Lone Star Unionism & Dissent: Session 1
The “collective memory” of Confederate Texas is as elusive as a ghost. It is as lacking in definite shape as any restless spirit, and tracing manifestations of it is a challenge worthy of any ghost hunter. This nebulousness, like so many aspects of Texas history and memory, is inextricably linked with Texan identity, in itself a loaded term. From a survey of primary and secondary sources, however, a few conclusions emerge, the first and foremost of which is that Texans viewed and many continue to view themselves as “Texan” first and foremost. A second is that vast differences of geography and ethnic heritage mitigated against the formation of a genuinely “collective” memory of a Confederate Texas. A third is that Texas men were much more interested in getting back to making money than they were in memorializing a lost cause. This left the cultivation of “memory” to the ladies. McLemore explores the evidence for and the nature of collective memory of Confederate Texas through time.
Dr. McLemore is William B. Wiener, Jr., Professor of Archives and Historic Preservation and head of LSU-Shreveport Archives and Special Collections, and Adjunct Professor in History at LSU-Shreveport. Before coming to LSUS in 2004, she was College Archivist at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. She received her PhD in History at the University North Texas. McLemore is active in professional organizations, including the Academy of Certified Archivists, of which she is currently president, Society of American Archivists, Society of Southwest Archivists, Louisiana Archives and Manuscripts Association, Louisiana Historical Association, North Louisiana Historical Association, Texas State Historical Association, East Texas Historical Association, and the Organization of American Historians. Her recent publications include “Women and the Texas Revolution in History and Memory,” in Women and the Texas Revolution (University of North Texas Press, 2012), “Early Historians and the Shaping of Texas Memory,” in Lone Star Pasts: Memory and History in Texas (Texas A&M University Press, 2007), and Inventing Texas: Early Historians of the Lone Star State (Texas A&M University Press, 2004). She is author of two forthcoming projects: “Adele Briscoe Looscan: Daughter of the Republic,” in Texas Women (American Women Series, University of Georgia Press), and Adele Briscoe Looscan: Daughter of the Republic (TCU Press).
This presentation will focus on the problem that slave fight posed for Anglo Texans and Confederates, as enslaved people during the 1850s and 1860s escaped from plantations. The position of Texas along the far-western frontier of the American South, alongside Mexico, presented unique opportunities for enslaved people to flee their masters, leaving the state’s planters particularly concerned about the problem of slave flight and rebellion. The outbreak of the Civil War threatened to destabilize slaveholding in the state as it brought new opportunities for Texas slaves to escape, even as slaveholders from other parts of the Confederacy began shuttling slaves into Texas to isolate them from Union armies (and the opportunity to run to freedom across Union lines). Dr. Torget will examine both how the course of the war affected slave escapes in the state, and how Anglo Texans thought about both the threat of emancipation and the central problem that their enslaved servants posed: unionists in their midst.
Dr. Torget is a historian of nineteenth-century North America at the University of North Texas, where he directs the Digital History Lab. The founder and director of numerous digital humanities projects—including Mapping Texts, Texas Slavery Project, Voting America, and the History Engine—Torget served as co-editor of the Valley of the Shadow project, and as the founding director of the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond. The co-editor of several books on the American Civil War, he has been a featured speaker on the digital humanities at Harvard, Stanford, Rice, and the National Archives in Washington, D. C. In 2011, he was named the inaugural David J. Weber Research Fellow at the Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University. He is currently completing a book titled Cotton Empire: Slavery, the Texas Borderlands, and the Origins of the U.S.-Mexico War and an edited volume, This Corner of Canaan: Essays on Texas in Honor of Randolph B. Campbell.
As Union armies occupied New Orleans and moved up the Mississippi River in late 1862 and 1863, slaveholding refugees from Louisiana poured across the border into Texas, bringing with them tens of thousands of enslaved people. As these slaveholders rented land, hired out slaves, moved back and forth across the border, and sometimes straddled the line between commitment to the Confederacy and grudging acceptance of Union gains, their presence created tensions with many native Texans who questioned their loyalty or feared the influx of "strange" people of color. As “outsiders” who were neither Unionists nor fully accepted by Confederate Texans, these refugees and the enslaved people they brought with them did not always fit neatly into the categories historians have used to understand wartime Texas. They reveal the heterogeneous and shifting nature of the state's population as well as the multiple motives—economic, practical, familial, and ideological—that brought many strangers to Texas during the War.
Dr. McDaniel is assistant professor of history at Rice University and the author of The Problem of Democracy in the Age of Slavery: Garrisonian Abolitionists and Transatlantic Reform (LSU Press, 2013). His articles on abolitionism and the Civil War Era have appeared in The Journal of the Early Republic, American Quarterly, Slavery and Abolition, and Atlantic Studies, and he is the coeditor of a special issue of The Journal of the Civil War Era on international approaches to the study of the South in the period. He is currently conducting research for a new book project on slavery and its aftermath in Texas and the surrounding region from the beginning of the Civil War to the Brownsville Affair of 1907, inspired partly by research begun while editing “Dick Dowling and Sabine Pass in History and Memory,” an online exhibit and digital archive. A frequent presenter at professional history conferences, Dr. McDaniel has also been invited to give several lectures on Texas and the Civil War in Houston, including one delivered as part of the Distinguished Lecture Series at the Houston Museum of Natural Science.