Lies Across America

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Lies Across America: What Our Historic Markers and Monuments Get Wrong
Author James Loewen
Country United States
Language English
Publisher New Press
Publication date
1999
Pages 480
ISBN 0-684-87067-3
Preceded by Lies My Teacher Told Me

Lies Across America a 1999 book by James Loewen, and is a follow up sequel to his 1995 work Lies My Teacher Told Me. The book focuses on historical markers and museums across the United States.

The book starts on the West Coast and moves east, a deliberate break from the traditional history found in textbooks, which begin with the Pilgrims and move westward. Similarly, Loewen covers Hispanic rather than English discovery, and American Indian history.

Loewen's book voices two major complaints about historical markers in the United States. The first, and most major, deals with historical markers established in the Southern United States which attempt to white-wash the history of slavery and the period of Reconstruction. Many of these markers were established between 1890 and 1920, the nadir of American race relations. Most were placed by organizations with pro-Confederate agendas and reflect the racism of the early 20th century. While some markers have been altered in the last forty years as a result of civil rights progress, many have not—especially those extant at American Civil War battle sites and in the South. A few of Loewen's criticisms of these memorials though are not justified historically. In his critique of the activities of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in West Virginia he made several errors. Concerning a U.D.C. marker on the courthouse in Jefferson County he wrote that "the only memory of Civil War soldiers at the Charles Town, West Virginia, courthouse is a pro-Confederate plaque the UDC affixed in 1986." Almost all the soldiers from Jefferson County, however, were Confederate, and only "a few scattered individuals joined the Federals".[1] The county is credited with about 1600 Confederate soldiers. Similarly, Loewen held the U.D.C. responsible for a statue of Stonewall Jackson on the state capitol grounds in Charleston when actually it was the responsibility of the state legislature. The bill to erect the statue on the capital grounds was rushed through both houses of the legislature unanimously in one day, February, 23, 1905, with regular procedural rules suspended in order to expedite the bill. [2]

Loewen's second major complaint deals with the treatment of Native Americans, who are often neglected and omitted in the telling of United States history. The author challenges and corrects many of the inaccurate and Eurocentric mistruths spread by story markers across America.

At the end of his book, Loewen makes suggestions for how those concerned about the misrepresentation of history can change markers and monuments to convey historical truth and accuracy.

The organizations running historical sites are faulted in Loewen's book according to Wilton Corkern.[3]

In the book, Loewen argues every historic site is "a tale of two eras": the one from when the event happened and the one from when the event was commemorated.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Curry, Richard Orr, A House Divided, A Study of Statehood Politics and the Copperhead Movement in West Virginia, Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 1964, pg. 53
  2. ^ Lewis, Virgil A., M.A., Third Biennial Report of the Department of Archives and History of the State of West Virginia, Charleston, 1911
  3. ^ Corkern, Wilton (2004-06-01). "Heritage Tourism: Where Public and History Don't Always Meet". American Studies International. 42 (2-3): 7. ISSN 0883-105X. 
  4. ^ "Looking for something? | Taylor & Francis Online". www.informaworld.com. Retrieved 2016-06-12. 

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