Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Booknotes: Commonwealth of Compromise

New Arrival:
Commonwealth of Compromise: Civil War Commemoration in Missouri by Amy Laurel Fluker (UM Press, 2020).

As great western Border States that were bitterly divided and contributed large numbers of troops to both sides, Kentucky and Missouri provide rich ground for modern studies of both contested and collaborative commemoration and remembrance. However, it seems (at least to my limited knowledge) that the book-length Missouri scholarship in this regard (excepting guerrilla memory) lags behind that of Kentucky. Stepping in to bridge this distance is Amy Fluker's Commonwealth of Compromise: Civil War Commemoration in Missouri.

From the description: Fluker's book "offers a history of Civil War commemoration in Missouri, shifting focus away from the guerrilla war and devoting equal attention to Union, African American, and Confederate commemoration. She provides the most complete look yet at the construction of Civil War memory in Missouri, illuminating the particular challenges that shaped Civil War commemoration. As a slaveholding Union state on the Western frontier, Missouri found itself at odds with the popular narratives of Civil War memory developing in the North and the South. At the same time, the state’s deeply divided population clashed with one another as they tried to find meaning in their complicated and divisive history. As Missouri’s Civil War generation constructed and competed to control Civil War memory, they undertook a series of collaborative efforts that paved the way for reconciliation to a degree unmatched by other states.

The final chapter covers Missouri's veteran homes, which were privately funded until the legislature voted in 1897 to take over that responsibility. If you have chance, a visit to the Confederate Memorial State Historic Site (the site of the former Confederate Home) is well worthwhile if you're in the Kansas City area and can take a little drive out into the country to Higginsville. Citizen donations to The Federal Soldiers' Home Association allowed the purchase of the Dunmoor Mansion in St. James for conversion into the state's Federal Home, which opened in October 1896. The original buildings don't exist there anymore, but, as far as my cursory internet search goes, there is some interpretation at the VA clinic complex currently situated there.

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