Essay on John Bowie Magruder Uploaded

I wrote the first draft of this essay on the colonel of the 57th Virginia Infantry during a summer seminar that I took with Gary Gallagher in 2001. It was my first attempt at writing something substantial after moving to Charlottesville in 2000. Up until then I had written a bunch of book reviews and a couple of short articles for The Washington Times. Magruder was an ideal subject. He left a body of incredibly rich letters, which are currently housed at UVA’s Special Collections. Continue reading

Free Course With Eric Foner Starts Tomorrow

I hope some of you have the time to take advantage of another opportunity to study the Civil War Era with one of the most prominent scholars in the field. The course is free and begins tomorrow. The video is well worth watching, especially the second half in which Foner reflects on the influence of his family’s history on his scholarly interests. Wish I had the time to take it.

A Taste of Civil War Memory Studies

Fellow blogger and historian, Keith Harris, recently asked me to put together a list of books for someone who might be interested in exploring the field of Civil War memory studies for his new online journal, The Americanist Independent.  The project is Keith’s attempt to utilize digital tools to bring quality history essays and other features to a mass audience. It also offers a venue for a wide range of history enthusiasts to showcase their work. This week Keith is offering potential subscribers a sneak preview. Check it out. Below is my book list. Continue reading

Why Paternalism is Meaningless on the Plantation

It’s disheartening to hear people who continue to insist on distinctions between good and bad slaveowners. I’ve never understood such arguments. It’s the commodification of the individual itself along with the possibility and reality of sale of so many that renders the institution by definition as evil.  What takes place between master and slave on any individual plantation/farm matters none in forming such an assessment. Continue reading