Author Archive

David Blight on Frederick Douglass »

David Blight’s voice has become very familiar to me – I listened to his entire Yale iTunes U course on the Civil War, and have sought out his podcast appearances since then. This is the first time I’ve seen him speak, and this brief clip from a 2009 interview beautifully summarises Douglass’ life. By all […]

Dishonest Abe »

This story is related in Team of Rivals, but Atlas Obscura provides more detail than Doris Kearns Goodwin did! Here’s an episode from Lincoln’s life that is less glorious and noble than some of his other deeds. Turns out, Honest Abe wasn’t great at letting lovers down easy. In the end, Mary ghosted him. Lincoln […]

Civil War gossip »

Ely S. Parker is known to history as the man who handwrote the terms of surrender formally accepted by Lee. I’d read a little about him, but I’d never noticed this scurrilous gossip which had Washington tongues wagging in 1867! Move over, Kardashians! Washington was not content only to gossip about the wedding. Its residents […]

Uncertainty surrounds Abraham Lincoln’s early years »

Was Lincoln’s family dirt-poor, or were they on a par with most of the families in that region? And what was Thomas Lincoln’s work ethic? This article, featuring comments from Lincoln scholar Michael Burlingame, made me question facts I didn’t know I had to question about Lincoln’s youth. Another mystery is Lincoln’s father. The question […]

Frederick Douglass on Chinese Immigration »

Another great article from the reliably great Immigrant’s Civil War blog. Here’s Frederick Douglass speaking on the post-bellum efforts to curb Chinese immigration. Douglass declared that the people of the United States were not racially, ethnically, or religiously homogeneous. Americans, he argued, are a “composite nation,” a people made up from many peoples. In recognition […]

Meigs’s Red Barn »

I was lucky enough to be able to visit the old Pension Office on my last trip to Washington. It now housing an Engineering museum, but I got to sneak in quickly during setup for an event and take a few pictures of the massive columns inside. This blogger has taken far more – and […]

History professor nominated for Lincoln Prize »

The Lincoln Prize was awarded last month, and this year’s winner sounds fascinating: “Aberration of Mind: Suicide and Suffering in the Civil War–Era South,” made her one of the five authors nominated for the 2019 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize. Sommerville began thinking about writing the book, which focuses on mental health in the 19th century […]

“Why I Changed My Mind About Confederate Monuments” »

I wasn’t able to blog much in 2017, and subsequently missed much of the furore over the Confederate monuments being removed from public spots. I’m catching up on some of these arguments in The Atlantic. I particularly liked this suggestion of removing the monuments, but leaving the empty pedestals behind to foster discussion. That summer, […]

Civil War-Era Musical in SF »

Readers in the San Francisco Bay area should note there’s a new stage show currently playing at the Berkeley Rep Theatre. It’s profiled in the NYTimes, though the focus is on the fact that its producer is Garth Drabinsky – a name we Canadians know and note less for his lavish productions than for the […]

Alabama Claims »

An article about Grant’s Chief Justice nomination made an offhand mention of the reparations Britain paid after the Civil War. I haven’t done enough reading about the post-bellum period, and the Alabama Claims were news to me. It’s a pretty fascinating little footnote in history, not least because it involves a fast-tracking of British Columbia’s […]