In July of 1863, James Pennington, a prominent African American minister and former slave, saw his neighborhood destroyed in a violent episode now known as the New York draft riots. How did this chapter of Civil War history shape Pennington's identity and those of the primarily Irish rioters? And what does it reveal about the identity of the country as a whole? Iver Bernstein, director of American Culture Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, shares Pennington's story and discusses the tension between the idea of American unity and the diverse experiences that make up the past and present of American culture.
Bernstein's upcoming book, Stripes & Scars: Race, The Revitalization of America, and The Origins of the Civil War, is under contract with Oxford University Press.
Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash
Free Music Archive: asura, johnny_ripper, kosta t, monta; the internet archive: Librivox recording of Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Written by Herself by Harriet Jacobs, Stars and Stripes Forever; freesound: boilingsand, tc630