In 1956, Albert Woolson, the last verified Civil War veteran passed away, marking the end of an era. The War Between the States was by far the bloodiest conflict in U.S. history, claiming more than 620,000 lives before it ended. It was also in many ways the first true challenge to the survival of our fledgling republic, which at that point was not even 100 years old.
Missouri was unique in that while it remained in the Union, the sympathies of most citizens lied with the Confederacy. Our state became a microcosm of the war at large, with Missouri Bushwhackers waging guerrilla warfare against the Kansas Jayhawks. The times gave birth to folk legends like “Bloody” Bill Anderson, who burned Lawrence to the ground, and Jesse James, a roughed-up American version of Robin Hood, an outlaw of the people.
The impact of the conflict can still be felt today. The rivalry between the MU Tigers and the KU Jayhawks has its roots in the battles between Kansas and Missouri during the Civil War. St. Louis just regained control of its police department this August. For 152 years, the department had been under the oversight of the state, a move that was done during the Civil War. History is always with us. It lives on, it reverberates, and it usually repeats itself. This is why it’s so important we teach our children about the past.
Next year, the Secretary of State’s office is holding a wonderful program in Jefferson City open to all fourth- and fifth-grade students in Missouri called “Civil War Archives Alive!” The performance will show students what life was like for Missourians during the 1860s and how the Civil War affected both the soldiers and civilians.
After the show, students can tour the Missouri State Archives, where all of Missouri’s surviving historical documents are kept. I’ve toured the archives many times myself. It’s a wonderful learning opportunity for students.
Performances and tours are free of charge and any fourth- or fifth-grade class in Missouri is invited to attend. The program will be held on the following dates at the Missouri Archives in Jefferson City, with performances scheduled each day at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., noon and 1 p.m.: Thursday, March 13, 2014, Thursday, March 20, 2014, Thursday, April 3, 2014, Wednesday, April 9, 2014, Wednesday, April 23, 2014, Tuesday, May 6, 2014, Tuesday, May 13, 2014, and Thursday, May 15, 2014.
I strongly encourage schools in our area to attend if possible. The program requires a reservation. To RSVP, or for more information, contact the Secretary of State’s office at 573-526-5296 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.