14 January 2014

The Dedication Of The McLean House - 16 April 1950

Ulysses S. Grant III and Robert E. Lee IV
cutting the ribbon at the McLean House dedication.
Several posts ago, I mentioned the fact that I had come across some old cassette recordings of Douglas Southall Freeman. I've now digitized one of those recordings and offer part of it below. The occasion was the dedication of the McLean House at Appomattox Court House, 16 April 1950. This was eight years before I was born, yet at a time when several veterans from the war still lived. Amazing to contemplate. The National Park Service notes the following about the dedication:
On April 10th 1940 Appomattox Court House National Historical Monument was created by Congress to include approximately 970 acres. In February 1941 archeological work was begun at the site, then overgrown with brush and honeysuckle. Historical data was collected, and architectural working plans were drawn up to begin the meticulous reconstruction process. The whole project was brought to a swift stop on December 7, 1941 with the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces causing the United States entry into World War II.

On November 25, 1947 bids for the reconstruction of the McLean House were opened and on April 9th 1949, eighty four years after the historic meeting reuniting the country, the McLean House was opened by the National Park Service for the first time to the public. At the dedication ceremony on April 16, 1950, after a speech by Pulitzer Prize winning historian Douglas Southall Freeman, Major General U.S. Grant and Robert E. Lee IV, direct descendents of Robert E. Lee and Ulysses Grant, cut the ceremonial ribbon. The event was attended by an audience of approximately 20,000.
I've searched in vain to see if there are more copies of this audio out there somewhere. I have to believe there are. Regardless, the audio is an amazing piece of Civil War history. It is an incredible snapshot of a time and place long forgotten (and sometimes misunderstood) by many students of the Civil War. There are a number of lessons contained in Freeman's words. Below is the introduction and invocation by Reverend William M. Thompson. I found the invocation quite moving as well. My current plans are to upload the full 45 minute audio recording of Freeman and the event on the 150th of the surrender next year - unless I discover it's already available elsewhere or discover there are some copyright restrictions for doing so. This clip is offered under fair use notice.



9 comments:

Sue B said...

This is exciting. I look forward to hearing Mr. Freeman's talk.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Thank you Sue. I look forward to posting it. I'll probably post a few excerpts here and there until then. Thanks for commenting.

Jubilo said...

Dear Old Dom.,
Thank you! You never fail to amaze!!

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Thanks Jub! That's my goal - daily amazement.

Phil James said...

Thanks for sharing this voice from the historic past.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Thank you Phil. Hope all is well.

D. Hill said...

As an historical aside to your post's accompanying image, U.S. Grant III was last last person to speak with Col. J.S. Mosby before he passed, per Thomas J. Evans and James M. Moyer in their guide Mosby's Confederacy.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Interesting Doug. Thanks for passing along. I wonder if he (Grant) apologized? ;-)

D. Hill said...

Heh-heh. I was going to quip early on that Grant III should be happy not be be wearing a shiner provided by Lee IV, but I know Lee was too much of a gentleman to entertain the thought. That might make a fun Photoshop project for someone though.