I’m both surprised and pleased to inform you that the folks at Civil War Talk have picked Past in the Present as one of the best ACW-related blogs of 2012. Click here to read the complete list of honorees. It’s pretty nifty to be included in a list of such fantastic websites. Thanks, guys!
Category Archives: History on the Web
Spammers everywhere are raving about Past in the Present. These are just a few of the accolades that got caught in my filter today:
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Well, in defense of all those other bloggers, it is pretty hard to make just right content material.
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By all means, my good fellow, pay it forward. And he’s not the only spammer I’ve inspired to pitch in and improve the general lot of humanity:
I kick myself in the but every-time I see blogs as fabulous as this because I should stop surfing and start working on mine
You should. Better to light a candle than curse the darkness. And while we’re speaking in Biblical terms, another spambot just wanted to say…
Christ is brilliant
That He is. That He is.
The much-anticipated Appomattox branch of the Museum of the Confederacy is opening soon, and this occasion offers all of us an opportunity for substantial and sober reflection about a host of important topics, such as the challenge of interpreting complex and emotionally charged subjects through exhibits, the proper stewardship of collections at a multi-facility institution, the place of military history in public history as a whole, and the relationship between scholarship and popular memory.
So naturally, instead of considering any of these issues, we’re going to get up in arms over what sort of flags they’re flying in front of the building.
Appomattox, VA – A new battle is brewing around the Museum of The Confederacy in Appomattox. Southern Heritage groups are calling on people to boycott the museum because the Confederate Flag will not fly outside.
All of this is surrounding 15 flag poles outside of the building, called the Reunification Promenade.
It will display state flags in order of their secession leading up to the U.S. flag.
Virginia Flaggers says they’ve offered to pay to add the Confederate Flag to the display, but the museum isn’t interested.
The museum’s president notes that the outdoor flag display is actually intended to illustrate the relationship of the seceded states to the rest of the country, which accounts for the Confederate flag’s otherwise conspicuous absence. Furthermore, the museum will include the biggest exhibit of Confederate flags anywhere in the history of mankind, which suggests that keeping said flag under wraps isn’t exactly a priority for the MOC. But this isn’t enough to assuage the concern of people who are evidently more concerned about the museum’s front porch than they are about the actual content of the exhibits.
If questions about outdoor vexillology aren’t enough to convince you that nefarious anti-Southron forces are at work here, then consider the assertion that the facility’s location is, and I quote, “evidence that Yankee interests have invested the museum.”
Is the first opening in the lovely Shenandoah where Jackson beat three Union armies in one campaign? No. Oh I know, it’s off Interstate 95 at Chancellorsville, the site of Lee’s greatest victory! NO. OK, maybe up closer to Washington, D.C. on the Manassas battlefield where the Confederacy won two major battles? Nope. So where?
Appomattox, the place where General Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia. You are kidding! For a Southerner, only Andersonville could be a worse location!
And bear in mind that while these folks are complaining about encroaching Yankeefication at the MOC, another critic is denouncing the institution as a Confederate shrine.
Make up your minds, guys. If I’m supposed to go with a knee-jerk reaction, at least let me know which direction.
I found a website that lets you write captions for image macros, so I decided it was high time us history junkies jumped on the Internet meme bandwagon.
If you’ve never heard of such phenomena as Ceiling Cat or Philosoraptor, then you probably won’t get any of this. Serves you right for not wasting enough time online.
My answer to the above question is “yes.” Obama recently used Lincoln’s proclamation as an example of effective compromise. I think he might have overstated the case, since Lincoln acted pretty dramatically within the bounds of what he thought he could realistically do. I explain this position in a post over at the Lincoln Institute blog. Read it and feel free to disagree vehemently.
…until Past in the Present gave him the hope he needed to carry on.
A spammer left this in response to the post about the Oneida Indians movie:
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My friend, you’re quite welcome. It’s long been my hope that my blog would allow readers who were at the end of their rope to meet strategies that are productive. I’m glad I was able to prolong your life and avert any negative impact your career might have suffered in the absence of strategies to any relevant difficulties, the lack of which is indeed a crucial case. I will endeavor to continue playing with a lot of stuff kindly and exhibiting my good expertise, and to do these things in a precious manner. I hope you enjoy relishing the future which, in my small way, I’ve helped make possible.
Granted, I have no idea what this has to do with a movie about Oneida Indians in the Revolutionary War, but still. As the Talmud says, “And whoever saves a life, it is considered as if he saved an entire world.” That’s what I’m doing here, folks. Saving the world, one spammer at a time.
That’s the question I ponder at a new piece I’ve written for the Abraham Lincoln Institute blog. See what you think, and feel free to add your comments over at that site.
I’ve enjoyed having the opportunity to pitch in over at the Institute blog, both as a contributor and editor. Let me take this opportunity to ask that you make it one of your regular online stops if you’re a history blog reader, and to add it to your blogroll if you’re a history blog writer. In the near future we’ll be posting some interviews with Lincoln scholars and other material of interest, so check it out.
An irate reader sent a number of nasty e-mails to Gordon Belt, claiming that he was out to tarnish John Sevier’s reputation. This surprised me, because I’ve been following Gordon’s fine series of posts on Sevier, and for the life of me I can’t recall a single instance in which he’s said anything particularly derogatory about Nolichucky Jack.
Sevier possessed an undeniable personal courage, he was a skilled practitioner of partisan warfare, his contributions to the American victory in the Revolution were substantial, his role in the founding of Tennessee was the equal of anyone else’s, and the respect he earned as a leader of men (and one didn’t become a leader of men on the frontier unless one earned a good deal of respect) indicates a level of charisma rare in any time or place. But he was a human being. He put on his pants (or knee breeches, I suppose) one leg at a time like the rest of us. The John Sevier you’ll find in Gordon’s posts is neither a marble demigod nor a scoundrel. He’s a fascinating and complex character, and all indications are that this is basically what the historical John Sevier was.
But what really surprised me was the fact that Gordon’s correspondent accused him of using history to promote an “ideological agenda.” Mind-reading of this sort—assuming that someone presenting an argument with which you disagree must be doing so for sinister reasons—is all too common in the blogosphere. If you’re blogging, sooner or later you can expect to have somebody attempt to gaze into your soul and reveal some nefarious motive of which you yourself were unaware. It’s happened to me a few times. I once wrote a post about the accuracy of a children’s book about the Civil War set not too far from my hometown, and one lady subsequently informed me that I had a “progressive presentism agenda,” based solely on the fact that I mentioned two other bloggers. I kid you not.
One of the problems with this instant online mind-reading is the fact that most people aren’t cut out to be psychics. The lady I just referred to, for example, managed to get my political inclinations completely wrong, which sort of torpedoes the whole ideological motive thing. You’re not likely to try to further a progressive agenda when you don’t put much stock in progressivism.
The other problem is that it doesn’t address the actual argument being presented. Let’s pretend for a moment that I am a “presentist progressive,” and that my motive for discussing the use of regional geography and history in a kids’ book was to further some agenda. Would it have any bearing on the accuracy of my statements about the details in the book? The question of whether or not I’m a flaming liberal doesn’t affect whether or not I was correct in stating that Fern Lake didn’t exist in 1863, or that there really is a cave near the saddle of Cumberland Gap.
Motive and bias can indeed affect interpretation, but these aren’t matters of interpretation. They’re matters of simple fact, and a fact is a fact regardless of who’s stating it. Accusations of underlying motive aren’t helpful in such cases. It reminds me of something Orwell wrote about Communist propaganda during the Spanish Civil War: “It is as though in the middle of a chess tournament one competitor should suddenly begin screaming that the other is guilty of arson or bigamy. The point that is really at issue remains untouched.”
…over at Miniature History of the American Revolution, for his very kind words about this blog. It’s much appreciated.
I always look forward to seeing new posts at MHAR. Ever since I got interested in military history, I’ve wished that I had the artistic talent to undertake substantial miniature projects. There’s something really captivating about reconstructing a moment in time in three dimensions.
Allow me to direct your attention to a brand-new Lincoln blog where I’ll be posting regularly from now on in addition to my usual shenanigans here.
Lincoln Memorial University recently launched a new venture called the Abraham Lincoln Institute for the Study of Leadership and Public Policy. Its goal is to provide a forum for Lincoln scholars to present their work, connect them with people who are interested in applying historical insights to present-day problems, and present the results of these efforts to the public. The Institute has already inaugurated a lecture series and is collaborating with other institutions on a variety of projects to increase understanding of Lincoln and his legacy.
Dr. Charles Hubbard, who is the Institute’s first executive director, is also a former boss and professor of mine who’s developed an interest in online media as a venue for public history. He’s allowed me to collaborate with him in setting up and maintaining a blog for the Institute, which you can access at the following address: http://lincolninstitute.wordpress.com/. I’ll be blogging there on a regular basis, and we’ll also have guest posts from Lincoln scholars popping up from time to time.
We’ll be exploring developments in Lincoln historiography and public history, providing updates on Lincoln-related happenings at LMU, posting interviews with historians who specialize in Lincoln and the Civil War, and highlighting material from the collections of LMU’s Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum.
If you read history blogs, I hope you’ll either subscribe to the new site via e-mail or make it one of your regular online stops. And if you’re a history blogger, I hope you’ll add it to your blogroll and let your readers know about it.
I’ll still be blogging here at Past in the Present as usual, too. Since the other site is an institutional blog, though, I’ll be trying to act a little more professional over there. (No Dark Knight clips, in other words.) And it should probably go without saying that whatever views I express over here at my personal blog are mine alone, and not those of LMU, the Institute, Dr. Hubbard, or anyone else, but I’ll say it anyway.
I’ll see you there. (And here too, I hope.)