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 […]

Looking Back On The First Government Shutdown »

On the eve of the latest government shutdown ending, NPR takes a look back to the first shutdown, which also had its roots in racism. Plus ça change, America? I’m filing this blog post under “reenactments”. GONZALEZ: At the time, African-American men were allowed to vote, but they tended to vote Republican. So Democrats didn’t […]

Political Violence »

Mother Jones interviews Joanne Freeman, author of The Field of Blood, examining physical violence in Congress in the run-up to the Civil War. If the book is as fun as the interview, it promises to be a rollicking read! That’s a great example both of the performative aspect of it and the ways in which it’s […]

Fake news almost destroyed Abraham Lincoln »

From the “What goes around, comes around” files, this reminder that the morass of fake news in which we currently swim is not a new phenomenon. Abraham Lincoln was more than just a foe of slavery. He was also a mixed-race eugenicist, believing that the intermarriage of blacks and whites would yield an American super-race. […]

Newspaper partisanship »

I wrote earlier of the slaveocrats’ role in bringing about the war; it’s fascinating yet horrific to watch how they lured moderates into their scheme, but after this article it’s slightly easier to see how they did it. Newspapers at the time were not held to much in the way of journalistic standards, and the […]

When the South Wasn’t a Fan of States’ Rights »

The more I read about the war’s origins, the more I dislike the slaveocrats. The Lost Cause tradition has swathed the discussion in the States’ Rights argument, but even a scratch on its surface reveals the ugly truth beneath. Eric Foner agrees in this article for Politico. Whenever I lecture to non-academic audiences about the […]

How the “Lincoln” Movie Reconstructed Thaddeus Stevens »

I wasn’t much of a fan of Lincoln, but thoroughly enjoyed Tommy Lee Jones in it. His portrayal of Thaddeus Stevens stole the (dull) show, but this article suggests Stevens’ influence in the Amendment talks was nowhere near as great as the film would have us believe. For the sake of simplicity, the film also […]

Forty Acres and a Mule »

Sherman’s famous field order is one of the war’s great what-ifs.  A terrific idea nixed by a man who can only be described as the anti-Lincoln.  Reconstruction in microcosm. Congress created the Freedmen’s Bureau shortly after Sherman’s Field Order No. 15 demanded the redistribution of land to former slaves. The Freedmen’s Bureau was created to […]

It’s Heeeeere! »

I’m in under the wire of my deadline, but I can proudly say I’ve checked a resolution off my list already: The first ever Civil War Podcast is ready to go! (Take that, 2013!) To marvel at my lucid writing and dulcet tones (I know, I know – I am an admitted amateur!) click the […]

Stevens’ Wit »

I’m rehashing the Thaddeus Stevens links I shilled earlier on the blog, but fans of Lincoln’s wit will enjoy this particular article.  Lincoln wasn’t the only one in his day with a sharp tongue. When he served as a lawyer in Gettysburg, Stevens greeted an adverse judicial decision by shuffling papers and grumbling loudly. The […]