Book of the Week


Belligerent Muse: Five Northern Writers and How They Shaped Our Understanding of the Civil War
by Stephen Cushman
foreword by Gary W. Gallagher

"From the lilt of Lincoln’s language to the barbs of Bierce and the pageantry of Chamberlain, Belligerent Muse takes readers into the complicated literary history of how the war was spun and how a national bloodletting transformed the writing of history and the history of writing in the United States."
--Stephen Berry, University of Georgia
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William A. Blair: When Silence Wasn’t Golden

There are moments in our past that occur in such a singular context that one hopes that they will provide no precedent for successive generations. This is one of those moments. [...]

William A. Blair: The Battle over White Suffrage after the Civil War

Today, Republicans and Democrats argue over voter registration laws, especially the need for photo identification. Democrats see this requirement as trying to limit participation by poorer people rather than to prevent fraud, as the Republicans claim. Similar issues appeared in the Civil War era, as Republicans at that time tried to prevent former rebels and traitors from exercising the franchise, with one of the experiments coming in the form of voter registration. [...]

Jaime Amanda Martinez: Zeb Vance, Ken Cuccinelli, and Chris Christie: Governors as Bellwethers

The elections in Virginia and New Jersey have been touted as indicators of where the Republican Party, and indeed the entire country, will head in 2014 and beyond. The North Carolina governor’s race in 1864 served a similar role. Though often overshadowed in discussions of Civil War politics by the U.S. presidential election of 1864, the North Carolina race, which pitted incumbent Zebulon Baird Vance against newspaper editor William W. Holden, tells an equally important story about shifting political winds. [...]

Rod Andrew Jr.: When South Carolina Had Two Governors

Hampton sought to overthrow the corrupt Republican regime in Columbia and promised to protect black civil rights; Chamberlain had tried to bring reform and publicly dismissed Hampton’s promises to black voters. [...]

Video: Mark E. Neely Jr. on the advantage of the U.S. Constitution during the Civil War

“Because the Civil War, by chance, began right at the beginning of an administration, that part of the Constitution that gave the president a four-year term and made the president the commander-in-chief was extremely important. That meant that, barring impeachment or assassination, there would be a determined Republican in the White House fighting the South until March of 1865.”—Mark E. Neely Jr. [...]