... the Kentucky History Center will bring some context to these rivals in the midst of a yearlong celebration of Lincoln with a daylong discussion of Davis on June 27 that attempts to put him into the proper historical context.All you need is a day to do that?
It's not easy, organizers say. While avoiding the hero worship of the "South will rise again" crowd, many folks don't know that before he took the helm of the doomed Confederacy, Davis was a Mexican War hero, Mississippi congressman and senator, and secretary of war during the Franklin Pierce administration.Note that these folks are defining "context" as a recap of career highlights boiled down to "good" and "bad" episodes that might be balanced using some sort of relativistic formula - if only they could find one. As simplistic (to us) as this non-historic reductionism would be, its "complexity" stymies the public historian:
As John Coski, director of research at the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Va., puts it, he [Davis] was a man with many gifts who ended up on the wrong end of history. That makes historical interpretation more difficult.If you end up on the "right end" of history, public history becomes easy. Again, "history" is to be a simple list of career milestones that will meet approval from casual modern visitors.
"How do you deal with him? What's the tenor?" asked Coski, a symposium speaker. "How do you make him acceptable for a large mass of people and not just leave him in control of the people who wish the Confederacy hadn't lost?How do you make him acceptable ... welcome to public history, the history that's not.