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Joseph Harris

            The National Voting Rights Museum and Institute can be found in Selma, Alabama in their new location across The Edmund Pettus Bridge. This museum was a self-guided tour through the building with multiple exhibits on various things. The first area that you walk up to is a wall that tells you about what the area was like in 1965 when Martin Luther King Jr. led the famous march. On the wall are multiple pictures of the booming city at the time, with their old and unique buildings. The wall that I found most closely related to what we are learning in American history is the one that talks about what Selma was like during the Civil War.

During the American Civil War, Selma was one of the most important cities to the Confederacy because of its manufacturing abilities in which they produced a variety of supplies for the soldiers. Selma was also a place where they made plating for the ironclad warships; one of the famous being the “Tennessee”. Not long after being established as a city, Selma became one of the most powerful towns in Alabama when it came to politics, trade, and a rapidly growing population. Despite what all it grew to offer, the city of Selma fell to the Union forces on April 2, 1865 as the result of a short battle. Other exhibits in the museum were memorabilia of famous people who had lived in the city, an exhibit on Barack Obama, and a very large timeline that showed their city’s history. I also found it very intriguing that the museum itself is not funded by the state, but instead a wealthy African American woman who wanted the heritage and museum to live on in the small town.

Joseph Harris

            On the Selma side of the Edmund Pettus Bridge that is so famous for the march across that Martin Luther King Jr. led, you can find the Slavery and Civil War Museum. The museum itself is not funded by the state, but rather a wealthy African American woman from around the area that did not want to see the history of the historical town wither away. The owner of the museum, as well as those employed by it, is in the stages of having the name changed to “Ancient Egyptian and Enslaved American Museum”. Inside the museum there is a variety of things to be seen.

When you walk through the doors, you enter a room that talks about slavery and how those that were taken from Africa were tricked and taken away from their homelands. To see the chains that they were put into and the distances that they were forced to walk was appalling. The next room we entered was filled with ancient Egyptian clothing and a timeline that explains the back-story behind those that ended up here in America as slaves. The next was an exhibit set up as an auction block, with readings beside, to help you grasp how those auctioned off at the spot were treated. The next room took more of a hold on the Civil War with facts and a time line. 186,000 Africans served in the Civil War and around 38,000 died in service. Though groups of people think that all slaves were forced to fight for the Confederacy, it is proven that they were not. In one area I was able to see a list of those involved in the 137th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry, Alabama name by name. The best part about the museum was being able to grasp an understanding the roles that African Americans played in the Civil War, and the outlook that those from Selma, Alabama have on it.

Joseph Harris

            The Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park touches a corner of Tuscaloosa County, somewhat near the University of Alabama. I took a Sunday trip up to the beautiful site to check out the grounds and visit the Alabama Iron and Steel Museum. The museum took me by surprise at the amount of information and number of historical artifacts it provided.

In the 1800s, Alabama began to boom when it came to the manufacturing of iron. Never before in the world had someone found iron ore, coal, and limestone all so close together. They began by building forges on the creeks and rivers around the area for water power before steam power was introduced in the twentieth century. When looked at with the Civil War, this area was extremely important to the Confederacy and their war materials. On March 20, 1865 the largest cavalry army of the Civil War was launched directed toward all Alabama areas that were making war materials for the confederates. Brigade General John T. Croxton was dispatched with 1,500 troops to head toward Tannehill Ironworks, and move up from Tuscaloosa from there. Their attack was successful as they took out 13 Alabama iron work places that accounted for 70% of the Confederacies ammunition. There was also information in the museum in regards to the use of a forge hammer, weaponry produced and used, and things found around the grounds after the war. Out back there is the May Plantation Cotton Gin, as well as a shed that held actual machinery used to produce the iron products.

Mary: “I’m starting to worry about the presidential election coming up.”

Katherine: “I believe that this election of 1816 will be one for the books, ladies. Think about all of the possibilities, Elizabeth, if your husband can take down federalist candidate Rufus King.”

Elizabeth: “You’re right, Katherine. I have thoroughly enjoyed standing by James’ side as he has had the opportunity to be the democratic-republican candidate. The possibilities are endless for us. I’ve really liked having the opportunity to meet with you fine women to be able to discuss ways that can further our roles in politics.”

Mary: “You all know that I have been trying my hardest to influence my sons, father, and husband by leaving hints here and there. I do believe that being the first teachers of children, we could use our education to make sure that we our younger generation acquires patriotism and virtue throughout their years. (Zagarri 53)

Katherine: “As we all do, Mary. I’m all for your husband winning the election, Elizabeth, but it’s clear that neither the federalists, nor the democratic-republicans, want us to be involved in their political parties.”

Elizabeth: “I understand your concerns. However, since James is my husband, he will be more understanding of our wants.”

Mary: “Did you all see what Donald Fraser posted in his pamphlet “Party-Spirit Exposed” from 1799? Here, I’ll read it.

“[Women] have it in their power to inculcate ‘respect, sobriety, and decency in the youth, and pointedly to withhold their smiles and hold their smiles and civilities from all who transgress these in the smallest degrees. This is a method of proceeding that will most certainly be victorious.’ By rewarding certain behaviors and sanctioning others, women could turn society away from party strife and toward mutuality, harmony, and unity.” (Zagarri 129)

Elizabeth: “It feels great to see that we have made some progress in the world without having to show a little skin. Times are changing.”

Katherine: “Let’s get out there and convince everyone to vote James Monroe, our Democratic-Republican candidate!”