"I was on the edge of my seat during the roll call vote on the ratification of the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery. But when two of three members of the Nutmeg State's House delegation voted to uphold slavery, I could not believe my own eyes and ears. How could congressmen from Connecticut — a state that supported
Although I truly appreciate Congressman Courtney's enthusiasm and defense of Connecticut, his version of history isn't terribly correct — and he's not alone on this.
It's true that Spielberg, or more correctly screenplay writer
Kushner was recently at Kingswood
So what's the problem with Congressman Courtney's version of our history? He insisted in his letter to Spielberg that "Connecticut provided a unified front against slavery," and that "placing the state of Connecticut on the wrong side of the historic and divisive fight over slavery is a distortion of easily verifiable facts and an inaccuracy that should be acknowledged."
What we know, however, is that Connecticut most certainly did not provide a unified front against slavery, and the real distortion of the
Connecticut was hugely divided over fighting the war and over slavery. I document this history in my book, "Connecticut in the American Civil War: Slavery, Sacrifice, and Survival." I found that America's most famous abolitionist, William Lloyd Garrison, referred to Connecticut as the "Georgia of New England" and that "the simple truth is that in the 'land of steady habits,' one of the steadiest was a virulent racism."
This is a tremendously important history that every resident of Connecticut should learn, lest we whitewash our past and thereby fail to do justice to the still-lingering problems of race.
Since the start of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in spring 2011, the Connecticut Civil War Commemoration Commission (www.ccsu.edu/civilwar) has been focused on this story and the wider history of the war. We still have a long way to go in understanding the bloodiest war in American history, why we fought it, what it did to our nation, and its lasting legacies.
I invite Congressman Courtney to join the commission on this journey and have sent him a copy of my book. Perhaps I should mail copies to Spielberg and Kushner, too.