Greatest Hits from Civil Warriors: Personal Politics and Professional Practice

(a different version of this post originally appeared on Civil Warriors on November 20, 2009)

You hear it all the time … at least I do.  Critics of this historian or that historian claim that the historian in question is pushing a personal political agenda.  Their professional work reflects that personal political agenda: if anything, their scholarship is nothing more than their politics refracted through a flawed prism of the past.

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How Should One View One’s Confederate Ancestors?

In the aftermath of a discussion about the commemoration of the inauguration of Jefferson Davis as provisional president of the Confederacy some 150 years ago, Kevin Levin at Civil War Memory wondered out loud about the purpose of the SCV.  As he put it, “The SCV doesn’t simply bring together descendants of Confederate soldiers, it brings them together around a set of shared beliefs that have little do with remembering individual soldiers.”  Continue reading

Lincoln’s Bookends

Nearly all presidential performance polls rank Abraham Lincoln as one of the top two presidents in American history (his current competition happens to be George Washington, with FDR usually claiming the bronze).  While Lincoln is impressive on his own merits, it does not hurt that both his predecessor and successor currently dwell at the bottom of the same polls.  Yet something can be learned from comparing the presidential performances of James Buchanan and Andrew Johnson.  Such was in the back of historian Glenn LaFantasie’s mind yesterday, in which he explained why at this moment he thinks that Buchanan should bring up the rear (let’s set aside his estimate of George W. Bush for the moment).

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Honoring Lincoln and Grant on Presidents Day

Today is Presidents Day.  Oh, of course people link together Lincoln and Washington (who had his original birthday shifted when there was a change in the calendar not too long after his birth), but now they get to share this day with Millard Fillmore and Chester A. Arthur.

What follows are some rather interesting ways in which Americans have chosen to celebrate two Civil War-related presidents, Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.  Continue reading

Commemorating Jefferson Davis’s Inauguration, 150 Years Later

Here’s an extended video covering the events in Montgomery, Alabama, yesterday, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the inauguration of Jefferson Davis as provisional president of the Confederacy.  I am a little disappointed, however … a video on Kevin Levin’s Civil War Memory included a Harry Potter reference.  Go to the ten second mark (most of the rest of this speech is captured on the first video, as are other addresses and a different perspective on those in attendance).

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An Observation: Content/Controversy

Last year I admit to pondering why I was blogging.  It seemed to me that at that time the experience had lost some of its initial attraction.  Aside from reacting to certain events, I was not sure whether blogging had any other concrete purpose for me.  Those considerations contributed to my decision to leave Civil Warriors (and yes, folks, I’m no longer there, regardless of what I still read … some people need to update their information), although I must confess that I did not anticipate what would happen next with Crossroads.

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The Sunday Question: Which Book Most Changed Your Mind?

I’ve decided to start a new feature here, called The Sunday Question, in which I ask you, the readers, to answer a fairly simple and direct question.  The answers might offer something for discussion.  For the inaugural post in this series, the question is … which Civil War era* book most changed your mind about something?  Why?

*”Civil War era” encompasses the coming of the war, the war, and Reconstruction, as well as Civil War-related topics.

Two More Blogs Worth Reading

As much as blogging is a conversation between blogger and reader, it is also a conversation between blogger and blogger.  One of the things I like to do is to draw attention to some blogs that I think readers of this blog will appreciate.  I find the posts in each of these blogs thoughtful, engaging, and often provocative.  One’s an oldie but goodie, while another is relatively new to the scene in its present format, although it has deeper roots in past blogging, a situation with which I’m familiar.

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