New Year’s Levees »

We celebrated the arrival of 2015 a week ago today.  Back in Lincoln’s time, January 1st was the day the White House doors were thrown open to the public and the masses thronged in to greet the inhabitants.  These White House New Year’s levees were common knowledge to me, but their desegregation never struck me […]

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 […]

Martin Delany »

In early 1865 Delany was granted an audience with Lincoln. He proposed a corps of black men led by black officers who could serve to win over Southern blacks. Although a similar appeal by Frederick Douglass had already been rejected, Lincoln was impressed by Delany and described him as “a most extraordinary and intelligent man.” […]

Grant’s Jewish Order »

More favourite figures behaving in regrettable ways! It’s like a deeply unpleasant theme week… There’s little to glean here for anyone who knows the story already, but due to the quick cancellation of the order, the fact that Grant once tried to expel the entire Jewish population of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi. In truth, the […]

Sherman Behaving Badly »

It’s always disheartening to read reports of your favourite generals and presidents saying horrible things on the subject of race, but given the times, there’s a distasteful story for just about every personality in the war, North and South. Today, it’s Sherman: Blinded by his implacable racism, Sherman could see no worthwhile moral or legal […]

Pre-Glory Glory »

I’m catching up on Disunion articles I missed, and this one was very interesting. Everyone knows about the Colored Troops’ admission to the Union Army, but it never occurred to me that blacks were fighting before that, or that the Navy was totally desegregated. Still, some black men managed to join the Northern forces. In […]

Mark Twain Revisited »

An interesting look at Mark Twain, who – like Lincoln – came to his openmindedness about race the long way. Twain’s history as a wannabe bushwhacker is well documented, even by him in his famous short story, The Private History of a Campaign That Failed. This book looks intriguing and has a grabber of a […]

The Scoundrel’s Descendant »

Over my years of study I’ve read a few slave narratives, but it’s always a smack in the face to read a fresh one. It’s worth remembering, when the debates rage on States’ Rights and the other distracting discussions, that slavery was a horrific, inhumane system that deeply affected real people. The arguments are a […]

NPR Interviews Eric Foner »

I spent the summer in the company of Abraham Lincoln, or at least it felt that way. Consequently, there isn’t a lot to be gleaned from this interview with Eric Foner, but for those who haven’t immersed themselves in Lincolnia lately, it’s worth a look: “Almost from the very beginning of the Civil War, the […]