Kirk Savage (Professor of Art History, University of Pittsburgh)
November 11, 2010
The Civil War caused Americans to re-imagine themselves and their nation. Countrymen once again, however uneasily, Northerners, Southerners, and growing populations in the West had to figure out the meaning of the War and the meaning of citizenship in a nation that now included four million new citizens who had once been enslaved. Public monuments were central to this effort. The decades after the War constitute the greatest era of monument building in our history. In metal and stone those monuments are still with us — generals, soldiers, freedmen. What did they mean to the people who erected them? What did they say about the country the War created? What do they say to us today?