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 Five Myths About Reconstruction

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

South Wasn’t Always Fan of States Rights

"The strange, often forgotten, history of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850," by ERIC FONER in Politico.com: "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 South Wasn’t Always Fan of States Rights

Civil War Was About Abolishing Aristocracy As Much As Slavery

I strongly disagree with ALLEN C. GUELZO in the conservative Weekly Standard that the American Civil War was "revolutionary" because it freed 3.9 million slaves without compensating their owners. The civil war didn't fully free the slaves --- it took the Civil Rights Act of 1964, one hundred years later, to give former slaves full legal rights. … Continue reading Civil War Was About Abolishing Aristocracy As Much As Slavery

Descendant of Confederate President Jefferson Davis Recalls His ‘Idealistic’ Slave-owning Ancestor

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW1lHY7P9qo 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 Descendant of Confederate President Jefferson Davis Recalls His ‘Idealistic’ Slave-owning Ancestor

Celebrating the Birthdays of Robert E. Lee and Martin Luther King

Mississippi has one holiday honoring both Martin Luther King's birthday, January 15, 1929, and Confederate General Robert E. Lee, born on January 19, 1807. My initial reaction to this was to ask if the Old South will ever let go of its glorification of its past? What an insult to African Americans to place a … Continue reading Celebrating the Birthdays of Robert E. Lee and Martin Luther King

Worst US President #1: James Buchanan of Lancaster, PA, 1856-60

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RWNTo5hRc5U He had a most impressive resume, but turned out to be disastrous. When he took office, the country was "the United States of America." When he left office, the country was on the verge of civil war, with states seceding. He called the abolitionist movement “weak, powerless and soon to be forgotten." They were extremists … Continue reading Worst US President #1: James Buchanan of Lancaster, PA, 1856-60