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 […]

Thaddeus Stevens on Screen »

Thaddeus Stevens is one of those names of which I know a fair bit, but whose image is always a surprise to me. I wouldn’t be able to pick him out of a lineup, but his onscreen portrayer, Tommy Lee Jones’ wig anecdote might help in future. “All I knew of Thaddeus Stevens was what […]

The Lincoln Letters »

Another week, another discovery of a trove of historical letters. This time, though, the collection is a doozy: The letters of Leonard Swett, one of Lincoln’s closest advisors.  Here’s an excerpt of the article, detailing some of the treasures within (and a great summary by one of the preservationists!) Rose Burnham’s scrapbooks held several letters […]

New Seward Biography »

There’s a new biography of William H. Seward, and it sounds excellent. Seward is presented in a heroic trajectory from snooty jerk to warm, winning statesman. Much as Team of Rivals gave an extensive biography of Seward to the night of his assassination, Kearns Goodwin ends his story with the death of Lincoln. I’m looking […]

The Lincoln Douglas Chats »

Appleton veterinarian E.H. Graves lived in Illinois in 1858 and later claimed he drove Lincoln and Douglas between two of the debates: "Douglas was short, round, dressed in broadcloth and wore a silk hat. … Lincoln was tall, raw-boned and awkward. … He and Douglas would tell stories and chaff each other. They were the […]