On September 2, 1864, at the height of the Civil War, General William T. Sherman and his army of 60,000 Union soldiers captured the city of Atlanta. He then sent a telegram to President Lincoln, which said: “Atlanta is ours, and fairly won.” It was a critical event — the rail hub of the Confederacy — which supplied weapons and food to the forces of the south. In order to completely deny the rebel armies of wartime essentials, Sherman set fire to the city—and widespread doubt–that the War could ever end in a Confederate victory.
The fall of Atlanta teaches young learners important lessons about the Civil War, and its tragedies. For a better understanding, the Grateful American Book Prize recommends Nancy Whitelaw’s Victoryin Destruction: The Story of William Tecumseh Sherman.
On September 2, 1964, Governor George Wallace of Alabama, defied a court order that allowed 14 African-American teens to be admitted to the all-white, Tuskegee High School. According to the American Bar Association Journal, Wallace took office in January 1963 vowing “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever.” In order to prevent access, Wallace ordered his state troopers to surround the school and obstruct entry.
School desegregation was a dramatic and important chapter in the Civil Rights movement; for more information, read The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine.
America is still recovering from September 11, 2001, the day terrorists hijacked four jumbo jets while they were in flight and turned them into bombers. Two of them took down the Twin Towers at New York’s World Trade Center; another was flown Kamikaze-style into the Pentagon, and a fourth –advancing to Washington–was commandeered by the passengers and crashed into a Pennsylvania field. In all, nearly 3,000 died.
The Grateful American Book Prize recommends The Memory of Things: A Novel by Gae Polisner; according to one reviewer, the book “is ultimately filled with love and hope.”
History Matters is a biweekly feature courtesy of The Grateful American Book Prize.