The Museum Foundation
Navigating the Site
The museum is divided into two wings – one telling the story in words, the other in photographs.
The Book Wing offers a book titled Prelude to the War of Southern Economic Necessity vs. Northern Anti-Black Racism. It describes how America came together as a nation from the colonial period through the 1787 Constitutional Convention – and then came apart by 1861, on the eve of the Civil War.
It is being published in two parts:
The Photography Book includes over 2500 original Carte de Visite photographs collected and archived over more than three decades. Roughly half capture the American landscape leading up to the war; the rest bring the cataclysm itself back to life, in images of the Union and Confederate warriors who fought.
Taken together, the hope is that this museum will transport visitors back to the founding of the country; clarify the underlying issues leading to its terrifying dissolution; and provoke reflection on how echoes of our original sin of slavery continue to vex the nation to this day.
To begin your journey, simply click on the icons below for either wing.
All materials related to the website are housed within, and are the property of, The Robert Drane Museum Trust Foundation. The intent of this Foundation is to continue to enhance the writing and the photographs, with the help of future generations within the family and from outside students, scholars, and other fans of the site.
You may contact the Foundation by email at PreludeToCivilWar.com
The author assumes complete responsibility for any and all factual errors that appear on the website, and encourages visitors to “contact us” at PreludetoCivilWar.com
He also wishes to acknowledge upfront that some of the language appearing in the text may be regarded as insensitive or even offensive to individual readers. The choice of words throughout was intended to reflect what passed as common parlance across the 18th and 19th centuries. For example, what we might today refer to as “enslaved people” or “Native Americans” will often appear as “slaves” or “Indians” in the site. Hopefully this convention will not leave any readers feeling disrespected along the way. Again input here is also welcome.
Caveats Regarding Facts and Terminology
This website explores, in clear and simple fashion, the chain of events that led up to America’s 1861-65 war among brothers. It argues that this conflict was inevitable after the nation’s founding fathers decided the only path to Union at the 1787 Constitutional Convention lay in suspending debate over profound sectional differences related to slavery, to agricultural vs. industrial visions for the future economy, and to the balance of power between the federal government and the sovereign states.
In telling this story, the hope is that it may never be repeated again – including in the present where the so-called Red State/Blue State divisions seem to be intensifying.
Perhaps the one most intriguing aspect of this work lies in the integration of a personal collection of original 19th century photographs with the text. These photographs, assembled over three decades, attempt to bring America and Americans of the age back to life on the pages. Hopefully seeing their images complements reading their thoughts and adds enjoyment along the way.
If this work engages even a few readers, especially the young, in learning more about our nation’s history, then it will be a success.
The “Prelude To War” book and the photography collection in “America Remembered” are the sole creation of the author, Bob Drane, a lifetime student of antebellum history and of the Civil War itself. But the concept and construction of the “online museum” has been a collaborative effort. The author wishes to thank his daughter, Monica Drane, for initiating the notion of a website to maximize sharing of the material. Executing the site has been in the hands of two talented and dedicated helpers: Janet Christopher, technology guru, and Yolanda Launder, visual design master. As all authors know, sizable efforts like this are possible only with family support, in this case especially from my wife of 50+ years, Susie, and from other children and grandchildren.
Copyright © by Robert Drane 2015. All materials in this website are intended for educational use by students and the general public. Direct replication of either the text or photographs contained in the website is prohibited without written permission from the author. Any use of the material for commercial purposes is also prohibited, unless written permission is granted by the author.