Browse Exhibits (4 total)

The Mason Family Gentry and the Civil War

The Civil War devastated the nation and had economic consequences that ravaged the ex-Confederate south. Historians agree that with the Union blockade which resulted in very few imports and exports, along with mass destruction of infrastructure, the south was severely hit by the destructive effects of the war. Specifically, the planter gentry class were hit worse than the average citizen since they lost their main means of income and prestige as plantations were targeted for destruction along with the passage of the 13th amendment to U.S. Constitution. The war would not effect the south only economically however, as the war would also have social effects of bitterness and shame which would contribute to the development and spread of myths regarding the Lost Cause of the Confederacy. Members of the Mason family during this time period were part of the southern gentry and would no doubt lose significant amounts of property along with their pride. This project hopes to see how the Civil War effected the gentry class socially and economically by using three examples from the Mason family. The three examples that will be examined are Betsey Clapham Mason (wife of Thomson Francis Mason), Gunston Hall, and James Murray Mason.

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Kate Mason Rowland: Bias and Historical Contributions

Kate Mason Rowland, later referred to as Kate Mason, was known as a historian and many other professions such as an author and more. She is best known for her biography on her ancestor, George Mason IV. Rowland served as a nurse in Richmond, Virginia during the American Civil War. After her involvement, she went on to become a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy which championed the idea of the Lost Cause. Her views were sympathetic to the Confederate States of America and she supported the idea of secession since she subscribed to the idea of the war’s primary cause being the issue of States’ Rights. Rowland's published works, primarily her biography on George Mason IV, exhibit the views she held and what she hoped to attempt by recounting the story of one of America's Founding Fathers. Given her strong and controversial views, was Kate Mason Rowland a true historian? Did her views manifest themselves in her work?

This exhibit examines what views Kate Mason Rowland held alongside how she conducted and wrote her works centered on history. Furthermore, this exhibit also explores public perception and reviews on Rowland's works as well as her views regarding the South. It is the aim of this exhibit to explore the colorful and interesting character of Kate Mason Rowland and how that translated in her writing. Not many speak of Rowland and her visibility has died down. Many times, she is only briefly mentioned as a descendent of George Mason IV. Rowland does not get enough attention even though her ideas and involvement in the American Civil War only add to the depth of this nation’s history.

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The Portrayal of Native Americans in the Jamestown Exposition.


The Jamestown Ter-Centennial Exposition was a multi-day festival that celebrated the 300th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown. 

The Jamestown Exposition came about when several Virginia government officials and community leaders as well as the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities. This conglomerate in the beginning of 1907 went to the General Assembly of the State of Virginia requesting that the Assembly authorize the celebration and for it to be held in Richmond. The group also asked for a sum of money to aid the exposition, there was not opposition to the celebration, but the legislators were not united in the location of the festival. On February 02, 1907, the General Assembly passed a bill that allowed for the Governor of Virginia to invite several cities and regions of the Commonwealth to put claims on the privilege of holding the festival. Several Norfolk citizens as well as the local newspaper campaigned for the festival to be held in Norfolk, this campaign was a success and the festival would be held at Sewell’s Point in Norfolk, Virginia.

This festival in the end was seen as a financial failure with revenue from the days long festival never reaching the cost. The celebration itself has several attractions from many states and historic events from the San Francisco earthquake to the Negro building which displayed the progress of African Americans. But the most well-known event was the dramatized rescue of Captain john Smith by Pocahontas. Native Americans specifically the Powhattan were present at the exposition but not to the degree that the Powhattan had hoped for. They were shown in poorly represented images depicting generic “Indians” which were very common in the festival. Native Americans in many images were generic male Indians wearing feather headdresses and animal skins.

The Powhatan were shown as a form of entertainment for the masses at the Exposition, there were several instances of Powhatan performers that were talked to by white passersby in a mocking way using their native language. The attractions that brought the most attention or had the most positive reviews were the attractions with Native Americans and other ethnicities. This was because of that sense of “exoticism” of looking at a “savage” doing what they would do in their home would garner attention from many who have not seen something like a Native American.


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