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Friday, February 09, 2007

Ohio's Statehouse Gift Shop: Confederates Only?

COLUMBUS (TDB) -- The Statehouse Museum Shop on the ground floor of Ohio's capitol building has an online catalog offering Civil War memorabilia for sale. But the only thing one can purchase that really looks like it comes from the battlefields is a Confederate soldier's uniform cap.

Nothing is available from a Union uniform, which is really strange because Ohio was pivotal in the contest against the Southern armies determined to preserve slavery. You can buy gray, but not the blue of the home team.

Has the Buckeye State quietly seceded? Does somebody in Columbus think the state was wrong to support Abraham Lincoln? Is there a bit of wistfulness afoot over the lost cause of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and his slave-owning supporters?

The online catalogue of Civil War memorabilia in the Ohio Statehouse gift shop is HERE. A closer look at the cap is HERE. It might be more appropriate for sale in Montgomery, Ala., where Davis took his oath of office and rebel flag flew over the capitol until recently. Maybe its presence wouldn't be surprising in Columbia, S.C., where diehards refused to surrender the Stars and Bars, a banner many scorn as an overtly racist symbol.

Nobody has yet put Confederate uniform caps in the battleflag category. But it sure seems questionable to peddle them in a northern state capitol, especially Ohio's where thousands donned Union blue and fought and died to defeat the gray.

Gen. U.S. Grant, a native OHIOAN , commanded the Northern armies and historians agree his "dogged, implacable policy of dividing and destroying the Confederate armies brought the war to an end in 1865." Grant's No. 2 was Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, another Ohioan, famous for burning Atlanta and marching to the sea. Gen. Phil Sheridan, yet another Ohioan, was the commander who led the Union cavalry.

The Statehouse Museum Shop says it specializes in "unique gifts with an Ohio or political theme." And, "We have the perfect gift no matter what the occasion!"

Isn't this Black History Month? Selling Confederate hats at the Statehouse during Black History Month in Gen. Grant's home state? Now that's a "perfect gift."

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