Silas Chandler Essay To Be Published in CWT’s 50th Anniversary Issue

This morning I learned that my co-authored essay on Silas Chandler with Myra Chandler Sampson will be published in the February 2012 issue of Civil War Times magazine.  This just so happens to be the magazine’s 50th anniversary issue and I couldn’t be more pleased that we will be part of the celebration.

This little project has been in the works for quite some time, but it is one of the most important to me.  The essay grew out of a series of blog posts over the past year that I hoped would begin to correct the historical record as it relates to the subject of black Confederates.  Better yet, it led me to Myra Chandler Sampson, who happens to be Silas’s great granddaughter.  Myra discovered me through the blog in the course of her own tireless quest to correct the historical record of her ancestor.  She placed enough trust in me to send along a wonderful collection of archival sources, which greatly enriched my own understanding of Silas’s life as well as the rest of the family’s history through the 20th century.

Between the upcoming History Detectives episode on Silas and our own article it looks like we are one step closer to Myra’s goal of honoring her ancestor in a way that more closely reflects the available historical record.

Historians Respond to Southern Belle

Here is some more video from the new documentary, Southern Belle.  In this segment historians respond to the attempt on the part of the organizers to remove any discussion of slavery from their program.  They address the following question: Why would the “yeoman” farmer go to war with no dog in the Civil War fight?  The list of historians interviewed includes, R. Blakeslee Gilpin, Assistant Professor of History, University of South Carolina; Carroll Van West, Director, Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area; Tara McPherson, Professor of Critical Studies, University of Southern California  School of Cinematic Arts and Stan Deaton, Director, Georgia Historical Society. Additional films can be viewed on the documentary’s website.

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North Carolina Takes a Stand on Arming Slaves

Update: Andy Hall has an interesting post up on the absence of any significant debate on the arming of slaves in Texas. Philip Dillard recently wrote an essay that analyzes the various factors that led to the debate in Virginia and the reasons why Texans failed to consider this crucial step. It can be found in Inside the Confederate Nation: Essays in Honor of Emory M. Thomas, which is edited by Lesley Gordon and John Inscoe.

Resolutions Against the Policy of Arming Slaves

Resolved, That the State of North Carolina protests against the arming of slaves by the Confederate government, in any emergency that can possibly arise, but gives its consent to their being taken and used as laborers in the public service, upon just compensation being made.

Resolved, That North Carolina denies the constitutional power of the Confederate government to impress slaves for the purpose of arming them, or preparing them to be armed, in any contingency, without the consent of the States being freely given, and then only according to State laws.

Resolved, That his Excellency Governor Z.B. Vance be requested to communicate a copy of these resolutions to each of our Senators and Representatives in Congress.

Ratified 3d day of February, 1865.

I would love to be able to transport a group of modern day black Confederate myth proponents back to 1865 to discuss this issue with the North Carolina legislature.  Now that would be a real whoot.

Black Confederates at the ASALH

This morning I learned that I will be speaking on the subject of black Confederates at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, which will take place in Richmond in October.  Thanks to National Park Service Ranger, Emmanuel Dabney, for putting together an excellent panel that will offer different perspectives on this subject.  Proponents of this myth, who rush to cite Ervin Jordan as a supporter, ought to carefully read his session description.

It ought to be a well-attended session and the discussion will, no doubt, be entertaining.  The conference as a whole promises to be quite interesting given that the theme is the Civil War and the Sesquicentennial.  We don’t have a specific time for the session, but I will be sure to pass it on as more information becomes available.

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People Want To Be Free

[Hat-tip to Donald Schaffer]

I don’t have much patience for the long-standing debate of who freed the slaves.  The question itself is much too simplistic and sterile.  Why historians have felt a need to single out one factor or engage in wholesale reductionism, in the end, tells us much more about the assumptions we employ than about the complexity of the story of emancipation that needs to be told.  Today is the 150th anniversary of General Benjamin Butler’s letter informing his superiors of three escaped slaves who had made their way to Fortress Monroe.

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