Plainly the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a definition of the word liberty; and precisely the same difference prevails to-day among us human creatures, even in the North, and all professing to love liberty. He meant Lincoln, of course. "We must fight because we must. Then the person who was to write the Civil War and antebellum volume fell ill, and I asked to change assignments to the 1848 to 1865 period. Over the years, a variety of writers had accused Early of losing his nerve, halting his victorious men, and trying to hold onto initial gains rather than pressing his advantage. He was, of course, painfully aware that many Americans enjoyed neither liberty nor equality. McPherson was the president of the American Historical Association in 2003. Would the American experiment in government of, by, and for the people also be swept into the dustbin of history? So that is part of the answer. It presents to the whole family of man, the question, whether a constitutional republic, or a democracy . Northern victory in the Civil War assured that it would be the Northern vision, the Northern model. "The kind of peace I felt in that room," she recalled, "was what you feel when going into a church. There was a corollary to that definition. ", Lincoln here connected the act of emancipation with the future, as he had earlier connected the war for the Union with a past that had given Lincoln's generation the legacy of a united country. He was a member of the history department of Princeton University from 1966 to 1980, which he left to found the American Association for the Advancement of the Humanities. Copyright ©1988, Oxford University Press, New York, NY. He received his PhD in 1963 from Johns Hopkins University, where he studied with C. Vann Woodward. By 1864, when Lincoln told his parable about the shepherd protecting the black sheep from the wolf, that shepherd wielded a very big staff as commander in chief of the largest army yet known in the United States. ," he explains in the preface. But in a larger sense, their failure was the failure of the American people, and the United States has yet to measure up to the ideals of the abolitionist crusade. To deny Southerners the right to take their slaves into new territories acquired by the United States would be a violation of their rights of property, therefore of their liberty. "The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty," Lincoln declared in this state that still had slavery but was about to abolish it. "Three million soldiers fought in the Union and Confederate armies. "Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said 'the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether. Well, I decided that I would try to answer these questions, and that the first and best place to look for answers was in their letters, in their diaries. In this informative and meticulously researched masterpiece, he clarifies the differing ways of life and philosophy that led to this shattering conflict. This is scholarly history at itsfinest." It would determine the fate of two societies and two governments, Union and Confederate. That seems to me one of the most interesting and certainly one of the most important questions in studying the American Civil War. I just try to do it, and sometimes I think I've succeeded. Second, it has to be accurate. .for the freedmen of the South" was by the "strong arm of power, outstretched from the central authority here in Washington." They have one daughter. . .the South professed to be fighting for self-government. The Northern definition of liberty was the preservation of the Union, the nation, based on that revolution of 1776. In April 1864 he chose the occasion of a public speech in Baltimore to define the difference between two meanings of this word that is so central to America's understanding of itself. McPherson was named the 2000 Jefferson Lecturer in the humanities by the National Endowment for the Humanities. With the acquisition of a huge amount of new territory in the Mexican War in 1848, the debate about whether slavery should be allowed in any more territories sharpened to a mortal conflict. But in the first year and one-half of the war, the problem of slavery muddied the clarity of this issue. These are some of the important things that will engage the reader and keep him from saying, "This is dull, this is uninteresting. If either can be done with impunity neither Nation nor Government is worth a cent. ... And a new political party, the Republicans, arrived on the American scene and elected an unlikely western-born man named Abraham Lincoln as their candidate in the 1860 presidential elections. I reached the crest of one ridge to find him surveying a spectacular view. We spent our first hour at Cedar Creek traversing some gently rolling ground before reaching a part of the field where the road rose sharply. Criticisms of Macpherson have been voiced from both left and right. The end of slavery in the re-United States sounded the death knell of the institution in Brazil and Cuba, the only other places in the Western Hemisphere where it still existed. The Earl of Shrewsbury expressed his cheerful belief "that the dissolution of the Union is inevitable, and that men before me will live to see an aristocracy established in America." Look at the large membership in the history book club, the interest in the History Channel on television, and the interest in documentaries by Ken Burns and by other historical filmmakers. . We previously had gone to Brandy Station, scene of a cavalry action during the initial stage of the Gettysburg campaign, and to Petersburg, where we logged about fifty-five miles to examine the siege lines held by Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee in 1864-65. Although historians had been McPherson at Gettysburg writing about the Civil War for decades, McPherson's book broke ground in combining the complexities of the war whi… While visiting the battlefields and re-examining the gruesome events there, his students often ask, "Why were men willing to cross this territory when they knew that may of them would not come back?". The trigger point was Fort Sumter, where Confederate leaders claimed they could not tolerate a foreign fort in the harbor of one of their principal ports, Charleston, South Carolina. It was not the mere matter of the separation of the colonies from the mother land, but that sentiment in the Declaration [of Independence] which gave liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but hope to the world for all future time." As a result, his book gives the war a proper context that is lacking in many other works. The new Democratic ideas are gradually to find embodiment." I think that comparing Grant and Lee is an interesting exercise. Reproduced by permission. PC PC (Ire) KC JP. James Macpherson 20 October 2020 1:31 pm Greens leader Adam Bandt – forgetting that the ACT is 2300 square km surrounded by reality – believes the party’s… Anastacia Palaszczuk’s euthanasia pledge and the culture of killing for convenience McPherson: There is a tendency to look down on popular history in academia. But an illiterate person suffers from a denial of positive liberty. On this question, Lincoln did not hesitate. One of McPherson's examples is the American Civil War, in which both the Union and the Confederacy sought regime change. James McPherson is George Henry Davis ’86 Professor of American History Emeritus at Princeton. Thus we can agree with the historian Norman Graebner who was quoted earlier as stating that Lincoln "accepted the need of dealing with things as they were, not as he would have wished them to be." . Ferris: How would you describe the Civil War's legacy? Campaign Laws requiring automobile passengers to wear seatbelts or motorcyclists to wear helmets are a violation of their liberty to go without seatbelts or helmets. Now featuring a new Afterword by the author, this handy paperback edition of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Battle Cry of Freedom is without question the definitive one-volume history of the Civil War. I do also for Lincoln. Several more slave states were threatening to go out. He received the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. In this new millennium, we may well wonder if we are still paying for the blood drawn with the lash of slavery. But it might well have survived into the next century. Although historians had been McPherson at Gettysburg writing about the Civil War for decades, McPherson's book broke ground in combining the complexities of the war while maintaining the narrative that made it appealing to the American public. Sunday Times News: The oldest existing political party is the Democratic Party, established by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in the 1790s. . What did Lincoln mean? The problem was, at that time the Union did not stand for the freedom of slaves. "We all declare for liberty, but in using the same word we do not mean the same thing. To help bring those former rebels back in the Union, Grant sent three days' rations for 25,000 men across the lines. What did the concept of freedom mean to different Americans? They would write home and say, "I'm under God's protection whether I'm on the battlefield or at home in front of my fireside, and if it is His will to take me home to his bosom, He can do that as easily at home by my fireside as He can on the field of battle." As news of the surrender spread through Union camps, batteries began firing joyful salutes until Grant ordered them stopped. The surrender completed, the two generals saluted somberly and parted. But he did surpass himself nearly a year later, in the prose poem of 272 words that we know as the Gettysburg Address. So I went to these letters with a series of questions about what motivated them to enlist in the first place, what motivated them to persist in the army, what motivated them to face the music, as they themselves described it, in time of battle--to go forward under a hail of bullets and shells and risk their lives. Ferris: Why did the Union ultimately win? Life and death in this passage have a paradoxical but metaphorical relationship: men died that the nation might live, yet metaphorically the old Union also died, and with it would die the institution of slavery. Early in my career, I wrote more specialized works and worked my way up the academic ladder. The Nation has been defied. I think that it had more to do with the gradual development in the North of a coherent strategy for victory Richmond in ruins and the gradual rise of military commanders under Lincoln's leadership-leaders like Grant and Sherman and Sheridan and George Thomas, who were willing to put in place the kind of hard-war strategy, a strategy of all-out military conflict to destroy Confederate armies, but also an all-out effort to destroy the economic and social infrastructure that supported the Confederate war effort, to destroy the railroads, the factories, the farms, the economic infrastructure of the Confederacy, including the institution of slavery. $20.00. 0 0 1. The first stage is a growing diversity between the economic and social systems of the North and the South. The Peace Democrats were probably a more powerful factor in weakening the Northern war effort than were the antiwar faction in the South. In his work as a board member of two major Civil War preservation organizations, he has again and again taken a mediating role in talks where preservationists decided how confrontational they should be in trying to save historic lands. I think that made them much more willing to face the possibility of their physical death. I think that his misjudgments in 1854 with the Kansas-Nebraska Act, his efforts to placate Southerners in the Democratic Party, had a lot to do with bringing on the increasing divisiveness of North and South. . There are all kinds of myths that a people has about itself, some positive, some negative, some healthy and some not healthy. He also won the praise of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Because historians and readers alike too often embrace Southern surrender as the only logical ending, the importance of Jim's point about the role of contingency cannot be overstated. Civil War Sites Advisory Commission Report. The fate of European countries and of Asian countries was at stake in World War II, but probably not the fate of the United States, and that makes a big difference in the sharpness of concern and the sharpness of articulation on the part of soldiers as to what they are fighting for. ", Once the war broke out, French republicans, some of them in exile, supported the North as "defenders of right and humanity." At this point in Lincoln's remarks, the newspaper text indicated "Great applause" from the audience, which included the city council and leading citizens of Philadelphia. .A vast impetus has been given to Republican sentiments in England.". Therefore a law to improve mental hospitals, concluded Pierce, would be "the beginning of the end…of our blessed inheritance of representative liberty. No exercise of federal power escaped the censure of these proslavery libertarians. Lincoln told them: "I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence" ("Great cheering," according to the press). . All of this makes what a lot of academic historians write either unintelligible or uninteresting to a broad lay audience. (Cheers. "I think that one job of a historian is to try to cut through some of those myths and get closer to some kind of reality.". Since 1865 United States has been a singular noun. But at Ford's Theatre, John Wilkes Booth ended that possibility as he shouted Virginia's state motto, "sic semper tyrannis" (thus always to tyrants)--the slogan of negative liberty. We also discovered that cycling around battlefields inspired fruitful exchanges about connections between military campaigns and other dimensions of the war. So King went on his own. "There are all kinds of myths that a people has about itself, some positive, some negative," says McPherson. But whatever success the contemporary movement finally does achieve will be built partly on the foundations laid down more than a century ago by the abolitionists. As the one has risen, the other has fallen.". The situation led to the divisive debates that underlay the eventual Compromise of 1850, and then also played a part in reopening those debates in the middle 1850s over whether or not slavery should be expanded into the territories. McPherson: Back in the 1950s, Van Woodward and Richard Hofstetter conceived of the Oxford History of the United States, which was to be modeled on the Oxford History of England, a series of volumes each written by a different historian. Packed with drama and analytical insight, the book vividly recounts the momentous episodes that preceded the Civil War--the Dred Scott decision, the Lincoln-Douglas debates, John … It also emancipated Lincoln from the contradiction of fighting a war for democratic liberty without fighting a war against slavery. Americans were acutely aware of the uncertain fate of republics in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. So I do have a lot of admiration for that Douglass. (Library of Congress) The Civil War had a greater impact on American society and the polity than any other event in the country’s history. Rather, "they meant to set up a standard maxim for free society, which should be. We staked our hopes boldly on the result. But the impact abroad of Union victory was almost immediate. James M. McPherson, Professor of History at Princeton University, is author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in history. McPherson's Pulitzer Prize-winning opus is by now the standard one-volume treatment of the Civil War. McPherson: That is not an easy question to answer. In the South, most of the people who opposed the war effort were those people who lived in regions where slavery was not an important part of their society and the economy: Western Virginia, which actually detached itself from the rest of Virginia and became the new state of West Virginia in the middle of the war; eastern Tennessee, which was mostly small farmers without slaves; western North Carolina, the Ozark plateau in Arkansas, and other parts of the South. It took every ounce of this power to accomplish the "new birth of freedom" that Lincoln invoked at Gettysburg. Forty years after he first read it, President-elect Lincoln addressed the New Jersey legislature in Trenton, near the spot where George Washington's ragged troops had won a victory the day after Christmas 1776 that saved the American Revolution from collapse. The first host McPherson appeared with, Juan Gonzalez, is an vietnam era activist and organizer who helped found the 1970's era "Young Lords" political movement, a Latino affiliate modelled after the Black Panther Party and formed under the guidance of imprisoned Black Panther leader Fred Hampton. Lincoln grasped this nettle. And Lincoln acknowledged his intellectual debt to Jefferson--not Jefferson the slaveholder, not Jefferson the author of the Kentucky resolutions of 1799 asserting the superiority of state over federal sovereignty, not even Jefferson the President--but Jefferson the philosopher of liberty, author of the Northwest Ordinance that kept slavery out of future states comprising 160,000 square miles at a time when most existing states of the Union still had slavery, and the Jefferson who, though he owned slaves, said of the institution that "he trembled for his country when he remembered that God was just." From the left, Ellen Meiksins Wood accused Macpherson of being a 'liberal in socialist clothing,' of undercutting and diluting socialist radicalism with liberal ambiguity (Ellen Meiksins Wood, "C. B. Macpherson: Liberalism, and the Task of Socialist Political Theory", Socialist Register, 1978). Battle Cry of Freedom By James M. McPherson. In some ways--and perhaps this is what you were referring to--the other man named Douglass, Frederick Douglass with two s's rather than one, Frederick Douglass, is somebody I do admire. The immense scale of the battlefield stood out sharply (it encompasses more than a dozen square miles), as did the obstacles Early's soldiers faced. Because of it and other books, followed closely by Ken Burns's documentary, now thousands of Americans every year choose to visit historic battlefields and homes of Civil War generals and leaders. Would slavery live or die? What role did religion play in their daily lives and on the battlefield?McPherson: Civil War soldiers were a product of what has been called the second Great Awakening in American religious history, that wave of evangelical Protestant revivalism in the early part of the nineteenth century. Victory doesn't always go to the side that is stronger in numbers and resources, as we well know from the Vietnam War, and, indeed, as Americans knew in 1861 when they looked at the history of their conflict with Britain. Along with several other historians, McPherson signed a May 2009 petition asking U.S. President Barack Obama not to lay a wreath at the Confederate Monument Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. Fourscore and seven years in the past, said Lincoln, our fathers brought forth on this continent a nation conceived in liberty. Lincoln told the legislators: "I remember all the accounts" in Weems's book "of the battle-fields and struggles for the liberty of the country, and none fixed themselves upon my imagination so deeply as the struggle here at Trenton. Lincoln sent his second annual message to Congress in December 1862, just before he issued the Emancipation Proclamation. And they were far more willing to write and talk about what they were fighting for. [1][6][7] In making the announcement of McPherson's selection, NEH Chairman William R. Ferris said: James M. McPherson has helped millions of Americans better understand the meaning and legacy of the American Civil War. Trujillo is just happy to be in the band. Copyright © 1997 Oxford University Press, New York, NY. can, or cannot maintain its territorial integrity." The modern neo-Confederate movement interprets it as vindicating the Confederacy and the principles and ideas of the Confederacy and their neo-Confederate ideas. . Many of them would say in their letters that they had put their fate in God's hands. Hans L. Terfousse, The Causes of the Civil War, 91-125 (excerpts from Ramsdell, Potter and Current). He was appointed in 1991 by the United States Senate to the Civil War Sites Advisory Commission, which determined the major battle sites, evaluated their conditions, and then recommended strategies for their preservation. . . One of the finalists was a seventeen year-old girl from Texas, whose forebears had immigrated to the United States from India. He lives in New Jersey with his wife of forty-three years, Patricia. There were several major turning points, points of contingency when events moved in one direction but could well have moved in another." The brave experiment launched in Philadelphia four score and seven years before Lincoln spoke at Gettysburg seemed fragile indeed in this world bestrode by kings, emperors, czars, dictators, theories of aristocracy, and inequality. McPherson has taught at Princeton since 1962 and is the George Henry Davis '86 Professor of American History. I became increasingly fascinated by the parallels and similarities between the time in which I was living in a border-state city, which was in the process of trying to change its race relations, and the events that had happened a hundred years earlier-confrontation between the national government and Southern political leaders who vowed massive resistance to federal-law; violence in the South over the race issue; Martin Luther King, Jr. urging President Kennedy to take action against discrimination in the same way that black leaders and abolitionists had urged Lincoln to take action against slavery-King even calling on Kennedy, in this case unsuccessfully, to issue a new Emancipation Proclamation on the one hundredth anniversary of the original. All of that was happening when I was studying at Hopkins with Vann Woodward. The Mexican War also influenced the manner in which the Civil War was fought. Battle Cry of Freedom helped launch an unprecedented national renaissance of interest in the Civil War. In dedicating the cemetery on this battlefield, the living must take inspiration to finish the task that those who lie buried here so nobly advanced by giving their last full measure of devotion. . Perhaps God was punishing Americans with "this terrible war" for some great sin. Union General Philip H. Sheridan won a smashing triumph Gallagher and McPherson get ready to ride Brandy Station battlefield over Jubal A. .the monstrous injustice of slavery," he said in his famous Peoria speech of 1854. If we fail it will go far to prove the incapability of the people to govern themselves." Most of the men who became generals on both sides in the Civil War had been junior officers in the Mexican War. He was the president of the American Historical Association in 2003, and is a member of the editorial board of Encyclopædia Britannica. Ferris: That is a wonderful way to conclude this conversation. In part it has to do with the stage of my career. Answer . Some Americans alive in 1861 had seen two French republics rise and fall. The Union was preserved, not only for the people yesterday, but also for the lives of today.". Many in the North shared Lincoln's conviction that democracy was on trial in this war. As he often did, Lincoln went on to illustrate his point with a parable. What political party does Elle Macpherson belong to? . But even this was not enough, in James Madison's words, to prevent the "tendency in all Governments to an augmentation of power at the expense of liberty." I think there was a third legacy of the war. No true Southerner could hesitate. The presidential wreath enhances the prestige of these neo-Confederate events. 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