On July 17, 12 of Dr. Douglas Young’s “American Government” students and five of their relatives and friends made a field trip to perhaps the most historic place in all of Gainesville, the Piedmont Hotel Museum. This was Northeast Georgia’s premiere hotel in the late 19th century, run by the legendary second highest-ranking Confederate general, James Longstreet. Gen. Longstreet was not only a brave and wounded decorated hero of the Mexican-American and Civil Wars, but he was also the Confederate general who after the Civil War courageously–and publicly–came out in favor of full civil rights for all former slaves, including equal voting rights.

Museum curator and long-time former Longstreet Society president Richard Pilcher lectured to the students on Gen. Longstreet and the many prominent guests who stayed at the hotel, including a young future President Woodrow Wilson, writers Henry Grady and Joel Chandler Harris, Confederate Gen. Joe Johnston, and Union Gen. and Congressman Dan Sickles. Then the group posed for pictures on the museum’s front steps before exploring the museum’s many fascinating exhibits.

Afterwards Dr. Young led many students to Gainesville’s beautiful and historic Alta Vista Cemetery where they visited Gen. Longstreet’s grave before taking a tour of the graveyard. Finally, to complete the Longstreet experience, the group enjoyed lunch and discussion at the nearby Longstreet Cafe.

Every semester the Politically Incorrect Club and Dr. Young’s classes make this field trip. Everyone is always welcome to join us, and the museum is free. Also, the Politically Incorrect Club meets on the Gainesville Campus.