Greetings Cosmic Americans!
Yesterday was an all around great day. Yes it certainly was - I closed the doors on an old project of sorts, got to work in earnest on outlining my principal queries for the next academic venture, and hung out with Bruce Springsteen. Yes that's right - and do you know what we talked about? The Rockabilly scene in LA from the late 80s and early 90s: the Palomino Club, Jack's Sugar Shack, and the Frolic Room on Hollywood Blvd. Cool.
So in honor of that meeting, I will say a few words about how the great state of New Jersey commemorated the Civil War. Now, Jersey veterans were right in line with most other former Civil War soldiers. Which means - they commemorated the war on northern terms - they talked about the salient issues of the war era...treason, slavery, emancipation - you get the drift (at least you do if you have ever really looked at the evidence - or if you read this blog).
For real! Even the good folks who elected George "no friend to the black man" McClellan governor, could get on board with the commemoration of freedom. Have a look at these speech excerpts from monument dedication ceremonies on the Gettysburg battlefield. A lot of these guys thought emancipation was just as important as preserving the Union, which makes it pretty freakin' important.
In terms of relative commemorative importance, many honored Union and emancipation equally. In 1887, veterans of the 13th New Jersey Volunteers showed considerable dedication to both:
This monument shall stand, among the many which are to be erected here, as a silent sentinel to indicate to future generations where soldiers of bravery and renown gave up their lives in defense of their country; to show where are the graves of the true patriots who dared to die for the hopes of man and the redemption of a race from slavery.
Similarly illustrating the impulse to emphasize Union and the eradication of slavery together, an 1888 monument dedicated on the Gettysburg battlefield to the New Jersey 8th Infantry celebrated the men who defended both “great principles” of the Union cause:
The result of the battle decided that the Republic would be saved. That this was to be a land of freemen. That the shackles of the slaves should be sold for iron. That the auction block should be burned. That all free men should breathe the fresh air of heaven direct, and not by inhalation from a master.
So there is a lot to be said about Jersey, some good...some bad - but the vets from the Garden State...at least some of them, kept the spirit of the emancipation cause alive and well - and I don't care what anybody else says.
PS - Nebraska...favorite Springsteen album.