From Robert E. Lee to Cliven Bundy

Robert E. Lee (1856):

The blacks are immeasurably better off here than in Africa, morally, physically and socially. The painful discipline they are undergoing is necessary for their further instruction as a race, and will prepare them, I hope, for better things. (1856)

Considering the relation of master and slave, controlled by humane laws and influenced by Christianity and an enlightened public sentiment, as the best that can exist between the white and black races while intermingled as at present in this country, I would depreciate any sudden disturbance of that relation unless it be necessary to avert a greater calamity to both. (1865)

Cliven Bundy (2014):

They abort their young children, they put their young men in jail, because they never learned how to pick cotton. And I’ve often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn’t get no more freedom. They got less freedom.

I’m wondering: Are they happier now under this government subsidy system than they were when they were slaves, when they was able to have their family structure together, and the chickens and a garden, and the people had something to do?

Bundy’s views on race and slavery, while shocking to most intelligent and decent people, have a long and distinguished pedigree.

William Forstchen and Newt Gingrich Massacre the Crater… Again

Today’s Washington Post features an essay on the Crater by Forstchen and Gingrich, which focuses on the men of the Fourth Division. You may remember that two co-authored a work of historical fiction on the battle back in 2011. Shortly after its publication I was invited by the Atlantic to review the book. Needless to say, the book has numerous problems even as a work of fiction, not the least of which is its failure to deal honestly with the well documented accounts of the massacre of large numbers of black Union soldiers. The authors also imagine a conversation between Robert E. Lee and William and Mahone in which the former orders that no captured black soldiers be harmed. There is no evidence of such a meeting taking place and even a fictional account has numerous problems. Continue reading

Brief Review of the OAH’s New Publication: The American Historian

The American Historian (preview issue)
The American Historian (preview issue)

I’ve been a member of the Organization of American Historians for roughly the past ten years and for one reason: Magazine of History. The publication has been incredibly helpful to me over the years. Each issue has a clear historical theme and the lesson plans and short essays have direct application to what I do in the classroom. At the beginning of every school year I peruse my back issues for ways to change things up and keep my teaching fresh and challenging. So, you can imagine my surprise and disappointment when I learned that the OAH was discontinuing the magazine for a new publication: The American Historian.

The “preview” issue arrived yesterday and unfortunately it is a bit of a disappointment. Continue reading