Today’s History Lesson: August 14, 2013

Today we learn (twice) from the gift that keeps on giving the following:

JD treason 1 SHPGJD treason 2 SHPG

This news flash excited much informed commentary:

JD treason 3 SHPG

Now for a course in basic research practices:

Whenever you come across a statement offered by Gary Adams (from the gift that keeps on giving, also known as the Southern Heritage Preservation Group), you should first Google the statement, because there’s a very good chance that he lifted it from somewhere without attribution and perhaps without context.

Sure enough, that’s just what he did. You can find the paragraph in question here.

So much for southern honor and integrity … just more cheap and lazy plagiarism by Gary. But there’s nothing new about that.

Indeed, however, in this case, when you Google the passage, what shows up first (at least for me) is thisΒ at a blog entitled Alexandria. Indeed, it’s a link in that piece that directs you to the source cited above.

What’s more, the first reference simply takes apart the passage and demonstrates just how wrong-headed it is. As the blogger remarks:

… about the only things the aforementioned account gets right are the fact that 1) Davis was imprisoned; 2) the Johnson administration did attempt to try him for treason; and 3) Davis was eventually released.Β 

After that statement the blogger simply dismantles the claims made in the statement in question.

Neither of the people who posted this statement in the SHPG did any research on it. Nor did the commenters. How sad. How typical.

But then it’s heritage (however ignorant), not history.

For those interested in history, I direct you to the entry in Alexandria.

UPDATE: And the fun continues. Seems Adams and his buddies are reading the blog, and the self-styled chaplain of the group posts as follows:

aaa chase


So we run that through Google, and what do we find? This.

aaa chase 2


Now turn to page 765 in volume three of Foote’s book, and you’ll find that the quote doesn’t appear there (Foote’s discussing Davis’s options in early 1865). So we have an unattributed quote stolen from an incorrect website wrongly citing a quote found in an unfootnoted book offered as unassailable truth by someone pretending to be a group chaplain.

No wonder his name is Stones.

By the way, the website in question collapsed a series of quotes found on page 1035 of Foote’s third volume, presented it as a unified quote, and who used Texas v. White in 1869 to argue that secession was indeed unconstitutional. All Chase was saying is that secession and rebellion were two different things. He didn’t say anything about the constitutionality of secession at that time: his concern was that in a jury of his peers under a civil trial in Richmond, Davis, like Aaron Burr a few decades before in a somewhat similar circumstance, might go free. Ever hear of jury nullification?

But I’m sure actual history is a lost cause when it comes to certain heritage advocates.


36 thoughts on “Today’s History Lesson: August 14, 2013

  1. Joshism August 14, 2013 / 6:51 am

    I love the fellow who tries to be dismissive about the firing on Fort Sumter.

  2. Rob Baker August 14, 2013 / 7:52 am

    Where are most history books published? That’s right: New York and Boston? Do you think those people are going to tell on themselves?

    Stereotypical response: What do you mean, “those people”?

    I’d love to see the citation for her statement about publishing. Especially since Kevin’s book is Kentucky Press. Not to mention the numerous other presses located in the South (LSU, UTK, etc. etc.) Perhaps she is referring to high school textbooks? In that case, it is actually the state of Texas (and sometimes California) that decides content. They are the largest buyers, and the publishers comply.

    SHPG really is the gift that keeps on giving.

    • Brooks D. Simpson August 14, 2013 / 8:17 am

      Well, Shelby Foote’s trilogy was published out of New York, so you know he’s a Yankee plant. Next, check where Douglas Southall Freeman’s work was published. Another damnYankee.

      • Rob Baker August 14, 2013 / 8:43 am

        If it’s not Pelican, it’s not Southern.

      • Mike Musick August 14, 2013 / 1:30 pm

        I just reached for my first edition of Jefferson Davis’s “The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government,” only to find on the title page of volume 1 “New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1,3, and 5 Bond Street. 1881.” Egad! Was JD enmeshed in a Yankee conspiracy?

  3. seanmunger August 14, 2013 / 8:01 am

    Wow. Just…wow. I’m not sure which amazes me more, that these people pretend to be butthurt over a war that happened 150 years ago, or that they don’t even have the desire to try to perceive its history accurately.

  4. James F. Epperson August 14, 2013 / 9:14 am

    I seem to recall a lengthy discussion (on alt.war.civil.usa) about the origin of that alleged quote of Chase’s, with some suspicion it was interpolated into the record by one of his clerks/assistants, former Confederate General Bradley Johnston! It is certainly the case that no “legitimate” source for the quote can be found.

    • chancery August 19, 2013 / 11:16 am

      Professor Epperson,

      I’m a little puzzled by your comment about a suspicion that the purported comment by Justice Chase might have been “interpolated into the record.” From what you and others have written here, it seems as though no such writing exists, either in the “record” of the proceeding as a lawyer uses the term, or in the “record” as a historian might use the term (including contemporaneous private notes, diaries, newspaper accounts, etc.).

      Do you mean perhaps that the comment might have been made in contemporary discussions that were orally passed down over the generations before surfacing in contemporary lost cause publications?

  5. Eric A. Jacobson August 14, 2013 / 9:45 am

    Let me add that (gasp!!??) I would not consider Shelby Foote to be solid source material. Let’s be perfectly honest – his trilogy does not contain footnotes….so there you go.

  6. John Foskett August 14, 2013 / 10:09 am

    This swill is mindboggling, no matter how often you see it. Everything anyone needs to know about Chase’s view on secession is in his opinion (sitting as a Circuit Judge) in Shortridge. He dismissed the notion in one sentence and his ruling had the practical effect of eliminating any legal import of secession. But then that requires the ability to read for comprehension. Holmes was right about the First Amendment…..

  7. Al Mackey August 14, 2013 / 11:23 am

    I found it in Burke Davis’ The Long Surrender–without a primary source cited, of course.

  8. Flamethrower August 14, 2013 / 2:29 pm

    If they believe all Northerners act like the stereotypical obnoxoius Bostonian, New Yorker, or Jersian, (as implied in Gordon Flick’s comment), it’s a delicious twist of irony. Most of the Northerners outside the biggest cities hate NYC or Boston representing New England as a whole to the world, who themselves outnumber their city counterparts by a factor of 10-to-1. Millions upon millions of Northerns feel the same way as Southerners about NYC or Boston.

    • Brooks D. Simpson August 14, 2013 / 2:36 pm

      And we haven’t even talked about the well-known New York-Boston divide. πŸ™‚

      • John Foskett August 14, 2013 / 3:48 pm

        You guys had Seymour and Wood – we had Andrew. πŸ™‚

        • Brooks D. Simpson August 14, 2013 / 3:56 pm

          We had Shockey … you have Hernandez. We had Giambi … you have Ortiz. We have Rodriguez … you had Ramirez.

          This is tougher than it looks.

    • John Foskett August 14, 2013 / 3:52 pm

      In one instance much of that, unfortunately, has to do with the incessant accumulation of championships since 2000. πŸ™‚

  9. John Foskett August 14, 2013 / 4:23 pm

    Hey, if the union won’t tell you what you tested positive for, what are ya gonna do? And I’ll see you and raise you one Cup πŸ™‚

  10. Austin August 14, 2013 / 6:18 pm

    The bottom line here should be:

    1. Though Jefferson Davis was imprisoned for two years, he was never convicted of treason. Indeed, he was never even tried. And no other Confederate was ever tried for, or convicted of, treason.
    2. This is because there is absolutely nothing in the constitution which prohibits secession.
    3. This is also because the United States was founded upon a violent and traitorous secession. In fact, without secession, the U.S. would not exist.
    4. As far as Texas is concerned, it joined the Union only after it had seceded from Mexico. But only after Mexico had seceded from Spain.
    5. When New Hampshire ratified the constitution in June of 1788, it became the ninth state to secede from the Union under the “Perpetual” Articles of Confederation ( I guess the American constitutional definition of “perpetual” is about seven years).
    6. As of the writing of the Federalist Papers, secession was presumed to be perfectly legal. In fact, the Federalist Papers are filled with dozens and dozens of references to a potential dissolution of the “perpetual” Union.
    7. Under the Articles of Confederation, Canada was invited to become a member state. But in order for it to do so, it would have had to secede from Great Britain.
    8. West Virginia was admitted to the Union during the war to prevent secession. But only after it had seceded from Virginia.

  11. Jerry Desko August 15, 2013 / 12:09 am

    Taking control of federal facilities and their contents and expelling or detaining federal employees is not in the Constitution either but those acts are unlawful under statutory law prohibitions.

    Secession is not prohibited by the Constitution and it is not protected by the Constitution, it is mute on the subject.

    Slavery was not illegal according to the Constitution but it was recognized by it but nothing prohibited the lawful amendment of the document to eliminate the heinous practice.

    I am unaware of the firing on a Fort Sumpter but the firing on Fort Sumter was an act of insurrection. The dictionary definition of insurrection is, “The act or an instance of open revolt against civil authority or a constituted government.” I think the takeover of federal facilities by local authorities also falls into the category of insurrection. The Constitution allows the federal government to, “… to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections …”

    By the way, the word rebellion is listed as synonym for insurrection but the term “Northern aggression” was not listed.

    Very good detective work on your posting Brooks.

    • John Foskett August 15, 2013 / 7:27 am

      And somebody doesn’t grasp the concept of rebellion. The AWI was a “rebellion”, not “secession”. If the poster actuallty knew what he was talkiong about, he could fill us in on how Franklin and Jefferson used the phrase “rebellion to tyrants”, for example. But he can’t, because once the Lost Cause Crowd has to concede that the AWI was a “rebellion”, they confront two bad options: (1) their little frolic had nothing in common with the AWI or (2) like the AWI, it was a “rebellion”, resulting in all sorts of problems under the Constitution. Fiction can be a difficult writing assignment.

  12. Austin August 15, 2013 / 12:38 am

    What’s even more interesting about the Federalist Papers is that the two principal authors, Madison and Hamilton, each openly advocated and fully acknowledged the right of secession in such different ways. Hamilton, for example, recognized the right of the States to secede by simply refusing to appoint Senators. Madison, though less specific regarding methodology, was no less emphatic supporting the principle of secession. What Madison said is that the Union should be abolished if it was “inconsistent with the public happiness”. And I think it is a given that a civil war which drenches the Union in blood is most definitely inconsistent with the public happiness. With such constitutional luminaries directly opposing him, and an imposing mountain of evidence contradicting him, it is certaiinly no surprise that Chase was afraid to give Davis his day in court.

    • Brooks D. Simpson August 15, 2013 / 6:54 am

      And the hits just keep on coming.

      Hamilton and Madison at different times spoke out against the notion on secession as constitutional. You fail to grapple with the scholarship on that subject. But thanks for sharing your opinion. At least it’s original as opposed to simply plagiarized.

  13. Michael Confoy August 15, 2013 / 10:16 am

    I can only assume that the majority were dropped on their heads at a young age.

  14. Austin August 15, 2013 / 10:49 am

    Actually, in addition to fully supporting the right of secession, Hamilton also bitterly and vociferously repudiated the use of force to coerce a state. This is hardly surprising, given that he served in the Continental Army and fought against the despotism and tyranny of King George. King George, you may remember, also used violence and brute force in an effort to subdue those who wished to achieve political independence.

    • Brooks D. Simpson August 15, 2013 / 3:29 pm

      I’m sure you believe that. Ever hear of the Whiskey Rebellion?

      Since you are all about brutal suppressions of liberty, care to enlighten us about the Ku Klux Klan? What about the Great Hanging in Texas?

    • John Foskett August 15, 2013 / 4:07 pm

      Say, thanks for posting this about Hamilton: “fought against the despotism and tyranny of King George”. As in, “rebellion to tyranny”, courtesy of Franklin, B., and Jefferson, T. c. 1776. Looks like everybody involved agreed that the AWI was a “rebellion”, not a “secession”. So yes, indeedy, the US would exist without a “secession” – it did and still does.

  15. Austin August 15, 2013 / 4:48 pm

    The Whiskey Rebellion was conducted by private citizens and the State of Pennsylvania opposed them. Indeed, Pennsylvannia authorities happily cooperated with Federal authorities to quash the rebellion. What Hamilton opposed was a government coercing a State. He bitterly denounced the idea, excoriated and ridiculed a government that would make “war and carnage” a means of supporting itself, and derisively called it madness. Now then, if you wish to be enlightened regarding the KKK, shall we start with the Indiana chapter? And I’ll trade you the Texas Hanging for Lincoln’s Mankato Sioux Massacre anytime.

    • Brooks D. Simpson August 15, 2013 / 5:44 pm

      And you cite the revolution as an example of a government coercing a state?

      Oh, I know we could engage in duelling atrocities. But you seemed so interested is deploring them, so long as white people were the victims.

      For someone who claims to be so knowledgeable about history, I thought you would be able to distinguish between the Reconstruction KKK and the Indian one in the 1920s … the one that took inspiration from Birth of a Nation, which, of course, celebrated the Reconstruction KKK. But clearly that’s not the case.

      Anyway, I’ve let you troll for a while, just to see whether you had anything to say. Take care. We’ve enjoyed hearing from you.

  16. Jimmy Dick August 15, 2013 / 6:31 pm

    I have no idea what Federalist Papers Austin read. They aren’t the ones written in 1788.

    • Jimmy Dick August 15, 2013 / 6:32 pm

      Oh wait, that would be because there weren’t any Federalist Papers written in 1788. The Federalist was written at that time. That must be why.

      • Brooks D. Simpson August 15, 2013 / 7:07 pm

        Well, Austin’s days of trolling are over … but there were Federalist Papers written in 1788 (until August). Specifically, numbers 31-85 first saw publication in 1788.

  17. Jimmy Dick August 15, 2013 / 8:22 pm

    Yes, but they were not called the Federalist Papers. They were referred to as the Federalist. It wasn’t until later in the 20th century that they started to be referred to as the Federalist Papers. I am of course referring to the 85 essays written by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison. The late Pauline Maier thought they had little effect upon the ratification of the Constitution.

    • Brooks D. Simpson August 15, 2013 / 8:24 pm

      And I think she was right. And you are right as to the actual title, of course.

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