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How Not To Argue in Favor of Confederate Monuments

It’s been quite entertaining following the comments on my most recent essay at the Atlantic on yesterday’s decision in New Orleans to remove four Confederate monuments. [Note: I include the Liberty Monument in this number for the reasons outlined in the post.] One of the most common responses against the removal of Confederate monuments in […]

The Young Gentleman in the Gallery

There’s a third description of what Josiah Quincy, Jr., said in the Old South Meeting-House on 16 Dec 1773, preserved in the biography of the young lawyer authored by his descendants.But not in the first edition of that biography, published by the subject’s son Josiah Quincy (1772-1864) in 1825. Show More Summary

New Orleans To Remove Four Confederate Monuments

Earlier today the New Orleans city council voted 6 to 1 to remove four Confederate monuments. I decided early this morning to write up some thoughts assuming that the vote would go the way it did. You can read my essay at the Atlant...

Quincy’s Speech in Quincy’s Words

Our next source for what lawyer Josiah Quincy, Jr., said in Old South Meeting-House during the tea meetings of December 1773 comes from Quincy himself.In a letter to his wife Abigail, written in London on 14 Dec 1773, Quincy described...Show More Summary

Interpreting Boston’s Second American Revolution

I am probably one of the few people who walks the streets of Boston looking for glimpses of its Civil War past, both historical and commemorative. It’s a neglected past. Sure, you can find groups that stop at the monument to the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, across from the state house, but you will be […]

“Mr. Josiah Quincy junior then rose”

On this anniversary of the Boston Tea Party, I’m looking at the question of what Josiah Quincy, Jr., said in the Old South Meeting-House during the meeting that led up to that event. First up, a report to the British government written...Show More Summary

Notes on the Stat(u)e of Jefferson

Yet another focus of recent campus protests against honoring historic figures whose behavior was less than honorable has been statues of Thomas Jefferson at the University of Missouri (shown here) and the University of Virginia. Jefferson was a lifelong slaveholder, of course. Show More Summary

“I Feel Like I am Living in the 50s”

It’s a script embedded in American history. If you want to send an African-American family the message that they are not welcome in your community, there is no more potent of a symbol than the Confederate battle flag. Its message is unmistakable even without the additional forms of intimidation employed by Shaun Porter against this […]

New Orleans Should Look to Richmond

The city of New Orleans is offering the rest of the country a lesson on how not to deal with Confederate iconography in public spaces. In advance of a decision that could come as soon as early as next week, the city is holding a series of public discussions. Mistrust and questions about the motivation […]


2 months agoHistory / US History : Electratig

Catherine Maria McGrath, the daughter of James McGrath and Kathleen McGrath (nee Brennan) was born in London, England on December 6, 1955 and died in Stillwater, NJ on January 13, 2015. She was brilliant, beautiful and loved by all who knew her. Show More Summary

How Deerfield Updated a Monument

Last week I considered ways that universities might update symbols that have roots in historic discrimination without simply removing them—which could lead to lack of visible change and complacent amnesia.Another approach to producing...Show More Summary

Teach Reconstruction

Set in South Carolina and released 100 years ago, D.W. Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation” glorified the Ku Klux Klan as defenders of white Southerners against a black population that was deemed to be unfit for citizenship in the United States. Last week a photograph taken at The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina showed cadets […]

And It Looked Like It Was Going So Well for Him

From the Old Bailey court sessions in London, as made available by the London Lives website:The Information of Samuel Dyer taken on Oath before me James Spagg one of his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace in and for the said County this 19th. Show More Summary

Lynched With a Confederate Flag

Last night I gave a talk at the GAR Hall in Lynn, which is the home of the General Lander Civil War Round Table. My topic was the history and memory of the Confederate flag. I presented a fairly broad  interpretation that highlighted the different stages from the war years through to the current controversy […]

Charles Steuart’s Stamp Act Crisis

In early December 1765, the surveyor-general of the Customs service in North America, Charles Steuart, sat down in his office in Philadelphia to write a report to his superiors about the state of the continent. (I’ve seen this letter...Show More Summary

“I related to him the Disposition of the Inhabitants”

As we recall, late on the night of 1 Nov 1765, an anti-Stamp Act mob in New York destroyed the home of Maj. Thomas James of the Royal Artillery. Lt. Gov. Cadwallader Colden and Gen. Thomas Gage sent James home to Britain to report on...Show More Summary

The Marquess of Rockingham’s Stamp Act Revisions

I’m going to break from the campus debate over revising now-problematic symbols to catch up with developments in 1765 concerning the Stamp Act. When we last left the Marquess of Rockingham, the sudden death of the king’s uncle, the Duke...Show More Summary

Archaeology changes understanding of Missouri battle

On May 18, 1863, Union soldiers were on a foraging mission in Jasper County, Missouri and had made their first stop at the prosperous farm owned by the Rader family. While loading wagons with provisions, they were attacked by a large number of Confederate guerrillas led by Thomas Livingston. As the local story goes, the […]

Honoring Belinda’s Contribution to the Law

In 1936, Harvard University appropriated the heraldry of the Royall family to be the crest of its law school, honoring Isaac Royall for endowing the first law professorship.Under the holophrastic Harvard motto, that crest shows three sheafs of wheat bound up after harvesting. Show More Summary

‘Every Student Her Own Historian’

It’s hard to believe that my American Studies Seminar at the American Antiquarian Society has come to an end. I first want to thank Paul…

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