face of a lost cause in which lee reigned supreme.
11:51 am
longstreet rejected that lost cause because it did not accord with what he knew to be true. namely that grant was good and fair man. it wasn't only the lost cause that he rejected. he also rejected lost cause orthodoxies on slave and race. let me be perfectly clear longstreet was not a racial egalitarian. he remained committed to white role in the south. but crucially he was not committed enough to satisfy his critics. i will give you an example. in august of 1868, while visiting new york, longstreet gave an interview with the new york tribune and in this interview he endorsed grant for president. the tribune reporter asked longstreet about race relations in the south and about whether
11:52 am
free blacks would be a reliable and laboring class. longstreet said they would. the reporter then asked whether blacks should serve on juries. longstreet began by saying not in all instances. he claimed african americans were generally ignorant on matters of businesses and not suitable for juries. he then proposed a compromise position on this he said if it -- if a district is supposed to do right by them, the jury may be divided. the next question the reporter posed was about negro supremacy. longstreet replied that cannot never be. it is silly to think of it. the whites of the south know it
11:53 am
but they are misled by politicians. in this interview, longstreet is giving voice to racism. he is disavowing radicalism and egalitarianism. he also in this interview is -- he is saw my time sign -- also in this interview pointedly rejecting a major tenet of lost cause politics. president johnson and southern democrats repeatedly argued that any black political participation would lead to negro supremacy. race relations as a zero-sum game in which it would result in abject subjugation for whites. longstreet rejected this form of racist propaganda.
11:54 am
he believed a limited kind of biracial politics was possible. that blacks could be constituents in the south and even exercise some authority and leadership in alliance with the whites. again, rebels in the south assailed him for taking the position i just described. the mobile tribune, after this interview, described him as in full communion with the radicals. the paper scorns the idea that one could simultaneously be a loyal confederate and a republican. a man should be one thing or the other. longstreet fired back insisting in a published letter of 1858 that his critics have lost sight of the interest of people in their zeal to maintain their ideals and consistency.
11:55 am
in closing i would like to , highlight one last crucial element. namely, his experience of loss. in the second of those four letters which i described for you, the april letter, he offers up what is maybe the most revealing passage of his motivations. he wrote in that letter, the soldier prefers to have the sod that receives him when he falls cover his remains. the political questions of the war should have been buried on the fields. cherished objects, blood of our blood, life of our life, is not duly deposited. so it must be with this dead matter. if the last funeral rites of the southern confederacy have not been performed let us proceed to , the discharge of that painful
11:56 am
duty and let us deposit in the same grave the agony of our grief that we may better prepare ourselves for a return to the duties of this life. i believe that in this passage he was channeling a personal agony, the loss of his children, five of whom died in infancy, -- the couple lost three children. -- lost three children in a scarlet fever epidemic in virginia. longstreet was devastated by this loss. his reference in this april letter to our most cherished objects of this earth is a window into his lasting trauma and also into how he soldiered on and discharged his duty by
11:57 am
burying the dead and the past. lasts long -- in his years, his reputation was rehabilitated in confederate eyes. in the 1880's and 1890's with reconstruction defeated and one-party democratic roles reinstated in the south, he seemed less a threat than he had before. more confederates were now willing to set aside his political career and to celebrate his wartime heroics. some even saw him as a herald of reconciliation who had urged before it became fashionable that northerners and southerners should bury the hatchet and reconstitute their bonds. he was described in 1904 as the rainbow of reconciliation that foreshadowed real peace between the north and south.
11:58 am
longstreet's second wife 42 years her husband's junior and an iconoclast in her own right , played a major role in his rehabilitation. from the time of their marriage until her own death in 1962 she would actively defend longstreet's wartime and postwar records. in recent years, longstreet has undergone a different sort of rehabilitation. some commentators have suggested that he deserves a public monument in the south to celebrate his postwar political courage. i have tried to show that longstreet was a man of his time who defies easy categorization as a villain or hero. deserves reconsideration as it represents the endless capacity of southern .istory to do privacy
11:59 am
-- that deprives us. thank you. five, sunday morning, on 1968, america in turmoil. we look at the impact of the vietnam war on home. while the war was fought in the jungles, student activism dominated headlines. joining us to talk about that time are doug stanton, arthur of the odyssey of echo company, the tet offensive and the epic battle to survive the war. filmmaker lynn novak whose most recent project with ken burns was the 10 part documentary, the vietnam war. watch 1968, american in turmoil and on american history tv on c-span3.
12:00 pm
>> next, on the presidency. we hear about dolley madison's political talents, and the working partnership she forged with her husband to create a sense of personal and political excitement during their white house years. the president and ceo of the montpelier foundation, she recalls dolley's life and time, and her political successes. the virginia museum of history and culture, and james madison's and montpelier hosted this event. it is 50 minutes. >> today's lecture is cosponsored by our friends at james madison's montpelier. with us to talk about the home's most famous female occupant is the president and ceo of montpelier and the montpelier foundation. she is the first of the women to oversee all aspects of the historic site. under her leadership, montpelier has become an absolute


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on