Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Hope for the Sesquicentennial

Discussions of the upcoming sesquicentennial of the Civil War have been overshadowed by concerns that cash strapped states may scale down or even scrap commemorative plans as a result of budgets constrained by the recession. At least two states have managed to develop web sites for their sesquicentennial programs despite trying times.

I stumbled across North Carolinas site while searching for information on the Burnside Expedition in 1862. The site includes a chronology of the various campaigns in the state, a number of historical articles, maps by Mark A. Moore (these are first rate), and a list of events planned at various state historic sites. Definitely worth a look, and a great effort that other states ought to take note of. Visit the site at www.nccivilwar150.com/default.htm.

Virginia has also cobbled together an impressive site, though it seems much of the content is in development. Clicking an interactive map opens a list of events, both historical and current, for a given county, though this section needs quite a bit more work. The state has involved local round tables in the planning stage, and as Governor Tim Kaine is a staunch supporter of Civil War battlefield preservation, it is safe to assume Virginia’s commemorative programs will be substantial. Virginia’s site is http://www.virginiacivilwar.org/index.php.

Hopefully more states will follow suit with their own sesquicentennial programs. Bills have been introduced her in Maryland to establish a commission, but support may be lacking. Let’s hope Maryland’s lawmakers have the foresight to look beyond the current budget crunch and plan a meaningful program. If nothing else motivates them, perhaps the thought of increased tourism may spur them to action.

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