tv Colonial Civil War Christmas Traditions CSPAN December 25, 2019 2:20pm-3:21pm EST
mountain state of west virginia. you can wind chill this and other programs on the history of communities across the country at cspan.org cities tour. this is american history tv, only on cspan3. museum docent brad stone presents in festive look at christmas traditions from the colonial era through the civil where. mr. stone dressed asset a patriotic santa zpikted in 1863 cartoon drawn by thomas nast talks about the political role in christmas in america. is the clara barton missing soldiers museum hosted this event. >> all right we're getting started for this evening's event. welcome to the clara bartonis ming soldiers office museum. i'm jake erwin and director of interpretation at the museum operated in partnership between the general services administration and the national museum of civil war medicine.
i always like to ask this question. how many of you have been here before? show of hands? all right. everybody. great. welcome back to the museum. always like to make a shoutout when i see mr. richard lions in the audience. the reason we are here in this space is because mr. lyons made an incredible discover in the 90s that saved the building from being torn down. always like a round of applause for mr. lyons for his discovery. this evening's program is a pay what you please event. meaning that at the conclusion of the program we encourage you to leave a donation based on what you thought the program and the museum is worth to you. and for an evening of civil war history the donation bin is at the bom of the stairs at the front of the visitor center on the first floor. as you head out this evening if you would just drop something in there, all proceeds go to support the clara barton missing soldiers office museum.
the museum is member supported as well. if you are interested in learning more about membership or about becoming a member and supporter of the museum, please let myself or other staff members ken down at the front desk know. we will be happy to assist you. but tonight's program we are excited about. we're exploring how the civil war shaped the celebration of christmas in the united states. tonight's presenter is brad stone, a longtime docent at the national museum of civil war medicine and a dear friend of mine. here is a bit about brad. he has had a long career with the federal government as a senior public relations executive dealing with a wide innovator of public health issues. in experience included leading public operations of the u.s. food and drugs administration and the u.s. substance abuse and mental health services administration. he currently combines interests in the civil war and medical history by volunteers as a docent on a regular basis at the national museum of civil war medicine and also aboard the uss
constellation in baltimore, harbor. please join me in welcome brad stone, our civil war santa. >> thank you. thank you, jake. and again, thank you all very very much for coming out tonight. i hope that since it's christmas time, the presentation i'm going to be giving is not the typical boring history talk. instead, i intend it to make a boring history talk in which you can win some exciting prizes during the talk. i'll be giving some challenges that fit into the discussion about how the civil war really shaped the christmas holiday we all know and enjoy today. so to start out with injury it's important to see how christmas was celebrated from the inception of our country to today and how, again, the civil war really shaped modern holiday. to begin with we should go back
to colonial times. i think a lot of americans assume that the holiday that we celebrate today was really brought to us by our pilgrim forefathers. well, that's definitely not the case. in fact, our pilgrim forefathers, the pilgrims and puritans did not particularly care for the holiday at all. in fact sthey shunned it. they viewed it it as associatewood things like the church of england which they had to flee or catholicism which they didn't like. so in new england, the holiday was not celebrated at all. in fact for quite a period of time in places like boston it was illegal to celebrate the holiday. and if you were caught doing so you would be severely fined. now, other colonies had a far different approach to the holiday. in places like jamestown they
did celebrate christmas. but they don't celebrate it -- or didn't celebrate it in the way we do today in a refer inks day it was for the more of a partying holiday. in his diary captain james smith of the jamestown colony recorded he had lots of eggnog that day and full of spirit but not necessarily religious spirit. again, from our colonial times, the holiday is perceived in different ways by americans. now we'll go to revolutionary times. again, different colonies look at it different ways. and people within the colonies look at it in different ways. many of the patriots are actually somewhat suspicious of the holiday. again, they associate it with britain. and at that point they really
don't want much to do with britain. so they avoid celebrating it. but others like george washington do celebrate it. but, again, he celebrates it in a different way that most of us would do today. it isn't really to him and many others a major religious holiday. indeed, he doesn't consider it that. and that's one of the reasons why he chooses it in 1776 to launch one of his most decisive attacks of the war, against the heshen barracks in trenen, new jersey. it's a very successful attack one of his most successful victories. in large part it's due to the fact that the heshen who were german mercenaries fighting for the british do observe the holiday. they night of christmas eve
setting up decorations eating special foods and drinking. now, contrary to popular misconception, they don't drink themselves into a drunken stupor. that's not why they are defeated the following morning. but a large part of the defeat is due to the fact that they are observing the christmas holiday. and the americans are not. so, again, in revolutionary times, christmas is not the holiday we think of today. so in looking why christmas in america is not sore of universally reveered. we have to look at what americans are thinking of when they think of christmas around the end of 18th century and early 19th century. and they are looking at the traditions of europe. at that time america is almost entirely a nation of immigrants. so they're looking at the
traditions of europe and other places. and when you look at those traditions a lot of them rrnt very reverent and a lot have weird aspects to them. one of the big practices in england and other parts of europe is the practice of mumerring. that's one of the major ways you celebrate the christmas season. what is mumerring? today we may think of mumerrors as people marching in the parade in philadelphia. but mumers at the time of you know, the late 18th century early 19th century are groups of people, usually wearing masks and disguises. and they a lot of them come from sort of the lower socioeconomic spectrum. and they're going to houses of more well off families and what they do is they basically
entertain them in exchange for entertainment they expect stuff. it's either food, or it's presents. or very often is alcohol. this is apparent when you look at the traditional songs we sing today. one of them is we wish you a merry christmas. well that sounds pretty wholesome. about you if look at the lyrics carefully you see things like for we all like some figury pudding. we all like some figury pudding. bring it right here. we won't go until we get some. to me that sounds more like extortion threat than cigaretting. so it's understandable americans have skepticism about the holiday. another favorite. here we come awasling what's
that about. >> again the bands of masked people coming to your home saying we want alcohol. the wasle is a traditional punch bowl you provide alcoholic beverages from. in some cases this is the halloween from hell. indeed in newfoundland they outlaw mumerring because people have been murdered in the homes by gangs of mumers. so in the early 19th century it's understandable a lot of americans are wary of celebrating christmas. now, that's going to change for a couple of big reasons. oops. well i don't have the slide so i'll talk about it instead. two of the big things that are going to influence how the holiday is celebrated occur at
the very outset of the 19th century. the first is the second great awakening. this is an enormous religious survival movement that sweeps across the nation, and makes americans far more religious than they've ever been before. and it affects almost every aspect of their lives. and the major aspect of it is how they are going to look at tradition christian holidays like christmas. christmas becomes far more of a time for reveerens. and looking at the birth of christ and that affects how americans look at the holiday. the other major occurrence at the turn of the century is the industrial revolution is kicking off in places like england and
the united states particularly in the north. what that is doing is basically creating more availability of goods and affordable prices. and what does that allow you to do? well that allows you to manifest a spirit of giving and sharing at christmas by exchanging gifts. so, again, that is also a very important aspect and why americans start to warm up to the christmas holiday. now one of the other problems that americans face is even if you want to celebrate christmas, what tradition do you draw upon? all the nations of europe basically had different forms of christmas and different images of the spirit of christmas, or the santa claus type figure. now one basic problem is when do you celebrate the holiday? that ranges all over the
calendar. for example, if you are from holland you sbrit in early december. but if you are from eastern europe, you'll celebrate it in early january. and most other european nations have dates somewhere, you know, around the time we celebrate it but not exactly. so that's one question you have to answer. the other one is, again, who is the spirit of christmas going to center around? you have all these different figures, father christmas from england, peir knowle from france. santa claus from holland and belgium and st. nicholas from german. and they have things in common. they can be members of zz top, the beard thing going. but they have wildly different approaches. some are wildly spiritual, some not. some are focused on children and gifts to children.
some are more oriented to adult, you know, recreation. so different images and different approaches. so someone is going to decide how we celebrate the holiday and when we celebrate the holiday. so in looking at the christmas holiday -- oops. i'm sorry. so, there is the slide. okay. in looking at the holiday, we see that these forces that are driving america toward accepting christmas are starting to seep into our culture by the early 19th century. and you start to see in in the
literature that becomes more and more abundant as the century rolls on. it starts in america in 1819 with washington irving, one of america's most faumz writers, writing something, a series of essays called the sketch book of geoffrey crayon gentleman. basically laying out how a proper family should celebrate the holiday. you move away from drunken revelry to a more genteel, wholesome celebration of the holiday. shortly there after followed up in 1822 by reverend clement collar moore what he calls a visit from st. nicholas. what we call was 'twas the night before christmas. and that's laying out what christmas should be about, it's about the family, oriented to the children.
and he is doing things important to laying out the foundation for what santa should all be about. santa is a jolly guy. santa is there to provide presents to the boys and girls. he is a very benevolent figure. and he also establishes mode of transportation. how does santa get about? well it's in the poem, through flying reindeer. a lot of the things we think about christmas are established through this poem. now there are a few things that need to be tweaked. he refers to santa as a right jolly old elf. you can see a a little bit big to be an elf. he talks about tinny reindeer. i don't know if you you have seen any reindeer lately. i think they lose a few pounds. but he gets the elements correct. so much so here is the first challenge. can anyone name the 8 reindeer
in the poem? >> dasher prancer and vixen, and. >> c. pid. >> donner, blitzen. >> yeah, you got them all. so, for doing that, i'm going to bestow on -- i guess you can share these. these are reindeer nuggets. made by the reindeer. i won't tell you how they are made. but please pass them along and enjoy. there you go. congratulations to you all. there you go. the challenges get worse by the way. no just kidding. >> where was moore from. >> moore was from the united states. >> okay. but speaking of the other great literary influence of this era, charles dickens. he is from england. he will write the very famous and very influential "a
christmas carol." that's really going to establish a lot of aspects to the modern christmas as well, the idea of christian charity, the idea of it again being a family-centric holiday, and particularly the idea of children being at the forefront of it. and he does that to the figure of tiny tim. now it's very important that he is writing this at the time of queen victoria or the victorian age. and the reason being is during that period both in the united states and in england, everybody is following the lead of queen victoria's court. so his work is a blockbuster, not only in england but also in the united states. and we will talk about this more. but, again, what is happening in
victorian england will happen in the united states during this period. so we're starting to get to the point where everybody likes the christmas holiday. everybody wants to celebrate it. but the question is, whose tradition are you going to follow? as i mentioned before, there were all the european traditions. so who is going to be the dominant one? is it going to be the british tradition? is it going to be the scotch or irish tradition? the answer is no, it's actually going to be the german tradition. so those heshens lost the battle of tradition win the war of how we celebrate christmas. so the influence from germany is coming from two directions. one external and one internally. lets see who is doing it outside
the united states. it's this guy. prince albert of kohlberg pmt he will become the margaret stewart of christmas in both victorian england and the united states. and as martha stewart would say, that's a good thing. he is influence because the he is the husband of queen victoria. when he comes to their court, he introduces a lot of the native traditions of germany. one of the biggest is the christmas tree. and he will introduce that along with the idea that it should be decorated with lots of ornaments. he also stresses the importance of giving gifts, which many people trace back to the influence of martin luther. he thought that was a way of really observing the birth of christ.
and he also makes it -- thinks it's a good idea to especially wrap the gifts in special christmas wrapping paper. so he introduces all these things into the court. and very quickly the leading british publications of the time publish these illustrations of what the holiday looks like in her home, queen victoria's home. and almost immediately every proper british family has a christmas tree. and when these images cross the pond to the united states the same thing happens. almost immediately every proper american home wants to have a christmas tree decorated with ornaments. now, speaking of these ornaments, at about the same time these traditions are catching on both in england and
the united states, germany is developing a whole industry in creating glass ornaments. indeed, in industry will become so pervasive that germany will remain the leading provider of christmas ornaments to the united states all the way up until world war ii. now this tradition of decorating the tree establishes two important things. generally speaking, it's a time when families get together and they enjoy each other's company by decorating the tree. it's kind of a bonding experience. now, my home it establishes a different tradition, that is my wife yelling at me for columnsly dropping the ornaments and breaking them. but it's a very important part of the christmas holiday. now, where is the other part of the german influence coming from? >> well it's coming from a wave
of german immigrants coming into the country in the 20 years leading up to the civil war. about 1.4 million germans come into this country. it's comparable in size to the wave of irish immigrants also coming into this country. but the german immigrants have a little bit more influence than other immigrant groups for a couple of reasons. one they tend to be better educated. two, they tend to be more skilled. and the other thing is there is already a sizable german-american population here in the country established. so when they come, again they bring a lot of the traditions. they bring the christmas trees. they are bringing, you know, this idea that you should give gifts and that it should be centered around the children. so leading into the decades just before the civil war, christmas
is really taking off. and indeed, it's not only becoming part of the culture, it's becoming a significant part of our economy. you start to see industries developed around things like christmas cards, christmas wrapping paper, christmas decorations, and things like toys. and another things that's happening is christmas advertising really starts in earnest during this period and will be part of the publishing industry. all of these things are gelling and creating a holiday we can rate relate to more. but that's not to say there aren't some out liars. out there.
in certain cities krms is celebrated by gangs of drinking helgoens. places like new york. referring to themes as cal thump yans. but as the 19th century progresses any begin to diminish and disappear. so much so that the holiday becomes seen as a very respectable thing, a very wholesome thing that everyone should enjoy. so much so that in most of the states leading up to the civil war it becomes an official state holiday. as you can see, in 29 out of the 34 states leading up to the civil war it does become an official holiday. it's one of the few things leading up to the civil war that
americans can seem to unite about, because in this period, again, there is a growing growing rift in the united states that's going to lead to the civil war. is christmas enough to unite the country? unfortunately the answer is no. and one of the major reasons for that is they can't address the central issue dividing the nation, the issue of slavery. and for slaves the, the 4 million african-americans who are enslaved, christmas is not a good time of the year. it's a very strange time of the year. if you look at southern nupts you will see christmas adds for toys and other goods and right next to adds fors slaves, in some cases for women and clirn. for the slaves themselves christmas can be worst time of the year? why? well many of their masters will
lease them out to other farms or plantations. and those leases come up at the end of theier. appear and once they do these slaves may be, you know, leased out to other farms or plantations and that's a prime time when the families may become divided. likewise, the tax season in many southern states comes due at the end of the year around christmas time. if you are a slave master, and you owe taxes in many cases what you do is sell your property, including your slaves, and, again, those families may be divided at that time. so it's a terrifying time for many slave families. now, some slave masters may go make a big show about giving slaves time off or some extra food or even some presents. but in many cases these are very hollow gestures. one sort of blatant example, one
of the who brags about it the most is a south carolina senator by the name of james henry hammond. he brags about the bountiful food he gives his slaves. but he is renowned for the way he savagely beats his slaves and very often sexually assaults his slaves. for the four million americans enslaved, christmas is is not a good time of the year. and the christmas holiday can do nothing to resolve this issue. so, of course, in 1861, the nation will go to war. and almost as soon as the civil war starts, both sides try to weaponize the holiday. you see confederate or southern publications talking about how the yankees hate christmas and declare themselves a confederacy
of christmas states. in the northern, publications say, no, it's a fine yankee tradition. and the south is acting like a bunch of scrooges. why are both sides doing this? well, both sides think their cause is just. both sides think that god is on their side. so it's logical for them to try to make the argument that christmas and santa claus is also on their side. now, the north will have a big advantage in this struggle over christmas. in the form of this man. thomas nast. he is one of the most influential writers and illustrators of this period and works for one of the leading publications, "harpers weekly." now a few things about him. he is staunchly pro union, a staunch anti-slavery person. he is an abolitionist. and he is also a staunch
republican. in fact, he is a friend of abraham lincolns. he is have a german-american background. and that's going to influence his work a little bit. and his work during and his work during the civil war will be to do everything he can to make it clear that christmas and santa claus is on the side of the union and he, in the course of doing this, will become one of the primary chroniclers of not only santa claus, but christmas and almost every aspect of christmas. and his work will carry on beyond the civil war, as we'll see, but, i'll take a swig of water here. let's see how he portrays santa claus and his role in the civil war. we're going to look at his first illustration of santa during the
war. and it is this one. which should look familiar. and i'll explain what is going on here. he is doing everything he can in this illustration, which is the start of the new year in 1863 in harper's weekly again the most influential periodical in the united states, or it humbly calls itself, the journal of civilization. he's making every effort to make sure you get the message. first at the top, you see the u and the s. it stands for the united states. so the union. then let's look at what i'm wearing. i am literally wrapped in the union flag. the top part is the blue field of that flag. i have 35 stars, which represent the states in the union.
my pants are the stripes of that flag. so, again, he's wrapping me in the flag. and i am surrounded by union troops. and they are all carrying lots of presidents and i'm giving them those presents because they're good men, they're fighting for the right side. and in the background, speaking of the flag, there is the union flag. so he's doing everything he can to make the case that santa is on the union side. but if you still haven't gotten the point, i point your attention to the fact, it is hard to see in this picture, but he's entertaining the troops here, with a little toy. and this is the toy he's entertaining them with. this is confederate president jefferson davis hanging by a noose. i think we can all agree they don't make toys like they used to.
anyway, he's making every point he can to show that christmas belongs to the union. now, as i mentioned, he's almost chronicling the holiday and what it is becoming in american lives. and during the war, christmas will take on a far more sentimental poignant role in american lives. you see this picture, and it is making the point that it is very important for families to be together and increasingly during the war families are apart. millions of men for first time in american history have had to go off to war. and so you see this very sentimental picture of the wife with the two children in bed, looking out the window, thinking of her husband on the battle front and there he is at the battle front thinking of the family he left behind.
so the war has this effect of intensifying the idea that christmas is a time for families to be together. really highlights that emotion. now, just to make it clear that nast has not forgotten me, santa claus, i am up here on top of the roof. i'm still performing my duty, wasn't to get t i want to get the gifts to the kid. in this depiction, it looks like i gained a few pounds, i had to shed some of my outfit to get down the chimney but i'm still there with the reindeer. now, the other thing that he's chronicling and becomes apparent to everyone is that christmas highlights the growing disparity between the north and the south. in the home front and on the -- on the battle front. with the north, the north starts
out with a far more robust economy, more industrial economy, and as the war goes on, the north is suffering in terms of the men it is losing, no doubt. in terms of its economy, it is getting bigger and bigger and more affluent. that's reflected in the way they're celebrating the holiday. at home, they're feasting more, they're exchanging more gifts. things are better and better. and likewise. in the field, men are enjoying the holidays more. they're able to par take of more rations, wider variety of rations. they're feasting on things like mutton and beef along with delicacies like canned oysters. for the union, increasingly christmas is a time of celebration and joy and in prosperity. now, the situation is far
different in the south. for them christmas highlights the fact that conditions are getting worse and worse. both on the home front and in the field. but for them, they're dealing with an economy that wasn't as robust as or as established as the beginning of the war and it is getting worse and worse. first of all, most of the war is fought on southern soil. that's creating a lot of devastation. they have to contend with things like the naval union blockade, which is strangling their economy. as the war goes on, christmas highlights the fact that things are become more and more desperate. harder and harder times. as a result, they're not able to do things like give gifts to their children. so increasingly they have to explain to southern children what is going on in terms of santa claus. so you have things in southern publications that are saying that santa is yankee or santa
was shot by the yankees. one of the weirdest explanations came in the richmond examiner. they said that in the same editorial, mind you, no real santa existed, however he was a dutch toy monger and immigrant from england who had nothing to do with virginia hospitality and christmas merry-making. that's very convoluted. all i can say is i think the guy had a lot of cough syrup when he wrote that. you get the gist. they're trying to say that, you know, santa and christmas just doesn't exist anymore. now, lincoln and nast recognize this disparity and they're going to do everything they can to make the most of it in promoting the war effort. and to talk about lincoln for a second, it is interesting to look very -- where he ended up. when he was a state legislator
in illinois, you know, many years before the war, he had actually voted against making christmas a holiday. this president of the united states, and leader of the union war effort, he's going to do everything he can to promote the holiday. lincoln is a lot of things. lincoln is a very shrewd politician, lincoln is a very skilled statesman. lincoln is also a master propagandist and he, throughout the war, will work with nast to drive home messages. and this illustration really drives home several. now, if you look at it, what you see here is this massive christmas feast going on throughout the union. it is like a never-ending cracker barrel. everybody is par taking of it. and what this message is sending to the union is, look, things are better than ever. he's trying to build up union morale by saying we're stronger,
we're more affluent than ever before. he's also sending a message to the confederate. as you see in this illustration, he's going to the door, he opens it, and who does he see? scraggly looking confederate soldiers. they represent the confederate states and he's basically beckoning them to come in, he will forgive them if they return to the fold, and they can take part in this sumptuous banquet. he's also sending a message to europe and other powers. he's saying to them, look, don't get any ideas, yes, we are involved in this war, but we are prospering. don't get any ideas about messing with us or trying to help the confederacy. so both he and nast in many ways are sending different messages to different audiences, using christmas and using santa claus.
he will augment this by whole state, a lot of receptions in the white house during christmas. he'll make it a point for he and his cabinet to visit troops, both in hospitals and in camps. lincoln considers christmas to be so important in nast's work in promoting christmas to be so important that he will say that santa was the best recruiting sergeant the north ever had. now, to reinforce this, we look at what happens in 1864, when general sherman makes his decisive victory in capturing the port city of savannah. this is one of the many people consider this one of the death nelles of the confederacy. how does sherman characterize this when he informs lincoln? he says -- he telegraphs lincoln, i beg to present you as
a christmas gift the city of savannah and how does lincoln respond? many, many thanks for your christmas gift, the capture of savannah. driving home the fact that christmas, santa claus, is part of the union cause. now, this not only establishes that, it is also the civil war's the time when you start to see this tradition of linking christmas with the u.s. military. and that tradition continues on to this very day as i will talk about in a little bit. now, fortunately, the war does come to an end, unfortunately lincoln doesn't get to enjoy it very long. but nast does want to commemorate the fact that the war has ended, and he wants to tie it into christmas. now he's doing it in a slightly different way. or actually a significantly different way. it is no longer christmas is no
longer promoting the cause of the union, it is promoting the cause of reuniting the nation. and that is what you see in this cartoon. first of all, you see santa claus front and center, he's looking bigger and jollier than ever. and at the top, to give it prominence, you see the children enjoying their toys. then below you see families reunited for the first time. maybe for the first time since the beginning of the war. and then below, you see the american family gang together on literally a national stage, and, you know, it is a time of joy, a time of harmony, it is a time for the nation to come as one in this harmonious christmas holiday. nast being nast makes a dig at the confederacy.
you see ulysses s. grant and he's surrounded by the disembodied heads of leader members of the confederacy. so, you know, what can i tell you, even the best of holiday reunions we all know there are those awkward moments. but overall, the point of this illustration is to show that christmas is a time to bind the wounds and to reunite the american family. as the years following the civil war go by, there is more and more of a feeling that there is a role that holidays can play to help unite our country. and that will focus on certain key holidays that people believe all americans can enjoy. now, this effort is, you know, focused on bringing the north
and the south together. but it is also focused on dealing with the fact that there are more and more immigrants coming in to this country. indeed, during the period of 1860 to 1870, even though there say war going on, more than 5.5 million immigrants come to this country. so, again, there is this need to try to find these unifying forces that can bring people together and one of those will be in the holidays. so in 1870, once union general, now president of all of the united states, ulysses s. grant signs into law a series of bills that make certain key holidays national holidays. and they are christmas, the fourth of july, and new year's day. there is one other one, can anyone guess what that other one is? who said that?
okay. i'll have to ask you to leave. no, just kidding, you won. and you will win the -- since you're smart, you'll win the smarties if you pass them back to her. okay. that's right. thanksgiving. thanksgiving is another holiday that lincoln promotes during the civil war. interesting note there, jefferson davis also declares thanksgiving a holiday during the civil war. here is the difference. lincoln declares it a day of feasting, restoring lots of food, family, jefferson davis declares it as a day of fasting. so you can determine who is doing better just by the way they're observing that holiday. let's get back to christmas. so when christmas is declared a national or federal holiday, it is, let me step back here and
say, of course, christmas is a christian holiday. it was established to -- the birth of christ. in making it a national or federal holiday, that is not the purpose. indeed, grant, during his administration, will successfully defeat efforts to declare america our christian nation. christmas in this sense is being used to unite americans around a holiday that everybody can celebrate and enjoy in any way they want to. so if you're a christian, of course you look at the religious aspect. but if you're a nonchristian, you can also enjoy it. and then indeed, that seems to be effect. in contemporary accounts by, for example, philadelphia newspaper, they note that even in the homes of hebrew brethren, christmas trees bloomed and the little
ones of israel, jewish kids, were as happy over them as christmas -- as christian children. so, again, it shows that almost instantly christmas is adopted by people from all backgrounds, walks of life. it is a very popular holiday. now in the period following the civil war, the 20 years following the civil war, nast will continue his efforts to refine and create the modern christmas holiday that we all know and love. and particularly with regard to santa claus, he pretty much establishes the modern santa claus in every aspect. now, when he's doing this after the civil war, who does he model santa after? he tries to do it after the most respected people of the era, and who are those? the titans of industries. the rockefellers, the carnegies. so he makes santa claus a titan
of his industry, which is gift giving. and he does a number of things to really establish that santa claus is a very respectable figure. first of all, he decks them out and i'm pointing to this picture on the left here. i think it is your left. he is wearing a fine red suit, very nicely trimmed. he also makes sure that santa has an international operation that will be centered in the north pole. and it will be a workshop or a factory. and it will be manned by elves or workers. and, again, he has an international database to work off of. the book of who's naughty and nice. he can tell every child throughout the world whether they're naughty or nice. so in almost every conceivable
way, the santa claus we know today is the invention of thomas nast. some people say gee, the modern santa comes from the coca-cola company and the illustrations they did in the 1930s. i ain't buying it. this illustration here is one of the coca-cola illustrations. and you can see by the other illustration that nast did in the 1880s that basically that's borrowing every aspect of santa from what nast did. in many, many ways, santa and christmas really -- almost owed everything to thomas nast and the work he did during and after the civil war. now, let's go back for a second to the tradition i talked about that started doing the civil war, tieing in christmas and
santa with the u.s. military. well, of course, that tradition continued. and it is even hinted at in this illustration here. you see that santa is wearing a sword. so nast is constantly driving home that theme. but that theme will continue even after nast. and we see it, in these illustrations here, starting from the left. there is santa in world war i. then santa in world war ii. and then santa in cold war. that picture was taken during the berlin airlift. and then we see santa in more modern engagements. and santa is affiliated with many military things including the toys for tots campaign, which is run by the u.s. marine reserve. so santa, christmas, are really an enduring image of american patriotism and goodwill
throughout the world to this very day. so much so that there is a civil branch of the military that keeps track of what santa is doing on christmas eve. norad, the north american aerospace defense command. since 1955, they have been tracking santa. if you want to know how that all started, the question and answer thing, i can answer that for you, or at least attempt to, but if you here or at home are interested in what santa is up to, on new eyreyear's eve, want track his whereabouts, go to the norad website and you can do that. it is a fine established tradition. so in conclusion, let's look at the major ways that christmas really was established, the modern christmas was established during the civil war. first, the civil war unified the observance of the holiday by transforming it into a national
holiday. it also, again, largely through the work of nast, blended a lot of the images of christmas and a lot of the traditions of christmas from different cultures into a uniquely american one, both in terms of customs and in terms of images. and it also helped to establish the christmas that we celebrate today, which is a unique blend or balance of the spiritual, and the material. it promoted christmas that has an all inclusive character. i'll talk more about that in a second. and finally, in my humble opinion, it established america as the arbiter of all things christmas throughout much of the world. so, again, the civil war played an instrumental role in the holiday that we all celebrate
today. now, since you've been such a great audience, i'm going to have one more question for you. one thing didn't get established about christmas during the civil war, or through thomas nast. can anyone guess that one factor about santa claus? anyone? clue's up on the screen there. bingo! you win! as a result, you get these. you can decorate yourself or your car with these. okay. so, yeah, rudolph the red nosed reindeer, interesting story, very briefly rudolph was discovered in the late 1930s. he was developed by a guy by the name of robert l. may, for the montgomery ward company, store chain. they used him for a while. eventually they decided to go on to other campaigns. they gave him the copy right back off of rudolph the red
nosed reindeer. his brother-in-law by the name of johnny marks. johnny marks is a songwriter and wrote a little song we all know and love called rudolph the red nosed reindeer, making rudolph one of the most popular reindeers of all. and made a ton of money for both of them. johnny marks is an interesting fellow. he would become the most prolific christmas songwriter of them all. his songs are too numerous to mention, they include things th christmas day, run, rudolph, run, rockin' around the christmas tree and holly jolly christmas. this is the last challenge. these two guys together created the last big piece of the christmas puzzle that we all know and love today. does anyone know their background, what makes it ironic?
well, the answer is they're actually both jewish. and that goes to the point that christmas is something that all americans, no matter what their backgrounds, celebrate and enjoy. indeed, in doing, you know, literature searches, i found many, many articles talking about in the united states, many muslims, many buddhists, many hindus all celebrate the holidays. so in conclusion, i think many americans enjoy a holiday, the foundations of which were established during the civil war, i want to thank you all very, very much for coming out tonight. i will remind you that if you want to make a donation to the museum, either because you've enjoyed this presentation or you just so gosh darn glad it's over, please feel free to do so at the end of the presentation. and i want to thank both the
museum for inviting me here and especially the folks at cspan for some technical assistance they gave for this program that made it possible. and, again if you have any questions, i'll be happy to answer them, but i want to wish you all a very merry christmas and very happy new year. thank you all very much. oh, thank you, thank you. anyone have any questions at all? okay. well, again, thank you all for coming and showing up and i really enjoyed seeing all of you. >> thank you very much, brad. and thank you all so much for coming out this evening. just a reminder, it is a pay what you please program, to at the bottom of the stairs, at the front of the visitors center on the first floor, there is a donation bin you can drop a donation based on how much the program is worth to you. thank you all very much and
we'll see you at our next program, hopefully. either in the new year or our next program in fact is actually on saturday, battle of dranesville, if you want to hear another presentation. we do have one coming up in a few days. thank you very much. >> this is american history tv on c-span3. where each weekend we feature 48 hours of programs exploring our nation's past.
>> our c-span campaign 2020 bus team is traveling across the country asking voters what issues should presidential candidates address. >> i really want to know what our future president or any other presidential candidates will do for this state and my community. regarding jobs, jobs market and the economy. the united states must have a strong economy, we are a huge nation, we provide a lot of information and products about the world. i really do need -- do hope for the next president, no matter who they are, man, woman, democrat, republican, our president to defend our jobs and to help our economy, not hurt it. >> and some of the issues i like the presidential candidates to tackle, obviously, would be the student debt crisis. reproductive rights and homelessness. i feel like it is vital for women to be able to choose what they want to do with their body, whether on either side.
>> the question i have for presidential candidates is what are you guys going to do about the palestinian/israeli crisis. because it is unfair to completely ignore the humanitarian situation and the injustice that is happening in palestine with just the whole issue and gaza and what has been happening in recent days. you can't just ignore the palestinian people, what they want to do, because at the end of the day, we're all humans and there has to be some level of compromise and there has to be some type of agreement that we can all come to, because at the end of the day, we want to live just like you want to live. >> what i want presidential candidates to acknowledge is what is going on in the community, but mostly the black community, with brutality, things that are not happening for police getting off on things they shouldn't getting off on. it should be addressed and it should be known that you cannot do that and not okay just because you have some type of
power. >> voices from the road, on c-sp c-span. >> garry adelman of the american battlefield trust tackles the whole civil war in 56 minutes. it begins with the leadup to the war from the compromise of 1850 to bloody kansas to abraham lincoln's 1860 election and the succession crisis. many highlights, the major battles from each year of the conflict and concludes with a confederate surrender and lincoln's assassination in 1865. the gettysburg heritage center in pennsylvania hosted this talk. >> our next speaker is garry adelman, he's a graduate of michigan state university as well as shippensburg university of pennsylvania. he's an award winning author, co-author or editor of 20 civil war books and more than 40 related articles. most o