Houston Matters

Coming To Terms With The South And Confederate Symbols

History professor Dr. Elizabeth Varon discusses the lingering notions of why the Civil War was fought and how they inform the battle over Confederate symbols.

Spirit of the Confederacy Statue
“The Spirit of the Confederacy” statue in Sam Houston Park downtown, erected in 1908.

Armies of Deliverance - Book

To this day, some Southerners characterize the Civil War as the “war of Northern aggression,” a rationalization that allows them to hold to the notion that the South was somehow justified and honorable and only lost the war because the North was too strong.

That kind of talk can give rise to what we saw in Charlottesville,. Va. in 2017.

Dr. Elizabeth Varon teaches history in Charlottesville at the University of Virginia and says Americans marched to war in 1861 not to conquer the South but to liberate it. She explains what she means in her new Civil War history book Armies of Deliverance: A New History of the Civil War.

In the audio above, she tells Houston Matters host Craig Cohen the generations-long battle over Confederate symbols and statues, the “stars and bars,” and other lingering imagery of the Civil War South can be traced to this interpretation of the aims of both the Union and Confederate armies.

Dr. Elizabeth Varon
Dr. Elizabeth Varon is a history professor at the University of Virginia and author of Armies of Deliverance: A New History of the Civil War.

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Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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