On Thursday, a statue of Jefferson Davis, the second of four Civil War memorials put up in New Orleans, was removed and towed to a clandestine storage facility—part of a plan by city officials to erase the reminders of an era that celebrated white supremacy and racism. But this wasn’t the first time the conflict, which ended more than 150 years ago, has made news in recent weeks and months. The first monument, an obelisk erected in 1891 to honor members of a white nationalist group who fought against the racially integrated New Orleans police and militia, was removed at the end of April. Earlier this month, President Donald J. Trump questioned why the Civil War happened at all. And one need not go back too much further to find other Civil War-related headlines.
So, why does the Civil War continue to have such a big impact on people and politics? We asked Martin Blatt, history professor of the practice and director of the public history program at Northeastern.