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Governor supports slavery museum

Date published: 4/21/2010


Gov. Bob McDonnell said yesterday that he supports the creation of a slavery museum, and believes a discussion of slavery will be part of tourism and the state's sesquicentennial commemoration of the Civil War.

McDonnell was speaking at an event to celebrate the conservation of the Wagner Family Farm at the Chancellorsville battlefield in Spotsylvania.

It was his first Civil War-related event since stirring up a controversy by issuing a proclamation declaring Confederate History Month without mentioning slavery.

McDonnell later apologized and amended his proclamation to include mention of slavery as a causative factor in the Civil War.

Speaking to a crowd of officials, conservationists and Civil War buffs yesterday, McDonnell said Virginia's sesquicentennial commemoration will lure tourists. He said they will learn about battles but will also "pause to reflect that this was the war that eliminated the abomination of slavery."

Speaking to reporters afterward, McDonnell said he has talked briefly with former Governor Doug Wilder about creating a museum about slavery. Wilder's efforts to build such a museum in Fredericksburg seem to have failed, as back taxes are owed to the city, there is no activity and no staff at the site, and Wilder is no longer raising money for the museum.

There is also talk in Richmond about creating a slavery museum there.

McDonnell said he's not sure what happened with the Fredericksburg site, but that he'd be supportive of a slavery museum in general, calling it "part of the overall legacy of the Civil War, part of the history we'll be discussing over the next four years" as sesquicentennial events go on.

Chelyen Davis: 540/368-5028
Email: cdavis@freelancestar.com