The Civil War in Memory: 1877 to 2013

The Civil War in Memory: 1877 to 2013

What happened to interest in the Civil War during the 1930s and 1940s?

It almost disappeared. Plenty of white Southerners were still raised with stories of Vicksburg and Gettysburg, but in the North the war attracted little memory. The Great Depression of the 1930s, and the onset of the Second World War in 1939, were collectively so momentous that Americans of those decades thought little of the far past. Then, too, the experience of many African Americans serving in the Second World War led to improvements on the material and economic side for many of their families. And then, with the onset of the Cold War from 1946 to 1947, the international side of affairs seemed so large, indeed overwhelming, that Americans paid little attention to the struggle they had once waged against each other. By the time that Dwight Eisenhower became the first commanding general since Ulysses Grant to be elected to the presidency, the Civil War seemed very far away and bound to fade into insignificance. But it all began to change two years later.


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