william mcpherson

On this day, July 22 in 1864, the first battle of Atlanta took place. Confederate troops under Gen. John Hood were defeated by Union forces under Gen. William Sherman.

During the battle, Maj. General James Birdseye McPherson (November 14, 1828 – July 22, 1864) was killed. McPherson from Clyde, OH. was young and ranked among the best officers the Union had. He was the second highest ranking Union officer killed during the war.

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This man’s photograph was pivotal in exposing the true horrors of slavery in America. His name was Peter, and possibly had the surname Gordon. I see this picture often, and recently found out Peter’s story. He escaped from the plantation of John and Bridget Lyons located in Louisiana. In order to get bloodhounds off his scent, he covered himself in onions. He went forty miles before reaching the Union camp in Baton Rogue. When he was fitted for his uniform, Itinerant photographers William D. McPherson and his partner Mr. Oliver took Carte de Visites (basically small postcard-like photos)

In his own words, Peter explains the keloids on his body:

   “Ten days from to-day I left the plantation. Overseer Artayou Carrier whipped   me. I was two months in bed sore from the whipping. My master come after I was whipped; he discharged the overseer.My master was not present. I don’t remember the whipping. I was two months in bed sore from the whipping and my sense began to come – I was sort of crazy. I tried to shoot everybody. They said so, I did not know. I did not know that I had attempted to shoot everyone; they told me so. I burned up all my clothes; but I don’t remember that. I never was this way (mentally ill) before. I don’t know what make me come that way (mentally ill ). My master come after I was whipped; saw me in bed; he discharged the overseer. They told me I attempted to shoot my wife the first one; I did not shoot any one; I did not harm any one. My master’s Capt. JOHN LYON, cotton planter, on Atchafalya, near Washington, Louisiana. Whipped two months before Christmas.”

During the war, Confederate soldiers took Peter Gordon as a prisoner of war. He was beaten badly and left for dead. As Peter’s iconic photograph shows, he always had a quiet strength and dignity in the face of adversity. Peter would go on to be one of the first  Sergeants in the Corps d'Afrique during the Siege of Port Hudson in May 1863.

Struggling Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist Represents Face Of Poverty In The U.S.

William McPherson has a Pulitzer Prize, but little money to his name.

In a candid personal essay published in The Hedgehog Review, the 81-year-old journalist revealed his descent into near poverty. While his trajectory was unexpected, McPherson’s financial state represents a common narrative in America today.

“I started life comfortably middle-class, maybe upper-middle class; now, like a lot of other people walking the streets of America today, I am poor,” the acclaimed author wrote. “To put it directly, I have no money.”

Read on for the heartbreaking story here. 

More than just pages...

Another reason that I studied English in college…

“Books give us pleasure not because they make us comfortable, though some good ones may, but because they entertain us, they make us laugh, they make us cry; they inform, persuade, disturb, convince, seduce us; they make us think, speculate, see - and we recognize what we see as true, not as the truth but as a truth in the writer’s fabulous construction that corresponds to what we have observed in ourselves, or others, or in the world at large, or can conceive of observing.”

William McPherson