Virginia debated ending slavery after Nat Turner’s revolt »

One of the reasons I check out every small-town paper’s Civil War related stories is that you occasionally find some delicious wheat amongst the “round table meets tonight” or “Lincoln impersonator to speak at library” chaff. This article is one of the kernels that makes it worthwhile. A surprisingly in-depth look at some radical proposals […]

Antislavery Wasn’t Mainstream, Until It Was »

The Election of 1856 seems to get a lot less attention than those of 1860 and 1864, which is a shame, because there was a lot of interesting political maneuverings to study. This article, while written a bit too twee-ly for my tastes, is a good shallow dive into the Republican Party’s first nationwide showing. […]

Andrew Johnson’s Inebriated Inaugural »

If you’ve read Team of Rivals, you’ll be familiar with Andrew Johnson’s drunken Vice-Presidential inauguration. If not, and if you can bear the cringe-inducing details, click through for this summary. After expressing his gratitude to his colleagues for their kindness during his tenure as vice president, Hamlin suppressed whatever bitterness he felt about having been […]

Impeachment, the First Time Around »

There’s a new book about Andrew Johnson and his impeachment, and the New York Times has given it a rave review. I’ll have to pick it up, but I might wait to see how the current Constitutional crisis shakes out first. I’m not sure it’ll make for consolatory reading. By February 1868, President Andrew Johnson […]

How Abraham Lincoln helped rig the Senate for Republicans  »

The modern conclusions drawn here are very questionable, but the Civil War history was pretty edifying: I knew that Lincoln had pushed through the statehood for a couple of states, but the political impact had never been fully clear until reading this. This largely forgotten act of line-drawing enabled one of the most consequential gerrymanders […]

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 […]

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. […]