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In June, as Black Lives Matter protests were breaking out across America in response to the murder of George Floyd, the Pentagon agreed for the first time to consider renaming 10 military forts named in honour of Confederate generals. Donald Trump—New Yorker though he may be—greeted the news with outrage, declaring his absolute determination that these government buildings should continue to be named after generals who had led a war against that government, and fought to keep black Americans enslaved.

Most of these forts were first established as training camps during the First World War, under the administration of Woodrow Wilson, the first Southern president to take office since the immediate aftermath of the Civil War. In the decades following the conflict, America had to find a way to reunify after the bitterness of the fighting—and one of the things most white Americans at the time…

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