Bill Filed To Create Federal 150th Civil War Commission
(December 2009 Civil War News)

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – Democratic Senators Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Jim Webb of Virginia introduced the Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission Act of 2009 on Oct. 22. A similar bill filed in 2007 failed.

The legislation would establish a 25-member commission from government, business and academia to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War from 2011-2015. It was referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The legislation authorizes $3.5 million in funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to award grants for activities relating to the sesquicentennial.

Commission duties would include encouraging interdisciplinary examination of the Civil War, coordinating and facilitating public distribution of scholarly research publications and interpretations of the Civil War, and providing technical assistance to states, localities and non-profits for their commemorations.

The commission’s private members would include five individuals from the corporate community, six historians, one person with expertise in art history or historic preservation, one with expertise in anthropology, cultural geography or sociology, and one with expertise in political science, law or economics.

In announcing the legislation Landrieu noted that the Civil War altered the country and during Reconstruction the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the Constitution acknowledged black Americans as free and equal citizens. “The Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission Act of 2009 is about preserving that memory,” she said.

Webb noted that his ancestors fought on both sides, so the war’s anniversary had personal significance for him. “It is important that all Americans are aware of the many sacrifices made by soldiers and civilians alike, for which we emerged a stronger, more diverse and free nation,” he said.

“The intention of this commission is to ensure the proper recognition of the sesquicentennial, building upon previous legislative efforts to support education and commemoration of this turning point in American history.”

Webb introduced the 2007 legislation to extend the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Act for five years and this year he secured $9 million in funds for the Civil War Battlefield Preservation Program in the 2010 fiscal year.