Five Myths About Reconstruction

What I learned in school in the South about Reconstruction was apparently wrong: "1. Reconstruction was a failure. 2. African Americans took over the South during Reconstruction. 3. Northerners used Reconstruction to take advantage of the South and to get rich. 4. Republicans “waved the bloody shirt” to hide their lack of substantive policies. 5. Republicans... Continue Reading →


What a Disservice to History to Reduce Great Moral Struggles to Cardboard Caricatures

In reading Richard Brady's review of the movie "Suffragette" in the New Yorker, I thought of other historical movies about moral issues of great consequence: slavery, civil rights, voting rights. I thought especially of the civil war and how it can be over-simplified, and the moral issues presented as so stark as to reduce protagonists to... Continue Reading →

South Wasn’t Always Fan of States Rights

"The strange, often forgotten, history of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850," by ERIC FONER in "Whenever I lecture to non-academic audiences about the Civil War era, someone is bound to insist that the South fought for states’ rights rather than the long-term survival of slavery. In an extreme version of this view, Abraham Lincoln... Continue Reading →

Descendant of Confederate President Jefferson Davis Recalls His ‘Idealistic’ Slave-owning Ancestor An American I know, a Civil War and history buff, claims Confederate President Jefferson Davis as an ancestor. "Davis was quirky," he writes. "An idealist, he organized his plantation as a utopian community basically ruled by slaves on lines set out by the idealistic utopian socialist Robert Owen. And who believed that Yankees failed... Continue Reading →

Blog at

Up ↑