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If you’re interested in Southern Unionism, especially within the Lone Star State, the upcoming symposium will be of great interest to you. Lots of great scholars and papers, and I’m honored to be included. My talk will be on Warren Jacob Collins, leader of the Unionist “Jayhawkers” of the East Texas Big Thicket. Warren was part of a Unionist family that included Jasper Collins of Mississippi, a member of the Knight Company of “Free State of Jones” fame.

Hope to see you there!

Vikki Bynum

Unionism symposium image

APRIL 5, 2014, SATURDAY   |   SYMPOSIUM
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
LONE STAR UNIONISM AND DISSENT: The Other Civil-War Texas

Support for the Union in Texas and rejection of the Confederacy did not solely consist of Sam Houston’s famous refusal to take oath of allegiance to the Confederacy. Before, during, and after the Civil War, significant numbers of Texans of all social, economic, and ethnic groups actively opposed the dominant southern slaveocracy for a variety of reasons. This symposium explores the diversity of that opposition and challenges the myth of a monolithic pro-Confederate Texas.

Presented by Texas State’s Center for the Study of the Southwest, this all-day symposium offers two morning sessions and one afternoon session of three presentations each, followed by keynote address and a Q&A period.

8:00 AM—CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST

8:30 AM — OPENING REMARKS
J. Frank de la Teja, director of Texas State’s Center for the Study of the Southwest

8:45–10:15 AM — SESSION ONE

Gray Ghost: Collective Memory of a Confederate Texas 
— Laura McLemore 
The “collective memory” of Confederate Texas is as elusive as a ghost. It is as lacking in definite shape as any restless spirit, and tracing manifestations of it is a challenge worthy of any ghost hunter. This nebulousness, like so many aspects of Texas history and memory, is inextricably linked with Texan identity, in itself a loaded term. From a survey of primary and secondary sources, however, a few conclusions emerge, the first and foremost of which is that Texans viewed and many continue to view themselves as “Texan” first and foremost. A second is that vast differences of geography and ethnic heritage mitigated against the formation of a genuinely “collective” memory of a Confederate Texas. A third is that Texas men were much more interested in getting back to making money than they were in memorializing a lost cause. This left the cultivation of “memory” to the ladies. McLemore explores the evidence for and the nature of collective memory of Confederate Texas through time.

The Problem of Slave Flight Before and During the Civil War 
— Andrew J. Torget
This presentation will focus on the problem that slave fight posed for Anglo Texans and Confederates, as enslaved people during the 1850s and 1860s escaped from plantations. The position of Texas along the far-western frontier of the American South, alongside Mexico, presented unique opportunities for enslaved people to flee their masters, leaving the state’s planters particularly concerned about the problem of slave flight and rebellion. The outbreak of the Civil War threatened to destabilize slaveholding in the state as it brought new opportunities for Texas slaves to escape, even as slaveholders from other parts of the Confederacy began shuttling slaves into Texas to isolate them from Union armies (and the opportunity to run to freedom across Union lines). Dr. Torget will examine both how the course of the war affected slave escapes in the state, and how Anglo Texans thought about both the threat of emancipation and the central problem that their enslaved servants posed: unionists in their midst.

Slaveholding Refugees in Wartime Texas 
— Caleb McDaniel
As Union armies occupied New Orleans and moved up the Mississippi River in late 1862 and 1863, slaveholding refugees from Louisiana poured across the border into Texas, bringing with them tens of thousands of enslaved people. As these slaveholders rented land, hired out slaves, moved back and forth across the border, and sometimes straddled the line between commitment to the Confederacy and grudging acceptance of Union gains, their presence created tensions with many native Texans who questioned their loyalty or feared the influx of “strange” people of color. As “outsiders” who were neither Unionists nor fully accepted by Confederate Texans, these refugees and the enslaved people they brought with them did not always fit neatly into the categories historians have used to understand wartime Texas. They reveal the heterogeneous and shifting nature of the state’s population as well as the multiple motives—economic, practical, familial, and ideological—that brought many strangers to Texas during the War.

10:15–10:30 AM — BREAK

10:30 AM–12:00 PM — SESSION TWO

New Americans or New Southerners? German Texans 
— Walter Kamphoefner
Texas, which was home to more than a quarter of Germans residing in the eleven Confederate states, was the only place with an appreciable rural German element, one that was large enough to play a role in politics and war. Just what role they played, however, still remains under dispute. In the popular media, various characterizations of Germans have portrayed them as everything from “fire-breathing secessionists” to “virtually all Unionists.” The range of scholarly opinion is nearly as broad. Older accounts often reflect the characterization of antebellum traveler Frederick Law Olmstead, portraying Germans as largely abolitionist in sentiment. More recent scholarship has cautioned against generalizing from a few radical Forty-eighters to the bulk of ordinary German immigrants. Kamphoefnel re-examines the role and attitudes of Texas Germans (and smaller continental European groups often allied with them) toward slavery, the Confederacy, and Reconstruction, drawing particularly on evidence from letters and from voter behavior. It also explores personal factors which made individuals more or less sympathetic to the Confederate cause.

Although We Are the Last Soldiers: Citizenship, Ideology, and Tejano Unionism 
— Omar S. Valerio-Jiménez
Mexican Texan resistance to the Confederacy and Tejano Unionism along the South Texas border will be examined by Valerio-Jiménez. He argues that Mexican Texans’ reactions to the U.S. Civil War were rooted in the relationships Mexicans had established with African Americans in the villas del norte (towns along the Rio Grande) during the Spanish and Mexican periods. Following U.S. annexation, Tejanos assisted runaway slaves who sought freedom in Mexico and they also intermarried with African Americans. The paper demonstrates that Mexican Texans who joined the Union Army did so for various reasons including anti-slavery sentiment, opposition to pro-Confederate local politicians, and expressions of U.S. citizenship. Although they endured hardships during the war and were not politically rewarded afterwards, Tejanos invoked their military service as a claim to U.S. citizenship.

Coerced Unionism: African American Testimonies of Violence During Reconstruction 
— Rebecca Czuchry
Immediately following the Civil War in 1865, African Americans in the former Confederacy faced extremely brutal violence perpetrated by whites. This was particularly true in Texas, a state known during the period for both violence and racial intolerance. Texas has been viewed by Reconstruction scholars as one of the most violent of the former Confederate states. Even so, the violent experience of former slaves in the state has not been fully examined. Although white Texans used violence to injure, kill, or control individuals, violence also served the larger purpose of creating a climate of fear in order to more easily subjugate and control the entire black community. Despite this brutal atmosphere, black Texans risked their lives by reporting acts of violence that occurred in their communities. Kosary  examines the testimonies of African Americans as a form of resistance; in testifying to federal officials, black Texans resisted re-subjugation and established a degree of autonomy and power over their own lives.

12:00 –1:30 PM — LUNCH BREAK

1:30 –3:00 PM — SESSION THREE

East Texas Unionism 
— Victoria Bynum
During the Civil War, Warren Jacob Collins of Hardin County, Texas, led a band of guerrillas that hid out in East Texas’s Big Thicket. Collins’s occasional appearance in Texas folklore as a backwoods, bare-knuckled fighter or, alternatively, the “Daniel Boone” of East Texas, has long obscured the deeply-held political views that led him (and six of his brothers) to support the Union against the Confederacy. A careful study of the Texas Collins brothers and the Big Thicket uprising reveals the uprising’s yeoman roots as well as its direct ties to the more famous yeoman uprising in Mississippi known as the “Free State of Jones.” The political postwar evolution of Warren J. Collins in turn provides a window on connections between Southern Unionism and the rise of third party challenges to the Democratic Party.

A Texas Reign of Terror: Anti-Unionist Violence in North Texas 
— Rick McCaslin 
Despite popular lore that tends to focus on events reinforcing common perceptions of Texan exceptionalism and virtues—which leads many Texans to assume their state emerged from the Civil War virtually unscathed—facts reveal many regions were deeply scarred by wartime experiences, and the violence did not come from invasions.  Confederate Texans proved just as intolerant of dissenters as Southerners in many other states, and they reacted just as violently to internal challenges. North Texas became the arena for many brutal operations against Unionists, which undermine claims of both exceptionalism and virtue by Texans concerning the Civil War. Instead, residents of the Lone Star State, like Southerners who lived elsewhere in the former Confederacy, had to reflect on a divided legacy that included not just the heroism of units such as Hood’s Texas Brigade, but also the viciousness of events such as the Great Hanging at Gainesville.

Three Cheers to Freedom and Equal Rights to All: Juneteenth and the Meaning of Citizenship 
— Elizabeth Hayes Turner
Occupying Union troops entered Texas in June more than two months after the Civil war had ended, but it was on June 19 (Juneteenth) that a portion of the 250,000 slaves—the last within the Confederacy—learned of their freedom. The emancipation announcement, made by General Gordon Granger in Galveston, tested the resolve of slavery supporters and began in earnest the development of a freedom tradition that has lasted to this day. During Juneteenth’s evolution from 1865 to the turn of the century, black communities came together annually to celebrate their liberation and to honor the president who had freed them. Over time, leaders and social justice activists used Juneteenth gatherings as a pragmatic way not only to remember with pride black state office holders but also to launch important goals for African Americans. The creation of Reconstruction government demonstrated that democracy could be carried out by a black and white voting populace, a memory that would later be suppressed by whites seeking to disfranchise black voters. As Reconstruction faded and Redeemers returned to state office, African Americans, through Juneteenth celebrations, kept alive the meaning of freedom, the history of their political participation, and the quest for full citizenship under the law.

3:00–3:15 PM — BREAK

3:15–3:45 PM — KEYNOTE ADDRESS
Edmund J. Davis: The Radicalization of a Texas Unionist 
— Carl Moneyhon
Edmund J. Davis was a prominent Texas politician in the antebellum era who supported the Union in the secession crisis of 1860-1861, fled the state and became a general in the Union Army, then returned after the war to become an important figure in the state’s Republican Party and ultimately the state’s governor. In the latter position he urged a new course for Texas, even supporting full rights for the state’s newly freed slaves. Moneyhon examines Davis’s course during these years, assessing the causes for the decisions he made. This examination shows, ultimately, the plight of an individual whose constitutional and legal views precluded his endorsement of the actions of the state’s Democratic majority. It illustrates how the uncompromising stance of the latter and their refusal to tolerate any wavering on the issue of secession and their justification of it following Confederate defeat forced unwanted decisions on a fundamentally conservative man. The fanatical position held by the Democratic leadership, in the end, radicalized Davis and accounts for the emergence of an individual willing to challenge their leadership and even the socio-economic status quo in Texas.

3:45 PM — GENERAL Q&A

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The Long Shadow of the Civil War

The Long Shadow of the Civil War: Southern Dissent and Its Legacies  may be ordered from Amazon or directly from the University of North Carolina Press.

This three-state study of Civil War dissenters compares community uprisings against the Confederacy in North Carolina, Mississippi, and Texas.  The important roles played by women and people of color are emphasized throughout.

A full chapter is devoted to Newt Knight’s thirty-year quest to gain federal compensation for his guerrilla band, the infamous Knight Company of Mississippi’s Free State of Jones.

In central North Carolina, religious dissenters who opposed slavery and secession fought a ferocious inner civil war against the Confederacy. The origins of this struggle, and women’s central role in it, are spotlighted in two chapters.

Chapter 3 chronicles the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina in the war’s aftermath. The lives of black and mixed-race women during the Reconstruction and New South eras are given particular attention.

Chapters 1 and 5 tell the story of the staunchly Unionist Collins family of Texas. The Big Thicket’s guerrilla leader, Warren Jacob Collins, was a brother to Mississippi guerrilla Jasper Collins, right-hand man to Newt Knight during the Civil War. Both brothers were politically transformed by the Civil War: during the 1890s, Jasper founded Jones County, Mississippi’s first populist newspaper; in Texas, Warren ran for office twice on the Socialist ticket.

Chapter 6 traces the history of the multiracial community founded by Newt and former slave Rachel Knight into the 20th century, where descendants struggled against the degradation of racial segregation and second-class citizenship,

These are true stories of human struggles placed in historical context, their legacies reaching far into the twentieth century.

Vikki Bynum

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ANNOUNCEMENT:

Society of Civil War Historians

Biennial Meeting

The Society of Civil War Historians will host their third biennial academic conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kentucky, on June 14 through 16, 2012. The goal of the conference is to promote the integration of social, military, political, and other forms of history on the Civil War era among historians, graduate students, and professionals who interpret history in museums, national parks, archives, and other public facilities.

In just a few days, I’ll be attending the SCWH Convention, where I’ll chair and comment on the panel entitled “Noted Guerrillas, Fanatical Jayhawkers, and the Borders of War: Memory and Origins of Guerrilla War History.” This panel features the following works of original research by several rising young scholars:

Matthew C. Hulbert, University of Georgia, Writing Missouri’s Irregular History: How to Remember “This Damnable Guerrilla Warfare”

Bonnie Laughlin-Schultz, Appalachian State University, “He Depended on Me to Watch”: Annie Brown, Housekeeper and “Outlaw Girl”

Joseph M. Beilein, Jr., University of Missouri, Columbia, “Nothing but Truth is History”: William E. Connelley. William H. Gregg, and Pillaging of Guerrilla History

Brian D. McKnight of the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, and author of Confederate Outlaw: Champ Ferguson and the Civil War in Appalachia, will also comment.

To visit the SCWH website, click here

Vikki Bynum

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Would you like to know the true  story of the Free State of Jones, but don’t have time to read the long version? Good news! The Free State of Jones: Mississippi’s Longest Civil War (published 2001) has just been released by the University of North Carolina Press as part of its new “e-Book Shorts” series.  This excerpted digital version contains the original book’s introduction, epilogue, and two Civil War chapters.  Entitled Rebels Against Confederate Mississippi, it’s available from Amazon’s Kindle store for $4.99 (currently on sale for $3.99). For those who prefer the long version, it too is available from Kindle.

For details, or to order, click here.

Between late 1863 and mid-1864, an armed band of Confederate deserters battled Confederate cavalry in the Piney Woods region of Jones County, Mississippi. Calling themselves the Knight Company after their captain, Newton Knight, and aided by women, slaves, and children who spied on the Confederacy and provided food and shelter, they set up headquarters in the swamps of the Leaf River. There, legend has it, they declared the Free State of Jones.

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Littlefield Lecture poster

The Littlefield Lectures, UT Austin

I’m delighted to announce that I’ll be delivering this year’s Littlefield Lectures for the History Department of the University of Texas, Austin.  The lectures are based on research from my last two books, The Free State of Jones, and The Long Shadow of the Civil War:
“The Free State of Jones: Community, Race, and Kinship in Civil War Mississippi,” March 6, 4-6 p.m., Avaya Auditorium, ACE 2.302

“Communities at War”: Men, Women, and the Legacies of Anti-Confederate Dissent,” March 7, 4-6 p.m., Avaya Auditorium, ACE 2.302

If you’re in the area, I hope to see you there!

Vikki Bynum

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I’m delighted to post Gregg’s review here on Renegade South. If by chance you’re not familiar with Doctor G and the Mudcats, you can hear them perform  “Jones County Jubilee” on my website.  

Vikki Bynum

MARK TWAIN: WORDS AND MUSIC
By Gregg Andrews
Published on January 24th, 2012

Less than two years ago, I retired from my day job in Texas, packed my guitars and coffee-stained song lyrics sheets, and headed home–back to the muddy, swampy roots of my music and writings–back to the Mississippi River–back to Hannibal, Missouri, Mark Twain’s “white town drowsing in the sunshine of a summer morning.” One of the first things I did once I got settled was to pay a visit to the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum to see Curator Henry Sweets, an old high school friend of mine, and meet Executive Director Dr. Cindy Lovell. Much to my pleasant surprise, the Museum was hosting a Smithsonian exhibit on Americana music at the time, and I was delighted to discover the Museum was sponsoring a summer series of popular music concerts downtown.

I was even more thrilled to find out a CD tribute to Mark Twain was in the works–to be produced by Nashville’s Grammy Award-winning producer, singer/songwriter, and musician, Carl Jackson. Dr. Lovell had recruited Jackson for the project to mark the 100th anniversary of Twain’s death and to raise badly needed funds for the non-profit Museum. Although she hadn’t been in touch with Jackson for thirty years, they’d been friends since 1968, when they met at a show where he was playing banjo for Jim & Jesse and the Virginia Boys. In 2003, Jackson had also produced a Grammy Award-winning country tribute to Ira and Charlie Louvin–Livin’, Lovin’, Losin’: Songs of the Louvin’ Brothers.

What a wonderful way to bring together popular music, the academic world, and all those who appreciate the literary, cultural, and political legacies of Mark Twain, I thought. This would be no easy task, to be sure. At first, I must confess, I was a bit skeptical about how a Nashville country/bluegrass producer, even one with such a sterling reputation, would treat America’s quintessential author who also happened to play the piano and guitar. How would Jackson express through music the many sides of Twain–the restless world traveler, the trickster (Tom Sawyer), and failed entrepreneur who on the one hand sought wealth but who on the other was a social critic with a big heart, conscience, and humanitarian spirit (Huckleberry Finn)?

Twain was anything but “politically correct” by today’s standards or by the standards of his own day. He drank too much, smoked too many cigars, and was too cynical about politics and religion to suit many. In ways he might be called an OUTLAW who didn’t let protocol and conventional literary boundaries stifle creative expression. He lived his dreams, broke a lot of rules, and often thumbed his nose at form and style. Though he was highly popular and successful, his coarse language and use of dialect shocked some of his more genteel contemporaries. His use of racial dialect and irony to criticize the racism that saturated the era has even led to recent attempts to ban Huckleberry Finn from classrooms and libraries, and, sadly in my opinion, to the publication of a new sanitized edition. A master of satire in an age dominated by Robber Barons and those who did their bidding in Washington, D.C., Twain used humor brilliantly and “a pen warmed up in hell” to lay bare the hypocrisy of those in positions of power, whether in corporate boardrooms or the United States government.

Somewhere tonight Twain must be lighting up an Old Fisherman cigar, strumming his guitar, and throwing back a shot of Old Crow, tickled to death about the release of Mark Twain: Words & Music. Accompanied by a forty-page booklet, this double CD uses a spoken word/song format reminiscent of Ribbon of Highway, Endless Skyway (Music Road Records, 2007), a recent CD tribute to Woody Guthrie produced by singer/songwriter Jimmy LaFave and featuring a number of Texas’s finest songwriters and musicians. The creative brilliance of Carl Jackson resonates throughout the tribute to Twain. First, Jackson tapped his Nashville connections to assemble some of the industry’s most successful singer/songwriters to perform the thirteen songs on the CD–Emmylou Harris, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Rhonda Vincent, Bradley Walker, The Church Sisters, Sheryl Crow, Brad Paisley, Marty Raybon, Val Storey, Vince Gill, Joe Diffie, Ricky Skaggs, as well as Jackson, himself. Jackson either wrote or co-wrote six of the songs, some of which were written for the CD. Sheryl Crow sings a fabulous A cappella version of Stephen Foster’s “Beautiful Dreamer,” the only song from Twain’s era on the tribute.

Each song follows a segment of Dr. Lovell’s (co-executive producer) skillfully crafted narrative and voices from Mark Twain’s life and writings. The voices feature star-studded talent: Jimmy Buffett (Huck Finn), Prairie Home Companion’s Garrison Keillor (Narrator), actor Clint Eastwood (Mark Twain), and Angela Lovell (Susy Clemens). Buffet, Eastwood, and Lovell give moving deliveries of the voices they represent, and Garrison Keillor does an outstanding job of narrating in his vintage down-home, folksy storytelling way. For Buffet, who has acknowledged Twain’s influence on his music, the voice of Huck seems a particularly good fit–a role he seems to relish and is well-suited for, given his life of songwriting, travel and adventure, and love of the sea. Like Twain’s writings, Buffett’s songs can be mischievous and fun loving yet also introspective, sensitive, and deeply philosophical.

As someone who spent a good deal of time in my younger days running lines on the Mississippi River at night, camping on the sandbars, or coon hunting on some of the river’s darkest islands in the Hannibal area, I especially like the way the CD captures the Mississippi. Set up by Buffett’s breathtaking narration of a steamboat’s collision with Huck and Jim on the raft one dark night, Rhonda Vincent’s “Run Mississippi,” written by Priscilla Houliston and Carl Jackson, gets the blood pumping as fast as the swift cut of the river’s current. Likewise, Buffett’s playful description of Huck sneaking out to the river late at night with Tom Sawyer for mischief, dreams, and deviltry sets the table nicely for Brad Paisley’s “Huck Finn Blues,” written by Emily Hayes, Carl Jackson, and Danny Wilson.

The Civil War cut short Twain’s steamboat pilot days on the Mississippi, but the experiences whetted his appetite for travel. He believed travel strikes a blow against bigotry and narrow minded prejudices. To set a good feel for Twain’s frontier adventures out west, where he tried his hand at prospecting for gold and silver, worked as a newspaper reporter, and met outlaw Jack Slade, the CD includes Bradley Walker’s “Cowboy in His Soul,” a country song written by Bryan Kennedy and Jim Rushing. Carl Jackson’s moving “Safe Water,” which he co-wrote with Jerry Salley, captures the connections between Twain’s steamboat days and the restlessness that made him a world traveler and lecturer. Likewise, Marty Raybon’s “Indian Crow” (my favorite song on the CD), written by Carl Jackson and Jerry Salley, uses the Indian Crow as a metaphor for Twain’s vagabond life lived to its fullest.

Two of my other favorite songs on the CD are built around the fact that Mark Twain came in (1835) and went out (1910) with Halley’s Comet. Emmylou Harris sings Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “When Halley Came to Jackson,” and Ricky Skaggs, “Comet Ride,” an up-tempo bluegrass song Carl Jackson wrote specifically for the CD. “Ink,” a very cleverly penned song performed by Joe Diffie and written by Carl Jackson, Don Poythress, and Tony Wood, captures the lasting impact of Twain’s early experiences as a printer’s devil. Val Storey’s beautiful vocal interpretation of Tish Hinojosa’s “Love Is On Our Side” provides haunting musical comfort for the feelings of deep pain and sorrow Twain felt upon the death of his daughter, Susy.

As a matter of personal taste, I’d like to have seen included a song rooted in the swampy, darker blues legacy of the Mississippi River and more reflective of Twain’s biting social satire, but that aside, this is a superb CD from start to finish. The instrumentation features some of Nashville’s outstanding musicians: Rob Ickes (dobro, weisenborn), Carl Jackson (banjo, acoustic and gut string guitar), Andy Leftwich (fiddle), Tony Creasman (drums, percussion), Kevin Grantt (bass), Catherine Marx (piano), Johnny Ralls (banjo), Adam Steffey (mandolin), Josh Swift (dobro), Doyle Lawson (mandolin), Dale Perry (banjo), Mike Johnson (steel), and Brad Paisley (acoustic guitar). In particular, Ickes’s highly acclaimed work on the dobro and weisenborn puts such a distinctive edge on many of the songs.

For Carl Jackson and Dr. Lovell, it’s clear this project was a labor of love. In my opinion, the CD adds an even richer layer of frosting on Jackson’s musical cake. A big tip of the Texas hat to him for selflessly volunteering to take on such a creative but demanding project as a fundraiser for the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum. Twainiacs, music lovers, and the people of Hannibal (not to mention the world) owe him and Dr. Lovell a huge debt.

Thanks to the excellent interplay between the narrative and songs, the CD gives listeners a fascinating introduction to Mark Twain. I keep a copy in the car and play it a lot on road trips between Missouri and Texas to play gigs with the Mudcats. Buffett has released the CD on his own Mailboat Records, and the artists have donated their share of proceeds to the Museum to help ensure future generations will continue to appreciate Twain’s legacy and the important cultural role Hannibal played in his thought and writings.

So, go ahead, Mark, wherever you are tonight, light one up and throw one back–”you’re a cagey bird ol’ Indian Crow!”

To purchase a CD directly from the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, click on the link:http://www.marktwainmuseum.org/shop/proddetail.php?prod=MarkTwainCD

~Doctor G (Gregg Andrews)

To share this article, copy this link:

http://www.outlawmagazine.tv/content/?p=1943

Doctor G (otherwise known as Dr. Gregg Andrews) is a multitalented Singer/Songwriter/Storyteller. He’s an accomplished labor historian and the author of Nationally Awarded books like City of Dust: A Cement Company Town in the Land of Tom Sawyer and Insane Sisters: Or, the Price Paid for Challenging a Company Town. But he’s most comfortable delivering his Swampytonk music in his Mississippi-mudded snakeskin boots.

Outlaw Magazine. Country, Rock and Roll, Blues, Folk, Americana, Punk. As long as it is real, it is OUTLAW. Overproduced mediocrity need not apply.

www.outlawmagazine.com

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Free State of Jones, by Victoria Bynum

Gregg and I are excited to be heading off to Kansas City on January 26, where I’ll be a featured speaker for the 2012 Richard D. McKinzie Symposium.

The McKinzie Symposium will take place Thursday, January 26 – Friday, January 27, 2012, and will explore the topic, “Confederate Disunion: The War Beyond the Battlefield”

On  Thursday at 6:30 pm, Dr. Stephanie McCurry will present the keynote address, “Confederate Reckoning: The Politics of the ‘Homefront’ in the Civil War South.” Two plenary sessions, including my own, follow on Friday:

9 am–“Recalculating the Price of Freedom: Women and the Civil War”
Dr. Thavolia Glymph

10 am–“The Free State of Jones: Community, Race, and Kinship in Civil War Mississippi”
Dr. Victoria Bynum

For complete information on the symposium, including registration instructions, click here:

McKinzie-Program-2012

A Brief History of the McKinzie Symposium:

This year marks the 17th year of the Richard D. McKinzie Annual Research Symposium. The symposium is co-sponsored by the UMKC College of Arts and Sciences, the Kansas City Public Library, and the Organization of American Historians, the largest professional body of American historians in the country. Thanks to the generous support of the Bernardin Haskell Program, the McKinzie Symposium has grown into a highly anticipated event for our campus. The symposium offers a special opportunity for the participating faculty in the High School College Program—as well as UMKC faculty, students, and the broader Kansas City community—to interact with some of the nation’s leading scholars of American history and culture

If you’re in the area, I hope to see you there!

Vikki Bynum

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 Mixed Chicks Chat

Earlier this year, on February 16, I announced my upcoming interview on the award-winning show, Mixed Chicks Chat. This live weekly show, launched by co-producers and co-hosts Fanshen Cox and Heidi Durrow in 2007, addresses different aspects of mixed-race experience each week with guest authors, community leaders, and everyday people who share their own stories. So, I was excited to be a part of the show! Sadly, however, the interview scheduled to take place on Wednesday, March 2, 2011, had to be cancelled because of technical difficulties.

I’m happy to report that Fanshen Cox invited me once again to be a guest on the show, and this time things went beautifully. On August 10, I had a great time discussing Mississippi’s Newt, Rachel, and the “White Negro” Knight community with Fanshen and co-host Jennifer Frappier. I also enjoyed fielding questions from members of the audience, one of whom was Steven Riley from Mixed Race Studies: Scholarly Perspectives on the Mixed Race Experience.

If you’re not familiar with this program, I urge you to visit the Mixed Chicks site. If you find Renegade South’s posts about the history of mixed-race families interesting, you will surely find the “Mixed Chicks” interviews and dialogues fascinating!  

You may listen to interviews on Mixed Chick Chats by visiting Talkshoe.com and signing up as a listener.

My compliments to the hosts, and my thanks to them for rescheduling the interview. 

Vikki Bynum

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Interview by Wisconsin Public Radio

The Long Shadow of the Civil War

This has been a busy week, and the upcoming week will be even more so! As part of Wisconsin Public Radio’s observation of the 150 year anniversary of the Civil War, I was interviewed on Friday, July 8, on the Veronica Rueckert Show.  The topic was my latest book, The Long Shadow of the Civil War, and the discussion included Southern Unionists, participation by Southern women in anti-Confederate uprisings, Newt Knight and the Free State of Jones, and Wesleyan Methodist Unionists in North Carolina. After the first half hour the show was opened to callers, whose questions and comments took us beyond a discussion of the book’s contents. If you’d like to hear the interview for yourself, click on the arrow below:


Upcoming presentation in Jones County

In a few days, Gregg and I will head out for Laurel, Mississippi, where I’m scheduled to present “Newt Knight, Southern Renegade: Patriot or Traitor?” at the Laurel-Jones Public Library. The Library is located at 530 Commerce St., Laurel, and my talk will take place on Friday, July 15, from 11:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. If you’re in the area, come on by!

My thanks to Dan Walters of Laurel for arranging this. 

Gregg’s and my day at the Laurel library will be followed by our attendance at the biennial Knight-Booth Family Reunion in Soso, where we’re looking forward to reconnecting with good friends like Florence Knight Blaylock and Olga Watts Nelson, pictured below.

Vikki Bynum

Florence Blaylock, Olga Watts Nelson, and Vikki Bynum, January 2011

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Report:

I just returned from a wonderful visit to Leiden University in the Netherlands, where I spoke generally about Civil War Southern Unionists and specifically about The Free State of Jones as part of that university’s yearly American Studies Lecture Series. In commemoration of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War, this year’s theme was “The American Civil War After 150 Years: An Unfinished War?”

I was impressed by the deep interest in the American Civil War displayed by Leiden students and faculty. I’m happy to report there were no arguments between True Believers in either the noble “Lost Cause” of the Confederacy, or the total benevolence of Northern motives and goals in thwarting the South’s secession from the Union. Rather, discussions centered on understanding that many Southerners–white as well as black–opposed secession and the creation of the Confederacy, and that many more turned against the Confederacy as the war dragged on. How common across the South was guerrilla warfare such as that of Jones County, Mississippi?, they wanted to know. Who was Newt Knight? This question led to a discussion about the deep need displayed by Civil War partisans to turn Newt into either a murderous traitor to “The South,” or, conversely, into an abolitionist whose racial views anticipated the modern Civil Rights Movement.

We probably will never know the full story of Newt Knight’s political or racial views, but we do know that no Solid South existed either before, during, or after the Civil War. And, yes, we know that slavery played a crucial role in convincing key Southern leaders to push for secession, even though most Northerners, including Abraham Lincoln, were not abolitionists bent on fighting a war for the liberty of African Americans.

They didn’t have to be abolitionists. It was enough that the newly-elected Republican president was dedicated to limiting slavery’s expansion into the nation’s western territories. Slaveholders’ equal dedication to the expansion of slavery as essential to the institution’s survival eventually led to the Civil War–a war that ironically resulted in what slaveholders most feared–the abolition of slavery. 

Not only did a good many white Southerners oppose secession, but the disastrous course of that war eventually demoralized a good many more who originally believed they were fighting for liberty and honor, but increasingly saw a “rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.”

There was special interest among the Leiden audience in the mixed-race community that grew out of Newt Knight’s wartime collaboration with Rachel Knight, the former slave of his grandfather, Jackie Knight. Many of the questions centered on issues of racial identity and the historical importance–and limits–of the “one drop rule” in determining such identities. Members of the audience were fascinated by the variety of racial identities assumed by, as well as imposed upon, descendants of Newt Knight, his white wife Serena, and the two mixed-race women–Rachel Knight and her daughter George Ann–by whom he had children.  Historically, they understood, race is a social, political, and legal construction rather than a biologically rational system. 

Announcement:

I recently discussed the above themes (and more) in regard to my latest book, The Long Shadow of the Civil Warin an interview with the Peabody Award-winning show, “To the Best of Our Knowledge,” produced by Wisconsin Public Radio and distributed by Public Radio International (PRI). The interview, part of NPR’s “Remembering the Civil War” series, was arranged by Erin Clune and conducted by Anne Strainchamps. It will air on various NPR affiliates throughout the nation tomorrow, on Sunday, May 8, and will also be podcast:

http://www.wpr.org/book/110508b.cfm

FYI, here’s a list of NPR affiliates that broadcast “To the Best of Our Knowledge”:

http://tunein.com/radio/options/To-the-Best-of-our-Knowledge-p498/

Vikki Bynum, Moderator

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