Category Archives: History on the Web

Just right content material!

Spammers everywhere are raving about Past in the Present.  These are just a few of the accolades that got caught in my filter today:

I’ve been browsing online greater than three hours these days, but I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty price sufficient for me. In my opinion, if all webmasters and bloggers made just right content material as you did, the web will probably be much more useful than ever before.

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.

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Filed under History on the Web

This is why we can’t have nice things

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.

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Filed under Civil War, History and Memory, History on the Web, Museums and Historic Sites

I can has history?

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.

 

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Filed under History on the Web

Was the Emancipation Proclamation a moderate measure or a radical one?

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.

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Filed under Abraham Lincoln, Civil War, History on the Web

He thought his life was done

…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.

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Filed under History on the Web

Thomas DiLorenzo takes issue with somebody. . .but who, exactly?

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.

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Filed under Abraham Lincoln, Historiography, History and Memory, History on the Web

Psychic commenters

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.”

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Filed under American Revolution, History and Memory, History on the Web, Tennessee History