The Lost Cause is Not Fake History

The video below featuring historian Eric Foner accompanied a recent piece on CNN’s website that offered some observations about the attempt to distance race from the 2016 election and the Lost Cause narrative of the Civil War. The article itself is not very helpful. The author attempts to make way too many points across too broad a period of time. None of them is explored in sufficient detail. More below on this. [click to continue…]

New to the Civil War Memory Library, 12/26

Hope all of you are enjoying the Holidays. Here are the final few books to make it into my library this past year. Do yourself a favor and read Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad if you haven’t done so already. It is a remarkable book and a recipient of a National Book Award.

Joseph Beilein, Bushwhackers: Guerrilla Warfare, Manhood, and the Household in Civil War Missouri (Kent State University Press, 2016).

Charles Dew, Apostles of Disunion: Southern Secession Commissioners and the Causes of the Civil War (15th Anniversary edition) (University Press of Virginia, 2015).

Karl Jacoby, The Strange Career of William Ellis: The Texas Slave Who Became a Mexican Millionaire (Norton, 2016).

Carl L. Paulus, The Slaveholding Crisis: Fear of Insurrection and the Coming of the Civil War (Louisiana State University Press, 2017).

Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad: A Novel (Doubleday, 2016).

The Return of Earl Ijames’s “Colored Confederates”

Update: Here is the link to the text that Ijames reads from in the video below.

Those of you who have followed this blog and commentary about the myth of the black Confederate soldier are all too familiar with Earl Ijames, who is a curator at the North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh. Ijames claims to be an expert on what he refers to as “Confederates of Color.” It is an incredibly confusing and unhelpful reference.  He is a popular speaker and beloved by Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Abbeville Institute. This past summer Ijames addressed the latter at their annual summer institute. [The video below was uploaded to YouTube on 12/21] I have little doubt that the audience enjoyed his presentation, but it should come as no surprise that it is an absolute mess. [click to continue…]

From Responsible Consumers to Producers of Online Content

I could not be more pleased with the reception to my latest piece at Smithsonian on spotting fake news and its implications for how we teach history. It has been shared over 50,000 times on Facebook and other social media platforms and it led to an interview with The Washington Post for a related story. With all the attention on spotting fake news and problematic websites it is important to remember that we are only addressing half of the problem. [click to continue…]