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The Halifax Gazette in Mourning

I was in the middle of relating the teen-aged Isaiah Thomas’s misadventures with the Stamp Act in Halifax last month when anniversaries, events, and my book publication interrupted.So even though the sestercentennial of the Stamp Act crisis is happily behind us, I’m going to finish up those stories. Show More Summary

The Privilege of Printing Parliamentary Debates

Every so often I’ve mentioned how in the 1760s the British press was wary of reporting the exact language of Parliament’s debates.There’s no official record of the debate over the Stamp Act, for instance, or the debate to repeal it. Instead, we have to rely on private letters and memoirs, which often disagree. Show More Summary

Yale and Benjamin Franklin’s Good Name

Yale Magazine recently reported on how editors at the Papers of Benjamin Franklin project spotted a letter from William Franklin providing new details about his estrangement from his father.The magazine stated:William Franklin remained loyal to England, and by the time he moved to London in 1782, he and his father had been estranged for years. Show More Summary

Stonewall Jackson is Still the ‘Black Man’s Friend’

In the proposal for my book on the myth of black Confederates, I suggested that the final chapter will likely remind some readers of Tony Horwitz’s wonderful travel narrative, Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War. There are a number of interesting and complex individuals that for one reason or another have […]

Final Countdown to Free State of Jones

This morning CBS’s Sunday Morning program ran a very nice segment on Matthew Mcconaughey and the upcoming movie, the Free State of Jones. It’s well worth watching. Mcconaughey is interviewed alongside director Gary Ross, a local historian related to the Knight family, and two members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. I was hoping to […]

Washington’s Mickles in a Pickle

Last week’s episode of the television series Turn: Washington’s Spies was titled “Many Mickles Make a Muckle,” after a saying Gen. George Washington voiced early in the action. Washington actually did write that phrase, albeit in 1793. Show More Summary

The Civil War Institute Embraces Reconstruction 150th

In a little less than two weeks I will drive to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania for the Civil War Institute’s annual conference. This will be my fourth year as a member of the faculty and as always I am super excited. For the past five years the conference theme tracked the Civil War sesquicentennial. Compared to the […]

Legends and Lies to Be Broadcast 5 June

Fox television is promoting a couple of upcoming shows based on the American Revolution. Sort of. The Fox News Channel has a series called Legends & Lies, and its second season carries the subtitle The Patriots. The accompanying book...Show More Summary

Roots, Fort Pillow, and the Legacy of Racial Violence

I thoroughly enjoyed the re-make of Roots. Rather than comment on the entire series, which plenty of others have already done, I want to say a quick word about the inclusion of the massacre of black soldiers at Fort Pillow, Tennessee in the final episode. The original series did not include this scene nor as […]

Dedication on Dorchester Heights, 4 June

On Saturday, 4 June, the National Parks of Boston will dedicate a new feature of its Dorchester Heights site: a replica of an eighteen-pounder cannon of the sort likely installed there in early March of 1776. The park’s announcementShow More Summary

William Mack Lee Conned the UCV & SCV

A few people have inquired as to the likelihood that the Norfolk County Greys Chapter, Sons of Confederate Veterans or the national organization will take steps to correct the history reflected on the headstone that was recently dedicated to William Mack Lee. The SCV claims, among other things, that WML was a cook and servant […]

“He assisted in getting the four Field Pieces”

Have I mentioned that the book launch for The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War is tonight?Here’s a bit from another document that informed the book, a letter from Dr. Joseph Warren to Samuel Adams...Show More Summary

“Behold, the guns were gone!”

If you managed to read through The Patriot Schoolmaster to chapter 9, you would have found a scene of British soldiers going to a gunhouse, or small armory, in Boston to take away cannon, only to be stymied. It’s the sort of dramatic...Show More Summary

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.]

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