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Friday, March 18, 2011

Franklin Park, Asians and The Civil War

Flat Stanley spending more time in Franklin Park, 1777 East Broad Street Columbus, Ohio. This sign doesn't mark something specific happening on this spot, as many historic plaques do. It calls attention to a little known fact. We all know The American Civil War was fought by The Union trying to preserve The United States against The Confederacy. We know one cause of the war was deemed to be states rights, and one cause was to free Black Americans that were living in bondage in The South. But, did you know Asians fought in that war? Asians fought on both sides, despite not being US Citizens. Statistically it's believed more fought on the side of The Union.

The Civil War was fought between 1861-1865. As the sign indicates The Naturalization Act and The Chinese Exclustion Act blocked some who fought to preserve this country from being able to become citizens of this country. Those restriction continued until 1965, when finally all restrictions based on race, and origin were lifted. In 2003 those who fought were posthumously proclaimed to be US Citizens in an effort to recognize their service to this country. 142 years after the start of The Civil War, they were honored by House Joint Resolution 45.

The flip side of this sign lists names of those supposed to be Asian who fought from Ohio. Due to anti-Asian sentiment, many changed their names, changed the spelling of their names and much controversy surrounds this premise. Historians have not been able to document the names listed as really being Asian. In fact, in several cases the names have been found to be German and other nationalities, not Asian. Most aren't listed on muster lists, most weren't given pensions, and therefore the names listed are speculation based on the feeling of some in The Asian Community that the names sounded Asian. A great deal of research has been done by Terry Foenander and others that disproves the list as being accurate.

I found some documentation that indicates a man that went by the name of John Tommy was Chinese and that he fought and died at Gettysburg. Perhaps as time goes on with the help of more research and maybe DNA testing, more information on this topic can be found.

I don't know which group of researchers has the most correct story; but am never the less glad those who fought to preserve this country have finally been given the honor of being United States Citizens.

Flat Stanley plans to return this park another time to see what else he can learn. Until then, he hopes to see you all again next Friday for more Fun on the 25th.

This perhaps is a deep/heavy topic; but I believe you can still make this a family appropriate outing. Discuss with the kids why knowing who fought for the country is important. Do they known someone who is Asian? Can they find Asia on a globe or map? Make a word list, a spelling list. There's always something that can be age appropriate as the kids explore with
Flat Stanley.
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