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Authors

Shae Adams

Abstract

The Stonewall Jackson monument on Henry Hill at the Manassas National Battlefield Park stands as a testament to the propensity of Americans to manipulate history in order to fit current circumstances. The monument reflects not the views and ideologies of the veterans of the Civil War, but rather the hopes and fears of those who spent the prime years of their lives immersed in the Great Depression. Those of the latter generation searched in vain for heroes among the corrupted businessmen on Wall Street who ran the economic affairs of the country, and who, in the eyes of the public, plunged the nation into insurmountable debt. Historian Lawrence Levine observed that fear served as a motivator for 1930s Americans as they struggled to feed their children during the Great Depression. One reflection of this overwhelming fear appeared in President Franklin Roosevelt's 1933 inaugural address as he insisted “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” In order to cope with this stress, Americans turned to a plethora of heroes as guiding lights for the dark days of the Great Depression. Some turned to gangster heroes like Bonnie and Clyde who undermined the financial and legal systems by lashing out against the institutions. Others devoured the serialized adventures of Superman, a new kind of hero created by the sons of Jewish immigrants in 1938. Still others turned to literature that reminisced about other crises in American history, namely Margaret Mitchell?s Gone with the Wind, a bestseller in 1938. It was in this cultural setting that the Virginia State Legislature conceived and financed the idea for a Stonewall Jackson monument.

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