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Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

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This Is Why Republicans Can’T Shrug Off The Stormy Daniels Saga, Allen C. Guelzo May 2018

This Is Why Republicans Can’T Shrug Off The Stormy Daniels Saga, Allen C. Guelzo

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

Stormy Daniels would probably have never been much more than a name in the catalog of porn-movie stars had it not been for Michael Cohen.

On Jan. 12, the Wall Street Journal broke the story that Cohen, one of Donald Trump's personal lawyers, had paid Daniels [npr.org] - or arranged for Daniels to be paid -- $130,000 for her silence over an alleged affair she once had with the president. In a political climate jaded by the sexual shenanigans of politicians, many Americans were tempted to ask, "So what?"

Because, as they like to say in high-stakes poker, the ...


God And Mr. Lincoln, Allen C. Guelzo Apr 2018

God And Mr. Lincoln, Allen C. Guelzo

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

On the day in April 1837 that Abraham Lincoln rode into Springfield, Illinois, to set himself up professionally as a lawyer, the American republic was awash in religion. Lincoln, however, was neither swimming nor even bobbing in its current. “This thing of living in Springfield is rather a dull business after all, at least it is so to me,” the uprooted state legislator and commercially bankrupt Lincoln wrote to Mary Owens on May 7th. “I am quite as lonesome here as [I] ever was anywhere in my life,” and in particular, “I’ve never been to church yet, nor probably ...


The History Of Reconstruction’S Third Phase, Allen C. Guelzo Feb 2018

The History Of Reconstruction’S Third Phase, Allen C. Guelzo

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

There is no Society for Historians of Reconstruction. That should tell you something. There are also no Reconstruction re-enactments, and no museums teeming with artifacts of Reconstruction. Because what, after all, would there be for us to re-enact? The Memphis race massacre of May 1-3, 1866? And what artifacts would we be proud to display? Original Ku Klux Klan outfits (much more garish than the bland white-sheet versions of the 1920s)? Serial-number-identified police revolvers from the New Orleans’ Mechanics Institute killings of July 30, 1866? Looked at coldly, the dozen years that we conventionally designate as “Reconstruction” constitute the bleakest ...


Is Trump The De-Regulator-In-Chief?, Allen C. Guelzo Jan 2018

Is Trump The De-Regulator-In-Chief?, Allen C. Guelzo

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

Abe Lincoln was a regulation cutter. Who would’ve known that?”

That line in a speech on December 8 by President Trump sent a number of pundits flocking to their history textbooks for fact-checking, especially after he followed it with the claim that, based on the numbers, he had actually exceeded Lincoln’s first-year total. “That’s pretty good for 10 months.”

What the pundits found was largely what they looked for. Blue State Daily’s Matthew Slivan smirked that “Trump likes to conjure comparisons to Abraham Lincoln,” but “the truth is what you’d expect: Trump is a blowhard ...


Reconstruction As A Pure Bourgeois Revolution, Allen C. Guelzo Jan 2018

Reconstruction As A Pure Bourgeois Revolution, Allen C. Guelzo

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

The years between 1865 and 1877, which form the period in American history known as Reconstruction, compose a sort of coda to the traumatic opera of the American Civil War of 1861–65. Reconstruction embraces the twelve years of active effort to rebuild the American Union, though in some sense (because Reconstruction had no official starting or ending date) aspects of it spluttered on well into the 1890s. I use the word spluttered deliberately, because Reconstruction is also the ugly duckling of American history in the eyes of many American historians, and something the public considers vaguely awful if it ...


In A Gilded Cage, Allen C. Guelzo Jan 2018

In A Gilded Cage, Allen C. Guelzo

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

The Oxford history of the United States may be the most prestigious series of American history survey volumes in print. Originally launched under the aegis of C. Vann Woodward and Richard Hofstadter, it embraces at least three Pulitzer Prize-winners—James M. McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (1988), David M. Kennedy’s Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929–1945 (1999), and Daniel Walker Howe’s What Hath God Wrought? The Transformation of America, 1815–1848 (2007)—plus two other Pulitzer nominations and a Bancroft Prize in 1997 for James Patterson’s ...


Robert E. Lee And Slavery, Allen C. Guelzo Dec 2017

Robert E. Lee And Slavery, Allen C. Guelzo

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

Robert E. Lee was the most successful Confederate military leader during the American Civil War (1861–1865). This also made him, by virtue of the Confederacy's defense of chattel slavery, the most successful defender of the enslavement of African Americans. Yet his own personal record on both slavery and race is mottled with contradictions and ambivalence, all which were in plain view during his long career. Born into two of Virginia's most prominent families, Lee spent his early years surrounded by enslaved African Americans, although that changed once he joined the Army. His wife, Mary Randolph Custis Lee ...


Honor And Compromise, And Getting History Right, Allen C. Guelzo Nov 2017

Honor And Compromise, And Getting History Right, Allen C. Guelzo

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly does not have a Ph.D. in history, although he does have two master’s degrees, in Strategic Studies (from the National Defense University) and in National Security Affairs from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. So perhaps it was simply that he believed what he said about the Civil War this past Monday on Laura Ingraham’s new Fox News ‘Ingraham Angle’ was so innocuous that he could also believe that it wouldn’t even become a blip on anyone’s radar screen. (excerpt)


The Rusher Who Wouldn't Take The Knee, Allen C. Guelzo Sep 2017

The Rusher Who Wouldn't Take The Knee, Allen C. Guelzo

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

No law requires the playing of the National Anthem at the outset of professional sporting events. Also, no law requires people to stand when the anthem is played, or that people to sing along—although federal law does mandate that we “should face the flag and stand at attention . . . right hand over the heart,” and that “men not in uniform . . . should remove their headdress with their right hand” (36 U.S. Code § 301).

But there is nothing in the statute which says that one cannot use posture as a means for what ESPN called “demonstrating for social justice.” So it ...


Should We Banish Robert E. Lee & His Confederate Friends? Let's Talk., Allen C. Guelzo Aug 2017

Should We Banish Robert E. Lee & His Confederate Friends? Let's Talk., Allen C. Guelzo

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

After 152 years, Robert E. Lee is back in the headlines. But not in any way he could have imagined.

The “Unite the Right” forces descended on Charlottesville, Va., to protest calls for the removal of an equestrian statue of Lee that has been sitting in a city park since 1924. The larger question, however, was about whether the famous Confederate general was also a symbol of white supremacy.

The same issues were in play in May when a statue of Lee was removed from Lee Circle in New Orleans. There are also more than two dozen streets and schools ...


What If The South Had Won The Civil War? 4 Sci-Fi Scenarios For Hbo's 'Confederate', Allen C. Guelzo Jul 2017

What If The South Had Won The Civil War? 4 Sci-Fi Scenarios For Hbo's 'Confederate', Allen C. Guelzo

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

“What if” has always been the favorite game of Civil War historians. Now, thanks to David Benioff and D.B. Weiss — the team that created HBO’s insanely popular Game of Thrones — it looks as though we’ll get a chance to see that “what if” on screen. Their new project, Confederate, proposes an alternate America in which the secession of the Southern Confederacy in 1861 actually succeeds. It is a place where slavery is legal and pervasive, and where a new civil war is brewing between the divided sections. (excerpt)


Historical Society Has Tools To Dig Deep, John M. Rudy Jul 2017

Historical Society Has Tools To Dig Deep, John M. Rudy

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

"On last Wednesday night, Lincoln's Birthday," the Star and Sentinel reported in 1908, "a colored lodge of Elks was instituted in Xavier Hall this place with 45 members." The Improved Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of the World was originally formed as an African-American fraternal organization in the 1890s after a white elks lodge in Philadelphia denied local black men membership. By 1908, the organization was quickly working its way through Pennsylvania. And now Gettysburg had "Colored Elks," working as a social safety net for the black community of the Third Ward. They provided aid to the sick and ...


How Hard Is It To Drain A Swamp?, Allen C. Guelzo Jul 2017

How Hard Is It To Drain A Swamp?, Allen C. Guelzo

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

Some humid, summer evening, go out and listen to the swamp. It chirps, it keens, it hoots, it chitters. It is both quiet and restless, serene and ominous. It is alive, full of bats’ wings, copperheads, and clouds of insects. Imagine how it will respond when it learns you plan to drain it.

That thought has some political parallels as Donald Trump finds himself at odds with the bureaucracy of the federal government in an effort to “drain the swamp” of the so-called Deep State. Thomas Jefferson did a good deal of swamp-draining after his victory over Federalist John Adams ...


Lincoln’S Forgotten Middle Years, Allen C. Guelzo Jul 2017

Lincoln’S Forgotten Middle Years, Allen C. Guelzo

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

It would be difficult to find two books on Abraham Lincoln published in the same year and yet more unalike in their conclusions than Sidney Blumenthal’s Wrestling with His Angel (the second installment in his multi-volume survey of Lincoln’s “political life”) and Elizabeth Brown Pryor’s Six Encounters with Lincoln. Blumenthal’s narrative of Lincoln’s “wilderness years,” from 1849 to 1856, begins with Lincoln at the lowest pitch of his professional life, returning to Illinois from his solitary term in Congress, an embarrassment to his fellow Whigs, only to rise, phoenix-like, from the firestorm of the controversy ...


Decoration Days And Memorial Days, John M. Rudy May 2017

Decoration Days And Memorial Days, John M. Rudy

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

By the time he came to Adams County in 1909, John Esch had been a Wisconsin representative to the U.S. House of Representatives for two decades. But today was not just any ordinary day in the life of a congressman. Esch came to speak in the Soldiers' National Cemetery; it was Memorial Day. "Except for the difference in the number here," the Gettysburg Times noted after a note on shrinking attendance, "Memorial Day 1909 was little difference from those of former years." (excerpt)


Defending Reconstruction, Allen C. Guelzo May 2017

Defending Reconstruction, Allen C. Guelzo

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

There are no Reconstruction re-enactors. And who would want to be? Reconstruction is the disappointing epilogue to the American Civil War, a sort of Grimm fairy tale stepchild of the war and the ugly duckling of American history. Even Abraham Lincoln was uneasy at using the word “reconstruction”—he qualified it with add-ons like “what is called reconstruction” or “a plan of reconstruction (as the phrase goes)”—and preferred to speak of the “re-inauguration of the national authority” or the need to “re-inaugurate loyal state governments.” Unlike the drama of the war years, Reconstruction has no official starting or ending ...


Commentary: Will The Courts Make Trump's Presidency Less Imperial?, Allen C. Guelzo, James H. Hulme Apr 2017

Commentary: Will The Courts Make Trump's Presidency Less Imperial?, Allen C. Guelzo, James H. Hulme

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

Nearly three months ago, Donald Trump assumed a presidency that, for more than a century, had grown seemingly endless discretionary powers. And he did so in company with Republican majorities in Congress and in 32 state legislatures -- all of which should have made his decisions unassailable.

Instead, he has been stymied and embarrassed by resistance from a federal judiciary that has twice halted executive orders on the most prominent issue of his presidential campaign. So, will the federal judiciary become the wall against which Trump bleeds away the power not just of his own presidency but of the “imperial presidency ...


Migrant Laborers And Their Stories, John M. Rudy Mar 2017

Migrant Laborers And Their Stories, John M. Rudy

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

In November of 1960, Edward R. Murrow presented a documentary. It was Thanksgiving and the fame investigative reporter was thinking about food. "Harvest of Shame," focused on how Americans got food and the men of women who brought in the bountiful crops of America. Murrow's vision was less than glowing. The CBS news team interviewed the migrant laborers who traveled with the sun and the seasons, starting in Florida and working their ways up the east coast. [excerpt]


Commentary: California Secessionists Channel Logic Of Southern Slaveholders, Allen C. Guelzo, James H. Hulme Feb 2017

Commentary: California Secessionists Channel Logic Of Southern Slaveholders, Allen C. Guelzo, James H. Hulme

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

'Thursday night the streets were filled with excited crowds. No one talks of anything but the necessity for prompt action. . . . It is hardly prudent for any man to express his opinion adverse to immediate secession, so heated are the public passions, so intolerant of restraint is the popular will."

You would probably assume that this report came from California in the wake of the 2016 election, right? After all, Alex Padilla, the California secretary of state, has now authorized the Yes California Independence Campaign to begin collecting signatures for a state referendum on California's secession from the United States ...


Delving Into Diaries Of The Past, John M. Rudy Jan 2017

Delving Into Diaries Of The Past, John M. Rudy

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

January of 1856 was blustery and cold, but John T. McIlhenny had enough work to keep him warm. The 19-year-old typesetter dropped letter after letter into the frames to create the week's news. The Star and Banner office along Chambersburg Street was always a busy place. Beside the weekly issues of the paper, McIlhenny and his coworkers were job printers, making sure Gettysburg was plastered with broadsides, ads and published sermons galore. Outside the window, McIlhenny told his diary, those first few weeks of January had, "been extremely cold - exceeding anything we have had for many long years." The ...


Commentary: Challenging Three Electoral College Indictments, Allen C. Guelzo, James H. Hulme Jan 2017

Commentary: Challenging Three Electoral College Indictments, Allen C. Guelzo, James H. Hulme

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

On the day the Electoral College met and elected Donald J. Trump the 45th president of the United States, the New York Times editorial board published a scathing attack on the Electoral College as an "antiquated mechanism" which "overwhelming majorities" of Americans would prefer to eliminate in favor of a direct national popular vote. [excerpt]


Play American, Allen C. Guelzo Jan 2017

Play American, Allen C. Guelzo

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

Just seventy years ago, a Fortune poll reported that 62 percent of Americans listened to classical music, 40 percent could identify Arturo Toscanini as an orchestral conductor, and nine million listeners (11 percent of American households) tuned in to weekly Metropolitan Opera broadcasts from New York City. Astonishing. The “grand orchestra,” wrote Charles Edward Russell in 1927, “has become our sign of honor among the nations.” (excerpt)


In Defense Of The Electoral College, Allen C. Guelzo, James H. Hulme Jan 2017

In Defense Of The Electoral College, Allen C. Guelzo, James H. Hulme

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

There is hardly anything in the Constitution harder to explain, or easier to misunderstand, than the Electoral College. And when a presidential election hands the palm to a candidate who comes in second in the popular vote but first in the Electoral College tally, something deep in our democratic viscera balks and asks why the Electoral College shouldn’t be dumped as a useless relic of 18th century white, gentry privilege. Actually, there have been only five occasions when a closely divided popular vote and the electoral vote have failed to point in the same direction. No matter. After last ...


November Turmoil, John M. Rudy Nov 2016

November Turmoil, John M. Rudy

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

November meant turmoil. It meant upheaval. It meant confusion. Americans had tried to speak in a clear voice, but they were about split down the center. So divided was the nation, there was no clear winner. The Democrats seized the population vote; the Electoral College fell firmly on the Republican side. The very future of the republican democracy hung in the balance. [excerpt]


The Lincoln-Douglas Solution, Allen C. Guelzo Oct 2016

The Lincoln-Douglas Solution, Allen C. Guelzo

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

No matter which of Monday night’s two candidates you think won or lost, the real loser was the debate itself. The physical environment of Hofstra’s Mack Center was surprisingly cramped and poorly lighted; the podiums made both candidates seem remote; and Lester Holt’s hapless management was repeatedly stampeded-over by the debaters and the audience. Both Trump and Clinton appeared to be playing parodies of themselves, Trump by turns meandering and furious, Clinton condescending and unimaginative. [excerpt]


A Fractured Party, John M. Rudy Sep 2016

A Fractured Party, John M. Rudy

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

The Republican party was fractured and in tatters. Warring factions could barely decide the most important issues of the day, let along rally around a candidate. A decade of fractious politics within the party left no true power brokers. The former Republican president was less than enthusiastic about the tickets his party fielded. America was faced with deciding between two candidates plagued by scandal. And a man from Adams County was not above trying to stir up even more trouble. [excerpt]


Digging Up A Local Hero In The Archives, John M. Rudy Jul 2016

Digging Up A Local Hero In The Archives, John M. Rudy

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

Gettysburg Burgess William E. Olinger was an unassuming local politician. Born during the Civil War, Olinger was the child of local farmers. A teacher and insurance salesman, Olinger was also a fastidious county auditor in the 1890s and served as clerk of the courts from 1912 to 1916. By the 1920s, Olinger was in charge of the Borough of Gettysburg, one of the most powerful political voices in the county. [excerpt]


Commentary: What It Means To Be A Citizen, Allen C. Guelzo Jul 2016

Commentary: What It Means To Be A Citizen, Allen C. Guelzo

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

It was one of the great shocks of my life, and it came early. In fifth-grade government class. Though I can't remember much else that we learned then, a detail in Article 1, Section 2, of the Constitution reached out and grabbed me like the hound of the Baskervilles: "No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President." [excerpt]


Independence Day 1866, John M. Rudy Jun 2016

Independence Day 1866, John M. Rudy

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

The grand national holiday was a quiet one in Adams County in 1866. Gettysburg was a ghost town. No fireworks. No parades. No mass celebrations. In the woods around the county, small knots of citizens gathered for picnics. Escaping the hot, dusty streets of the towns was obviously a boon for anyone who, as the Adams Sentinel put it, “embraced the opportunity of rusticating for the day.” [excerpt]


A Springfield Education, Allen C. Guelzo Jun 2016

A Springfield Education, Allen C. Guelzo

Civil War Era Studies Faculty Publications

Politicians have never been shy about writing about themselves, even when it seemed that all they could expect from the public was a polite nod. The Civil War era abounded in such political selfies, among them George W. Julian’s Political Recollections 1840 to 1872, John Sherman’s Recollections of Forty Years in the House, Senate and Cabinet, David Turpie’s Sketches of My Own Times, Albert Riddle’s Recollections of War Times: Reminiscences of Men and Events in Washington, 1860–1865, Alexander McClure’s Recollections of Half a Century, and, of course, Ulysses S. Grant’s Complete Personal Memoirs ...