As seen in the video below, I recently had the chance to interview my colleague, Dr. Wesley Moody at Florida State College at Jacksonville, on the popular myths of the U.S. Civil War. Wes is an expert on the U.S. Civil War and has published his fourth book (forthcoming from Hackett Publishing) on the topic with a series I am co-editing with Dr. Alfred J. Andrea. The book includes the contributions of seven leading U.S. historians considering some of the most controversial issues related to U.S. Civil War history. We soberly discuss them here.
Special thanks to Professor Isaac Brown and his students at Florida State College at Jacksonville, particularly Lance Hunt, for their efforts in producing this. I hope we can make more of these on other key topics in the future.
“Readers of this book who thought they knew a lot about the U.S. Civil War will discover that much of what they ‘knew’ is wrong. For readers whose previous knowledge is sketchy but whose desire to learn is strong, the separation of myth from reality is an important step toward mastering the subject. The essays will generate lively discussion and new insights.”
—James M. McPherson, Professor Emeritus, Princeton University
In the recently published Seven Myths of the Civil War(Hackett Publishing Co.), one of the book’s six authors, Ian Patrick Hunt, confronts head on the dual issue of Abraham Lincoln’s private opinions and official positions regarding African Americans. Through his nuanced analysis of the evolution of Abraham Lincoln’s thoughts and actions, Ian Patrick Hunt puts to rest the oft-repeated charge that the sixteenth president of the United States was a racist. But the question remains, was he “The Emancipator,” as this statue in Park Plaza, Boston proclaims? Known as both the Emancipation Memorial and the Freedmen’s Memorial (due to the original’s having been funded by freed slaves), this copy of Thomas Bell’s statue was presented to the city in 1879. The original stands near Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. Consider its imagery. A larger-than-life Lincoln places his right hand on the Emancipation Proclamation that rests on a pedestal, thereby bringing to mind his presidential inauguration when he placed his hand on a Bible. Assuming a heroic yet benign posture, he towers over a kneeling former slave. Unseen in this photograph, a whipping post draped in cloth stands behind the two men. This is a powerful statement, but how true is it? Continue reading →
As Brooks D. Simson convincingly demonstrates in the recently published Seven Myths of the Civil War (Hackett Publishing, Sept. 2017), the claim that African Americans served, in any appreciable numbers, as combatants in Confederate forces has no basis in fact. It is, however, an incontrovertible fact that nearly 200,000 African Americans voluntarily served in the Union forces, acquitted themselves with devotion and honor, and were a significant factor in hastening the end of the war. Continue reading →
When I first began teaching at Florida State College at Jacksonville in 2010, Dr. Wesley Moody was a senior historian who became both my mentor and my friend. Always in a coat and tie, with a conservative, formal approach to dealing with students and teaching, Wes is very much a professor in the classic or traditional sense. He values scholarship, seeing it as essential for high-quality instruction, and so although he has tenure, he nevertheless pushes himself to engage constantly in high levels of scholarly productivity. If one did not know him, that person would never realize just how friendly he can be. He is from north Florida, born and raised, as his southern accent makes clear, and his easy-going style when socializing can be both charming and disarming. He is a top-level historian and his work has won high praise from the likes of James McPherson, Professor Emeritus of Princeton University, but he is also not above using the phrase “y’all” in a private conversation. Continue reading →
Medievalists.net provided some excellent questions that allowed Al and I to provide some in depth responses considering a number of important issues.
One of the questions asked why we chose to write the book. My partial response is below.
“I do want to address your question, however, as to why we wanted to create another book on the crusades, specifically taking the approach of countering modern popular crusade myths. We and the contributors all agreed that the prevalence of the myths that we address in this book are repeated so regularly in all media, especially popular films and literature, as well as in political speeches and commentary, that it was worthwhile to pull together a book, written and edited by scholars, that targets general readers and undergraduates. The goal is to explain to the reader why scholars tend to see the issues covered in the chapters quite differently than popular accounts often suggest. We wanted to give readers a sense of the complexity of each of the historical issues dealt within the chapters and why historians often disagree with common popular, often unnuanced interpretations of historical events. It is a topic that crusade historians discuss among themselves quite often, occasionally publishing articles in popular publications and on the web to make such a point to just such an audience. So the essays we have collected here do not represent new or cutting-edge scholarship. Rather, our goal is to communicate current scholarship to undergraduates and a general reading public. Moreover, we want to make that scholarship accessible, affordable, and engaging in a way that many academic books are not.”