Browsing "Historians on History"

The North Shifts the Issue

The victor of wars writes the official history, inflates his lofty intentions and controls what is set in the historical record. William Joseph Peele was a simple North Carolinian who is credited with the creation of the Agricultural and Mechanic Arts schools in the State, and support for a State Historical Commission which would set the record straight.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa 1865.com

 

The North Shifts the Issue

“Mr. Peele could not get away from the idea that the cause of the Civil War was commercial jealousy. Henry Adams and Mill say that in ’61 the people of England entertained the same opinion. Peele did give credit to the North for so shifting the issue that it seemed to be a war for freedom.

“The agitation about the Negro, as a counter-irritant to distract attention from the injustice of Federal revenue laws, was [said Peele] more than a success; for the shallow politicians of both sections forgot the real issue; but the beneficiaries never lost sight of it. I will use a homely illustration:

A and B are doing business on the opposite sides of a street; B begins to undersell A; A becomes angry, but cannot afford to tell his customers the cause; he hears that B once cheated a Negro out of a mule; he makes that charge; they fight; the court record of the trial shows that the fight was about the Negro and the mule; but there is not a business man on the street who does not know that the record speaks a lie.”

(William Joseph Peele, by Robert W. Winston, Proceedings of the North Carolina Historical Commission, November, 1919, page 116)

History: The Muse and Her Doctors

Many scholars recommend caution when selecting books written during or after America’s cultural revolution of the 1960’s and the advent of cultural Marxism. What often passes for history today are poorly-disguised opinions and class struggle, slanted psycho, social and political histories, and introductions which state that “most of the empirical basis of this study derives from two computer databases.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

History: The Muse and Her Doctors

“The historian may in addition permit himself to digress in order to opine, argue, explain, speculate, moralize and compare. The visions will differ and perhaps clash, but will be nonetheless desirable. But these excursions must not become ends in themselves. The truly historical statements must greatly predominate over the rest. If “truly historical” needs illustration, here is one of the shortest: “Veni, vidi, vici” is a historical statement. “The main spring of his character was conquest” is a psychological statement. “The net effect of his career was destruction, not creation” is a sociological statement.

How radically unlike is the work done by students who use history for their purposes – to find “fresh” answers to questions social and typological – may be seen from a glance at the open page of their books, or at the daily paper. What one may chance upon is a diagram in dots, crosses, and other marks, headed: “Computer-prepared map of violent incidents in France, 1840-1844,” while on the opposite page is a geometrical outline of France, also crossed and dotted, showing the incidence of incidents. Positive and negative numbers to three decimals express the absolute values applying to each of the levels of violence, side by side with a frequency distribution.

A historian need feel no objection or distaste whatever at this use of history; rather, he rejoices that the ancient urge to record the past leads later on to such refined methods for dissecting it.

But he is simultaneously conscious of one certitude and one doubt. He knows as he studies the charts in all directions that he is not reading history; and he feels an uneasiness about the capacity of the graphic-quantitative method for truth telling.”

(History: The Muse and Her Doctors (excerpt), Jacques Barzun, American Historical Review, February 1972, pp. 58-59)

History Helps Those Only Who Help Themselves

The victors write the history unless challenged by the defeated and it remains for the vanquished to pass their histories on to their children. Colonel Waddell below was an accomplished jurist, author, and essayist, and one who fought Radical corruption and violence during reconstruction, and helping to restore honest government to the South.

See: http://cfhi.net/AlfredMooreWaddellEnlightenedWilmingtonian.php

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

History Helps Those Only Who Help Themselves

“In November, 1901 the annual convention of the United Daughters of the Confederacy was held in Wilmington, North Carolina and Mayor Alfred Moore Waddell, welcomed them to this historic city. In his address, he said that “As one who bore a humble part in the service of the Confederacy I reverently salute you the wives, sisters, and daughters of my comrades, the noblest army of heroines and patriots that ever trod the earth.”

He went on to say that:

“Your organization is unique in human annals, as was the struggle whose memories you seek to preserve. The dreamer and sentimentalist may fold his hands, and with a sigh exclaim that history will do justice between the parties to that struggle; but experience has shown that history, like Providence, helps those only who help themselves, and will honor only those who help her to record the truth.

You will readily admit that if the Southern people had remained silent, and had used no printer’s ink after the war, they would have been pilloried in history as Rebels and traitors who had, causelessly and without a shadow of excuse, drenched the land with the blood of unoffending patriots.

But the Southern people did not remain silent; they published in a thousand forms the truth, both as to the causes which impelled them to assert their rights and as to the battles in which they maintained them, and have thus made a partial, unjust and one-sided history impossible.

In this work the [Ladies] Memorial Association first, and after them the United Daughters of the Confederacy, have been the most heroic and devoted, and they may justly claim a large share of the credit for successfully vindicating before the world the causes which their Southern countrymen engaged, and in which thousands of them sacrificed their lives.”

(Confederate Veteran, November 1901, pp. 485-486)

 

History of Heroism and Honesty

The report of the United Sons of Confederate Veterans History Committee below expressed concern that “tens of thousands of boys and girls are growing up into manhood and womanhood throughout the South, with improper ideas concerning the struggle between the States; and with distorted conceptions concerning the causes” of the war. They sought remedies for this deplorable state of affairs.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

History Emphasizing Heroism and Honesty

“We have asked each member of our committee to urge upon each camp in his State the importance of gathering reliable data for the use of the future historian. This is a sacred duty that we owe to the living and to the dead and to those who are yet unborn. The establishment of truth is never wrong.

When we realize, as all of us must, that from the gloom of overwhelming defeat at the hands of superior numbers a righteous cause arises and appeals to posterity to render the verdict in accordance with the truth, loyalty to the memories of our dead, patriotism, and self-respect all urge us to go forward in our work till we are amply repaid for all of our labors by a glorious consummation of our undertaking.

Your committee has made an earnest effort to ascertain what United States histories are used in the schools of this republic. We have, so far, not found a single Southern history north of the Ohio and Potomac Rivers.

In the South thousands of schools use Northern histories. We do not condemn any work solely on the ground that it is a Northern publication . . . What we desire placed in the hands of the millions of American youth is a work that metes out exact justice to both sections of our great country; a work that tells the truth, and nothing but the truth.

Below, we give an extract from an article recently written by a man of Northern birth, Northern education, and Northern principles. The subject that he discusses is “Unfair School Histories.” In speaking of some recent Southern publications, he objects to them because they glorify the South rather than the whole Union. He says:

“It cannot be supposed that such histories will have a permanent place in any school of our land, but why are they adopted in preference to those hitherto in use? Because the books of Northern authorship exhibit an offensive and unfair sectional bias. Northerners may not see it, but it is there. Our school histories seem to need revision.

Do our [Northern] textbooks impress the fact that slavery existed in many of the northern States also in the early years of the century? That it was New England votes, combined with those of the extreme South, that prolonged the slave trade twenty years, against the protest of the middle South? Do our school children realize that secession was boldly and widely advocated in New England in 1814?

Do they think of the Southern leaders as high-minded, noble, and devout men, who fought with consummate bravery? Are we clearly taught that many of those leaders were in favor of the gradual abolition of slavery? That the questions involved were open to honest differences of opinion? That financial considerations unconsciously biased the views of both North and South on slavery?

The truest history, as well as the most patriotic, is that which gives great emphasis to the heroism and honesty, the manliness and Christian character, of the combatants on both sides. No history is worth a place in our schools that is not written in this spirit.

We therefore recommend that there be a committee of three in each State to work in conjunction with similar committees from the Veterans and Daughters of the Confederacy. Let each committee find out what histories are used in the different counties; find out their inaccuracies, and point them out to the various county boards of education and to the people generally.

Patriots everywhere recognize the fact that the continued denunciation and misrepresentation of any part of a common people is a danger to all, and an infamy to all. Let the histories that our children study revere the truth, and we shall be satisfied. Let them record that . . . the South stood on lines of self-defense in battle and in doctrine . . . that the South fought honestly and fearlessly, and that when its banner was furled upon its folds not a stain was there to mar its beauty.”

(United Sons of Confederate Veterans, Report of the History Committee, Confederate Veteran, January 1900, pp. 18-20)

 

Historical Objectivity and Machines

Since the end of the war, the Southern historian’s view of the conflict was not considered objective unless “he accepts and proclaims the Northern (i.e., “national”) interpretation of Southern things.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Historical Objectivity and Machines

“Once, years ago, a Southern historian beckoned me aside and led me to a room . . . “Look,” he said. An enormous machine occupied about half the room, and a graduate assistant was feeding punch cards into it. With inhuman noise and precision, the machine was sorting the cards.

The historian closed the door upon the noise and, with a kind of Stonewall Jackson glint in his eye, explained. Documentation, he said – mere documentation – would never convince the North. Mere argument was futile.

But if he could say, in a footnote to his forthcoming publication, that the figures in his statistical tables had been achieved by the assistance of a card-sorting machine (he would carefully cite the machine’s name and model), then the Yankees might hearken to both his documentation and his argument.

The machine, a guarantee of his “objectivity,” would remove his work from the area of suspicion that a study originating in the South would normally occupy.”

(Still Rebels, Still Yankees, and Other Essays, Donald Davidson, LSU Press, 1957, pp. 180-181)

Happy Forgetfulness

Author Robert Penn Warren writes below of “The Treasury of Virtue,” the psychological heritage left to the North by the War and the irrefutable basis of its long-serving Myth of Saving the Union. With his armies victorious the Northerner was free “to write history to suit his own deep needs . . . and knows, as everybody knows, that the war saved the Union.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com

 

Happy Forgetfulness

“When one is happy in forgetfulness, facts get forgotten. In the happy contemplation of the Treasury of Virtue it is forgotten that the Republican platform of 1860 pledged protection to the institution of slavery where it existed, and that the Republicans were ready, in 1861, to guarantee slavery in the South, as bait for a return to the Union.

It is forgotten that in July, 1861, both houses of Congress, by an almost unanimous vote, affirmed that the War was waged not to interfere with the institutions of any State but only to maintain the Union.

The War, in the words of the House resolution, should cease “as soon as these objects are accomplished.” It is forgotten that the Emancipation Proclamation, issued on September 23, 1862, was limited and provisional: slavery was to be abolished only in the seceded States and only if they did not return to the Union before the first of the next January.

It is forgotten that the Proclamation was widely disapproved [in the North] and even contributed to the serious setbacks to Republican candidates for office in the subsequent election.

It is forgotten that, as Lincoln himself freely admitted, the Proclamation itself was of doubtful constitutional warrant and was forced by circumstances; that only after a bitter and prolonged struggle in Congress was the Thirteenth Amendment sent, as late as January, 1865, to the States for ratification; and that all of Lincoln’s genius as a horse trader (here the deal was Federal patronage swapped for Democratic votes) was needed to get Nevada admitted to Statehood, with its guaranteed support of the Amendment.

It is forgotten that even after the Fourteenth Amendment, not only Southern States, but Northern ones, refused to adopt Negro suffrage, and that Connecticut had formally rejected it a late as July, 1865.

It is forgotten that Sherman, and not only Sherman, was violently opposed to arming Negroes against white troops. It is forgotten that . . . racism was all too common in the liberating army. It is forgotten that only the failure of Northern volunteering overcame the powerful prejudice against accepting Negro troops, and allowed “Sambo’s Right to be Kilt,” — as the title of a contemporary song had it.

It is forgotten that racism and Abolitionism might, and often did, go hand in hand. This was true even in the most instructed circles [as James T. Ayers, clergyman, committed abolitionist and Northern recruiting officer for Negro troops confided to his diary] that freed Negroes would push North and “soon they will be in every whole and Corner, and the Bucks will be wanting to gallant our Daughters Round.” It is forgotten, in fact, that history is history.

Despite all this, the war appears, according to the doctrine of the Treasury of Virtue, as a consciously undertaken crusade so full of righteousness that there is enough oversurplus stored in Heaven, like the deeds of the saints, to take care of all small failings and oversights of the descendants of the crusaders, certainly unto the present generation. The crusaders themselves, back from the wars, seemed to feel that they had finished the work of virtue.

[Brooks Adams pronounced] “Can we look over the United States and honestly tell ourselves that all things are well within us?” [Adams] with his critical, unoptimistic mind, could not conceal it from himself, but many could; and a price was paid for the self delusion.

As Kenneth Stampp, an eminent Northern historian and the author of a corrosive interpretation of slavery, puts it: “The Yankees went to war animated by the highest ideals of the nineteenth-century middle classes . . . But what the Yankees achieved – for their generation at least – was a triumph not of middle class ideals but of middle class vices. The most striking products of their crusade were the shoddy aristocracy of the North and the ragged children of the South. Among the masses of Americans there were no victors, only the vanquished.”

(The Legacy of the Civil War, Robert Penn Warren, University of Nebraska Press, 1998, pp. 60-65)

The Northern Record Speaks a Lie

The victor of wars writes the history, inflates his lofty intentions and controls what is set in the record. William Joseph Peele was a simple North Carolinian who is credited with the creation of the Agricultural and Mechanic Arts schools in the State, and support for a State Historical Commission which would set the record straight.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The Northern Record Speaks a Lie

“Mr. Peele could not get away from the idea that the cause of the Civil War was commercial jealousy. Henry Adams and Mill say that in ’61 the people of England entertained the same opinion. Peele did give credit to the North for so shifting the issue that it seemed to be a war for freedom.

“The agitation about the Negro, as a counter-irritant to distract attention from the injustice of Federal revenue laws, was [said Peele] more than a success; for the shallow politicians of both sections forgot the real issue; but the beneficiaries never lost sight of it. I will use a homely illustration:

A and B are doing business on the opposite sides of a street; B begins to undersell A; A becomes angry, but cannot afford to tell his customers the cause; he hears that B once cheated a Negro out of a mule; he makes that charge; they fight; the court record of the trial shows that the fight was about the Negro and the mule; but there is not a business man on the street who does not know that the record speaks a lie.”

(William Joseph Peele, by Robert W. Winston, Proceedings of the North Carolina Historical Commission, November, 1919, page 116)

History: The Muse and Her Doctors

Many scholars recommend caution when selecting books written during or after America’s cultural revolution of the 1960’s and the advent of cultural Marxism. What often passes for history today are poorly-disguised opinions and class struggle, slanted psycho, social and political histories, and introductions which state that “most of the empirical basis of this study derives from two computer databases.”

Bernhard Thuersam,  www.circa1865.org

 

History: The Muse and Her Doctors

“The historian may in addition permit himself to digress in order to opine, argue, explain, speculate, moralize and compare. The visions will differ and perhaps clash, but will be nonetheless desirable. But these excursions must not become ends in themselves. The truly historical statements must greatly predominate over the rest.

If “truly historical” needs illustration, here is one of the shortest: “Veni, vidi, vici” is a historical statement.

“The main spring of his character was conquest” is a psychological statement. “The net effect of his career was destruction, not creation” is a sociological statement.

How radically unlike is the work done by students who use history for their purposes – to find “fresh” answers to questions social and typological – may be seen from a glance at the open page of their books, or at the daily paper. What one may chance upon is a diagram in dots, crosses, and other marks, headed: “Computer-prepared map of violent incidents in France, 1840-1844,” while on the opposite page is a geometrical outline of France, also crossed and dotted, showing the incidence of incidents. Positive and negative numbers to three decimals express the absolute values applying to each of the levels of violence, side by side with a frequency distribution.

A historian need feel no objection or distaste whatever at this use of history; rather, he rejoices that the ancient urge to record the past leads later on to such refined methods for dissecting it.

But he is simultaneously conscious of one certitude and one doubt. He knows as he studies the charts in all directions that he is not reading history; and he feels an uneasiness about the capacity of the graphic-quantitative method for truth telling.”

(History: The Muse and Her Doctors (excerpt), Jacques Barzun, American Historical Review, February 1972, pp. 58-59)

History Helps Those Only Who Help Themselves

The victor writes the history unless challenged by the defeated, and it remains for the vanquished to pass their histories on to their children. Colonel Waddell below was an accomplished North Carolina jurist, author, and essayist, and one who fought political corruption and violence during Radical reconstruction. See: http://cfhi.net/AlfredMooreWaddellEnlightenedWilmingtonian.php

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

History Helps Those Only Who Help Themselves

“In November, 1901 the annual convention of the United Daughters of the Confederacy was held in Wilmington, North Carolina and Mayor Alfred Moore Waddell, welcomed them to this historic city. In his address, he said that “As one who bore a humble part in the service of the Confederacy I reverently salute you the wives, sisters, and daughters of my comrades, the noblest army of heroines and patriots that ever trod the earth.”

He went on to say that:

“Your organization is unique in human annals, as was the struggle whose memories you seek to preserve. The dreamer and sentimentalist may fold his hands, and with a sigh exclaim that history will do justice between the parties to that struggle; but experience has shown that history, like Providence, helps those only who help themselves, and will honor only those who help her to record the truth.

You will readily admit that if the Southern people had remained silent, and had used no printer’s ink after the war, they would have been pilloried in history as Rebels and traitors who had, causelessly and without a shadow of excuse, drenched the land with the blood of unoffending patriots.

But the Southern people did not remain silent; they published in a thousand forms the truth, both as to the causes which impelled them to assert their rights and as to the battles in which they maintained them, and have thus made a partial, unjust and one-sided history impossible.

In this work the Memorial Association first, and after them the United Daughters of the Confederacy, have been the most heroic and devoted, and they may justly claim a large share of the credit for successfully vindicating before the world the causes which their Southern countrymen engaged, and in which thousands of them sacrificed their lives.”

(Confederate Veteran Magazine, November 1901, pp. 485-486)

 

History Should Revere the Truth

The report of the History Committee below expressed concern that “tens of thousands of boys and girls are growing up into manhood and womanhood throughout the South, with improper ideas concerning the struggle between the States; and with distorted conceptions concerning the causes” of the war. They sought remedies for this deplorable state of affairs.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

History Should Revere the Truth

“We have asked each member of our committee to urge upon each camp in his State the importance of gathering reliable data for the use of the future historian. This is a sacred duty that we owe to the living and to the dead and to those who are yet unborn. The establishment of truth is never wrong.

When we realize, as all of us must, that from the gloom of overwhelming defeat at the hands of superior numbers a righteous cause arises and appeals to posterity to render the verdict in accordance with the truth, loyalty to the memories of our dead, patriotism, and self-respect all urge us to go forward in our work till we are amply repaid for all of our labors by a glorious consummation of our undertaking.

Your committee has made an earnest effort to ascertain what United States histories are used in the schools of this republic. We have, so far, not found a single Southern history north of the Ohio and Potomac Rivers. I

In the South thousands of schools use Northern histories. We do not condemn any work solely on the ground that it is a Northern publication . . . What we desire placed in the hands of the millions of American youth is a work that metes out exact justice to both sections of our great country; a work that tells the truth, and nothing but the truth.

Below, we give an extract from an article recently written by a man of Northern birth, Northern education, and Northern principles. The subject that he discusses is “Unfair School Histories.” In speaking of some recent Southern publications, he objects to them because they glorify the South rather than the whole Union. He says:

“It cannot be supposed that such histories will have a permanent place in any school of our land, but why are they adopted in preference to those hitherto in use? Because the books of Northern authorship exhibit an offensive and unfair sectional bias. Northerners may not see it, but it is there. Our school histories seem to need revision.

Do our [Northern] textbooks impress the fact that slavery existed in many of the northern States also in the early years of the century? That it was New England votes, combined with those of the extreme South, that prolonged the slave trade twenty years, against the protest of the middle South? Do our school children realize that secession was boldly and widely advocated in New England in 1814?

Do they think of the Southern leaders as high-minded, noble, and devout men, who fought with consummate bravery? Are we clearly taught that many of those leaders were in favor of the gradual abolition of slavery? That the questions involved were open to honest differences of opinion? That financial considerations unconsciously biased the views of both North and South on slavery?

The truest history, as well as the most patriotic, is that which gives great emphasis to the heroism and honesty, the manliness and Christian character, of the combatants on both sides. No history is worth a place in our schools that is not written in this spirit.

We therefore recommend that there be a committee of three in each State to work in conjunction with similar committees from the Veterans and Daughters of the Confederacy. Let each committee find out what histories are used in the different counties; find out their inaccuracies, and point them out to the various county boards of education and to the people generally.

Patriots everywhere recognize the fact that the continued denunciation and misrepresentation of any part of a common people is a danger to all, and an infamy to all. Let the histories that our children study revere the truth, and we shall be satisfied. Let them record that . . . the South stood on lines of self-defense in battle and in doctrine . . . that the South fought honestly and fearlessly, and that when its banner was furled upon its folds not a stain was there to mar its beauty.”

(United Sons of Confederate Veterans, Report of the History Committee, Confederate Veteran, January 1900, pp. 18-20)

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