(A version of this article originally appeared in the Johns Hopkins News-Letter on April 14, 2011.)
On April 19, 1861, four days after the surrender of Fort Sumter and 86 years to the day after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the City of Baltimore witnessed an outbreak of violence that resulted in the first combat deaths of the American Civil War.
President Abraham Lincoln entered Richmond, Virginia on April 4, 1865, a day after the Confederate capital had fallen to the forces of the United States. He was accompanied by Rear Admiral David D. Porter, a handful of officers, a small escort of sailors, and his son Tad, whose twelfth birthday it was.
Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg. (Library of Congress)
Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. Growing up impoverished, he received very little formal education, later writing that “the aggregate of all his schooling did not amount to one year.”
Over the last several days, white nationalist terrorists descended on the city of Charlottesville, Virginia in order to protest the recent removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. As a direct result of their actions, at least three people are dead.
This is merely the latest outrage perpetrated by white nationalists in defense of Confederate symbols in general and memorials to Lee in particular. Yet there are “moderates” on the right who would have us believe that Lee was a good and noble man, that the use of him as a symbol by bigots and terrorists represents a perversion of his legacy.
Two years ago nine African American worshipers were killed in a racially motivated terrorist attack on the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. In the wake of the attack journalists discovered that the perpetrator had been regularly photographed with Confederate flags. Since that time a growing number of people have called, often successfully, for the removal of Confederate flags and symbols from public places.