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Scholarly Essays

The Border of Memory: The Divided Legacy of the Civil War

An essay by
Charles D. Drake drafted a new Missouri state constitution that imposed strict restrictions on secessionists.
If you look at any national map of the Civil War, you will see no contrast between Kansas and Missouri. Both are shaded alike as Union states. Were we to map the memory of the war, on the other hand, the border between them would be bright and stark. Kansas would still be Northern. But much of western Missouri would go with the South. The war’s legacy in Missouri’s borderlands presents something of a mystery. Consider the example of Harry S. Truman and Dwight D. Eisenhower. They had a lot in common. They served consecutive terms as president. They grew up only 160 miles apart in the late-19th century – Truman in Independence, Missouri, and Eisenhower in Abilene, Kansas. Local history mattered to both of them. Yet very different versions of the past lived in their imaginations.