Ulysses S. Grant III and Robert E. Lee IV
cutting the ribbon at the McLean House dedication.
On April 10th 1940 Appomattox Court House National Historical Monument was created by Congress to include approximately 970 acres. In February 1941 archeological work was begun at the site, then overgrown with brush and honeysuckle. Historical data was collected, and architectural working plans were drawn up to begin the meticulous reconstruction process. The whole project was brought to a swift stop on December 7, 1941 with the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces causing the United States entry into World War II.I've searched in vain to see if there are more copies of this audio out there somewhere. I have to believe there are. Regardless, the audio is an amazing piece of Civil War history. It is an incredible snapshot of a time and place long forgotten (and sometimes misunderstood) by many students of the Civil War. There are a number of lessons contained in Freeman's words. Below is the introduction and invocation by Reverend William M. Thompson. I found the invocation quite moving as well. My current plans are to upload the full 45 minute audio recording of Freeman and the event on the 150th of the surrender next year - unless I discover it's already available elsewhere or discover there are some copyright restrictions for doing so. This clip is offered under fair use notice.
On November 25, 1947 bids for the reconstruction of the McLean House were opened and on April 9th 1949, eighty four years after the historic meeting reuniting the country, the McLean House was opened by the National Park Service for the first time to the public. At the dedication ceremony on April 16, 1950, after a speech by Pulitzer Prize winning historian Douglas Southall Freeman, Major General U.S. Grant and Robert E. Lee IV, direct descendents of Robert E. Lee and Ulysses Grant, cut the ceremonial ribbon. The event was attended by an audience of approximately 20,000.