Civil War symposium features local speakers

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 13, 2003

Two local historians will be the featured speakers for Monday night's American Civil War Symposium at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama.

Bill Rice, local historian, will speak at 6:30 p.m. and Milton McPherson, professor of history, will speak at 7:30.

Charlotte Gibson, museum director, said both speakers are well-known and respected for their expertise in history, especially in the Civil War era.

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Rice's topic will be "Alabamians and Pike Countians in the Battles of Vicksburg and Gettysburg.

"Southern Slavery" will be the topic of McPherson's lecture.

McPherson's research on the topic has been extensive. His Ph.D. dissertation was entitled "Federal Economic Policy and Southern Cotton, 1862-1868."

"I had to become thoroughly familiar with the way cotton was grown by slave and free labor," he said. "I delivered a lecture on 'Southern Slavery' at the University of Aberdeen in Aberdeen, Scotland and I've never worked so long or hard on any other talk."

McPherson said he will use about 120 35mm slides, charts and graphs showing origins of slaves in Africa, details of the dreaded "middle passage" from Africa to the New World and the way slaves lived worked and were bought and sold.

McPherson will also provide insight into psychological and other devices designed to justify slavery and convince the slaves that they were child-like and would work only if compelled to do so.

Other issues of interest in McPherson's lecture will be the slaves resistance to slavery and revolt and slavery as a factor in national politics.

"The final discussion will be on emancipation and the role of slaves, if any, in the Union and Confederate armies," McPherson said.

Gibson said a large group attended the first Civil War symposium and good attendance is expected throughout the four Monday night sessions.

"The speakers are all outstanding and provide much insight into the different aspects of the American Civil War," she said.

The symposium will continue on April 21 and 28. Dr. Ed Bridges' topic on April 21 will be "Juliet Opie Hopkins: Confederate Nurse and Robert G. McLendon Jr. will speak on "African Americans in the Confederate Armies."

On April 28, Tom Crowder will present "Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne" followed by Ray Roddy whose topic will be "Origins of Alabama Regiments."

Museum members are admitted free. Admission for non-members in $5 and includes viewing of the extensive American Civil War artifact exhibit, which includes hundreds of items.