A Visit With Governor Andrew

John AndrewToday I took advantage of a day off from work and beautiful weather to drive down the coast to the Hingham Cemetery to visit the final resting place of Governor John A. Andrew. The headstone is very simple, but a few years after his death a group of admirers commissioned a beautiful statue sculpted in Cararra marble in Florence, Italy. I am still very much in the early stages of my Andrew project. I made it through the first volume of Henry G. Pearson’s 1904 biography along with a number of other secondary sources. With three days off next week I hope to finally sink my teeth into the Andrew Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Any biography project is an enormous undertaking, but one of the things that helps to make it more manageable is the fact that Andrew died relatively early in 1867. The timing helps to frame this as a Civil War biography. No reason to wade into the complexity of Gilded Age America and no worrying about how the politics of the period might have shaped Andrew’s views on emancipation and black civil rights, which defined his time on Beacon Hill. [click to continue…]


Playing Civil War in 1862

Here is an interesting little find from Slate’s history blog. In 1862 the Philadelphia publishing company Charlton and Althrop released this board game to promote patriotism and Union throughout the North. You advance on the board by landing on spaces that support the Union cause and lose ground by landing on spaces that threaten it. Some of them are quite humorous, but consider the execution of an identified Union soldier as an example of the latter. Serious stuff.

Secession Game


Robert E. Lee’s Property

Robert E. Lee, slavesFor more on the story behind this fascinating image, click here.


What’s In a List? I’ll Tell You

Megan Kate Nelson’s new post at Historista is sure to keep the controversy surrounding James McPherson’s recent New York Times “best of” list alive. There are two issues discussed in her post that I think are best kept separate even though there is some overlap. First, Megan highlights the extent to which academia remains an “old boys club”. At the same time she expresses some frustration regarding the unwillingness of her fellow historian to generate a new list that highlights a wider swath of talent. [click to continue…]


Why Can’t We Get Beyond an “Aloof” Stonewall Jackson?

Do we need another five hundered page biography of Stonewall Jackson? Sure, why not. And from what little I’ve read so far, S.C. Gwynne can certainly turn a phrase. That said, I was hoping for a more nuanced look at Jackson’s understanding of politics and specifically the politics of slavery on the eve of the war. Unfortunately, Gwynne provides a one-dimensional analysis that runs the risk of perpetuating a number of myths about the war. [click to continue…]