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Counting at Andersonville

It’s easy to be seduced by the latest use of technology in our museums and other historic sites to get across the Civil War experience and the human cost. They are powerful tools and can be incredibly effective, but once in a while, we are reminded that the simplest approach works best. Such is the […]

The Leading Edge: Charles McKinney on the Rhodes College Civil Rights Conference

This is a slightly different kind of Leading Edge. Charles McKinney, a fellow Duke alum, helped organize and run a conference on civil rights at Rhodes College in Memphis. During the Conference, he posted regular Facebook updates on the speakers. Show More Summary

Commemorating and Considering the Boston Massacre

Wednesday, 5 March, is the 244th anniversary of the Boston Massacre, and there are a number of commemorations and discussions of the event coming up. At 6:30 P.M. that evening, Old South Meeting-House will host a free program with authors...Show More Summary

Travoltifying the Civil War

John Travolta butchering of Idina Menzel’s name last night at the Oscars is now a handy little widget that you can use to “Travoltify” your own name. My name becomes Kelvin Lezwis. I decided to plug in a few names from the Civil War for fun: Stonewall Jackson becomes “Sebastian Jerkson” Abraham Lincoln becomes “Archibald […]

The 48th/150th: The Murder of Private James Shields, Company E

150 years ago, the veteran soldiers of the 48th Pennsylvania, at home on furlough in Schuylkill County, were preparing to return once more to the front, with their thirty-day furlough set to expire on March 3, 1864. As the soldiers prepared...Show More Summary

Painting the Legend

The Skinner auction house reports that that watercolor I’ve been discussing sold for $39,975, above the estimate. I hope its new owner is pleased with the painting and the little historical mystery it brings.Thinking about what makes an artifact interesting reminded me of a story I noted back in 2006, right after I started this blog. Show More Summary

12 Years A Slave Wins Best Picture

12 Years A Slave Wins Best Picture As many of you now know, last night 12 Years A Slave won Oscars for Best Picture, Actress in a Supporting Role, and Adapted Screenplay. Congratulations to Steve McQueen, Lupita Nyong, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Brad Pitt, and the rest of the cast and crew for making this important movie. […]

“We Won That War and Never Let Them Forget It”

In 2011 I took part in a panel on the myth of the black Confederate soldier with Emmanuel Dabney, Ervin Jordan, and Jaime Martinez at the annual meeting of the ASALH in Richmond. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but I did not attend the Carter G. Woodson luncheon featuring Daryl Michael Scott. The topic of […]

The Ukraine

Random lessons to help you understand the situation in the Ukraine: 1. Apparently, it stopped being “the Ukraine” around 1991. Now, it’s just “Ukraine.” 2. If the person you’re reading mentions these historical analogies, they know nothing: The Crimean War, 1914, the Sudetenland, Munich, Benghazi, the Cold War, and Syria. Show More Summary

The Bottom Line on the Pitcairn Painting?

I’ve been discussing this small watercolor painting whose label says it shows Maj. John Pitcairn and was created by Paul Revere. That picture appears to have been first reported in Art in America in December 1922. At that time it was...Show More Summary

When Students From Boston Go South To Study Civil Rights

Assault of Ted Landsmark, Boston Plaza, April 5, 1976 [photograph by Stanley Forman] Two weeks from tomorrow I will be heading out with roughly 35 students on a civil rights tour of the South. Our trip will take us from Atlanta, Georgia to Memphis, Tennessee. Along the way we will stop at some of the […]

What Stands Behind That Watercolor of Maj. Pitcairn?

This is another detail of the watercolor painting that Skinner is offering for sale this weekend, labeled as showing Maj. John Pitcairn of the British Marines and painted by Paul Revere.This detail comes from the other side of the painting, or actually from inside the wooden frame. Show More Summary

Rethinking Lincoln and Colonization

This past week Brooks Simpson posted an interesting item concerning a dispute between Allen Guelzo and the authors of a new book about Lincoln and colonization. Philip W. Magness and Sebastian N. Page argue that Lincoln continued to push for the colonization of African Americans after January 1, 1863. I’ve known about their book for […]

Denmark Vesey – Trayvon Martin – Jordan Davis

A new monument to Denmark Vesey was recently unveiled in Charleston, South Carolina. The unveiling placed Vesey back in the news over the past two weeks with recent editorials by Douglas Egerton appearing in The New York Times and Honor Sachs at the Huffington Post. The two writers seem to disagree over whether there is […]

The Signature Style of Paul Revere

Yesterday I showed a watercolor painting of a British officer that the Skinner auction house is selling this weekend. And here’s the detail that makes this image so interesting: the words at the bottom of the picture identifying the subject as “Major John Pitcairn” and the artist as “P. Show More Summary

Drew Faust Talks About Mothers of Invention

This C-SPAN Booknotes interview with historian Drew Faust goes back to the publication of her 1996 book, Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War. In 1996 I was working at Borders Books & Music in Rockville, Maryland, which is where I started devouring Civil War books. This was the […]

New To the Civil War Memory Library, 02/27

David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation (Knopf, 2014). Tammy Ingram, Dixie Highway: Road Building and the Making of the Modern South, 1900-1930 (University of North Carolina Press, 2014). Martin P. Johnson, Writing the Gettysburg Address (University of Kansas Press, 2013). Lorien Foote, The Gentlemen and the Roughs: Violence, Honor, […]

Excitement at the Supreme Court

I was at the oral arguments for the Supreme Court yesterday with a group of students and we were lucky enough to catch someone standing up to protest the Citizens United decision. He was well-dressed, in a suit and a tie. The court artist...Show More Summary

“A Ludicrous Tragedy or a Solemn Farce”

Today in my survey class we examined newspaper editorials from across the country in the wake of John Brown’s raid at Harpers Ferry in October 1859. The goal of the lesson was to learn how to interpret newspapers and to get a sense of the extent of the sectional divide over Brown’s actions. Students tracked […]

When Would Paul Revere Have Painted Major Pitcairn?

This weekend the Skinner auction house is offering this watercolor painting of a British army officer on horseback, which is labeled at the bottom “Major John Pitcairn” and “P. Revere del.” for “Paul Revere drew this.” According to a typewritten note glued to the back, this picture was owned by the furniture-maker Duncan Phyfe. Show More Summary

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