It looks like a presidential historian and his assistant are in some legal trouble, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. Barry Landau and his assistant Jason Savedoff are charged with federal theft and conspiracy charges on top of state charges for allegedly stealing several documents from various institutions, including documents associated with Abraham Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt, and Benjamin Franklin, all worth many thousands of dollars. The two face several years in prison on the charges. Thanks to one of my Facebook followers for the tip.
CALL FOR PAPERS:
The Society of Civil War Historians will host a conference from June 14 through 16, 2012, at the Hyatt Regency in Lexington, Kentucky. The SCWH welcomes panel proposals or individual papers on the Civil War era, broadly defined. The goal of the conference is to promote the integration of social, military, political, and other forms of history on the Civil War era among historians, graduate students, and public historians.
The deadline for receipt of proposals is September 15, 2011. Proposals should include a title and abstract for the papers (approximately 250-300 words) and a short curriculum vitae of participants. Panel submissions should have an overall title and statement about the thrust of the session.
Proposals should be submitted as one PDF sent electronically to RichardsCenter@psu.edu. For information, see the Society’s website: http://scwh.la.psu.edu or contact the Richards Center at (814) 863-0151. Final decisions on panels will be made at the annual meeting of the Southern Historical Association in Baltimore.
Author’s Note: If you are not already a member, please consider joining, which you can do by clicking here.
Though outside the main scope of this site, I thought I would share this press release about a PBS documentary on the War of 1812 coming this fall for your consideration.
— Television Program Presents American, Canadian, British and Native Perspectives, Leading the Way of Bicentennial Activities, Airs October 10 —
WASHINGTON, D.C. and BUFFALO, NY — Nearly two centuries after it was fought, the two-and-a-half year conflict that forged the destiny of a continent comes to public television in a comprehensive film history. “The War of 1812” airs on PBS stations nationwide on Monday, October 10, 2011 at 9 p.m. ET (check local listings). From 1812 to 1815, Americans battled against the British, Canadian colonists, and Native warriors; the outcomes shaped the geography and the identity of North America. This two-hour HD documentary uses stunning re-enactments, evocative animation, and the incisive commentary of key experts to reveal little-known sides of an important war — one that some only recognize for the “Star-Spangled Banner.” The broadcast is accompanied by a companion book and website, as well as comprehensive bi-national educational resources.
Across the United States and Canada, communities are planning events to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812. “We have proudly created ‘The War of 1812’ for both nations,” said Donald K. Boswell, president and CEO of WNED, the producing station of the program. Broadcasting from Buffalo, New York, WNED has significant viewership in Southern Ontario. “This timely examination of a shared history allows us to celebrate our past together, and renew the bond of our present and future as national neighbors. With this production, WNED also continues a tradition of showcasing cultural and historical treasures of our bi-national region to the PBS audience.” WNED is one of fourteen public broadcasting stations that share a border with Canada, extending the national broadcast of “The War of 1812” throughout the United States into many Canadian communities.
“WETA is pleased to join WNED in bringing this important project to all viewers,” noted Sharon Percy Rockefeller, president and CEO of WETA, the flagship public broadcasting stations in the nation’s capital and a partner in the project. “It is an excellent example of the intellectual integrity and cultural merit for which public broadcasting stands.”
The War of 1812 is a celebrated event by Canadians, forgotten by many Americans and British, and dealt a resounding blow to most of the Native nations involved. The film is in many ways an examination of how the mythical versions of history are formed — how the glories of war become enshrined in memory, how failures are quickly forgotten, and how inconvenient truths are ignored forever, while we often change history to justify and celebrate our national cultures and heritage.
“The War of 1812” explores the events leading up to the conflict, the multifold causes of the war, and the questions that emerged about the way a new democracy should conduct war. It was a surprisingly wide war. Dozens of battles were fought on land in Canada and in the northern, western, southern and eastern parts of the United States — in the present-day states of Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Maryland, Louisiana, and Alabama. There were crucial naval battles on Lakes Erie and Champlain, and a wide-ranging maritime struggle with many episodes off Virginia, Massachusetts, Nova Scotia, Cuba, Ireland, the Azores, the Canaries, British Guyana, and Brazil. The U.S. proved surprisingly successful against the great British navy, but the War of 1812 also saw American armies surrender en masse and the American capital burned.
Great characters emerge in the film, including Tecumseh of the Shawnee nation, who attempted to form a confederation of Native nations, and died in battle; his adversary, William Henry Harrison, Governor of the Indiana Territory, whose debatable success at Tippecanoe, Indiana eventually helped him become President of the United States; James Madison, Father of the U.S. Constitution, a brilliant thinker and writer who was not a great President; and such storied Canadian figures as Canadian Governor-General George Prévost, who led the largest army ever to invade the Continental United States; Laura Secord, a Canadian woman who walked many miles to warn the British of an impending American attack; and Major General Isaac Brock, a brave and audacious British general who captured a large American army at Detroit without a fight. The film also recounts dramatic human stories of ordinary citizens, the political alliances of the various Native Americans nations, and the African-American
slaves who reached for their freedom by fighting for the British.
“The War of 1812” recollects defining moments that are more familiar: the burning of Washington, D.C., and First Lady Dolley Madison’s rescue of a portrait of George Washington from the White House; Andrew Jackson’s total victory at the Battle of New Orleans; and the birth of the American national anthem, penned by Francis Scott Key during the Battle of Baltimore at Fort McHenry. Yet “The War of 1812” pierces the heroic mythology that has grown up around the war to reveal a brutal, spiteful conflict dominated by fiascos and blunders.
The war shaped North America in the most literal way possible: had one or two battles or decisions gone a different way, a map of the continent today might look entirely different. The U.S. could well have included parts of Canada — but was also on the verge of losing much of the Midwest. The New England states, meanwhile, were poised on the brink of secession just months before a peace treaty was signed. However, the U.S. and Canada ultimately each gained a sense of nationalism from the conflict, while the result tolled the end of Native American dreams of a separate nation.
Interviews with twenty-six leading authorities on the War of 1812 — American, British, Canadian and Native historians — present important accounts and research, including from the following individuals:
· Donald R. Hickey, professor of history at Wayne State College, Wayne, Nebraska.~ He is the author of~Don’t Give Up the Ship!: Myths of the War of 1812~and~The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict.
· Peter Twist, the Canadian director of Military Heritage, a historical military uniform and arms supply company.~ He has served as consultant on numerous film and theater projects, and is an expert on the military history of the War of 1812.
· Donald Fixico, a Shawnee Native American, is the Distinguished Foundation Professor of History at Arizona State University, and author of~Treaties with American Indians: An Encyclopedia of Rights, Conflicts and Sovereignty~and~Rethinking American Indian History.
· Sir Christopher Gerald Prevost, great-great-great-grandson to George Prévost, Governor-in-Chief of British North America during the War of 1812.~ He is co-author of~The Incredible War of 1812: A Military History.~
A complete list of those interviewed is available in the project’s electronic press kit.
The film’s companion book, The War of 1812: A Guide to Battlefields and Historic Sites, by John Grant and Ray Jones, is illustrated with more than 120 color photographs and archival paintings. Each chapter focuses on one of several distinct theaters of the war, allowing the reader to follow the course of events and their importance to the war as a whole. Jones is the author of more than 40 books, including several highly successful companion books for PBS, among them Legendary Lighthouses. Grant is the executive producer of “The War of 1812” and chief content officer for WNED Buffalo/Toronto; he has also produced for PBS “Window to the Sea”, “The Marines” and “Chautauqua: An American Narrative.”
The project is also accompanied by a rich bi-national education and outreach component. It includes Educator’s Guides with lesson plans, activities, and a host of educational-based resources designed for the United States and Canada, classroom posters, and several instructional events. Expansive educational resources will also be found on the full companion website to the television documentary at pbs.org. The full site will launch in early September with features such as a battlefield map and guide, web-only video features, scholar essays, and links to key 1812 sites on both sides of the border.
For more information about “The War of 1812,” including details on how to purchase the DVD and companion book, visit www.pbs.org/war-of-1812. An electronic press kit, including downloadable photos for promotional use, is available at pressroom.pbs.org.
“The War of 1812” is a production of WNED-TV, Buffalo/Toronto and Florentine Films/Hott Productions Inc.,~in association with WETA Washington, D.C. The executive producers are John Grant and David Rotterman for WNED, and Dalton Delan and Karen Kenton for WETA. Produced by Lawrence Hott and Diane Garey of Florentine Films/Hott Productions Inc. Directed by Lawrence Hott. Written by Ken Chowder. Narrated by Joe Mantegna. Principal Cinematography by Stephen McCarthy. Production Design by Peter Twist. “The War of 1812” has been made possible by a major grant from The National Endowment for the Humanities: Because democracy demands wisdom*.~ With funding provided by The Wilson Foundation, Warren and Barbara Goldring, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting: a private corporation funded by the American people, The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations: Dedicated to strengthening America’s future through education, Phil Lind and The Annenberg Foundation.~ With additional support
from The Baird Foundation, the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission and Jackman Foundation. *Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
WNED-TV is a leading producer of single-topic documentary programming for national broadcast on PBS including “Chautauqua: An American Narrative,” “Elbert Hubbard: An American Original,” “The Adirondacks,” “Niagara Falls,” “The Marines,” “Window to the Sea,” “Frank Lloyd Wright’s Buffalo” and “America’s Houses of Worship.” Also in development are films on the Underground Railroad and the history of golf course architecture in America. More information on WNED and its programs and services is available at www.wned.org.
WETA Washington, D.C., is the third-largest producing station for public television.~ WETA’s other productions and co-productions include “Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal,” the arts series “In Performance at the White House” and “The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize,” and documentaries by filmmaker Ken Burns, including the premiere this fall of “Prohibition.” More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at www.weta.org.
Florentine Films/Hott Productions Inc. is the production company of Lawrence Hott and Diane Garey, who have worked together since 1978. They are part of the Florentine Films group. Hott and Garey have received an Emmy Award, two Academy Award nominations, five American Film Festival Blue Ribbons, fourteen CINE Golden Eagles, a George Foster Peabody Award, the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award, the Erik Barnouw Award.~~Their work has been shown on PBS and screened at dozens of major film festivals, including the New York Film Festival, Telluride, Mountainfilm, and Women in the Director’s Chair.~ More information is available at www.florentinefilms.org.
Last Saturday, several members of the Fort Abercrombie Garrison and I assisted the site in celebrating Flag Day. It was a fun day of educating visitors on the fort, the frontier army, and the Civil War (yes, Fort Abercrombie is a Civil War site in North Dakota). We set up a small display of tents and equipment used by soldiers and engaged the visitors when possible. In addition, we assisted in retiring several flags through burning, including one of the site’s old flags. We raised that flag one last time and saluted it, folded it, and retired it. It was truly an honor to take part in this.
One of the cool parts of the day occurred earlier, when WDAY came out and filmed us practicing folding the flag. Also, yours truly was interviewed and the segments appeared on the six o’clock and ten o’clock newscasts that Saturday night, so potentially 200,000 people got to see what we did and our passion for history.
Click here to catch the videos (there are two segments)
Here are some pictures from the day as well.
Wow, what a last couple days this site has had. I managed to publish four posts yesterday and the buzz caused us to break the record for the busiest day on this site, which was set on April 12, the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter. Yesterday, this site recorded 379 hits, which was awesome, even considering that my attempt to live blog was disrupted by stormy weather. To my surprise and delight, we have so far tied yesterday’s mark of 379 and there is still a bit of time to break the mark. I want to extend a deep thank you to all of you who support this site and visit both the site and follow it on Twitter and Facebook. I will do my best to keep you coming back with new content.
Washington, D.C., May 5, 1868
I. The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.
We are organized, comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose, among other things, “of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers, sailors, and marines who united to suppress the late rebellion.” What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead, who made their breasts a barricade between our country and its foe? Their soldier lives were the reveille of freedom to a race in chains, and their death a tattoo of rebellious tyranny in arms. We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the Nation can add to their adornment and security is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and found mourners. Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten, as a people, the cost of free and undivided republic.
If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us.
Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved from dishonor; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledges to aid and assist those whom they have left among us as sacred charges upon the Nation’s gratitude,–the soldier’s and sailor’s widow and orphan.
II. It is the purpose of the Commander-in-Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to call attention to this Order, and lend its friendly aid in bringing it to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.
III. Department commanders will use every effort to make this order effective.
By command of:
JOHN A. LOGAN,
N. P. CHIPMAN,
Over the past few months, I have had the opportunity to appear on local talk radio in Grand Forks to discuss the Civil War with host RJ Richards and my colleague and friend Stuart Lawrence. It is a fun experience to share my passion and knowledge with residents of the area and to hear from others that I have a voice for it. This week, RJ’s show came to an end, as he is taking on a job opportunity in the area, which is good for him, but somewhat sad for me, as I really enjoyed going on the show.
That said, I would like to seek out your advice and knowledge to attempt embarking on creating an online radio show devoted to history, including the Civil War, but it would cover other interests as well. So, if you have any experience with this and can offer some guidance as I try to learn more about this concept, I would appreciate it.
I can’t believe that this blog is four years old already and what a four years it has been. We recently broke the record for our best day, which happened to be the 15oth anniversary of the start of the war. We are on our way to 125,000 hits and I fully expect to hit 150,000 by year’s end. We have been averaging around 100 hits or more a day for several weeks and are embarking on covering the anniversaries of major events of the war as they relate to the sesquicentennial. I will soon begin a project involving podcasting for the blog and will also cover my adventures in reenacting and living history this summer, especially my trip to Wilson’s Creek for the anniversary of the battle.
Today, I will celebrate with my family, as my cousin graduates from UND with his Bachelor’s degree (congratulations Chad!). Tomorrow, I head to Fort Abercrombie to participate in Museum Day with the Fort Abercrombie Garrison reenacting unit, while my colleague Stuart will be at Nashua, Iowa again this year. I am looking forward to the shorter trip and the chance to reenact as a Union soldier.
As always, thank you very much for your readership and wonderful support. Have a great weekend, and, Happy 4th Birthday Civil War History!
For anyone in the New York area interested in art and African-American history
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Robert S. Duncanson: The Spiritual Striving of the Freedmen’s Sons
Exhibition Highlights Work of Ohio Landscape Artist
“The spiritual striving of the freedmen’s son is the travail of souls.” – W.E.B. Dubois
(Catskill, N.Y.) On May 1, 2011, the Thomas Cole National Historic Site opens Robert S. Duncanson: The Spiritual Striving of the Freedmen’s Sons, the first exhibition featuring the work of the nineteenth-century African-American landscape painter Robert S. Duncanson in many years, and, the first exhibition of his work to appear on the east coast, even in his lifetime. The exhibition will bring the work of this Ohio artist to the home of Thomas Cole, the founder of the Hudson River School and major influence on Duncanson. This exhibition is the 8th annual presentation of 19th Century landscape paintings at the Thomas Cole site, fostering a discussion of the influence of Thomas Cole on American culture through a generation of artists known as the Hudson River School. The Thomas Cole Historic Site is located at 218 Spring Street in Catskill, New York. For information call 518-943-7465 or visit www.thomascole.org.
Robert S. Duncanson was the first American landscape painter of African descent to gain international renown and occupies a critical position in the history of art. Widely celebrated for his landscape paintings, Duncanson began his career in the family trades of house painting and carpentry, before teaching himself art by painting portraits, genre scenes, and still-lifes. His success is remarkable as a “free colored person” who descended from generations of mulatto tradesmen, to graduate from skilled trades and participate in the Anglo-American art community.
Duncanson’s turn to landscape as his subject was influenced by Thomas Cole in the late 1840s. Based in Cincinnati, Ohio, then the largest and most prosperous city in the western United States, Duncanson became the cornerstone of the Ohio River Valley regional landscape painting school and, according to the Cincinnati Gazette declared that he “enjoyed the enviable reputation of being the best landscape painter in the West.” Duncanson achieved his artistic success despite the oppressive restrictions that Anglo-American society placed on him as an African-American, a “free colored person.” His paintings earned him international attention with especially high esteem bestowed on him by the art press in Canada and England. Canadians acknowledged Duncanson’s seminal role as “one of the earliest of our professional cultivators of the fine arts.” And, the critics of the London Art Journal praised him as possessing “the skill of a master,” whose paintings “may compete with
any of the modern British school.”
Duncanson adopted the style and metaphors of east coast landscape painting that depicted the “natural paradise” of the New World as a romantic symbol for the European settlers’ perceived covenant with God. But in so doing he also appropriated the art of landscape painting–both in subject and content–for African-American culture. In some of his paintings he subtly expressed the perspective of an African-American through his works. A careful reading of his landscapes, reveals how Duncanson expressed his particular perspective. The grandson of a freedman, Duncanson’s artistic ambitions and the content of his paintings epitomize W.E.B. Du Bois’ statement that “the spiritual striving of the freedmen’s son is the travail of souls.”
Robert S. Duncanson: The Spiritual Striving of the Freeman’s Son is curated by, Joseph D. Ketner. Ketner the Henry and Lois Foster Chair in Contemporary Art and the Distinguished Curator-in-Residence at Emerson College in Boston. He is the author of a definitive book about the artist, The Emergence of the African-American Artist: Robert S. Duncanson 1821-1872. The catalogue for this exhibition will contain an essay by Ketner including new information on the artist and color illustrations of many new paintings discovered over the past fifteen years.
“We are honored to have Joseph Ketner, the authority on this fascinating Hudson River School artist, curate our 8th annual exhibition,” said Elizabeth Jacks, Executive Director of the Thomas Cole Site. “The artist’s work, which can be found in the permanent collections of major museums across the country, stands alone in its beauty. What makes this exhibition even more powerful, however, is the fact that Duncanson achieved his success under the oppressive conditions of being a ‘free colored person’ in antebellum United States.”
Robert S. Duncanson: The Spiritual Striving of the Freedmen’s Sons is on-view through October 30, 2011.
About Thomas Cole
As the founder of America’s first art movement, the Hudson River School, Thomas Cole (1801-1848) is a central figure in the development of American culture. When Cole made his first trip up the Hudson River in 1825, thought-leaders were searching for something distinctly American to establish the nation’s own culture as separate from that of Europe. Thomas Cole found it in the Catskill Mountain wilderness, which came to symbolize the unspoiled character of the new nation. Lionized during his lifetime and celebrated by a generation of artists who followed in his footsteps, Cole is now widely regarded as the father of American landscape painting.
About the Thomas Cole Historic Site
The Thomas Cole Historic Site, historically known as Cedar Grove, is where the artist Thomas Cole lived, worked, was married, and where he died at the age of 47. Today the site consists of the Federal-era brick home (c. 1815) in which Thomas Cole resided with his family, as well as the artist’s original studio building, on five landscaped acres with a magnificent view of the Catskill Mountains.
The site is located in the scenic Hudson Valley, and is open Thursday through Sunday, May through October. The Main House was restored in 2001, and the studio in 2004. The site welcomes thousands of visitors each year.
The Thomas Cole Historic Site is located at 218 Spring Street in Catskill, New York, near the western entrance to the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, with easy access from the New York State Thruway, Exit 21. For complete directions visit www.thomascole.org.
Tonight, Usama bin Laden was killed in an American operation, ending the almost ten-year manhunt for him (Hooah!). One wonders what our emotions will be in the next few days and how the war will progress. This causes me to reflect upon the mood of the nation when word of Lee’s surrender spread across our nation that early April in 1865, yet the war was not yet over, but would soon be. I hope that this momentous and historic event will allow our current conflict to end sooner.
While I know this is not Civil War related, I felt compelled to post the momentous news and would have done so sooner, but was at the library and did not see anything of it until getting home a short time ago.
May God continue to look over those serving in our Armed Forces at home and abroad.
As the semester nears its end, I decided to take a few moments to share what I have been up to in the last two weeks. On April 13, I departed Grand Forks for my hometown of Jerseyville, Illinois. It was a well-timed trip in light of the tornado that hit Lambert St. Louis International Airport on Good Friday, which is where I fly into. I had been selected to present a paper at the 2011 Illinois History Symposium in Carbondale. My advisor, Dr. Kim Porter, who also presented, informed me of the conference last fall, so I happily submitted, as it coincided with my mom’s birthday. I presented on the physical transition from civilian to soldier in Illinois Civil War camps of instruction, which was one chapter of my thesis. The panel was awesome, though I forgot my camera and have no pictures of it. I was also approached by a couple of folks from SIU Press who asked me to keep them in mind when I get around to writing the book on the subject. After the presentation, my dad and I traveled to Murphysboro, seven miles from Carbondale, and took in a reception at the John A. Logan Museum. It was quite fun, as Logan was the creator of Memorial Day, a past Commander-in-Chief of the GAR, which is special for me being in the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War.
Murphysboro was also fun to visit, as it was impacted by the 1925 Tri-State Tornado, where almost 700 people across Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana were killed in a single tornado. The town still holds the record for most fatalities in a single city from a tornado at 234. This crosses into one of my other quirky historical interests, which is natural disasters. The trip allowed me to visit my folks for a few days and relax a bit from the demands of teaching and class, as well as network for future job and publishing opportunities. Plus, I met James Swan, author of Chicago’s Irish Legion: The 90th Illinois Volunteers in the Civil War, who came to my panel. I took the opportunity to purchase his book and have him sign it (the dust jacket tore a little in transit back to North Dakota, thanks Delta). I fielded a few good questions that opened up areas of inquiry that I had not considered before, so the rewards go beyond a line on the CV. All in all, it was a great trip and I encourage those in Illinois to consider the next symposium April 26-28, 2012 in East Peoria, with the theme “Contested Lands: 1673-1840.” The deadline for submission is October 15, 2011. For more information, contact William Furry at 217-525-2781.
Upon my return to Grand Forks (it snowed while I was away), I presented my lecture on Creating Armies in my History 103 class. I broke from the usual form of lecture and team-taught with my friend and fellow reenactor Stuart Lawrence. We used some of our reenacting equipment to conduct a object-based presentation on the lives of soldiers and what training was like for them, which allowed me to combine a bit of material culture and dress up in period attire. Whether it was effective in helping them understand remains to be seen, but I figure it is a nice change of pace and helps the visual and tactile learners anyway. I am working on some book reviews and will be again appearing on local talk radio to chat about the war on the same day as the next meeting of the Northern Plains Civil War Round Table, where I will present on the Camp Jackson Affair and Civil War Missouri. If you are in the Grand Forks area, come to the E. Grand Forks VFW at 7:00 PM on Tuesday, May 3 and join our group and listen to my talk.
Finally, I have joined the 21st century a bit more. Those of you with smart phones, which does not include me, can now access my blog via the QR that I placed in the sidebar. Until next time, keep researching and I will leave you with the paper that I presented in Illinois.
Today, March 4 represents the 150th anniversary of the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln as our nation’s 16th president. His address that day attempted to send a conciliatory message to the seceded states that they had nothing to fear from his administration regarding the status of slavery where it existed. I leave you with a link to that address and warm wishes. My post would have been longer, but I have had a long day helping and participating in the sixth annual Red River Valley History Conference, which is put on by our chapter of Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society.
BackStory (www.backstoryradio.org) is a nationally aired public radio show that brings historical perspective to the events happening around us today. On each show, the U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf, and Brian Balogh tear a topic from the headlines and plumb its historical depths.
As part of its three-part Civil War Sesquicentennial series, BackStory is planning a show made up entirely of listener questions! 150 years after the fall of Fort Sumter, are there things about the conflict that still interest you? Tens of thousands of books have been written on the subject, but what makes the Civil War relevant to us today, in 2011? Has America’s involvement in recent wars been shaped by lessons from the Civil War? Should it be? How have Americans understood the Civil War in earlier generations, and how have historians’ interpretations of it changed over time? And finally — in what ways might discussion about the Civil War benefit from the BackStory “trans-century” approach?
Being a caller is really simple and takes about 15 minutes; it’s pre-taped, low-pressure, and a lot of fun! If you are interested in participating as a caller and posing a Civil War question to the History Guys, either email producer Catherine Moore (email@example.com) or leave a comment on Civil War Call-In Show page (http://backstoryradio.org/civil-war-call-in-show/). We look forward to hearing from you!
Thanks to Civil Warriors for increasing the awareness of this story. With the 150th anniversary of the war coming up and the first inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, negative news about scholarship and research on these subjects is likely to increase. According to their posting and the linked articles, Lincoln scholar Thomas Lowry admitted to tampering with a pardon Lincoln issued. The original document, which can be viewed through this article, was written on April 14, 1864, but Lowry used a fountain pen to alter the date to April 14, 1865, attempting to make it be one of the last documents written by Lincoln the day he was assassinated. As if to add more fuel to this fire, Lowry denied the falsification of the document, according to an article posted by NPR.
The National Archives turned the case over to the Justice Department, but the statute of limitations expired, so Lowry will not face prosecution. He is banned from the facilities, but the damage has been done. The document may be forever altered and raises questions of how many other documents have been similarly been damaged, which could have implications for existing research. Further, what consequences will this incident have to access for other scholars to the National Archives and other manuscript repositories.
This case reminds me of an incident my mentor Dr. James Davis recalled when we visited Washington, DC in 2004 to research at the Library of Congress and National Archives. It involved theft of documents from the manuscript reading room at the LOC, which resulted in increased security. You needed to sign in and out just to go to the restroom or retrieve something from your locker. The culprits were apparently imprisoned for many years and maybe still in jail.
The lesson from this is to be honest in your research and attempt to see the value in all documents. True, there will always be those who attempt to make a name for themselves through dishonest means, which will place greater scrutiny on scholarship, as well as make it more difficult to research in archives. However, these individuals will not destroy the passion many of us have for the past and researching new areas within that past. Until next time, keep researching and reading.