The Chandler Boys … Coming to a Television Near You

Tomorrow I’m sure many people will be tuning in to watch PBS’s History Detectives in order to watch the episode devoted to the story of Andrew and Silas Chandler.  The nature of this relationship between a white Confederate and his black slave has been the stuff of many a blogging entry, with Kevin Levin at Civil War Memory taking pride of place by a large margin.  Kevin’s done a lot of research into this story, and it amused me when History Detectives first worked with him, then left him hanging (this is not unusual practice with many of these history television shows).  It’s clear to me that sometimes the best qualified people do not show up on these shows.

Nevertheless, anticipation’s building, judging from newspaper coverage.  I’m sure that various blogs and other discussion groups (including various “Confederate heritage” groups) are anxiously awaiting this episode.

My prediction (and I have no inside information about this) is that no one will be happy with the result.  Regardless of what’s found, people will find reasons to discount the show’s conclusions, both in terms of the particular story and its larger import for the continuing controversy over black Confederates (and yes, regardless of what some scholars say, there seems to be a debate about this issue that at times has very little to do with a dispassionate examination of evidence).

As some folks know, I do not hold History Detectives in high regard.  Nor do I care much for its cousin, Antiques Roadshow.  The quality of History Detectives is erratic, and the research techniques are often common sense … and at times the show simply misses important points.  Give me National Treasure I/II or Castle any day.  And it will be interesting to see whether Wes Cowan admits that he was a bit confused when he first discussed the issue on an episode of Antiques Roadshow, as you can see here.

Happy viewing.

7 thoughts on “The Chandler Boys … Coming to a Television Near You

  1. Tony Gunter October 10, 2011 / 11:45 pm

    I live within spittin’ distance of West Point, if anyone wants the iron cross and the flag removed from the grave, I’d be happy to do it.


    • Andy Hall October 11, 2011 / 8:38 am

      It’s an interesting question, isn’t it? The SCV/UDC placed a marker on Silas Chandler’s grave marking him as a Confederate hero, (as I understand) with the support of some of his descendants. Yet another group of Chandler’s descendants (a much larger group, I gather) opposes such marking and has formally asked for the cross to be removed. It really is a problem, when different family groups, both of which have legitimate claim to the man’s legacy, find themselves at odds, and the imposition of groups like the SCV and UDC, which have their own objectives, just makes it worse.

      As for the History Detectives episode tonight, the usual suspects are already starting to spin it, sight unseen, as another travesty of politically-correct fascism.

      • Robert Baker October 11, 2011 / 11:17 am

        I am actually wondering what was said to the family members in support of the Iron Cross being on his grave. If they were approached and given a narrative which they now support or if this is their own decision.

  2. James F. Epperson October 11, 2011 / 4:19 am

    Whatever they do won’t be worse than the book, “Killing Lincoln” 😦

  3. Charles Lovejoy October 12, 2011 / 11:49 am

    I think Mary Frances Berry gave the best explanation of black Confederates I have heard.

    • Noma October 12, 2011 / 2:54 pm

      Which was…?

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