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Two Different Samuel Adamses

This is Samuel Adams. In 1773 he was fifty-one years old. His father had been a selectman, merchant, and church deacon. He had gone to Harvard College and earned a master’s degree. As a young man he had helped to found a short-lived newspaper, which honed his writing skills, and discovered that he had no interest or luck in business. Show More Summary

Upcoming Events at the Royall House

The Royall House and Slave Quarters in Medford will host a series of book talks on the history of slavery in America over the next three months. Thursday, 5 February, 7:00 P.M.Interpreting Slavery at Museums and Historic Sites This event...Show More Summary

New to the Civil War Memory Library, 01/25

The following list includes advanced reader copies, books sent directly from the author or books purchased through my Amazon affiliate account. I am currently reading Martha Hodes’s new book and I can’t recommend it enough. She is a wonderful storyteller. Megan L. Bever & Scott A. Suarez eds., The Historian behind the History: Conversations with […]

William Russell’s Toasts on Offer

Last month I quoted an 1874 profile of William Russell that contained a description of a “Sons of Liberty” medal, worn by Boston activists on public occasions. Noting that no example of such a medal survives and no other source describes...Show More Summary

Jim Downs Comes to the Defense of John Stauffer

We can now add Jim Downs to the list of historians who has decided to wade into the debate about the existence of black Confederate soldiers. Rather than directly engage Stauffer’s claims, however, Downs offers a meta-analysis of my response. He begins by mis-characterizing my own view by suggesting that I believe there were no […]

The Wolf off Wall Street

I still haven’t whittled that blog post down to size. In fact it’s now bigger. Meantime here’s another something on the web: a TLS essay I wrote on Martin Wolf’s The Shifts and the Shocks. There’s no paywall. Here’s a snippet, which provides the piece its rather nice illustration: In the 2011 film Margin Call, […]

Discovering Prince Demah, an African-American Artist

Back in 2006 and 2008 I wrote about a young black artist mentioned in the letters of Christian Barnes, a Marlborough merchant’s wife (shown here). All I knew about him was the given name “Prince.”Paula Bagger, working with the Hingham Historical Society, has found out a lot more. Show More Summary

Reading the Smiles of 18th-Century Art

The 12 January New Yorker includes Jonathan Kalb’s article “Give Me a Smile,” which describes in personal terms the importance of being able to smile. Kalb writes, “The spontaneously joyful smile is the facial expression most easilyShow More Summary

Rache

I started writing a blog post yesterday but it’s now up to 1500 words and I don’t know what to do with is, so instead I’ll urge you: Plan your Saturday night now! Here’s a preview: In a world … Aww yeah, baby: C-SPAN 3.1 Saturday, January 24, at 8pm and midnight, Eastern time. Or […]

John Stauffer, Black Confederates, and the Case for Military History

Yesterday I wrote a lengthy post in response to an essay by John Stauffer on the controversy surrounding the existence of black Confederates, which appeared in The Root. As you can see I believe there to be numerous factual and conceptual problems with many of the author’s claims. I do not wish to repeat them […]

The Real Story of the Fake Sarah Munroe Letter

Last week I noted a letter describing George Washington’s Presidential visit to Lexington in 1789. And I said it looked like a fake. Polly Kienle of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum helpfully commented on that post confirming that young Sarah Munroe didn’t write that letter. Show More Summary

John Stauffer Goes Looking For Black Confederates and Comes Up Empty…Again

I was surprised to see that John Stauffer has once again decided to wade into the debate surrounding black Confederates. You may remember that back in 2011 Stauffer gave a talk at Harvard on the subject, which I attended. Though we had a spirited exchange, I left feeling incredibly disappointed with his overall argument. Earlier […]

Top Honors from the Journal of the American Revolution

The Journal of the American Revolution just announced its 2014 Book of the Year Award. The winning title is Dangerous Guests: Enemy Captives and Revolutionary Communities During the War for Independence, by Ken Miller. The Continental...Show More Summary

The Last Hurrah For Lee and Jackson

From a classroom in Tallahassee, Florida in 1957… … to celebrating Robert E. Lee’s birthday in Montgomery, Alabama… … to the next generation in Rockbridge County, Virginia. You interpret.

An interesting description of mid-Nineteenth Century light cavalrymen

I found a fascinating publication while poking around on the Google Books site. Gen. F. De Brack, a French cavalry general, published an outposting manual for use by the French cavalry. The third edition of his book was published in 1863, and was later translated and published by the United States Army in 1893. Show More Summary

Some books you may have missed in 2014

There was the usual flood of nonfiction books on the Civil War in 2014, and many of those attracted a lot of well-deserved attention. There were, however, some real gems that were little noticed and were easily overlooked. They include...Show More Summary

MLK day.

Here’s a post I wrote way back when. I think things have changed quite a bit in the past seven years, actually, whether because recent events have laid bare the emptiness of the rhetoric of a post-racial America, because the President of the United States is African American, because popular culture, including films like Selma, […]

“Made by Hand” at Old South

The Old South Meeting House is hosting a series of midday events on the theme of “Made by Hand in Boston: The Crafts of Everyday Life,” cosponsored by Artists Crossing Gallery. These sessions explore the cross between artistry and commerce...Show More Summary

Virginia Flaggers Upstaged by Local High School Students

A few of you have already seen this photograph in a previous post, but I thought it was worth highlighting with its own post given that one of the participants shared his thoughts in the comments section. More to the point, it’s just downright hilarious. I can’t think of a better way of pointing out […]

T. H. Breen on BackStory

As another sort of preparation for T. H. Breen’s talk at Cambridge Forum on Wednesday, I’ll point to this episode of BackStory, the public-radio show on American history. I enjoy that show as a podcast.This particular episode, ”Counter Culture,” is about shopping in American life. Show More Summary

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