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PBS’s Black Confederate Problem

We all remember the debacle that took place on The Antiques Roadshow back in 2010 when appraiser Wes Cowan attempted to interpret the famous tintype of Silas and Andrew Chandler. Thankfully, PBS corrected the problem a few years later on an episode of History Detectives. Unfortunately, it looks like PBS has once again found a […]

The Adventures of the Two Boston Cannon?

The last book I’ll highlight in this stretch of postings is no longer available in stores but can be read online—not that I recommend that. In 1894 Rhode Island native Hezekiah Butterworth published The Patriot Schoolmaster; or, TheShow More Summary

Remembering Southern Unionism on Memorial Day

My latest column at The Daily Beast hopefully sheds a little light on those white and black Southerners, who for one reason or another chose to remain loyal to the United States during the American Civil War. With all the talk about the dangers of erasing history in connection with the public display of Confederate […]

Winner and Finalists of the 2016 Washington Book Prize

Last week Mount Vernon, Washington College, and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History announced the winner of the 2016 George Washington Book Prize, created to honor “the best new works on the nation’s founding era, especially...Show More Summary

Does History Deserve Roots?

Like many of you I am excited about the first episode of the mini-series Roots, which airs on the History channel tomorrow evening. I am also concerned. History does not have the best track record when it comes to programs that are actually about history. Many of their most popular programs have only a loose […]

Marek Bennett Makes Sense of Money

These panels are from a short comic by the New Hampshire artist and educator Marek Bennett, looking at the dollars that the town of Henniker had to spend on a covered bridge late in the Revolutionary War. Bennett mines the records of his town and others nearby and adapts their stories into comics form. Show More Summary

John Hennessy on the Legacy of the Civil War

There is no one better at engaging an audience on the topic of the legacy of the American Civil War than John Hennessy. That is all. Watch, enjoy, and reflect. [Uploaded to YouTube on May 28, 2016.]

Venues for Valiant Ambition by Nathaniel Philbrick

Following up on Bunker Hill (discussed in most of these postings), Nathaniel Philbrick has brought out Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution. As the title indicates, this book focuses on the Continental commander-in-chief and one of his most capable yet prickly protégés. Show More Summary

William Mack Lee Outed in Confederate Veteran

This afternoon a good friend contacted me after having looked into the claim made by William Mack Lee that he served in the 27th Virginia Infantry. It should come as no surprise that there is no compiled service record for WML in that unit. More interesting, however, is a thorough debunking of WML’s claims of […]

Memorial Day ceremony planned at Civil War cemetery with ties to Lincoln

You can commemorate Memorial Day this year by attending a ceremony at the Soldiers’ Home National Cemetery in Northwest D.C., the country’s first national cemetery. Buried there are the Union soldiers who died in combat at the Battle of First Manassas, among others. The cemetery, which President Abraham Lincoln visited often, predates the better known […]

Finding Founding Fathers Funnies

Earlier this year Dark Horse published a long-awaited collection of Peter Bagge’s Founding Fathers Funnies. For his comic Hate Bagge was honored with Harvey and Inkpot Awards, as well as multiple Eisner Award nominations. In 2014 heShow More Summary

Derek W. Beck’s Book Signings around Boston

With the launch of The Road to Concord coming up on Thursday, 2 June, I’m going to highlight some other Revolutionary literature of note. Derek W. Beck is coming to Massachusetts in June to talk about Igniting the American Revolution and The War Before Independence. Show More Summary

“The Regiments be immediately settled”

Yesterday I examined how the transition from militia to Massachusetts army looked like from a private’s perspective. Here’s a view from the top.Under New England’s militia system, most men in a community were supposed to turn out in a military emergency. Show More Summary

“Concerning our chusing a sargent”

On 19 April 1775, Thomas Poor was captain of a minute company from Andover. His sergeants were named John Chickering, Cyrus Marble, Philip Farrington, and William Johnson, as stated on a muster roll for the first week of the war. One of the privates in that company was James Stevens. Show More Summary

The Making of a Black Confederate Soldier

Recently the Norfolk County Grays Camp No. 1549, Sons of Confederate Veterans installed a military style marker to honor William Mack Lee, who they claim was Robert E. Lee’s “cook and body servant” during the war.” In addition to the headstone, a Cross of Honor reaffirms the belief among the organizers of the event that […]

A Celebration Turned Tragic in Hartford

On 23 May 1766, the town of Hartford, Connecticut, celebrated the repeal of the Stamp Act with a day of thanksgiving. Church bells rang, cannons fired, and ships on the Connecticut River displayed flags. As in Boston and elsewhere, the holiday was supposed to end with a “general illumination,” including fireworks. Show More Summary

Looking at a Lantern

This lantern is in the collection of the Bostonian Society. According to its description, these words are painted on the bottom:This LANTERN was on the Northwest Bough, (opposite Frog-lane), of the LIBERTY TREE; Illuminated last night...Show More Summary

Lanterns on Liberty Tree

On the night of Monday, 19 May 1766, with fireworks going off all over Boston Common to celebrate the repeal of the Stamp Act, Whigs hung forty-five lanterns on Liberty Tree in the South End.That number had plenty of political symbolism. Show More Summary

House Votes to Ban Confederate Battle Flags

By now most of you have heard that yesterday the House of Representatives voted to severely restrict the display of Confederate battle flags at VA cemeteries. The Senate still needs to vote, but there is a good chance that they will follow suit. I shared a few thoughts about the decision at The Daily Beast. […]

Launching The Road to Concord, 2 June

I received two excellent packages from Westholme Publishing in the past week, and this photo shows me preparing a fine cup of Yorkshire Gold Tea to celebrate. Yes, The Road to Concord is a real book now. I understand Amazon is shipping early orders, and the University of Chicago Press is supplying retailers. Show More Summary

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