“The Confederate Kardashian-Loreta Velasquez, Rebel Media Celebrity and Con Artist”
Presented by William C. Davis
DATE: Friday, March 17
We welcome back longtime friend of our Round Table, William C. “Jack” Davis. He is one of the great Civil War historians of our time and as anyone who has heard him can testify, he is a great speaker. He is a native of Independence, Missouri and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Sonoma State University in northern California. He then spent twenty years in editorial management in the magazine and book publishing industry before leaving in 1990 to spend the next decade working as a writer and consultant here and abroad.
He is the author or editor of more than fifty books in the fields of Civil War and Southern history, as well as numerous documentary screenplays. He was the on-camera senior consultant for 52 episodes of the Arts & Entertainment Network/History Channel series “Civil War Journal,” as well as a number of other productions on commercial and Public Television, as well as for the BBC, and has acted as historical consultant for several television and film productions, including “The Blue and the Gray,” “George Washington,” and “The Perfect Tribute.”
In September 2013 he retired after thirteen years as Professor of History and Executive Director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. He is a three-time winner of the Jefferson Davis Award given for book-length works in Confederate History. His biography of John C. Breckinridge was nominated for a Pulitzer prize. One of his most recent books is Crucible of Command: US Grant and R E Lee, The War They Fought and the Peace they Forged and we will have this at the March meeting.
"The Confederate Kardashian: Loreta Velasquez, Media Celebrity, Con Artist, and the Making of a Confederate Myth."
We live in an era of self-created "media celebrities," but what we may not know is that this is not a new phenomenon. Only the media have changed, but the process is unchanged since the Civil War. One of the very first such people was a Confederate woman whose real name we may never know, but who cleverly manipulated the newspaper press to make herself the Confederacy's first and perhaps only true media celebrity. Moreover, this woman--known to history as Loreta Velasquez though she used several names--wrote a book The Woman in Battle that continues to have influence today, even though it is almost entirely fictional in its account of her posing as a man, Lieutenant Harry Buford, to serve the Confederacy in combat, as a spy, blockade runner, and more. The story of how a woman who was a teenaged New Orleans prostitute in 1860 turned herself into the equivalent of a 20th century movie star is fascinating, and that is only the beginning of a story that would take her well into the next century pursuing one scam after another.