The 14,000 members of this Association, however, know that revision is the lifeblood of historical scholarship.

History is a continuing dialogue between the present and the past.

Interpretations of the past are subject to change in response to new evidence, new questions asked of the evidence, new perspectives gained by the passage of time.

There is no single, eternal, and immutable “truth” about past events and their meaning.

The unending quest of historians for understanding the past—that is, “revisionism"—is what makes history vital and meaningful. Without revisionism, we might be stuck with the images of Reconstruction after the American Civil War that were conveyed by D. W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation and Claude Bowers’s The Tragic Era. Were the Gilded Age entrepreneurs "Captains of Industry” or “Robber Barons”?

Without revisionist historians who have done research in new sources and asked new and nuanced questions, we would remain mired in one or another of these stereotypes.

Pulitzer prize–winning author Annette Gordon Reed leads a discussion of emancipation, Lincoln, and the Civil War on Thursday, January 24, at 7 p.m.

Panelists include James McPherson, Pulitzer prize–winning historian and professor emeritus at Princeton University; Edward Ayers, Civil War historian and president of the University of Richmond; Eric Foner, author and professor of history, Columbia University; and James Oakes, professor of history, City University of New York and author of Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861–1865.

A book signing will follow the program. Presented in partnership with the National Archives Afro-American History Society.


The Records of Achievement Award is an annual tribute given by the @archivesfoundation to individuals whose work has cultivated a broader national awareness of the history and identity of the United States through the use of original records. Through their work, recipients educate, enrich, and inspire a deeper appreciation of our country, its ideals and its aspirations. Previous recipients of the Foundation’s awards include: Taylor Branch, Tom Brokaw, Ken Burns, the late John Hope Franklin, Robert Edsel, Annette Gordon-Reed, Brian Lamb and C-SPAN, Jacqueline Badger Mars, David McCullough, James McPherson, David M. Rubenstein, and Steven Spielberg.

One of the most talked about plays in American theater today, “Hamilton” has garnered tremendous commercial success, as well as significant critical acclaim for its historic content. Through the compelling story of Alexander Hamilton’s life and death, the musical combines Mr. Chernow’s biographical content with hip-hop lyrics and staging by Mr. Miranda and Mr. Kail, bringing the past to life in an accessible and immersive experience for audiences.

what a national treasure [x x x x x]


Some of the classic covers collected in The Art of Painted Comics, featuring Mitchell Hooks, Frank Frazetta, James Bama, Bob Larkin, Bernie Wrightston, Bill Sienkiewicz, Scott Hampton, Alex Ross, Phil Hale, Tara McPherson and dazzling dozens more!

Sacred Land For Sesquicentennial

In honor of the 150th Anniversary of the War Between the States, the Civil War Trust (CWT) recently announced that it is launching a national campaign to protect 20,000 acres of battlefields. This grand endeavor is planned to take place over the next five years.

The project was announced at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg by CWT Chairman Henry Simpson. Called the “Campaign 150 Initiative,” other board members present to make the announcement included Gettysburg Military National Park Superintendent Robert Kirby, Pulitzer Prize winning author James McPherson, and new member, country singing star Trace Atkins.

The CWT has protected over 30,000 acres in 20 states. Because this year kicks off the Civil War’s 150th anniversary, the time is rife for the CWT to take advantage of public awareness and support by making a large-scale initiative to preserve battlefield land across the country.

© Brendan Smialowski / Getty Images, Feb. 4, 2011, Anonymous James McPherson

A US Park Police officer uses a limb saw to remove a mask of Guy Fawkes from a statue of James McPherson in McPherson Square in Washington, D.C.

“He cannot be trusted. He should not be in a position of authority. He should stand down. He should not be allowed in politics again and he certainly should not profit from this.” (James McPherson)


It’s a question that’s popped up time and again throughout American history, and will undoubtedly continue to rears its head — at least so long as “Sweet Home Alabama” is a staple of classic rock radio. What, really, is the meaning of the Confederate flag? Is it simply a sign of Southern heritage, as former Rep. Ben Jones argued recently? Or is it a symbol of “treason in the defense of slavery,” as Campos writes?

It didn’t take long before the Confederate flag became a symbol of racism, expert James McPherson tells Salon

Image: American author James Alan McPherson, photographed in 1984. (Anthony Barboza/Getty Images)

Writer James Alan McPherson – who in 1978 became the first African-American writer to win a Pulitzer Prize for fiction – died last Wednesday at the age of 72.

McPherson spent his career writing short fiction and essays that explored race and class in America. Later in life, he also spent many years as a professor at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where our own Glen Weldon studied under him.

“American history was a passion of his,” Glen says, “and though his work often evinced a wry humor, in person he struck me as a serious man who cared deeply about the shadow that history casts on the present.”

Read Glen’s full remembrance here.


Writer James Alan McPherson, Winner Of Pulitzer, MacArthur And Guggenheim, Dies At 72

Better Know A Guest, October 6 - October 9, 2014

Better Know A Guest, October 6 – October 9, 2014

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Neither the Union nor Confederate army had an official procedure for notifying next of kin of soldier deaths.This task fell to company officers or chaplains or army buddies, but the process was hit or miss. Mothers or wives or fathers at home often endured weeks of harrowing uncertainty about the fate of their son or husband, who might have been reported in the newspaper casualty lists as “dangerously wounded” or “missing.” In many cases that uncertainty lasted forever. Neither army provided soldiers with identity tags. More than half of the soldiers who died in the war were buried in graves – sometimes mass graves – without identification.

The War That Forged a Nation: Why the Civil War Still Matters by James M. McPherson

Image: Soldier’s graves near General Hospital. Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The codes of duty and honor were not exclusively masculine. Many young women who watched brothers march away were heard to exclaim, “I wish I were a man!” Some of them acted on this wish. Several hundred women, from Maine to Texas, disguised themselves as men and passed superficial medical examinations to enlist in volunteer regiments. Their motives ranged from patriotism and love of adventure to a desire to stay with husbands or lovers who had joined the army.
Some women soldiers were son discovered and discharged. The usual reason for discovery was hospitalization for illness or wounds, as in the case of an Ohio private, “Charles Freeman,” who was hospitalized for fever, found to be Mary Scaberry, and discharged for “sexual incompatibility.” Six female soldiers were found out when they had babies. As a male soldier in a Massachusetts regiment described one of these cases in a letter home, “There was an orderly in one of our regiments & he & the Corporal always slept together. Well, the other night the Corporal had a baby, for the Cpl. turned out to be a woman! She has been in 3 or 4 fights.”
A few women soldiers served through the war without discovery. The most famous was Albert Cashier of the 95th Illinois, whose name is inscribed on the Illinois monument at Vicksburg along with those of all other soldiers from the state who fought there. Cashier went to bachelor farming after the war, and not until an accident in 1911 required “his” hospitalization was Albert Cashier discovered to be Jennie Hodgers.
—  James M. McPherson and James K. Hogue, Ordeal By Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction
So here's my thing...

H.G. went through all that work to get into the Escher vault to her get ring, locket and compact.

Okay? So what?

Why was it so important to McPherson that she get that stuff? How does any of it, in any way, have anything to do with their master plan?

Or was it supposed to be a whole she refused to help until she got her belongings back type thing?

I have not mentioned it on this blog yet...

…but I am a big Civil War…not buff, I guess. I’m not one of those people who collects memorabilia, or God help me, re-enacts. But still, the Civil War, and the run-up to it is one of my favorite periods in U.S. history.

Possibly it’s because I love to pick fights, or play the spoiler, or both, because what I can only refer to as Civil War Fandom drives me to the brink of my sanity. The overwhelming belief in the “Lost Cause,” Confederate aplolgism, straw-man arguments over “states’ rights,” Shelby Foote, The Killer Angels, and all the related drivel drives me to the brink of my sanity.

So it’s good to read people like Ta-Nehisi Coates, one of the writers dedicated to reminding us that the Civil War was about not only slavery, but white supremacy. Read his latest post, and anything he writes about the Civil War.

Also, Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson, is probably the best book on the subject.

How the Civil War Changed Walt Whitman's Poetry

In the early days of the conflict, Whitman had rather blithely announced that the war could not be conveyed by “dainty rhymes or sentimental love verses.” The clash of a mighty nation was too massive, too epic, too freighted with masculine heroics to be entrusted to just any “pale poetling seated at a desk lisping cadenzas piano.”

I’ve been spending a lot of time dividing my reading between academic essays on the Civil War (our primary reading for January was all by James McPherson) and various articles on many states’ inability to celebrate the sesquicentennial, that I haven’t really had any time to take a step back and look at the War through a more literary lens. Turns out, it was a perfect morning to get stuck on the Metro and have a chance to peruse Humanities magazine and come across this great article!

Little Lost Boy // Sarah & James

It had been about a month, since James McPherson had broken into her house. Since that day, she’d begun teaching him to be a good boy, and so far, it was working quite well. In fact, he’d been so enthusiastic, that she’d agreed to have him over for the weekend. After getting the house ready, and getting dressed in a tight corset and black dress in more of a modern fashion, with a design reminiscent of her own time, she went down to answer the door. “Hello, James,” she greeted, allowing him to enter the house, and examining him with a smirk.

[[this is the dress, btw :) 

September 16th,

1620: The Pilgrims sail from England on the Mayflower.

1630: Mass village of Shawmut changes name to Boston.

1789: Jean-Paul Marat sets up a new newspaper in France, L’Ami du Peuple.

1810: A revolution for independence breaks out in Mexico.

1864: Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest leads 4,500 men out of Verona, Miss. to harass Union outposts in northern Alabama and Tennessee.

1893: Some 50,000 “Sooners” claim land in the Cherokee Strip during the first day of the Oklahoma land rush.

1920: Thirty people are killed in a terrorist bombing in New York’s Wall Street financial district.

1940: Congress passes the Selective Service Act, which calls for the first peacetime draft in U.S. history.

1943: James Alan McPherson, author; first African American to win Pulitzer Prize for fiction (Elbow Room, 1978) is born. 

1975: Administrators for Rhodes Scholarships announce the decision to begin offering fellowships to women.