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The Jefferson Davis Highway: Contesting the Confederacy in the Pacific Northwest

  • EUAN HAGUE (a1) and EDWARD H. SEBESTA (a2)
Abstract

The Jefferson Davis Highway (JDH) is a controversial Confederate memorial. Since 1913 the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) have placed markers along roadsides across America to commemorate the Confederate President. The women's organization claims that the JDH stretches over four thousand miles from Alexandria, Virginia to the Pacific coast and the Canadian border. In 2002, conflict ensued in the Pacific northwestern state of Washington when a local politician initiated a campaign to remove a granite JDH marker from a state park where it had been erected by the UDC sixty years previously. This led to dispute over whether Jefferson Davis should, or should not, be honoured by a commemorative marker on Washington's border with Canada. Drawing on contemporary secondary sources to interrogate these contests over the meaning of Jefferson Davis and the Confederate legacy, we argue that behind the veneer of heritage and genealogical celebration forwarded by groups such as the UDC there is a neo-Confederate nationalism that works to maintain white supremacy as a dominant interpretation of US history.

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Journal of American Studies
  • ISSN: 0021-8758
  • EISSN: 1469-5154
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-american-studies
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