Ben Butler Play »

Milwaukee residents, take note! There’s a play running through April 28th about the wily Benjamin F Butler, Union general and all-around rapscallion. What if General Butler was a bundle of contradictions: a military commander with no real experience, a brash and bellowing man who was also plagued with self-doubt and a lack of confidence? What […]

Our Native Daughters »

I noticed this story on the Smithsonian page today, and clicked kind of idly. A few seconds into the first linked video, I was hooked. Rhiannon Giddens and some of her fellow black women banjo players have created a moving and haunting CD of music inspired by and based on slave tunes.  It really is […]

Hidden History »

A brief, but interesting, history of Fort Monroe. Landing site for the first black slaves in America, and site of the “Doctrine” that started Emancipation down its track. Ellis Island, New York, was the gateway to freedom for millions of European immigrants. They fled poverty and oppression, for a chance to achieve the American Dream. Well, […]

Testimony of Wesley Norris »

There was a Reddit discussion about Robert E. Lee, whose birthday was celebrated by some yesterday. While I have the utmost respect for Lee as a military commander, and I have no doubt he’d have been an admirable man to work with or for, I cringe when I see people defending his choice to go […]

Utah’s state constitution bans slavery — mostly »

So it turns out Utah’s constitution still allows for slavery, “Except as a punishment for a crime.” This legal loophole was explored in great depth in the excellent Douglas Blackmon book, Slavery By Another Name. (The book was the basis of a PBS documentary, too.) A hundred and fifty plus years after the war ended, it’s amazing […]

Nat Turner’s Skull »

Nat Turner’s skull has been found, and with it comes a series of articles about the history of human body part smuggling and preservation. It’s all a bit gruesome, but particularly when you consider this fact: Amrita Myers, Associate Professor of History at Indiana University, said the story of Turner’s skull is peculiar because there […]

Slavery by Another Name »

A few updates while I have Internet access! While coming well into the post-war era, this documentary (based on the book by Douglas Blackman) shows how poor people – mainly blacks – in the South were reenslaved by means of sneaky laws and sneakier lawmakers. Heartbreaking, but an important piece of history. Watch The Film […]

The Atlantic slave trade »

A 5 minute TED Talk that looks at the Atlantic slave trade from the African side of things.  Interesting both in why it developed and its lasting consequences. The Atlantic slave trade: What too few textbooks told you – Anthony Hazard | TED-Ed.

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 […]

King Cotton »

Here’s a quick look at South Carolina’s addiction to cotton.  Like other kinds of junkies, its love of the white stuff led it to make rash decisions and sacrifice its future.  By the looks of it, the effects of the Civil War are still plaguing the state. “The story of cotton itself is as interesting […]