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Testament to Union: Civil War Monuments in Washington, D.C. Hardcover – September 1, 1998

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Editorial Reviews


Reading this book makes me want to jump in the car, drive down to Washington and look at these monuments with new eyes. It provides a wonderful example of what historic travel is all about and the way it can add a whole new dimension to a visit... Jacob takes what could have been a dry topic and turns it into a fascinating behind-the-pedestals look at 41 Civil War monuments in the nation's capital.

(Tom Huntington, Editor Historic Traveler)

Rich and fascinating and packed with the kind of detail that can only come with total immersion in a subject, Testament to Union is a Washingtonian's jewel hoard... We are, in short, in the hands of a master of anecdote, who leads the reader from one end of the town to the other by the stories and histories behind the sightless faces of the sculptured heroes and their attendant figures.

(Duncan Spencer Washington Times)

Readable and well illustrated... Each entry sets the memorial in its political and artistic context and traces the story of its design, construction, and dedication. These accounts are well researched, vivid, and revealing, as Jacob weaves in human stories about controversies, sponsors, and sculptors.

(Catherine W. Bishir Journal of Southern History)

Jacob's book is a handsomely produced catalog of the Civil War monuments located in the Washington, D.C., area, with excellent new photographs.

(Kirk Savage Public Historian)

Jacob's remarkable volume vividly animates our understanding of the resonant connections between art and history within a politically charged civic matrix, and she skillfully conveys the complexities inherent in historical commemoration.

(Betsy Fahlman Virginia Magazine of History and Biography)

Book Description

Kathryn Jacob's fascinating guide to Washington's many Civil War monuments -- featuring the work of Maryland's Vanishing Lives photographer Edwin Remsberg.

(2000) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press (September 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801858615
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801858611
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.8 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,011,887 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kathryn Allamong Jacob is curator of manuscripts at the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University. She is the author of Testament to Union: Civil War Monuments in Washington, D.C., also published by Johns Hopkins, and Capital Elites: High Society in Washington, D.C. after the Civil War.

When she was growing up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Kathryn Allamong Jacob's grandfather organized family car trips to different historic sites each month year round. These trips always included wonderful meals cooked by her grandmother, packed in wooden boxes designed and built by her grandfather, and eaten on picnic tables, sometimes while wearing mittens. Jacob liked the Gettysburg battlefields best, with their acres of markers featuring dying bronze soldiers and celebrating suicidal charges, especially in the autumn because that meant steaming macaroni and cheese casseroles. With the past so thrilling and linked with family and food she loved, it seems only natural that Jacob should become a historian of the United States during the years just before, during, and after the Civil War.

After graduating from Goucher College, Jacob earned her MA in history from Georgetown University and her PhD in American history from Johns Hopkins University. She has held positions as university archivist at Johns Hopkins University; assistant historian at the U. S. Senate Historical Office; archivist at the National Archives; assistant program director at the National Historical Publications and Records Commission; deputy director of the American Jewish Historical Society; and she is currently curator of manuscripts at the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University.

Themes important for placing Sam Ward's life and the post-bellum lobby into the context of their times run throughout Jacob's career. Her doctoral dissertation examined high society in Washington during the Gilded Age. As a historian for the Senate, Jacob studied Congress and lobbying up close. As editor-in-chief of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-1989 (Government Printing Office, 1989), she gained an understanding (and a trove of arcane details) of the lives of hundreds of former senators, some of whom got caught up in the cascade of scandals that washed over the two administrations of Ulysses S. Grant.

Research for her first book, Capital Elites: High Society in Washington, D.C., after the Civil War (Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995), introduced Jacob to Sam Ward, a key player at the three-way intersection of politics, power, and entertaining in the post-war years. Her second book, Testament to Union: Civil War Monuments in Washington, D.C. (The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998), again took her into the thick of politics and lobbying, where she ran into the ubiquitous Sam once more.

A frequent lecturer on Washington during the Gilded Age, Jacob has also discussed the lifestyles of the 19th-century rich and famous on "America's Castles," produced by Cinetel Productions for the Arts and Entertainment Network; and on "The Grand Tour" and "America's Mansions, Monuments, and Masterpieces," both by Jupiter Entertainment for A & E. She has written for American Heritage, Smithsonian, and The Washington Post on the Lizzie Borden ax murders, physician Clelia Mosher and her sex survey of American women, sculptor Vinnie Ream, who unabashedly lobbied Congress for government commissions, and Sam Ward. In all of these, Jacob weaves biography together with social, cultural, and political history to create a colorful tapestry that not only examines a life but tells a bigger story about power, class, or gender -- sometimes all three.

Jacob lives in historic (of course) Lexington, Massachusetts.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover
As a citizen working in the District of Columbia, and an avid walker, I have been fascinated with the vast array of statues present virtually everywhere in the city. I have been searching for a source of information that could help me with learning about the history of the pieces. While I was looking for something a little less specific - or I should say, more far reaching (there's a lot, a whole lot of statues in D.C.) than the subject of this book - what is here is fascinating and very informative. I have spoken with some tour guides that visit the statues with tourists, and some of the information that they share about the statues and sites differs slightly than what is written here - but I am so confident in the thoroughness of Ms. Jacobs' research - I am sure these guides are speaking the embellishment of popular myth. I would love to share some of this elaboration with the author to confirm this notion.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By D. Jones on April 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
As a resident of Capitol Hill, I found this book useful and informative. I, for one, had no idea that the Congressional Cemetery just a few blocks from my home contained the first Civil War era monument erected. Nor did I know that the first major Lincoln Memorial was right here on the hill.
The book is fascinating and can provide either a brief, or detailed, look at the monuments.
The only thing the book is lacking is a MAP to help the unitiated into the world of DC's complicated streets.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Donald M. Bishop on February 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This fascinating and valuable book describes the 41 Civil War monuments in the District of Colombia, nearby Maryland, and northern Virginia -- the equestrian statues on Washington's traffic circles, the "Emancipation" statue of Lincoln and a freed slave, Arlington Cemetery, the Lincoln Memorial, the "Arsenal Monument" to 21 women killed in 1864 while making cartridges for the Union Army, and many others. It's both a guidebook and a history.

In each chapter, author Katherine Allamong Jacob covers the event or individual honored, the movement to erect a monument, the selection of a sculptor, design and construction, and the dedication ceremony. She introduces artists once widely known and honored -- Daniel Chester French, Felix de Weldon, Gutzon Borglum, Henry Merwin Shrady, and Vinnie Ream Hoxie among them -- to a new generation.

Considered together, the 41 chapters add up to a long essay on historical memory. "Statues were, and are, more than the sum of their metal and stone parts," wrote Jacob in the introduction. "Public monuments yield cultural power. Each one carries a heavy load of invisible ideological baggage. Mundane as they may appear, ubiquitous as they may be, public monuments constitute serious cultural authority ... they impose a memory of an event or individual in the public landscape that orders our lives. These monuments confer a legitimacy upon the memory they embody.... And by imprinting one memory, they erase others."

The Civil War was a defining event, breaking American history into a "before" and "after." Every American needs to understand the war's origins in slavery, expressed in sectionalism, and the political, economic, legal, and social dimensions of how the Union and the founding ideals of the nation were challenged by secession.
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