Term of Award

Summer 1999

Degree Name

Masters of Arts in History

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)


Department of History

Committee Chair

Walter Fraser, Jr.

Committee Member 1

Craig Roell

Committee Member 2

Alan Downs


One of the most traumatic events in American history was the American Civil War. In 1860, South Carolina seceded from the Union and within six months, ten southern states, including Georgia and Virginia followed suit.1 These southern states fought against the northern states of the Union from April 12, 1861 until April 9, 1865. Finally, when the hostilities were concluded, the southern states rejoined the union. Unfortunately, in some ways, the hostilities never really subsided and remained in the minds of many Southerners.

In 1961, under the supervision of the National Civil War Centennial Commission, the United States began a four-year centennial commemoration to honor all the soldiers and individuals who took part in the American Civil War. Atlanta, Charleston, and Richmond were three of the many cities that represented the Confederacy during the Centennial. However, each of these three cities used the event in different ways. Disguised by the national goals for the Centennial, Atlanta, Charleston, and Richmond staged events and memorials that either served to recreate or promote their social or economic function in society. In the case of Atlanta, the city attempted to perpetuate its economic role as a leading center for commerce and industry. Charleston, on the other hand, dedicated its time to recreating an "Old South" consisting of the aristocracy, segregation, and southern independence. Finally, Richmond appeared to have combined of all three: rather than limit its commemoration to simply one aspect, Richmond incorporated memorialization, commerce, and a touch of the "Old South" sentiment into its commemoration.


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