Lincoln’s Death, New Nation: April 1865 to 1877

Modern-Day Reenactments

Where were the revisionists at about that time (the 1920s)?

They were just beginning to emerge. It takes longer for Americans, and perhaps any other population, to develop the powers of revisioning a war than it does for them to reenact scenes from that war. Therefore, the 1920s represented the first attempt of the revisionists to see the Civil War anew and to argue over which causes and motives were most powerful. One can suggest that we have been doing the same ever since.

Thanks to the writings of a small number of revisionist historians (W. E. B. Du Bois is one of the first that comes to mind), Americans began reexamining the Civil War. Was it all about saving the Union? Was it primarily about freeing the slaves? Persons on both sides of the argument could find plenty of documentary evidence to back up either claim. At least with persons such as Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, a paper trail exists in which an historian or journalist can trace their thinking. But when it comes to many, perhaps the majority of the three million men who served, we are left in the dark.


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