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A Greene Family Crisis over Playing Cards

On 29 January 1776, Gen. Nathanael Greene wrote to his brother Christopher from the Continental camp on Prospect Hill about a family crisis—his wife’s friends had played cards in front of their stepmother.The general wrote:I am extream sorry that Mr [John] Gooch and Nancy Varnum affronted Mother at my House with Cards. Show More Summary

Glimpses of Revolutionary Camp Followers

In recent months Susan Holloway Scott at Two Nerdy History Girls shared a couple of artifacts that offer glimpses of the families who traveled with eighteenth-century armies.In the collections of the Library of Congress is a panoramic view of the Hudson River in watercolor by Pierre L’Enfant. Show More Summary

Stacey Abrams on Confederate Monuments in Two Minutes

The removal of four Confederate monuments in New Orleans last spring constitutes the most significant change in a major city’s commemorative landscape. What stands out to me, however, is not the removal of any one monument, but Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s address that accompanied the removal of the Lee monument on May 19. I’ve never heard […]

Save the University Press of Kentucky

Yesterday I learned that Kentucky governor Matt Bevin plans to cut funding to the University Press of Kentucky this year, which would force its closure. I have enjoyed a productive working relationship with UPK for over ten years and would hate to see this happen. The press relies on a relatively small amount of funding […]

America’s Early Grave

Last month N.P.R.’s The Two Way reported on America’s original kilogram. Or, as the weight was called at the time, the grave. That story started in 1793 with Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson seeking to unify American weights and measures. Show More Summary

Continental Army Paperwork to Transcribe

The Newberry Library in Chicago announced it has just digitized a collection of Continental Army receipts for clothing, food, and other supplies. And it’s asking for volunteers to help transcribe those documents. More detail:Found in...Show More Summary

Justin Fairfax Rejects Stonewall Jackson and the Lost Cause

You don’t have to go too far back in time in Virginia history to find a political culture that was perfectly aligned with the memorialization of the Confederacy. Monuments, street names, holidays, public school textbooks all taught that Confederate leaders and their cause should be celebrated and propped up as a set of ideals that […]

Using Statuary Hall in D.C. to Teach Historical Memory

History teachers that work in communities that include Confederate monuments enjoy a big advantage in their ability to introduce this ongoing debate about history and memory to their students. But even if you don’t have a Confederate monument close by there are other ways that you can bring the debate home to engage your students […]

The Road to Concord Leads to Shrewsbury, 31 Jan.

Thanks to Eric Stanway of the Worcester Telegram for his article in advance of my Road to Concord talk to the Shrewsbury Historical Society on 31 January.Here’s a taste:“Basically, this lecture deals with the issues that brought the British troops out to Concord in 1775,” Mr. Show More Summary

“At my trial for caning Gill”

In April 1768 John Mein went on trial for assaulting rival printer John Gill. In fact, he faced two trials—in criminal and civil court.On 19 April the local magistrates cited Mein for criminal assault and fined him 40 shillings, or £2. Show More Summary

“Two violent blows…upon the back part of the head”

On 18 Jan 1768, John Mein of the Boston Chronicle asked Benjamin Edes of the Boston Gazette to identify “Americus,” who had attacked him in a newspaper essay. Edes refused.On 19 January, Mein asked again, hinting that this was a matter of honor. Show More Summary

The Plantation Myth is Alive and Well in Savannah

Last summer I delivered a talk as part of an NEH program at the Georgia Historical Society on the Civil War and historical memory. One of the highlights of the visit was the tour we took of Savannah’s historically black communities. The most memorable stop for me was the federal housing project in Yamacraw Village, […]

“I am come to demand the author of the piece you printed”

Yesterday I described how the 18 Jan 1768 Boston Gazette published a critique of John Mein and John Fleeming’s Boston Chronicle that insinuated they were “Jacobite” traitors to the British Empire.As a Scotsman, Mein was sensitive toShow More Summary

New to the Civil War Memory Library, 01/18

Finished reading Gordon Wood’s new dual biography of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. Can’t say I learned anything new, but it is a fast and entertaining read by one of the leading historians of the period. Caroline Fraser, Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder (Metropolitan Books, 2017). Jacqueline Jones, Goddess of Anarchy: […]

“The most infamous and reproachful Invectives”

Talking about “The Liberty Song” and its parodies, all from the second half of 1768, gets us a little ahead of the Sestercentennial. Here’s what happened in Boston 250 years ago today. Back on 21 Dec 1767, John Mein and John Fleeming had launched the Boston Chronicle, the town’s first new newspaper in years. Show More Summary

The Parody, and the Parody Parodized

“The Liberty Song” by John Dickinson and Arthur Lee (to music by William Boyce) became so popular in Boston after July 1768 that by the end of September two parodies were circulating.That was already a busy summer. In June the Customs service seized John Hancock’s ship Liberty for alleged smuggling. Show More Summary

John Dickinson’s “Song, to the Tune of Heart of Oak”

On 4 July 1768, John Dickinson, already a delegate to the Stamp Act Congress and the author of Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, wrote to James Otis, Jr., from Philadelphia:I inclose you a song for American freedom. I have long since renounced poetry. Show More Summary

It Comes Down to What We Believe

I don’t think that any black person can speak of Malcolm and Martin without wishing that they were here. It is not possible for me to speak of them without […]

“Hearts of oak are we still”

In 1759 the British Empire enjoyed a string of military victories, including the Royal Navy’s triumph over the French in the Battle of Quiberon Bay.At the end of that year the theatrical star and empresario David Garrick celebrated those wins in a new show titled Harlequin’s Invasion: A Christmas Gambol. Show More Summary

Robert E. Lee Barred From Lee Chapel

Those of you who have followed the antics of the Virginia Flaggers over the years will get a good laugh out of this one. It appears that participants wearing Confederate […]

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