Plans are progressing for the 1911 Peace Jubilee to be re-enacted in Old Town Manassas. The remarkable moment, when veteran Civil War soldiers met with President Howard Taft on the steps of the Old Courthouse in Manassas on July 21, 1911 as part of a ceremonial peace reunion, will be brought to life during the 150th Civil War Commemoration on July 21 from 4 to 5 p.m. on the same steps of the courthouse.
This is going to be an amazing, free event, one not to be missed.
The idea for the Peace Jubilee, a week-long celebration of national healing and reunion that took place July 16-22, came in a letter to the Washington Post from D.H. Russell, a South Carolina Confederate veteran. He suggested that the fiftieth anniversary of the First Battle of Manassas be one of peace and reconciliation. George Carr Round, a respected community leader and Union veteran who had settled here after the war, read his words and decided to act on them.
The festivities culminated on July 21, the battle’s anniversary. The Union and Confederate veterans fell into opposing lines on Henry House Hill, where fifty years before they had clashed in mortal combat. On a signal, the two sides approached each other,, and as they met they clasped hands in friendship and reconciliation. After a picnic on the battlefield, the crowd returned to the Prince William County Courthouse to listen to a speech by President William Howard Taft.
This reenactment will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Peace Jubilee which took place in Old Town Manassas at the steps of the courthouse on July 21, 1911. The original Peace Jubilee marked the 50th anniversary of the First Battle of Manassas and was attended by veterans of the Civil War. Step back to 1911 with vintage automobiles lining the street, flags, Peace Maidens, and a parade afterwards at the Harris Pavilion.
The Peace Jubilee brought one more bit of healing to a nation that continued to recover from Civil War. Though the war had ended in 1865, the social and economic wounds still lay open in 1911.
While 50 years might sound like a long time, it’s really less than a lifetime. Society cannot recover from such drastic social strife in one lifetime–or even two or three or four. As we saw with the black Civil Rights movement, change comes slowly. It is far easier to wage a war than it is to wage positive change. The 1911 Peace Jubilee marked a move in the right direction.