Following the American Civil War, the United States engaged in a process of reconstruction that was not only political and constitutional in nature, but also had serious, lasting cultural and social ramifications for the nation as a whole. During this period, formerly enslaved southern African Americans worked to reunite with families and created communities, while legislatures and courts debated who counted as a citizen and what rights they possessed. Americans were grappling with critical questions: What would freedom look like? What national identity would emerge from war?
One of President Obama’s last act while in office was to designate a national monument to Reconstruction in Beaufort, South Carolina. The AHA supported this important expansion of the National Park Service system with a letter to the US Secretary of the Interior on November 16, 2016. AHA Today spoke to historians Greg Downs and Kate Masur, whose advocacy was crucial to this effort, about the significance of the designation, the backstory of the monument’s creation, and next steps.
The AHA Council approved a letter to US Secretary of the Interior, Sally Jewell, requesting a timely recommendation to the White House regarding a National Monument in Beaufort, South Carolina, in recognition of Reconstruction. The proposed monument would be the first in the National Park Service to expressly represent the history of emancipation and Reconstruction. The significant historical events that transpired at Beaufort make it an ideal place to tell this critical story of experimentation, potential transformation, accomplishment, and disappointment.
The Vietnam War Memorial, the first national memorial to commemorate veterans, was dedicated on the National Mall in 1982.
By Ernie Price
This year the staff at Appomattox Court House National Historical Park wanted the 150th anniversary commemoration of the Confederate surrender to Union troops at the end of the Civil War to look different than the previous large commemorations in 1965 and 1990.
Danielle Dulken is a guest blogger for the American Historical Association. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Public History at American University and interns for the National Coalition for History.
On June 12, 2014, AHA President Jan Goldstein and Executive Director Jim Grossman sent a letter to Jonathan Jarvis, the director of the National Park Service, regarding the relocation of the National Archives for Black Women’s History.
The National Park Service released its annual numbers on the most-visited sites in the park system for 2012. For a breakdown of the most popular sites, see below. Special thanks to Park Advocate for the data.