Why the Confederacy Lost: The Experiences of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia

Transcript

00:07
thank you very much I’m really delighted
00:09
to be here let’s hope you still have
00:13
that same commitment to applause when
00:15
the talks over when Jefferson Davis
00:22
became president of the Confederate
00:23
States of America it was apparent to him
00:25
that a war was going to occur and Davis
00:28
formulated the Confederate strategy the
00:31
strategy was simple to punish the
00:33
invaders the objective was to discourage
00:37
future attacks and also to convince the
00:40
northern public that future attacks
00:43
would be futile and that military
00:46
efforts to reconquer the Confederate
00:48
States would fail one of the most
00:52
celebrated officers in the Confederacy
00:53
Edward Porter Alexander explained the
00:57
Confederacy hoped quote that the
00:59
desperation of her resistance would
01:01
finally exact from her adversary such a
01:04
price in blood and treasure as to
01:07
exhaust the enthusiasm of its population
01:09
for the objects of war Davis wanted his
01:21
subordinate generals to strike the enemy
01:24
as close to the borders as possible as
01:27
Davis explained to one general officer
01:29
resist invasion as far as may be
01:32
practicable and repel the invaders
01:34
whenever and however it may be done
01:36
because citizens and soldiers lived
01:40
along avenues of invasion Davis believed
01:43
the Confederacy could not yield
01:45
territory unless it was absolutely
01:46
necessary quote the evacuation of any
01:50
portion of territory involves not only
01:52
the loss of supplies but in every
01:55
instance has been attended by a greater
01:57
or less loss of troops end quote now
02:01
every strategy has its flaws
02:03
particularly one against an enemy that
02:06
has superiority and manpower and
02:08
resources those nations such as the
02:11
Confederacy with inferior resources in
02:14
manpower can compensate by developing a
02:17
sound strategy and utilizing resources
02:19
more efficiently
02:20
we also by tapping soldiers and
02:23
civilians commitment to the cause and
02:25
requiring them to endure more hardships
02:28
than their enemy but the fact remains
02:30
they have a limited margin for error as
02:34
that margin for error is stripped away
02:36
the demands of war cutting to the sinew
02:39
and bone of the war effort
02:41
breaking down institutions and morale
02:44
and inflicting ever-increasing hardship
02:46
for the Confederate States of America
02:48
there would be enormous hardship
02:51
sacrifices and tragedies the war would
02:53
stretch manpower and resources to the
02:55
breaking point and they would incur
02:58
heavy losses delivering powerful blows
03:01
against the enemy nonetheless Davis
03:04
believed the Confederate people could
03:05
endure any sacrifice for freedom and
03:08
independence we will do all that can be
03:11
done by plucking muscle endurance and
03:13
dogged courage
03:14
– and red-hot patriotism Davis claimed
03:18
no Confederate Army fulfilled that
03:21
strategy like the Army of Northern
03:23
Virginia yet even it wore down in the
03:26
face of two then three and finally four
03:28
years of fighting against those
03:30
overwhelming odds the margin for error
03:34
dwindled and ultimately disintegrated
03:37
fissures appeared in every institution
03:39
in every facet of life including the
03:42
Army of Northern Virginia and despite
03:44
its efforts it too was ultimately
03:47
overcome now the Army of Northern
03:49
Virginia had to utilize manpower and
03:51
resources effectively but the two early
03:54
commanders Pierre Gustav Teuton
03:57
Beauregard and Joseph E Johnston
04:00
established ineffective precedents and
04:03
policies three times those officers
04:07
abandoned position one in Harpers Ferry
04:10
another in Northern Virginia and a third
04:12
at the Manassas Centreville axis the
04:15
result was massive destruction that not
04:18
only affected the Confederacy’s ability
04:20
to prosecute the war after all the
04:22
resources were precious but it also sent
04:25
the wrong message to troops the
04:27
destruction helped establish aspects of
04:30
the military culture that encouraged in
04:32
discipline in the
04:34
and that paid little credence to the
04:36
preservation of valuable resources which
04:39
in turn reduced the Confederate margin
04:41
for error now every organization has a
04:45
culture and the Army of Northern
04:46
Virginia was no different army culture
04:50
derives from two areas elements that
04:53
individuals bring into the military from
04:56
civil life and military experiences in
04:59
training normally boot camp tears down
05:03
and rebuilds so that the military
05:05
culture flows from the top down but with
05:08
no such experience and because officers
05:11
largely came from home we’re learning on
05:14
the job and failed to rigorously
05:16
discipline their men the culture tended
05:19
to flow from the bottom up at the core
05:23
virtually all these citizen soldiers
05:25
share the same fundamental beliefs in
05:28
the rightness of secession and slavery
05:30
from society they inherited Southern
05:33
Honor an overarching concept that
05:36
embraced powerful perceptions of manhood
05:39
integrity independence valor kinship and
05:43
esteem and among the elite both luxury
05:47
and generosity in times of war a
05:50
wholehearted allegiance to the spirit of
05:52
Honor would serve its soldiers well but
southern society also promoted certain
qualities that did not benefit the
Confederate natio
n in a war against the
better resourced Union a lack of
discipline and particularly among the
well-to-do a spirit of prophecy and
self-indulgence were acceptable modes of
conduct before the war closely related
to one another these three behaviors
elevated the individual over the group
and tolerated conduct and uniform that
was not conducive to effective military
service more than a simply a spirit of
individualism which the army could
harness and convert to military purposes
these qualities diminished the
usefulness of the soldier in the pre-war
South an individual who squandered money
recklessly was not necessarily scorned

in some circles he earned prey
days by distinguish himself from his
penurious materialistic northern
countrymen southerners particularly
males aspired to fulfill their every
impulse and desire and society tolerated
often encouraged such indulgence

attention to administrative detail and
other mundane matters were beneath many
of them undisciplined conduct and open
expression of passion or a ready resort
to violence was not necessarily
considered unbecoming in the pre-war
South
after all to adhere to a code of
discipline meant that others impose
their will on the individual such
dominance of the individual smacked of
slavery and southern whites were
extremely sensitive to it even in the
realm of laws and codes of moral conduct

outhern males abided by them
voluntarily not out of compunction if
society compelled them to obey then it
dominated the individual and deprived
him of his manhood and no
self-respecting white southerner could
endure that these qualities made them
wonderful motivated soldiers but they
also promoted the resistance to
discipline which in turn was the key to
effective utilization of limited
resources
now the Battle of Seven Pines on May
08:09
31st 1862 Joseph e Johnston was badly
08:12
wounded and Jefferson Davis assigned
08:16
robert e lee quote/unquote temporarily
08:19
to be commander of that army when lee
08:22
stepped into that position he confronted
08:24
two huge problems one the obvious one
08:27
Union forces were literally at the gates
08:29
of Richmond they were three miles
08:31
outside of Richmond and the second one
08:33
was that there were administrative and
08:35
discipline problems in the army staff
08:39
officers practice sloppy paperwork
08:42
procedures and soldiers failed to
08:44
conserve and as a result troops went
08:46
without and suffered I remember one
08:48
instance where troops literally outside
08:50
of Richmond had to trap rats soak them
08:53
in water overnight and then fry them for
08:55
food that doesn’t appeal to me perhaps
08:58
your dietary practices or otherwise
09:01
and of course these practices also
09:05
encouraged undisciplined behavior
09:07
because soldiers coming from American
09:10
society were problem solvers if they
09:12
didn’t get fed by the army they were
09:14
going to solve the problem themselves
09:15
which means that they were going to take
09:17
from civilians now when Lee stepped in
09:20
he had a great reputation of course you
09:23
probably know this Lee graduated second
09:25
in his class at the United States
09:27
Military Academy he graduated without
09:28
receiving any demerits he was one of
09:30
several of his class who did so and of
09:33
course he emerged from the Mexican War
09:35
as Tim Johnson will say as Winfield
09:38
Scott’s favorite Winfield Scott said in
09:40
testimony that he thought Robert Ely was
09:42
the finest soldier in the US Army yet
09:46
within certain circles there was an
09:47
undercurrent of doubt about Lee by May
09:50
1861 after exposure to Lee over the six
09:53
previous years Edmund Kirby Smith had
09:56
come to the conclusion that Lee lacked
09:58
ability for large-scale command
10:01
describing his selection to head
10:02
Virginia forces as quote unfortunate
10:05
unquote Smith like numerous others was
10:08
put off by Lee slowness to come to a
10:10
decision
10:11
Sam Melton who served on Brigadier
10:14
General millage L bottom staff and had a
10:16
very fair favorable opinion of Lee I
10:18
might add informed his wife in May 1861
10:22
that Lee quote is a splendid officer
10:24
slow too slow but thoroughly
10:26
accomplished
10:27
end quote in a letter that has become
10:30
almost famous for its miss reading of
10:32
the man South Carolina Governor Francis
10:36
W Pickens announced a bonham just before
10:39
the Battle of first Manassas quote the
10:41
truth is Lee is not with us at heart or
10:44
he is a common man with good looks and
10:46
too cautious for practical revolution
10:49
end quote
10:50
be careful what you write because it may
10:52
be saved and you’ll look like an idiot I
10:55
mean this will go this is really the
10:57
most representative document we have of
10:59
Francis W Pickens I’m sure he did other
11:02
things some things right in this
11:04
instance he sort of missed even least
11:07
trusted staff member Walter H Taylor
11:10
complained to his Bradt future bride
11:12
late in the war about Lee’s slowness
11:15
he is too undecided Taylor grumbled
11:17
takes too long to firm his conclusions
11:20
after the first campaign a failure
11:23
amid the rugged terrain of western
11:25
Virginia Lee’s reputation plummeted even
11:28
more fueled by excessively optimistic
11:31
tales in the newspapers as the campaign
11:34
was unfolding soldiers and civilians
11:36
alike reacted to the results of the
11:38
campaign as if Lee had committed some
11:40
monstrous blunder the newspapers and the
11:44
public how old over leaves incompetence
11:47
Edward a power to Richmond newspaperman
11:50
and sharp critic of the Davis
11:51
administration determined quote the most
11:54
remarkable circumstance of this campaign
11:56
was that it was conducted by a general
11:59
who had never fought a battle who had a
12:01
pious horror of guerrillas and whose
12:04
extreme tenderness of blood induced him
12:07
to depend exclusively upon the resources
12:10
of strategy to essay the achievement of
12:13
victories without the cost of life end
12:16
quote
12:17
a student at West Point when Lee was
12:19
superintendent there Ben Alston reported
12:22
to his father that people called Lee a
12:25
dirt dauber a small insect that leaves a
12:29
soil trail in its wake Alexander C
12:33
Haskell a family friend of the Lee’s
12:35
described to his mother a satirical
12:38
sketch he had seen of Lee quote with a
12:40
double-barrel spyglass in one hand and a
12:44
spade in the other reconnoitering in the
12:46
position of the enemy the caption of the
12:48
of the cartoon read quote to retreat a
12:51
little and throw up fortifications the
12:53
instant he sets eyes upon them shooting
12:58
Haskell believed this is unjust to a
13:00
fine officer but it does somewhat
13:03
exhibit his very cautious policy to
13:07
remove Lee from the Richmond spotlight
13:09
Davis sent him to the Department of
13:11
South Carolina Georgia and Florida to
13:13
oversee defenses there a job hardly
13:16
worth the third highest-ranking officer
13:18
in the Confederate Army as the spring of
13:21
1862 approached however Davis brought
13:24
Lee back to Richmond to help him the
13:27
reaction remained hostile
13:28
the appointment of General Lee is chief
13:31
military advisor of the president looks
13:33
like a fatal mistake a member of
13:35
Johnson’s staff wrote his wife B’s quote
13:39
traits of mind unquote would prove more
13:42
problematic than they were the previous
13:44
year he predicted and then he concluded
13:46
with the words may God in mercy protect
13:49
us
13:50
Catherine Edmundston a North Carolinian
13:52
and an unusually perceptive diarist held
13:55
nothing but contempt for Lee he is too
13:59
timid believes too much in master Lee
14:01
inactivity finds his strength too much
14:04
in sitting still even Lee’s counterpart
14:08
on the Union side Major General George B
14:10
McClellan rejoiced when he thought that
14:13
Lee in his new position would replace
14:14
Johnston as the field commander
14:17
I prefer ally to Johnston he elaborated
14:20
to Lincoln
14:21
the former is too cautious and weak
14:23
under grave responsibility personally
14:26
brave and energetic to a fault he yet is
14:29
wanting in moral firmness when pressed
14:32
by heavy responsibilities and is likely
14:34
to be timid and irresolute in action end
14:38
quote we would call that projection
14:44
that’s exactly the way McClellan was to
14:47
a tee getting his job as commander of
14:54
the Virginia forces and then as military
14:56
adviser to the President Lee gained
14:57
great insight into the Confederacy’s
14:59
capacity to make war he fully understood
15:02
that the Confederacy had a limited
15:04
margin for error the Confederate people
15:07
Lee insisted must make up our minds to
15:09
great suffering he then concluded all
15:12
must be sacrificed to the country as
15:15
army commander Lee began immediately to
15:18
institute changes one of the first
15:20
things he did in special orders number
15:22
22 June 1st 1862 he referred to it as
15:25
the Army of Northern Virginia other
15:28
people had called it that at times but
15:30
the name never stuck and once Lee did
15:33
and he announced that his headquarters
15:35
was part of the department of Northern
15:37
Virginia then the name Army of Northern
15:39
Virginia became fixed with
15:42
li and that body of soldiers he
15:44
established and enforced routines for
15:46
the distribution of provisions and
15:48
required division commanders to
15:50
scrutinize requisitions of subordinates
15:53
as I mentioned Johnson’s staff was
15:55
pretty inept at administering and then
15:58
the galacon neglect in paperwork meant
16:01
that soldiers didn’t get provided for
16:03
with supplies li circulated directives
16:07
to all officers to pay attention to the
16:10
quote health and comfort of the men
16:12
under command and spare unnecessary
16:14
exposure and fatigue so that everyone
16:17
was ready for battle in one of Richard’s
16:19
favorite moments Lee even authorized the
16:23
distribution of whiskey rations at the
16:25
discretion of officers quote when deemed
16:28
essential to the health of the men from
16:31
inclemency and weather or exposure in
16:33
the swamps I’m sure many college
16:35
students would mind Sherman Lee’s army
16:37
for a day Lee crackdown on lost or
16:43
damaged supplies which hindered the war
16:44
effort severely quote the increasing
16:47
difficulty in replacing them he directed
16:49
makes greater watchfulness and care
16:51
necessary in their preservation one week
16:54
later he complained quote the means of
16:57
supply are becoming more limited while
16:59
the demand continues great end quote
17:01
on his daily rides Lee quote observed
17:05
with concern in passing through camps
17:07
too much disregard to the proper
17:09
preservation of public property be
17:12
careful to use those kinds of P words
17:15
and public addresses it’s really easy to
17:17
stumble over the words he was firmly
17:20
convinced that our successes mainly
17:23
dependent upon the economical and proper
17:25
appropriation of public property at all
17:27
times end quote compared to the northern
17:31
enemy Confederates had a very little
17:33
margin for error and to win they must
17:35
husband those resources Lee then
17:38
gathered intelligence from the enemy
17:40
from newspapers and he sent Jeb Stewart
17:42
on a cavalry ride around the Union
17:44
position he directed his sharpshooters
17:47
and our terrorists to pester the enemy
17:48
as much as possible so they couldn’t
17:50
build works meanwhile he was employing
17:53
his own troops at building works
17:55
here he was challenging a naive cultural
17:58
perspective on warfare soldiers thought
18:02
they would just slug it out in the open
18:03
field against the Yankees and rely on
18:05
their superior character and martial
18:07
skills to win the day it never crossed
18:10
their minds that they would have to
18:11
wield axes and shovels that was worked
18:14
for slaves our people are opposed to
18:19
work Lee alerted Davis our troops
18:22
officers community and press all
18:24
ridicule and resisted yet he went on to
18:27
explain that it was the very means by
18:29
which McClellan was closing in on
18:31
Richmond why should we leave to him the
18:34
whole advantage of holding advantage of
18:36
laborers combined with valor fortitude
18:39
and boldness of which we have no fair
18:41
proportion it should lead us to success
18:44
after describing how the Romans combined
18:47
fortifications and fighting so
18:48
skillfully we then concluded quote there
18:51
is nothing so military as labor and
18:53
nothing so important to our army as to
18:56
save the lives of its soldiers end quote
18:58
three days into his command he ordered
19:01
each division to assign 300 men to work
19:04
on the supervision of engineer officers
19:07
to dig fortifications soldiers resented
19:11
the labor Lee didn’t care
19:13
trenches and works would save rebel
19:16
lives and multiply combat power he also
19:19
ordered men to quote strengthen their
19:21
positions in the most perfect manner
19:24
with redoubts barricades a batiste
19:27
rifle pits etc so that everyone has a
19:30
hand in the manual labor in quote they
19:37
finally entered combat and fight they
19:39
did winning the seven days battles in
19:41
June and early July and then taking the
19:44
war into Northern Virginia and winning
19:46
the second Manassas campaign literally
19:48
driving the Yankees out of almost every
19:50
ounce of Virginia soil and then taking
19:54
the war into Maryland but after three
19:56
months of fighting Lee knew that he had
19:59
serious discipline problems Lee believed
20:02
quote the material of which it is
20:04
composed is the best in the world and
20:06
nothing can surpass the gallantry and
20:09
intelligent
20:09
of the main body in quote soldiers
20:12
brought with them from civil life
20:14
qualities and motivations that make
20:16
confederate soldiers in lee’s opinion
20:18
the best infantrymen in the world but
20:21
other aspects injured their cause in
20:23
other ways have the Confederacy
20:26
organized units differently Lee believed
20:28
had they not been introduced prematurely
20:30
into combat without adequate training
20:32
and regimentation had they not endured a
20:35
series of harsh conditions hard marches
20:38
and frequent campaigns and battles we
20:40
felt they might have been able to alter
20:42
military culture but the demands of war
20:45
permitted no such opportunity by the
20:48
time Lee was in a position to implement
20:51
any changes he encountered three
20:52
difficulties first military culture had
20:56
already taken hold and it would be
20:58
extremely difficult to break to the
21:02
officers upon whom he would have to rely
21:04
to alter that military culture came from
21:06
the same communities and to a great
21:08
extent the same backgrounds as their
21:10
enlisted men those officers shared the
21:13
same values in civil life and brought
21:15
them into the army and third new
21:18
recruits and furloughed troops revived
21:21
that sentiment by coming from civil life
21:23
back into the Army and so they left
21:26
steady reminders of what that culture
21:27
everyone left behind was all about that
21:31
however didn’t stop Lee from trying
21:33
after Antietam in September 1862 he’d
21:36
elected he directed his subordinates to
21:39
quote infuse a different spirit among
21:41
our officers and to inspire them in
21:43
making every necessary effort to bring
21:46
about a better state of discipline they
21:48
must impress men and officers with the
21:52
importance of a change necessary to the
21:54
preservation of this army and it’s
21:56
successful accomplishment of its mission
21:58
as it’s better discipline greater
22:01
mobility and higher inspirations must
22:03
counterbalance the many advantages over
22:06
us both in numbers and materiel which
22:09
the enemy possess end quote but those
22:12
who were expected to inculcate
22:14
discipline the officer corps had
22:16
suffered very heavy losses over the
22:19
entire war almost a quarter of all
22:22
officers in Lee’s army were killed in
22:25
action and one of every two officers was
22:29
either killed in action or was wounded
22:32
in action and wounded at least once many
22:36
multiple times
22:37
officers were more than twice as likely
22:40
to be killed in battle than were
22:41
enlisted men and more than one and a
22:43
half times as likely to be wounded in
22:46
battle from the seven days through
22:48
Antietam that’s the late June to mid mid
22:52
to late September 600 officers were
22:55
killed and 2,000 officers were wounded
23:00
from Antietam through the summer of 1864
23:04
another 1,000 officers were killed and
23:08
4,000 officers were wounded so from the
23:11
day we took command until mid 1864 1600
23:17
officers were killed in action and over
23:20
6,000 were wounded in action the
23:23
Confederacy of course had a finite
23:26
number of quality officers and the
23:28
staggering number impaired its ability
23:31
to train and discipline the troops what
23:35
our officers most lack is the pains and
23:37
labor of inculcating discipline Lee
23:39
complained to Davis in mid 1864 it’s a
23:42
painful and tedious process and is not
23:45
apt to win favor Lee believed his
23:48
enlisted men lacked discipline and the
23:50
officers cannot instill it in them
23:52
because they lacked discipline as well
23:54
as one inspector explained to
23:58
Confederate headquarters the extensive
23:59
fighting stripped away quote the best
24:02
and most efficient men in each command
24:04
and in too many companies there is not
24:06
material left out of which to make
24:08
company commanders end quote
24:11
yet there was little the Confederacy
24:13
could do if there was any consolation at
24:15
least these replacements were as Major
24:17
General George Pickett argued quote
24:19
Galit gallant and meritorious in action
24:23
end quote and the soldiers trusted them
24:25
to lead them in battle even worse supply
24:29
and transportation problems became so
24:32
severe that soldiers had to take matters
24:33
into their own hands young people
24:36
as we know can each staggering
24:39
quantities of food and quality is not
24:42
always a priority but these soldiers did
24:46
not know how to cook and were
24:47
unaccustomed to such bad food
24:49
a Georgia private grumbled of eating
24:51
biscuits so hard quote I could knock a
24:53
bowl down with one end quote I like this
24:56
guy the soldier has a perfect name his
24:58
name is bacon and he’s trying to bake
25:00
bread the first time I made up dough I
25:03
had a mess of it stuck to my hands I can
25:05
just envision him trying to swing his
25:06
hand to get it all stuck to my hands and
25:08
I could hardly get it off then I tried
25:10
to bake it but I could not get it done
25:12
some was burnt up in some was raw what a
25:15
mess I had my favorite story though a
25:18
soldiers who stole what they thought was
25:21
a tub of lard but in fact it was
25:24
actually tallow for candles and they
25:26
baked the biscuits and somebody came by
25:28
and said that wasn’t lard that’s tallow
25:30
one of the guys in the mess decided to
25:32
try the biscuits out anyway and he said
25:35
pronounce them good and tried to
25:36
convince his fellow soldiers to eat them
25:38
but they wouldn’t have any of it that
25:43
was early in the war then shortages
25:45
kicked in in an average year before the
25:48
war 800,000 to 1 million bushels of
25:51
wheat were shipped into Richmond in 1862
25:54
even though the city’s population had
25:56
doubled and on top of that you had the
25:59
army ranging in between 70 and 80
26:01
thousand men only 250,000 to 300,000
26:05
bushels of wheat arrived by mid January
26:09
1863 the army supply of cattle had
26:11
dwindled down to enough to last through
26:14
the end of the month only and those that
26:16
they had had becomes skinny as a result
26:19
of the winter regarding the other meat
26:22
pork the standard joke in the army was
26:24
that the bacon quote outranks General
26:26
Lee unquote in late April early May 1863
26:30
rations for a single day had to be
26:33
stretched out over three by early
26:36
January 1864 Davis admitted that the
26:39
army issued 1/4 of a pound of meat per
26:42
man per day and Lee only had one more
26:45
day’s issue on hand can you imagine
26:48
trying to run
26:50
armie when you only have food enough for
26:52
the next day it’s incredible when the
26:56
Yankees quipped that the Confederates
26:58
had a new general general starvation
27:00
they wanted very far off the mark that
27:04
was supposed to be funny has got a limit
27:06
lighten up here people I know this is a
27:08
tough subject for many of you
27:09
southerners but this you got a lighten
27:11
up here with shortages soldiers took
27:15
matters into their own hands on the
27:17
marcher encamped troops regularly
27:19
purchased and then later on swiped food
27:21
from locals by late 1863 though there
27:23
was nothing left to swipe instead they
27:26
turned on their government as an Alabama
27:28
private asserted hunger will drive a man
27:31
to anything you may depend the
27:33
Confederate government admitted that in
27:35
1863 alone six hundred and seventeen
27:38
thousand pounds of bacon alone were
27:41
stolen the commissary of subsistence in
27:45
January 1864 confessed quote every
27:48
shipment of meat is robbed of from eight
27:50
to fifteen hundred pounds end quote
27:54
to combat the practice the Confederacy
27:57
had to place guards on all the trains
27:59
with orders to shoot people on the spot
28:03
we tried to solve the food problem as a
28:06
solution and get loaded this is quite a
28:08
revolutionary proposal Lee suggested an
28:11
alteration of priorities and civilian
28:15
consumption habits soldiers in the field
28:18
should become the nation’s top priority
28:21
quote if it requires all the meat in the
28:23
country to support the army it should be
28:25
had and I believe this could be
28:27
accomplished by not only showing its
28:29
necessity but that all equally
28:31
contributed if the government could
28:33
convince the public to consume
28:35
foodstuffs that quote cannot be so well
28:38
used by the troops in the field end
28:40
quote it would save other eatables for
28:42
his men that’s pretty revolutionary
28:44
calling for a change in consumption
28:47
practices clothing clothing of course is
28:50
a big problem in the army many of the
28:51
guys came in with their Sunday best and
28:53
they quickly wore out
28:54
one soldier grumbled about his pants
28:56
that were a quote more holy than
28:58
righteous and quote
29:00
and of course soldiers had shortages of
29:03
coats hats pins etc but shoes with a
29:07
single biggest problem replacement items
29:10
were often poor in quality for example
29:12
in one shipment Lee’s army got 10,000
29:14
pairs of shoes and over 3,000 of them
29:16
were absolutely unusable and had to be
29:19
sent back Lee’s solution to the problem
29:21
he located 271 pre-war shoe makers in
29:25
his ranks and pulled them out of the
29:27
ranks and made them make shoes during
29:29
all the months when the servant when
29:32
they weren’t in active duty that was not
29:34
enough soldiers accustomed to solving
29:37
problems themselves took matters into
29:39
their own hands early on they had
29:41
plundered on the battlefields for money
29:43
and valuables weapons and mementos by
29:46
late 1862 they had no choice but to
29:49
plunder for food and clothing as the
29:51
cold weather approached once again and
29:53
soldiers hoped for a battle so that they
29:56
could clothe themselves properly that
29:59
winter the majority of the troops are
30:02
eager for a fight when officer wrote his
30:04
father the battlefield is the greatest
30:06
storehouse of winter equipments and
30:07
pocket money and our boys have a
30:09
penchant for both end quote
30:11
a Virginia private concurred
30:14
semi-literate I have rather been in
30:16
hopes that if they were going to fight
30:18
it all that it would come off or I want
30:20
some overcoat and blankets if our men
30:23
whipped them I would stand a good chance
30:25
to get some he explained so what they
30:27
needed to do was defeat the Union and
30:30
control the battlefield so they could
30:32
strip the Union soldiers of the clothing
30:33
so they’d have clothing and blankets for
30:35
the winter
30:37
of course if soldiers are being fed
30:39
poorly you can imagine how badly the
30:41
animals were being fed the artillery by
30:43
spring of 1862 was already short 1,200
30:47
horses if they had them they probably
30:49
couldn’t offend them though by early
30:51
1863 Lee directed subordinates to feed
30:54
their animals on twigs and bark from
30:56
poplars maples and sweet gums in the
30:59
latter part of 1863 we had to reduce the
31:02
number of guns in his artillery because
31:05
he could not feed the animals in
31:07
November 1863 he complained to Davis
31:10
quote no corn was received here on the
31:13
21st and
31:14
and on the 22nd and 24th about five
31:17
pounds per horse that average is of
31:20
course two and a half pounds per animal
31:22
per day the Union fed its animals
31:25
between 23 and 26 pounds per day in the
31:31
course of one 40 day period without any
31:34
campaigning a cavalry Brigade increased
31:37
its dismounted men from 292 to 681 due
31:42
to food shortfalls prior to secession
31:47
the southern states had developed a
31:48
transportation network that service
31:50
distant markets predominantly with non
31:52
perishable goods such as cotton tobacco
31:54
and sugar with few exceptions most
31:57
perishable products came locally by the
32:00
winter of 1860 to 63 the Confederacy had
32:03
so overused its rail system in Virginia
32:06
that was becoming increasingly
32:08
unreliable at the time Lee’s army was
32:11
was occupying a position on the southern
32:13
bank of the Rappahannock River near
32:15
Fredericksburg the Richmond
32:17
Fredericksburg and Potomac railroad ran
32:19
there but it was not designed to carry
32:21
Freight just passengers that left the
32:24
Virginia Central probably the most
32:26
important railroad in the state as the
32:28
only viable alternative now the Virginia
32:31
central intersected with Richmond
32:33
Fredericksburg and the Potomac at
32:34
Hanover Junction and from there it went
32:37
all the way up into the Shenandoah
32:39
Valley which of course is the richest
32:41
region for food production in the state
32:43
workers could then unload supplies at
32:46
Hanover Junction put them on wagons and
32:48
cover the 35 miles to the army but of
32:51
course that became more problematic in
32:53
the wintertime when the roads converted
32:56
into mud even worse it resulted in the
33:00
badly over you in a bad overuse of this
33:03
Virginia Central Railroad its tracks had
33:06
declined significantly in just two years
33:08
of war due to the overuse and a lack of
33:11
repairs it’s quote efficiency is most
33:14
seriously impaired end quote so the
33:17
railroad president informed Davis in
33:19
mid-march 1863 the line suffered for
33:22
derailment in a five-day period to
33:26
reduce derailments the Confederacy
33:28
had to cut the weight in each car by 25%
33:31
and then slow down the speed of the
33:34
Train Li solution by early 1864 li
33:38
sought the suspension of all rail travel
33:41
except on government business with the
33:44
space designated for use in supplying
33:47
the army
33:47
in addition quote this is pretty
33:50
revolutionary all the population whose
33:53
presence would impede or endanger our
33:55
efforts should be removed especially
33:58
that part of it
33:59
which increases the consumption of
34:01
public stores without aiding or
34:03
strengthening the army he wants to
34:05
depopulate Richmond fewer mouths food
34:09
goes farther he wanted prisoners
34:11
parolees federal deserters and
34:13
unemployed person to remove from the
34:15
city and quote every encouragement given
34:18
to the rest of the non-combatant
34:20
population to retire except those whose
34:23
services may be useful or who will not
34:26
increase the scarcity of supplies end
34:28
quote
34:29
if the individual didn’t contribute
34:32
directly to the war effort through
34:33
military or government service
34:35
production direct labor or
34:37
transportation the government needed to
34:39
urge them to leave the richmond area to
34:42
conserve supplies for the troops as the
34:46
confederate margin for error winnowed
34:48
and the in the area of supply and
34:49
transportation it declined in manpower
34:51
as well effective implementation of
34:54
Davis’s strategy was extremely costly
34:57
for of every 10 soldiers in lee’s army
35:00
was either killed or wounded and five of
35:03
every nine soldiers who ever served in
35:05
lee’s army was either killed wounded or
35:07
captured once prior to the surrender at
35:11
Appomattox one in 16 suffered multiple
35:16
wounds and another one in ten were
35:18
wounded and also captured by factoring
35:24
in those who died of disease and
35:26
accidents or who were discharged for
35:28
disabilities almost three of every salt
35:31
for soldiers who ever served in the Army
35:34
of Northern Virginia were either killed
35:36
died of disease were wounded at least
35:39
once were captured at least one
35:41
or were discharged for a disability
35:44
that’s unbelievable when you factor out
35:49
those who deserted the army permanently
35:52
the percentage of casualties rises to
35:55
80% not only did these terrible losses
36:00
damage the army but they also hurt
36:02
morale even in the face of resounding
36:04
triumphs casualties cut to the core of
36:07
wartime support let me give you a great
36:09
example the state of North Carolina
36:11
which narrowly embrace secession what
36:15
fueled the fires of disaffection more
36:17
than anything in North Carolina with the
36:19
tremendous casualties among North
36:21
Carolinians in Lee’s army now listen to
36:24
these statistics because they’re
36:25
unbelievable behind the provost state of
36:28
Virginia North Carolina sent the most
36:30
troops to Lee’s Army in the spring of
36:32
1863 at Chancellorsville three of every
36:37
ten North Carolinians in Lee’s army was
36:40
killed wounded or captured that was but
36:43
by far the greatest total and the
36:45
greatest percentage of any state in
36:48
Lee’s army the seven highest totals of
36:51
killed and wounded fell to North
36:53
Carolina regiments two months later at
36:57
Gettysburg after the army had received
37:00
two huge brigades of North Carolinians
37:05
46.4% of all North Carolinians were
37:08
killed wounded or captured that’s almost
37:10
half the top four regimental casualty
37:14
figures and six of the seven highest
37:17
occurred in North Carolina regiments at
37:19
Gettysburg North Carolina lost 1782 more
37:25
men than the next highest state Virginia
37:27
that 1782 amounted to more casualties
37:32
than eight Confederate states suffered
37:35
in the Battle of Gettysburg then to
37:39
worsen the discrepancy at the Battle of
37:41
Bristow station in October 1863 almost
37:44
every single casualty in the battle was
37:47
a North Carolinian and again another 10%
37:50
of all North Carolinians and Lee’s army
37:52
so while it’s difficult to ascertain
37:55
precision a reasonable calculation over
37:58
a five and a half month period indicates
38:02
that seven of every North 10 North
38:04
Carolinians in Lee’s Army was either
38:06
killed wounded or captured in that
38:08
period the impact of those losses in the
38:13
most successful and visible Confederate
38:15
field command the Army of Northern
38:16
Virginia on the North Carolina home
38:19
front was devastating and coincided
38:21
precisely with the rising disaffection
38:24
in that state to compensate for
38:27
productivity decline associated with
38:30
manpower loss to the army Confederates
38:32
relied on blacks who proved increasingly
38:34
undependable as the war went on more and
38:38
more they slowed down work ran off to
38:40
the Yankees and caused general uneasy
38:42
uneasiness among the population that
38:44
remained at home the situation was so
38:47
severe that by 1864 the former governor
38:51
of Virginia General Henry wise told a
38:54
family friend that quote slavery is a
38:58
dead issue here in Virginia end quote
39:01
regardless of who won the civil war in
39:05
other words even if the Confederacy want
39:07
one you could never maintain slavery in
39:10
Virginia again attrition wore down
39:15
Confederates as we tried desperately to
39:18
increase manpower he notified the
39:20
Secretary of War in January 1863 that
39:23
they needed every man and he asked the
39:25
secretary to call on governor’s to
39:29
appeal to their constituents to fill the
39:31
ranks using quote shame against those
39:35
who will not heed the dictates of honor
39:37
and of patriotism
39:38
end quote in one instance Lee found
39:41
himself under arrest I’ll bet most of
39:43
you need to know that Robert Ely was a
39:44
had an order issued for his arrest what
39:48
happened was the Secretary of War
39:49
ordered two privates to come to Richmond
39:51
to act as clerks and Lee did know who
39:54
issued the order but immediately
39:55
overturned the order and directed the
39:57
guys to go back and be rifle toters
39:59
again when the Secretary of War found
40:01
out he ordered Lee to be arrested that’s
40:05
kind of a funny concept imagine Leonor
40:08
under arrest of course we explained
40:09
situation in guess what the Secretary of
40:12
War rescinded his order the men’s state
40:14
as his rifle toters so we even won the
40:17
battle the grind of the 1864 campaign
40:21
took its toll on Lee’s army after two
40:24
weeks of fighting in May 1864 Lee had
40:28
six generals killed sick nine generals
40:31
wounded and three generals captured by
40:33
the end of May one corps commander
40:36
Longstreet was wounded James Longstreet
40:39
that is another Corps commander Richard
40:41
Ewell had collapsed from exhaustion a
40:43
third Corps commander ap Hill had a
40:45
flare flare up of his old illness
40:48
prostatitis as a result of a youthful
40:51
indiscretion and then Stewart of course
40:55
his cavalry commander was killed Lee
40:57
suffered from dysentery and which he get
40:59
this I got when I found this out found
41:01
this in in the medical army medical
41:04
directors report Lee did not get more
41:07
than two consecutive hours of sleep for
41:11
a three week period now Lee is 59 years
41:16
of age was he born in 1850
41:20
it’s about 56 years of age that’s all
41:23
that’s not very much sleep and of course
41:25
he’s sleeping on a rack and a torte have
41:28
you ever seen it Museum of the
41:29
Confederacy has has leaves caught it’s
41:32
more like a torture rack by early June
41:37
1864 the campaign locked into trench
41:40
warfare with all the harsh conditions
41:42
that entailed from September 1862
41:45
through July 1864 the hospitals in
41:49
Virginia had admitted almost four
41:51
hundred and thirteen thousand soldiers
41:53
as patients due to illness or injury
41:55
during the three months of May June and
41:58
July 1864 those hospitals admitted one
42:02
hundred and two thousand soldiers alone
42:06
now even if every soldier was
42:09
transferred from one hospital to a
42:11
second one
42:12
that means 51,000 soldiers in a
42:15
three-month period were sent to the
42:18
hospital
42:19
that’s incredible in it
42:22
nor could lee effectively replace those
42:24
who went down he had squeezed everyone
42:26
he could in uniform back into the ranks
42:29
and conscription had augmented his
42:31
numbers too as the army passed by
42:33
communities his corps commanders had
42:35
orders to conscript any male who
42:38
appeared physically able incidentally
42:42
and and by the late stage of the war I
42:45
would say one in every eight soldiers
42:46
and Lee’s army was a conscript but I
42:49
want to mention this because this plays
42:51
into the 15 slave law in Virginia only
42:55
2% of all exemptions from conscription
42:58
were given to people under the 15 slave
43:00
law to put it in context four times as
43:04
many farmers railroad workers and
43:08
Millers received exemptions five times
43:11
as many shoemakers and government
43:14
officials received exemptions even
43:17
doctors and clergymen received twice as
43:20
many exemptions as slave holders on the
43:23
15 slave law by the end of 1864 the
43:28
bureau of conscription decreed that
43:30
there were no more conscripts to tap
43:32
except 16 year-olds who were coming of
43:36
age in the next year in Virginia that
43:39
amounted to the precise number of 2719
43:45
in fact the Confederacy just doesn’t
43:47
have the manpower anymore the strain of
43:49
war proved almost unbearable one brigade
43:52
of 1187 privates for example had to
43:56
defend 2,401 yards of works and two
44:01
thousand three hundred yards of picket
44:03
area every day the Union was able to
44:07
rotate troops from the trenches back the
44:10
Confederacy didn’t have that luxury by
44:12
1864 food for man and beast became more
44:15
and more scarce combat had discouraged
44:18
farmers from planting in the Shenandoah
44:19
Valley as far south as Bunker Hill and a
44:22
drought had devastated the corn crop
44:24
between Stanton and Newmarket reducing
44:27
corn production to one-third its usual
44:30
harvest animals got between two and a
44:32
half and five pounds of feed per day and
44:35
it was no
44:36
better for humans in one instance
44:38
cavalry commander Wade Hampton see seas
44:41
2500 head of cattle from the Federals
44:43
that gave the Confederate Army enough
44:46
meat for a month but other than that as
44:48
the winter came on the situation proved
44:51
bleak soldiers seldom received more than
44:54
a pound of cornmeal and a quarter pound
44:56
of beef per day by 1865 the commissary
45:00
could not sustain even that meager
45:02
bounty often 1/4 pound of beef and
45:06
either a pound of bread or 3/4 pound of
45:09
corn meal per day was issued that
45:11
equaled 900 to 1,200 calories per day
45:15
the US Army feeds its soldiers in the
45:19
combat environment 4000 calories a day
45:22
because that’s what the army feels is
45:24
essential to maintain muscle mass and
45:27
body weight not put on weight just to
45:29
maintain existing weight these guys are
45:31
living on 900 to 1,200 calories a day
45:35
that’s like two hours at the at the
45:38
local pub for most undergraduate
45:40
students many days the government could
45:45
supply troops with either meat or the
45:47
starch but not both the government
45:50
diverted corn intended to go to horses
45:52
for their soldiers the corn had
45:54
contained dried leaves and stalks from
45:57
the corn plant roughage that the that
46:00
the animals would find nutritious but of
46:02
course the soldiers found it unpalatable
46:04
supplies from everywhere came at a
46:07
glacial pace we had to draw a supplies
46:10
from as far away as Georgia taxing the
46:12
rail lines even more one line was so bad
46:15
the trains averaged one mile per hour
46:20
once Sherman began his advance through
46:23
Georgia and then South Carolina he cut
46:25
off those areas from food access and so
46:28
Lee’s area from which he could drawn was
46:31
shrinking more and more but it was not
46:33
until the combination of Lincoln’s
46:35
reelection Sherman’s march that
46:37
desertion began to truly soar in 1865 it
46:41
got worse and worse little clothing
46:44
little food too little rest and too much
46:47
work sapped soldiers
46:49
their motivation to fight good soldiers
46:52
tried soldiers began to lose faith and
46:54
desert men who had fought well in
46:56
literally dozens of battles those final
46:59
weeks were awful for men in Lee’s army
47:01
over the course of February and March
47:03
Lee’s army lost on average about 120 men
47:06
to desertion every day that’s comparable
47:10
to an infantry brigade present for duty
47:13
every 10 days just a desertion others
47:17
held on on the retreat from Richmond the
47:20
Richmond Petersburg line westward their
47:22
physical deterioration from poor
47:24
condition prevented thousands from
47:26
keeping up on my previous campaigns
47:29
where soldiers purposely straggled many
47:32
just could not stay up on the March 4
47:35
months Lee’s army lived on a diet that
47:37
lacked half the necessary protein to
47:40
maintain muscle mass and provided less
47:43
than two-thirds the necessary calories
47:45
to sustain body mass the diet by that by
47:49
this point largely down to a quarter
47:51
pound of beef and two pints of cornmeal
47:53
and occasional small amounts of molasses
47:56
was woefully deficient in most vitamins
47:59
resulting in weakness and absorption
48:01
problems of protein minerals and
48:03
vitamins with soldiers suffering skin
48:06
ailments night blindness anemia scurvy
48:08
and diarrhea in other words they weren’t
48:11
taking in enough good nutrition to break
48:14
down the food that they were actually
48:15
eating in a telling assessment doctor JW
48:20
Powell medical director for the Third
48:21
Corps commented on the Corps inspection
48:24
report in February quote while there was
48:27
not much well I’m sorry
48:29
while there was not found’ much absolute
48:32
sickness existing there were many weak
48:35
and feeble men who cannot be relied upon
48:38
to undergo any great physical exertions
48:41
end quote although Lee wants more a call
48:44
for discipline and reminded them a
48:46
patriotism he could get nothing more
48:48
from many of his troops pressed by
48:51
Federals Lee had to push his men hard on
48:54
the retreat thousands dropped out of the
48:56
March some falling into Yankee hands
48:58
others slowly working their way home
49:00
because they liked the stamina
49:02
to keep up for four long years this army
49:05
had battled overwhelming federal
49:07
manpower and resources brilliantly close
49:10
to 30,000 of them fell in combat and
49:13
more than 125,000 suffered wounds but
49:17
punished the Yankees they did Lee’s army
49:20
inflicted 45% of all the Union soldiers
49:24
killed and 45% of all the Union soldiers
49:27
wounded in the entire war in the last
49:32
year of the war despite the decline in
49:35
Lee’s Army grants forces sustained some
49:39
127 thousand casualties that’s almost as
49:45
many casualties as the Army of Northern
49:47
Virginia suffered for four years of war
49:49
in general order number nine a farewell
49:54
to his troops Lee stated that they had
49:56
been quote compelled to yield to
49:58
overwhelming numbers and resources end
50:00
quote to President Davis 10 years later
50:02
he told something different he blamed
50:04
the quote moral condition of the army
50:06
for defeat quote the operations which
50:10
occurred while the troops were in the
50:12
entrenchments in front of Richmond and
50:13
Petersburg would not marked by the
50:15
boldness and decision which formally
50:17
characterized them except in particular
50:19
instances they were feeble and a want of
50:22
confidence seemed to possess officers
50:24
and men this condition I think was
50:27
produced by the state of feeling in the
50:29
country and the GB and the
50:31
communications received by the men from
50:34
their homes urging their return and the
50:37
abandonment of the field end quote
50:39
both were correct the rebels confronted
50:42
vast Union superiority and over the
50:44
course of four years of war it wore down
50:47
the Confederacy ultimately the Army of
50:51
Northern Virginia did not collapse
50:52
because of southern culture industry
50:56
agriculture slavery motivations manpower
50:59
shortages discontent at home or any
51:02
other solitary factor intense and
51:05
sustained Union pressure caused serious
51:08
fissures in all these areas winnowing
51:11
away that margin for error and cutting
51:13
into muscle and bone collectively
51:14
bringing down the
51:16
and the entire Confederacy four long
51:20
years of war damaged or disrupted
51:22
virtually every aspect of Confederate
51:25
life
51:25
the demoralisation to which Lee referred
51:29
was a consequence of all these problems
51:31
not a cause let me conclude by telling
51:35
you a little story about private Thomas
51:37
Petty a native of Virginia and a pre-war
51:39
clerk in Washington DC he lost some
51:42
friends over the Secession issue he
51:44
joined the Confederate Army and in a
51:46
warm July night 1861 he was gazing up to
51:49
the sky and saw a comet rocketing
51:51
through the sky the next day he read in
51:53
the new Richmond newspapers that no one
51:55
had anticipated the comet he wondered
51:59
what it meant
52:00
perhaps it portends refer shadows the
52:03
speedy acknowledgment of our Confederate
52:05
States independence he pondered and by a
52:08
sudden apparition typifies the
52:10
Confederate States which is coming to
52:11
the host of nations like the comet
52:13
blazing gloriously in quote petit was
52:18
wrong about independence but correct
52:19
about the comet as a metaphor in the
52:22
grandeur of time the Army of Northern
52:23
Virginia might the Confederate States of
52:25
America was a short-lived shooting star
52:28
it appeared as a powerful illumination
52:31
and quickly passed into darkness perhaps
52:34
200,000 or more men stepped into its
52:36
ranks throughout the course of the war
52:38
undermanned underfed poorly clothed and
52:41
inadequately equipped the Army of
52:43
Northern Virginia kept a significantly
52:45
larger and better resource Union Army at
52:47
bay for almost four years its success
52:51
was so great that in the minds of
52:53
northerners and southerners alike it
52:55
came to symbolize the viability of the
52:58
Confederate states its commander was
53:01
perceived by many as a general superior
53:04
to all including Napoleon himself the
53:08
combination of Lee and his army have
53:11
left an indelible mark on the landscape
53:13
and the psyche of the American nation
53:15
far beyond its four years even today
53:19
many decades after its last veteran has
53:21
passed away Lee’s army continues to live
53:24
in the imagination of the American
53:26
public not so much for what it
53:29
represents
53:29
but for what it accomplished on the
53:31
field of battle under the most difficult
53:34
conditions and circumstances thank you
53:37
very much
53:47
question
Queue

John Fea | The Moral Responsibility of the Historian and the Case for Christian America

March 29, 2011

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Transcript

00:00
so yeah it’s good to be here at Wheaton
00:01
I send you greetings from our sister
00:03
institution in Grantham Pennsylvania
00:05
Messiah the president reminded me that
00:09
you know I shouldn’t bring up anything
00:11
about soccer but from what I understand
00:13
that the biggest football is the big
00:15
sport here we in any way so so again
00:18
it’s good to be here and what I wanted
00:20
to do I’m really grateful for this
00:22
opportunity because what I what I when
00:25
Vince asked me to talk about history at
00:28
a sort of center for ethics it really
00:31
allowed me to sort of think about some
00:34
of the projects that I’ve worked on in
00:36
the past but also some of the things
00:37
that I’ve been thinking about for future
00:39
projects as some of you may know I just
00:42
completed a book called was America
00:45
found it as a Christian nation a
00:46
historical introduction and i’ll be
00:48
talking a little bit about that book
00:50
here tonight but i’m also i’m also
00:54
working on a book now on thinking
00:57
Christianly about the study of history
01:00
so reflecting on the role of
01:02
Christianity as a person of faith as a
01:04
Christian myself and how that relates to
01:05
what I do as a historian so we’re
01:08
working on a little primer on that that
01:10
could be used in you know in history
01:12
courses at Christian colleges so some of
01:14
the things that I’ve been able to do
01:16
with thinking about actually fit very
01:18
well with the with the topic and the
01:20
invitation you know historians aren’t by
01:23
nature sort of ethicists you know we are
01:26
we we sort of you know tell the story
01:28
and we let you know you decide whether
01:30
you know whether it was right or wrong
01:32
so this is so this is a great
01:34
opportunity for me to sort of think
01:35
about some of these things and things
01:36
that are very important to me as a
01:38
Christian and as a historian so my title
01:41
as we worked it out is the moral
01:43
responsibility of the historian and the
01:45
case for Christian America and let me
01:48
start off with a little vignette here
01:50
now during the week of jun 11 2007 4,000
01:55
christians converged on williamsburg
01:56
virginia to celebrate the 400th
01:59
anniversary of the founding of Jamestown
02:01
the first successful English colony in
02:03
North America the event was sponsored by
02:06
vision forum ministries an organization
02:09
that among other things is committed to
02:11
quote teaching history as the
02:13
of God unquote the Jamestown quadra
02:16
Centennial as it was called a
02:18
celebration of America’s providential
02:20
history was a gala event for the cost of
02:24
admission visitors were treated to
02:26
lectures on various themes at early
02:28
American history historical reenactments
02:30
Faith and Freedom tours of Williamsburg
02:33
in Yorktown and even hot air balloon
02:35
rides over the site of the Jamestown
02:37
Settlement one of the highlights of the
02:39
week was a children’s parade led by a
02:41
pocahontas reenactor a thousand boys and
02:44
girls dressed in period clothing marched
02:46
in a one-mile perception to commemorate
02:49
the planting of this historic colony the
02:52
week came to an end for these American
02:54
Christian pilgrims with a Sunday morning
02:56
worship service the vision forum
02:59
gathering differed markedly from the
03:02
celebration plan by the national
03:03
government and its jamestown 400th
03:06
commemoration commission while both
03:09
events featured activities for families
03:10
and an array of educational
03:12
opportunities the government sponsored
03:15
commemoration did not include lectures
03:17
and seminars with titles such as
03:19
Jamestown’s legacy of christ liberty and
03:23
common law or refuting the revisionists
03:27
on america’s four hundredth birthday nor
03:30
did the brochures advertising various
03:32
tours of jamestown read like the one
03:34
being promoted by a popular Christian
03:36
radio host and theologian quote join
03:39
Gary de Mar as he presents well
03:41
documented facts which will change your
03:44
perspective about what it means to be a
03:45
Christian in America if you are tired of
03:48
the revisionism of the politically
03:49
correct crowd trying to whitewash our
03:51
Christian history you will not want to
03:53
miss this tour unquote the providential
03:57
historians quadra Centennial was part of
04:00
an attempt as many of you may already
04:01
know by some evangelicals to reclaim
04:05
what they believed to be America’s
04:06
Christian heritage they have made the
04:09
relationship between religion and the
04:10
creation of the American Republic a
04:12
dominant topic of debate in our recent
04:15
culture wars many well-meaning
04:17
Christians like those associated with
04:19
the vision forum believed that America
04:21
was founded as a uniquely Christian
04:24
nation these Evan Jellico’s have
04:27
use this historical claim to justify
04:29
policy on a host of moral and cultural
04:32
issues facing the United States today
04:35
the study of the past they argue has
04:38
been held hostage by secularists who
04:40
have rejected the notion that the
04:41
American founders sought to forge a
04:43
country that was Christian instead they
04:46
argue these revisionist wrongly claimed
04:49
that the American Revolutionary era was
04:51
informed by enlightenment ideals about
04:53
toleration pluralism and rights in their
04:58
attempt to counter these arguments some
04:59
believers in a Christian America have
05:01
supported House Resolution 888 and
05:04
attempt by Christian lawmakers in
05:07
Congress to establish an American
05:09
religious history week that celebrates
05:12
quote the rich spiritual and religious
05:14
history of our nation’s founding unquote
05:16
others have taken control of the Texas
05:19
State Board of Education in an attempt
05:21
to change the state social studies
05:23
curriculum to better represent the
05:25
Christian themes that they believe all
05:27
schoolchildren should study and learn
05:30
was America founded as a Christian
05:33
nation in my experience as a Christian
05:36
and a Christian college history
05:38
professor I have found that many average
05:40
churchgoers and potential Messiah
05:44
college students and their parents are
05:46
often confused about this topic
05:49
unfortunately those who dominate our
05:51
public discourse tend to make matters
05:53
worse for example during the 2008
05:56
presidential campaign Republican
05:59
candidate John McCain announced that
06:01
quote the Constitution established the
06:03
United States of America as a Christian
06:05
nation unquote but the Constitution
06:08
actually says nothing about the
06:09
relationship between Christianity and
06:11
the United States similarly former
06:15
Arkansas governor and McCain’s fellow
06:16
presidential candidate Mike Huckabee
06:18
said on the campaign trail that most of
06:21
the 56 men who signed the Declaration of
06:24
Independence were clergymen in fact only
06:26
one member of the clergy signed the
06:28
Declaration of Independence college of
06:31
new jersey president john witherspoon
06:33
recently television personality glenn
06:35
beck has devoted his friday afternoon
06:38
shows to the religious beliefs
06:39
of the founders we live in a soundbite
06:43
culture that makes it difficult to have
06:44
any sustained dialogue on these
06:47
historical issues it is easy for those
06:49
who argue that America is a Christian
06:51
nation and I might add for those who do
06:53
not to appear on radio radio or
06:56
television programs quote from one of
06:58
the founders one of the nation’s
06:59
founding documents and sway people to
07:02
their positions these kinds of arguments
07:05
which can often be quite contentious do
07:08
nothing to help us unravel a very
07:10
complicated historical puzzle about the
07:12
relationship between Christianity and
07:14
the American Founding it is not just the
07:18
secularists and the Christians who
07:20
disagree on these issues evangelicals
07:23
have legitimate differences over these
07:25
issues as well in 2005 when Time
07:28
magazine announced the 25 most
07:31
influential evangelicals in America the
07:34
list included both David Barton and Mark
07:37
null bar in the founder of an
07:40
organization called wall builders is one
07:43
of the country’s foremost proponents of
07:45
the theory that America is a Christian
07:47
nation Knohl who of course needs no
07:49
introduction here at Wheaton has spent a
07:51
good portion of his career attempting to
07:53
debunk both directly and indirectly the
07:57
notion that America is a Christian
07:58
nation Barton has suggested that Knoll
08:01
and scholars like him rely too much on
08:03
the work of other historians and not
08:05
enough on primary documents knoll has
08:08
offered careful and nuanced arguments to
08:10
refute the Christian nationalists but as
08:13
a scholar his work lacks the immense
08:15
popularity among ordinary evangelicals
08:17
that Bart and enjoys when I speak on
08:21
this subject and I do a lot of speaking
08:24
as a we have this thing in Pennsylvania
08:26
called Pennsylvania Commonwealth
08:27
speakers in which I travel around the
08:29
state of Pennsylvania speaking to
08:30
libraries and social civic groups and so
08:33
forth on this usually when I when I
08:35
speak on this subject and usually the
08:37
title is something like was America
08:39
founded as a Christian nation so it’s
08:40
sort of provocative and people will show
08:42
up I found that most people come to my
08:45
lecture with their minds already made up
08:47
basically looking for me to provide
08:49
historical evidence to confirm their
08:51
position
08:53
what is a historian to do if there is
08:57
one thing that historian should not do I
08:59
would argue it is to jump into the
09:02
political debate in some ways the
09:04
question in the title of my current book
09:06
was America found that as a Christian
09:08
nation is a bad historical question this
09:13
was a debate between my publisher and
09:15
maybe saying I don’t want the book to be
09:16
titled that way and the publisher of
09:17
course well you know we’ll sell more
09:18
books if you give this sort of
09:20
provocative title it’s a question that
09:22
does not conform to easy yes and no
09:24
answers that most of most to ask the
09:27
question are looking for my golden is
09:30
this lecture is not to lay out a case
09:32
for or against the Christian founding i
09:34
hope you will buy my book there’s my
09:37
pitch my only pitch to see how I handle
09:40
the details such as the way Americans
09:42
have always understood themselves to be
09:44
part of a Christian nation whether or
09:45
not they they’re interpreting the
09:47
founders correctly or not I argue that
09:49
the Christians in America have always
09:52
Americans generally all the way up until
09:54
the sort of 1950s have always understood
09:56
themselves to be part of a Christian
09:58
nation or you can find stuff about the
10:01
relationship of evangelicalism to the
10:03
coming of the revolution the Declaration
10:05
of Independence the Constitution the
10:07
state governments or the religious
10:09
beliefs of the founders which I cover in
10:10
detail but my intention tonight is to
10:13
reflect on the responsibility of the
10:15
historian using the Christian America
10:17
controversy and a few others as a case
10:21
study at the horror of the debate wet
10:24
over whether the United States was
10:26
founded as a Christian nation is the
10:28
relationship between history and
10:30
American life it is thus important to
10:33
think about the nature of the discipline
10:35
of history and identify the difference
10:37
between good history and bad history
10:40
what is the purpose of studying history
10:43
what do historians do does everyone who
10:47
conducts a serious study of the past
10:49
qualify as a historian in my opinion
10:53
writes Pulitzer prize-winning historian
10:55
Gordon would not everyone who writes
10:59
about the past is a historian
11:01
sociologists anthropologists political
11:03
scientists and economists frequently
11:06
work in the past with
11:07
really thinking historically what this
11:10
would mean by this is there a difference
11:12
between the past and history to terms we
11:15
often assume are synonymous it is also
11:20
important to remember just what we do
11:22
when we say that we are historian John
11:24
Tasha historiography writes all the
11:27
resources of scholarship and all the
11:29
historians powers of imagination must be
11:32
harnessed to the task of bringing the
11:33
past back to life or resurrecting it
11:37
historians make the dead live they bring
11:41
the past to an audience in the present
11:43
if we think about the vocation of the
11:45
historian this way then perhaps we may
11:48
distinguish between history and the past
11:51
the past is the past a record of events
11:54
that occurred in bygone eras but history
11:57
is a discipline the art of
11:59
reconstructing the past most human
12:02
beings tend to be rather present minded
12:04
when it comes to confronting the past
12:06
the discipline of history was never
12:08
meant to function as a means of getting
12:10
one’s political point across or
12:13
convincing people to join a cause as it
12:16
is often used by Christian nationalists
12:18
and their opponents yet Americans both
12:22
on the left and the right used the past
12:24
for these purposes all the time such an
12:27
approach to the past can easily
12:29
degenerate into a form of propaganda or
12:32
as the historian Bernard Bailyn
12:33
described it indoctrination by
12:36
historical example when we engage in the
12:40
careful reconstruction of the past we
12:41
will find that it is often strange when
12:44
compared to our present-day
12:45
sensibilities there were some people in
12:48
the past that burned witches others
12:51
engaged in human sacrifice as historian
12:54
David Lowenthal echoing the late LP
12:56
Hartley reminds us the past is a foreign
12:59
country they do things differently there
13:02
it is the strangeness of the past that
13:06
turns many off to its study what if the
13:09
past does not inspire me what if we are
13:11
required to investigate an error or a
13:13
movement that at first glance does not
13:15
seem to teach us anything about
13:16
ourselves or our society how does
13:21
knowledge of the medieval feudal system
13:22
help us live better lives well our lives
13:25
be enriched by a thorough knowledge of
13:27
the causes of World War one perhaps but
13:31
it is easy to ignore miss the parts of
13:33
the past that we do not like yet all
13:36
historians must come to grips with this
13:38
with its utter strangeness present
13:41
mindedness makes for bad history as
13:43
noted historian of the American West
13:45
Richard white writes any good history
13:48
begins in strangeness the past should
13:51
not be comfortable the past should not
13:53
be a familiar echo of the present for if
13:55
it is familiar why revisited the past
13:59
should be so strange that you wonder how
14:02
you and people you know in love could
14:04
come from such a time or for you you’re
14:07
a pianist out there listen to the words
14:09
of Carlo Ginsberg the historians task is
14:12
just the opposite of what most of us
14:14
were taught to believe he must destroy
14:17
our sense of proximity to the patent to
14:19
the people of the past because they come
14:21
from society is very different from our
14:23
own the more we discover about these
14:25
people’s mental universes the more we
14:28
should be shocked by the cultural
14:29
distance that separates us from them
14:33
Gordon would have said if someone wants
14:35
to use the study of the past to change
14:37
the world he or she should forgo a
14:39
career as a historian and run for office
14:43
while it is certainly a worthwhile
14:45
exercise to use the past to critique a
14:47
particular dimension of contemporary
14:49
society I would argue that historians by
14:52
vocation are not primarily cultural
14:55
critics nor are they in the business of
14:58
using the past to promote a particular
15:00
political or cultural agenda the task of
15:04
the historian is to pursue truth where
15:07
it may wherever it may lead he or she
15:09
works with original or primary documents
15:11
to reconstruct the past and all its
15:13
complexity and fullness while the
15:15
historian might choose the subject she
15:17
will study based upon current events or
15:19
personal interest and I’d be lying to
15:22
say I picked the subject of my book you
15:24
know you know that it wasn’t driven by
15:26
personal interest or current events the
15:30
story must always with the evidence
15:31
speak even if that evidence leads her
15:33
toward a conclusion
15:34
may not be useful would notes the
15:37
present should not be the criterion for
15:39
what we find in the past now let’s move
15:42
on to an overview of how Christians
15:45
study the past or have studied the past
15:48
over the years Christians have proposed
15:50
several ways of thinking about the
15:51
relationship between their faith and the
15:54
study of history some Christians may
15:56
study the past as a means of explaining
15:58
the Providence of God for these students
16:01
of the past the purpose of history is to
16:03
discern the will of God through the ages
16:05
in this view history becomes theology
16:08
its purpose is to communicate God’s
16:11
designs not unlike some of the
16:13
historians of colonial New England who
16:16
wrote history for the purpose of
16:17
glorifying God and revealing his
16:20
handiwork for example early histories of
16:23
America such as William Bradford’s of
16:25
Plymouth Plantation written around 1650
16:28
or cotton Mathers magn Ali Kristi
16:31
Americana 1702 were written to explain
16:35
God’s providential ordering of the past
16:38
these older works were designed to bring
16:40
glory to the Creator for bestowing his
16:42
blessings on America and particularly
16:45
New England Bradford and matha wrote
16:48
with the sense of certainty about God
16:49
superintending hand they believed that
16:52
it was possible to understand God’s will
16:54
and trace it over time the manner of
16:57
doing history with this manner rather of
16:59
doing history was common in America
17:00
until the late 19th century and still
17:03
has its adherence today historians
17:06
however even Christian historians should
17:08
be cautious about using Providence as a
17:10
means of explaining historical events
17:12
the will of God in the past often
17:15
remains a mystery as theologian Charles
17:18
Matthews writing about st. Augustine’s
17:20
view of Providence notes the lesson of
17:23
Providence is not that history can be
17:25
finally solved like a cryptogram but
17:28
that it must be endured inhabited as a
17:31
mystery which we cannot fully understand
17:33
from the inside but which we cannot
17:36
escape of our own powers the primary
17:39
task of the historian is to describe the
17:41
way that human beings created by God in
17:44
His image have endured and inhabit
17:48
the mysteries of life history is more
17:51
about the study of human beings than it
17:54
is about the study of God as the noted
17:57
historiography RG collingwood put it the
18:00
work of Providence in history is
18:02
recognized but recognized in such a way
18:04
with Lee which leaves nothing for man to
18:06
do one result 11 result of this is that
18:10
historians fell into the error of
18:12
thinking that they could forecast the
18:14
future another result is that in their
18:17
anxiety to detect the general plan of
18:19
history and their belief that this plan
18:22
was God’s and not man’s they tended to
18:24
look for the essence of history outside
18:26
of history itself by looking away from
18:29
man’s actions in order to detect the
18:31
plan of God and consequently the actual
18:33
detail of human actions became for them
18:35
relatively unimportant and they
18:37
neglected the prime duty of the
18:39
historian a willingness to bestow
18:42
infinite pains on discovering what
18:44
actually happened God’s plan for the
18:47
ages is not something that historians or
18:49
anyone else for that matter can decipher
18:50
with any degree of certainty as
18:52
Christians we believe that God has
18:54
spoken the world into creation but his
18:57
creation is ongoing as a result we must
19:00
be patient and wait in expected hope for
19:03
its full meaning hope reveals our
19:06
faithful knowledge is temporal dimension
19:09
it infuses our knowing with the sort of
19:11
not yet with the resistance to the
19:13
delusion that we know anything
19:15
completely even the most mundane things
19:18
this is true because we are sinners of
19:21
course but it is also true because
19:23
nothing yet bears the full weight of its
19:25
eschatological glory as first
19:28
Corinthians 13 12 reminds us for now we
19:32
see in a mirror dimly but then face to
19:35
face now in part but then I shall know
19:37
fully just as I have always been fully
19:40
known or just as I also haven’t fully
19:42
known Christian historians would do
19:44
better to approach their task with a
19:45
sense of God’s transcendent mystery a
19:48
healthy dose of humility and I hope that
19:50
one day soon but not now we will all
19:54
understand the Almighty’s plans for the
19:56
nation’s when we arrive at the judgment
19:58
of God Agustin wrote the time of which
20:01
in a special
20:02
sense is called the day of judgement it
20:04
will then become apparent that God’s
20:06
judgments are entirely just now not all
20:10
Christian historians think that
20:11
Providence is the best way of
20:12
interpreting the past some believe that
20:15
the past must be critiqued from the
20:17
perspective of Christian orthodoxy a
20:19
body of biblical teaching and church
20:21
tradition that always has always guided
20:23
Christians and judging right from wrong
20:25
this approach to history offers ethical
20:28
judgments on characters from the past
20:30
the ideas they defended and the
20:32
movements to which they affiliated
20:33
indeed the past provides us with moral
20:36
lessons making the historians sometimes
20:39
overtly but most times subtly although
20:42
no less powerfully a critic by nature
20:45
historian robert gleason has argued that
20:47
historians have a three-fold task to
20:50
explain what happened to ask why it
20:52
happened and to ask if what happened was
20:54
good those who embrace this vision of
20:58
history find it imperative to add an
21:00
additional moral dimension to their
21:02
study of the past one that is informed
21:04
by their Christian convictions the
21:07
validity of Gleason’s approach depends a
21:09
lot on how the place of moral criticism
21:11
is employed there is after all a
21:13
difference between a historian and a
21:16
moral philosopher Gleason’s first two
21:18
steps are certainly well within the role
21:20
of the historian but to ask if what
21:23
happened in the past was good leads to a
21:26
blurring of the disciplinary boundaries
21:28
between history and ethics and if we are
21:30
not careful can replace sound historical
21:34
thinking with moral criticism allow me
21:37
to illustrate this point from a typical
21:39
United States history survey course at
21:41
messiah college at an appropriate point
21:44
in the semester i give students copies
21:45
of documents written by 19th century
21:47
southerners theologians and ministers
21:50
mostly who defended the institution of
21:52
slavery these writings are completely
21:54
foreign to my students many of them are
21:57
appalled by the way that these
21:58
southerners use the Bible to justify
22:00
their peculiar institution they want to
22:03
immediately critique the arguments of
22:05
these men from the perspective of their
22:06
own moral and ethical commitments many
22:08
of them will offer insights from their
22:10
Bible or theology classes as arguments
22:13
for why these slaveholders misunderstood
22:15
the teachings of Scripture despite the
22:18
fact that the New Testament never
22:19
directly condemned slavery thinking
22:22
about the ethical dimensions of 19th
22:24
century slaveholding can be an
22:26
intellectually stimulating and a morally
22:29
helpful exercise but it should not be
22:31
the primary focus of a history classroom
22:34
historians are primarily after
22:37
understanding they must avoid what
22:39
historian Jim Legrand and my colleague
22:41
at Messiah has described as preaching
22:43
through history before condemning these
22:46
pro-slavery advocates history students
22:49
need to know why someone from the 19th
22:52
century would see the need to make such
22:54
a defense of slavery what was the
22:56
context in which these documents were
22:57
written who is the intended audience
22:59
what are the main issues at stake in the
23:02
author’s arguments it is important that
23:04
students enter into the world of a slave
23:06
holder and make an effort to empathize
23:08
with them no matter how repulsed they
23:11
are by his words in the end engaging the
23:14
past in this way could eventually result
23:16
in a much more nuanced and rich critique
23:20
of pro-slavery views finally Christians
23:25
have approached the study of the past of
23:26
the doctrine of creation and the belief
23:28
in the incarnation of Jesus Christ a
23:30
belief in a god who creates implies that
23:33
there is inherent value in studying the
23:35
works of his creation including the
23:37
history of interactions among human
23:39
beings who have inhabited the creative
23:41
world created world through time an
23:44
incarnation Allah proach to history
23:46
affirms that God revealed himself most
23:48
completely in the material world John 1
23:51
it suggests that the material world is
23:53
important because it is the locus in
23:55
which the word became flesh the stuff of
23:58
earth thus merits scholarly and
24:00
intellectual consideration in all its
24:02
realms belief in Christ and His
24:04
redemptive work on our behalf requires
24:06
obedience and submission to God’s
24:08
commands in every aspect of our lives to
24:12
confess the gospel naturally results in
24:14
the acknowledgments of God’s sovereignty
24:16
over all creation and all fields of
24:19
inquiry now it is hard to argue with
24:21
this Christian approach to thinking
24:23
about history the Incarnation is the
24:25
theological idea that must drive every
24:27
Christians understanding of the past
24:29
it offers a Christian reason for paying
24:31
attention to all the past whether it is
24:34
relevant or not well while such a method
24:36
offers a much-needed philosophical and
24:38
theological justification or starting
24:41
point for why the study of the past is
24:43
important it does not offer much in
24:45
terms of how Christian faith might apply
24:47
to the actual doing of history what does
24:51
such an incarnation Allah proach to the
24:52
study of the past look like for example
24:54
in a middle school classroom should
24:57
Christians acknowledge or simply assume
24:58
their Christian presuppositions about
25:00
the past and once acknowledged or assume
25:02
go ahead and study the past just like
25:04
everyone else creation and the
25:06
Incarnation or theological starting
25:08
points that all Christians should affirm
25:10
but they do not help us very much in
25:12
actual practice now I want to offer
25:16
Christians a slightly different approach
25:18
to thinking about the past it is an
25:21
approach that avoids the danger of
25:23
present mindedness the certainty of
25:25
providential ism and the temptation to
25:28
trade history for moral criticism while
25:31
it is grounded in the idea that all of
25:32
the past is important because is the
25:34
because it is the ongoing work of God’s
25:36
creation it offers a more practical
25:38
benefit for Christians in studying the
25:40
past and at the same time intersects
25:43
with some of the best and most recent
25:44
scholarship of historical thinking my
25:47
argument is this the study of history
25:50
can help us mature spiritually now what
25:53
do I mean by that scholars of historical
26:01
thinking and I’m particularly thinking
26:03
here about Sam Weinberg and is masterful
26:06
historical thinking and other unnatural
26:08
acts get this book if you’re a history
26:10
major read this book it is a phenomenal
26:13
introduction to historical thinking
26:16
Weinberg has argued convincingly that it
26:19
is the very strangeness of the past that
26:21
has the best potential to change our
26:23
lives in positive ways those who are
26:26
willing to acknowledge the past is a
26:27
foreign country a place where they do
26:29
things differently than we do in the
26:31
present set off on a journey of personal
26:34
transformation Weinberg rights it is
26:37
this past one that initially initially
26:40
leaves us befuddled or worse just
26:43
playing board that we need most if we
26:46
are to achieve the understanding that
26:47
each of us is more than the handful of
26:49
labels described to us at birth and
26:52
encounter with the past and all its
26:54
fullness void as much as possible if
26:57
present minded agendas can cultivate
26:59
virtue in our lives such an encounter
27:02
teaches as empathy humility selflessness
27:05
and hospitality by studying history we
27:09
learn to listen to voices that differ
27:11
from our own we lay aside our moral
27:14
condemnation about a person idea or
27:16
event from the past in order to
27:18
understand it this is the essence of
27:21
intellectual hospitality the act of
27:23
interpreting a primary source with
27:25
students becomes the equivalent of
27:27
inviting a person from the past into our
27:30
classrooms and this applies to a college
27:32
professor a high school teacher anyone
27:34
who teaches the pass even someone
27:36
working at a historical society or
27:37
museum educator by taking the time to
27:40
listen to people from a foreign country
27:42
we rid ourselves of the selfish quest to
27:45
make the past serve our needs the study
27:47
of the past reminds us that we are not
27:49
autonomous individuals but part of a
27:53
human story that is larger than
27:55
ourselves Weinberg sums it up well and
27:58
probably one of my favorite quotes about
28:00
the way in which historians do their
28:02
work Weinberg rights for the narcissist
28:05
sees the world both past and present in
28:08
his own image mature historical
28:12
understanding teaches us to do the
28:13
opposite to go beyond the fleeting
28:16
moment in human history into which we
28:18
have been born to go beyond our brief
28:21
life to go beyond our own image history
28:24
educates literally to lead outward in
28:28
the Latin in the deepest sense of the
28:31
subjects in the secular curriculum it is
28:34
the best at teaching those virtues once
28:36
reserved for theology humility in the
28:39
face of our limited ability to know and
28:41
awe in the face of the expanse of
28:44
history are we willing to allow history
28:48
to educate us to lead us outward
28:53
Weinberg’s reference to theology is
28:55
worth further exploration
28:57
again in his book the theology of public
29:00
life Charles Matthews at the illusion at
29:02
the University of Virginia argues that
29:04
Christians today are afflicted by the
29:06
sin of escapism the desire to flee from
29:09
God and each other God wants us to turn
29:12
toward him but he also wants us to turn
29:14
toward each other in the process of
29:17
loving our neighbor for Matthews such a
29:19
practice by the way goes to the heart of
29:21
civic life we grow as Christians through
29:24
the virtues cultivation through
29:26
engagement with public life Matthews
29:28
writes the souls of Christians may be
29:30
purified in and through their public
29:33
engagements now what have we viewed the
29:36
study of the past as a form of public
29:38
engagement even if the person we engage
29:42
is dead we can still enter into a
29:44
conversation with the sources that he or
29:47
she has left behind in a passage
29:50
strikingly familiar to Weinberg’s
29:52
thoughts on the discipline of history
29:53
Matthews argues that when we encounter
29:56
people in all their strangeness we quote
29:58
find ourselves decentered we find that
30:01
we are no longer the main object of our
30:03
purposes but participate in something
30:05
not primarily our own songs as if
30:08
Weinberg read Matthews or vice versa
30:10
hear this confession then is itself a
30:13
turning to the other not in the interest
30:15
of mutual narcissism which makes the
30:17
other only a consolation prize for
30:20
having to for having to be already
30:21
ourselves but as an openness to
30:24
transforming and being transformed by
30:26
the other if we take the imago Dei
30:29
seriously the notion that all human
30:31
beings are created in the image of God
30:32
then we should also take seriously the
30:35
idea that those who lived in the past
30:36
were also created in God’s image the
30:39
very act of studying humanity past or
30:42
present can be what Matthews calls quote
30:45
an exploration into God a mode inquiring
30:49
God an account unquote and encounter
30:52
with the past that’s becomes an act I
30:54
would argue of spiritual devotion this
30:57
kind of encounter quote from Matthews
31:00
again provides more than enough
31:01
opportunities for humility and penance
31:03
recognition of one sin in the sins of
31:06
others and a deepening appreciation of
31:08
the terrible all
31:09
fullness of God’s providential governing
31:12
of the world indeed involvement in
31:15
public life today may itself
31:16
increasingly need some such a set
31:18
ascetical discipline in other words and
31:23
it’s unquote in other words history is
31:25
not only a discipline in the sense that
31:27
philosophy or literary criticism or
31:29
sociology or disciplines it is also a
31:31
discipline in the sense that it requires
31:33
patterns of behavior such as the denial
31:36
of the self that are necessary in order
31:38
to meet the other in a hospitable way
31:41
doing history is not unlike the kind of
31:44
disciplines we employ in our spiritual
31:46
lives disciplines that take the focus
31:48
off of us and put it on God or others if
31:50
this is true then prayer a reliance on
31:54
the Holy Spirit’s power and other
31:57
spiritual practices should provide help
31:59
in the pursuit of the kind of
32:00
self-denial hospitality charity and
32:03
humility needed to engage the past in
32:05
this way and allow ourselves to be open
32:07
to the possibility of it transforming us
32:09
how often do we pray over our scholarly
32:13
or academic historical work and i don’t
32:16
mean prayer for helping for help in
32:18
getting the paper done on time or a
32:20
prayer that we keep our sanity amid the
32:22
heavy workload i mean a prayer that the
32:25
lord would use our encounter with the
32:27
past to transform us to help us live
32:30
with the illusion Scott McKnight calls
32:31
the jesus creed loving God and loving
32:33
others like any type of public
32:36
engagement encounter with the strangest
32:38
of the past inevitably leads to
32:40
contemplation of the mysteries of
32:42
Providence the sovereignty of god and
32:44
the cultivation of that holy terror that
32:47
is integral to true piety it forces us
32:50
to love others even a 19th century slave
32:53
holder when they have first glance
32:55
seemed to be unlovable failure to
32:58
respect the people in the past is
32:59
ultimately a failure of love it is a
33:03
failure to recognize the common bond
33:05
that we share with humanity it is a
33:07
failure to welcome the stranger moreover
33:10
when we uncover symbol but sinful
33:12
behavior in the past it should cause us
33:14
to examine our own imperfect and flawed
33:16
lives this kind of engagement as
33:19
Matthew’s puts it quote brings us
33:22
repeatedly against the stub
33:23
and bear their nests of the people we
33:25
meet in public life it teaches us again
33:28
and again the terrible lesson that there
33:30
are other people other ideals other
33:32
points of view that we can see and
33:34
appreciate even if we cannot inhabit
33:36
them and remain ourselves the discipline
33:40
of history requires us to apply apply
33:42
james 119 to our lives we must be quick
33:46
to hear slow to speak and slow to become
33:48
angry this does not mean that we have to
33:51
agree with every idea we encounter in
33:53
the past sometimes we cannot have to use
33:55
Matthews words inhabit an idea and still
33:58
remain ourselves but education to be led
34:02
outward does require a degree of risk
34:06
without taking a risk without being open
34:09
to transformation liberal education
34:11
cannot happen self-denial rights
34:15
historian mark Swain is a willingness to
34:18
surrender ourselves for the sake of a
34:19
better opinion wisdom is the discernment
34:24
of when it is reasonable to do so a
Christian who studies the past must be
prudent she must be slow to speak and
quick to listen to the people she meets
in the past and she must pray for wisdom
in order to illustrate what this might
look like in a classroom again I will
return to the example about teaching
text written by 19th century pro-slavery
intellectuals just like everyone else in
my class kevin was appalled that the
arguments contained in these documents
but by entering into a conversation with
their authors and being open to letting
these writers change him he became a
better Christian Kevin learned that
plantation owners often argued that
slavery was justified because
slaveholders treated their labor force
slaves better than the burgeoning
capitalists of the north treated their
immigrant laboring classes slaves were
clothed fed Christianized and usually
worked 10 hours a day northern
industrial laborers living in an age
before the usual benefits afforded the
workers today work 16-hour days were
paid so poorly that they could not feed
themselves or their families and
generally live lives that were much
worse than those of southern slaves how
dare the northern abolitionists and
capitalist claim the moral high ground
how dare they accuse slaveholders of
immorality while all the while turning a
blind
to the plight of the working class
slaves in their midst the South’s
anti-capitalist feudalism offered as
historians Elisabeth Fox gen of AC and
Eugene Jenna Vaisey have shown one of
the most powerful critiques of
industrialization in 19th century
America kevin was convinced that the
slaveholders criticism of northern
industry did not take them off the moral
hook slavery was still a reprehensible
and sinful practice nor was Kevin sure
that this defense of slavery was valid
the northern workers may have had it
rough perhaps even rougher than the
slaves but what at least they were free
kevin did however learn to be cautious
about condemning others before hearing
their side of the story his response to
these writers was not a knee-jerk moral
criticism but a thoughtful engagement
with historical texts that taught him a
valuable lesson about removing the log
from your own eye before taking the
speck out of the eye of another Kevin
listen to the slaveholders he understood
them he empathized with them he saw them
as fellow human beings he realized that
some of their flaws were also present in
his own life and his relationships with
others and in the process he was in a
small way changed are not these the
kinds of transformative encounters that
we as Christians all want to experience
36:53
it seems likely that dozens and dozens
36:56
of such encounters would not only
36:57
produce a liberally educated person but
36:59
a person of Christian character as well
37:01
I wish I could say that Kevin is
37:04
representative of the way most students
37:06
approach historical texts and I think
37:08
that historians in the room might agree
37:09
with me it is not indeed we have much
37:13
work to do but his case reveals that
37:16
real transformation is possible when we
37:18
are exposed to opinions that we
37:20
naturally find uncomfortable student to
37:22
the past do not have to agree with
37:24
slaveholders to learn something from
37:25
them even if it only reminds them that
37:27
we like the authors of these texts are
37:30
flawed imperfect creatures in need of
37:32
redemption this is what history can do
37:35
and this is why Christians must study it
37:37
we need to practice history not because
37:40
it can win us political points in the
37:42
culture wars or help us push our social
37:44
and cultural agendas forward but because
37:46
it has the amazing potential to
37:48
transform our lives
37:50
fortunately those Christians who believe
37:52
that the United States was founded as a
37:54
Christian nation have no particular
37:56
interest in pursuing the discipline of
37:57
history moreover popular historians on
38:01
the left and I’ll name names here I
38:03
mentioned David Barton I mean people
38:05
like Howard Zinn for example fall victim
38:07
to the same historical sins so I ask
38:11
again what is a historian to do now I’m
38:15
working on an answer to this question as
38:17
part of my next project but in the
38:18
meantime I think we need to get out of
38:20
the ivory tower and be in the business
38:21
of teaching the public how to think
38:23
historically historians as historians
38:27
need to bring the benefits of this kind
38:29
of historical thinking to churches civic
38:31
organizations community centers and
38:33
schools perhaps we should actively seek
38:36
to share our wisdom and insight at the
38:37
local Rotary Club meeting or in a Sunday
38:40
School class or in our daughter’s
38:42
fourth-grade classroom perhaps these
38:44
kinds of engagements or perhaps a
38:46
well-placed op-ed or an article in our
38:48
denominational magazine should count
38:51
towards tenure and promotion at places
38:53
like weaken or Messiah moreover we need
38:57
to train students that a career in the
38:59
ivory tower may not be the young
39:01
historians highest calling perhaps a
39:04
history major might have a greater
39:05
impact working at a local Historical
39:07
Society teaching students or bringing
39:10
the virtues of historical thinking to
39:12
the places where they choose to live
39:13
work and have their being even if they
39:16
do not find employment in a history
39:18
related field if done well the study of
39:22
history might just help contribute to a
39:23
ceasefire in our so-called culture wars
39:26
while history will never replace the
39:28
transforming power of the gospel to
39:31
change lives and influence our culture
39:33
it has the potential to contribute to a
39:35
moral society rooted in civility and to
39:38
bring an end to the shouting matches
39:40
whether it is debate over Christian
39:42
America or any hot button issue that
39:45
faces our society today thank you
39:54
you have time for questions questions
39:57
comments tomatoes whatever yeah
40:08
tell me we’re going to
40:14
nation’s history the people’s history
40:16
because yesterday that well i think i
40:21
think you know i’ll be Bobby blunt here
40:23
i think howard zinn’s a people’s history
40:24
the United States is another example of
40:26
what bailon calls indoctrination by
40:28
historical example you can believe
40:31
politically ins ins positions but I
40:34
don’t think it’s good history I mean the
40:35
best review i’ve actually read if howard
40:36
zinn’s people’s history comes from a
40:38
story of sort of left-wing historian of
40:41
populism who teaches at georgetown they
40:44
Michael Kaizen who wrote a scathing I
40:46
mean this is a person I think it’s the
40:47
editor of dissent magazine and this is a
40:50
person who is a you know clearly on the
40:52
left and probably shares most of Zins
40:54
politics and if you want to email me
40:57
I’ll send you the link i think you can
40:58
still find it online but he he you know
41:01
tears into this book saying it’s not i
41:03
mean it’s a pretty contentious pretty
41:05
you know maybe even nasty review saying
41:10
you know what sins doing it’s actually
41:12
hurting the left and hurting the sort of
41:14
you know the sort of intellectual
41:17
strength of the left the intellectual
41:19
robust nature of the left’s argument
41:22
because he’s pretty much just using the
41:24
past to sort of promote some kind of
41:25
agenda without looking at it in sort of
41:27
all it’s you know its complexity and
41:29
fullness so i would i would say people
41:31
like howard zinn are sort of a mirror
41:33
now again xin is not completely invested
41:35
in this christian america well actually
41:37
he’s not alive anymore but you know he’s
41:41
a mirror image and I think what David
41:42
Barton and others on the right are doing
41:45
you know it’s clearly history to promote
41:48
something in the present and you know
41:50
call it cherry-picking you know call it
41:52
whatever you want but it’s really one
41:54
side of the story nevertheless it’s a
41:56
great book it’s a great read you know
41:58
after I’ve actually enjoyed reading it i
42:00
think i read it multiple times but i’m
42:02
not sure it’s the best you know i don’t
42:03
think i’m not sure i would call good
42:04
history yeah yeah marcos once asked if
42:09
providential history and he said that he
42:13
hadn’t seen it done well ya see Matt go
42:16
up to my work could be done yeah and so
42:18
I was wondering what do you think of
42:21
that quote and where are your thoughts
42:23
on doing providential is I I I wish I
42:27
wish mark went on on that quote and said
42:29
you know I haven’t seen it done but this
42:32
is what it would look like I’m not
42:34
convinced at all that Providence is
42:36
helpful whatsoever to the historians
42:38
vocation now you know some collectors
42:41
that may mean I’m a bad Christian I
42:42
guess right but but I it’s just not you
42:45
know it’s just not a useful category for
42:47
for sort of historical analysis I mean
42:50
you know the providential historians the
42:54
way it’s often though it’s often used
42:55
you know by people on the Christian
42:58
national it’s on the right for example
42:59
you know God intervened here you know
43:01
the fog came up in August 1776 and and
43:04
the the content at de l’armée made it
43:06
across and escaped you know I I tend to
43:09
you know I grew up Catholic so maybe my
43:11
has a sense of appealing the mystery you
43:14
know that’s my sort of default position
43:15
rather than certainty but uh you know I
43:20
would say if you believe God is
43:21
sovereign right over all human history
43:23
you know to suggest well God intervened
43:25
here on October thirty-first 1517 you
43:29
know in the Protestant Reformation you
43:31
know it implies that God is interjecting
43:33
here but you know he hasn’t been
43:35
sovereign all through the other periods
43:36
of time you know this is where he
43:38
inserted himself for the cause of
43:39
Protestantism or the cause of America or
43:43
you know something to that effect so I
43:45
you know we use Providence in our own
43:49
spiritual lives all the time you know we
43:51
look back on our lives and we often say
43:53
you know I see the Lord led me there I
43:55
see the Lord took me down this path and
43:58
I’m wrestling with that myself you know
44:00
because I do that too i see well the
44:01
Lord directed me to this college I came
44:03
to wheaton and it changed everything you
44:05
know yeah one of the things I’m thinking
44:09
about in this new project it’s
44:10
tentatively called up it’s coming out
44:12
hopefully in 2012 with Brazos called the
44:15
power to transform a Christian
44:16
reflection on the past it’s a working
44:18
title I haven’t written a chapter on
44:21
Providence yeah
44:22
and I’m so I’ll plead ignorance at this
44:26
point but I really want to know what
44:28
that might look like someday maybe I’ll
44:30
ask mark what did what he means by that
44:32
but I’m yeah yeah
44:41
or hoping for transformation yeah how is
44:45
looking for transformation different
44:48
looking for moral lessons do they have
44:51
do they share kind of
44:54
well I think I think I think the
44:59
difference is you know when you’re using
45:01
the past to look for moral lessons you
45:04
know you know especially when it comes
45:06
to individuals right you know I want to
45:08
model myself after you know Jonathan
45:11
Edwards is my hero you know kind of
45:13
thing and I want to I want to be like
45:15
Jonathan Edwards and use him as a model
45:17
in an example I think what I’m trying to
45:22
suggest is that the transformation and
45:24
i’m debating this term too because i’m
45:27
actually my approach is sort of moving
45:29
away from the more sort of
45:30
epistemological discussions of this
45:32
right you know can there be christian
45:34
history you know these kinds of things
45:35
has really dominated a generation of
45:37
historians before me I’m much more
45:39
interested in you know how everybody who
45:44
writes about Christian history seem to
45:46
be American religious historians you
45:47
know there’s hardly is there’s not many
45:49
of us out there who are actually
45:50
reflecting on this question that don’t
45:52
study American religious history right
45:54
and and that’s where i’m coming from i’m
45:56
an early american historian by training
45:57
now I dabble in religion obviously this
46:00
book is all about religion but but you
46:02
know I teach in a history department I
46:04
teach us survey courses and civil war
46:06
and colonial America these kinds of
46:08
things I teach about economic life I
46:10
teach about markets I teach you about
46:12
you know these kinds of things you know
46:14
happen how does then approaching
46:17
something that seems completely
46:18
irrelevant or maybe doesn’t serve the
46:20
church in some way you know how can how
46:23
can my students engage in a sort of
46:26
world of you know get to know a medieval
46:28
peasant from whatever shards of evidence
46:31
are left behind and in the process
46:33
through that public encounter one is
46:36
transformed you don’t have to
46:38
necessarily say you know I like this guy
46:41
or you know I want to I want to learn a
46:44
moral lesson from him I’m not saying the
46:46
past can’t teach us more or lessons but
46:48
that’s not the sort of crux of the
46:49
argument I think that I’m making here I
46:51
think just an encounter with the past if
46:56
you know if again this is a lot of this
46:58
has to do with you know it needs to be
46:59
done in the sort of hands of a teacher
47:02
who understands that you know history is
47:05
not just about the facts
47:07
certainly is but there’s also these
47:08
historical thinking skills that that
47:10
comet different historians really offer
47:12
a different way of looking at the world
47:14
than most people that can be
47:16
transformative and again other
47:17
disappoints all four different ways of
47:18
thinking you know about the world so I’m
47:20
somewhat of a you know I’m somewhat of a
47:23
disciplinary guy I guess you know you
47:26
know I’m someone saying you know here’s
47:28
the discipline of history here’s how
47:29
historians work and what didn’t what can
47:33
that do you know to bring spiritual
47:36
growth even in our lives how can we
47:38
worship God or love God or love neighbor
47:40
through the discipline rather than you
47:43
know usually you know Christian colleges
47:45
it’s well we really get our spiritual
47:47
growth in the humanities you know from
47:50
you know the integration of various
47:52
disciplines or through some common core
47:54
curriculum or you know something i’m not
47:56
saying that you know other disciplines
47:58
can’t produce the same thing but but
48:01
what does how does the discipline of
48:04
history itself provide some kind of
48:07
spiritual sustenance or moral reflection
48:11
moral growth or yeah yeah Tracy we’re
48:19
just a wonderful wonderful song Thanks
48:22
I’m not going to take us back to the
48:23
vision for yes used to being the friend
48:26
oh there’s a lot of that in the book
48:30
that goes kind of those kind of events
48:32
well so so this is a Carson you thought
48:34
I feel bad I suspect how is it possible
48:38
if it is possible for
48:42
Christian scholars to enter into
48:45
constructive conversation you know in
48:48
some ways when you when I respond to a
48:50
question like that Tracy I sometimes I
48:52
just think about the kind of utopian
48:54
nature of everything that I’m saying
48:56
right I mean you know someone who’s been
48:58
in the classroom and tried to get
49:00
students to do this you know this is a
49:02
lofty ideal that I’m sort of throwing
49:04
out there that we can even you know
49:06
attempt to sort of pull this off you
49:09
know Kevin the example I gave is you
49:11
know very rare example one of the things
49:15
you know you know this book that I wrote
49:18
you know it’s in some ways picking up
49:21
where passional and marsden search for
49:24
Christian America left off right and i
49:28
think i think what distinguishes the two
49:30
books is number one I think mine is sort
49:33
of one authored work that has a little
49:35
bit more of a coherence than the you
49:37
know the individual essays that are in
49:38
that book but also Knoll hatchet marsden
49:40
were engaging a sort of late 70s early
49:43
80s sort of Francis Schaeffer Jerry
49:45
Falwell you know I’m more sort of
49:47
engaging with the bargains of the world
49:48
and the more contemporary but to get to
49:50
your question I reason I bring up that
49:53
book the search for Christian America is
49:55
you know some that some of these guys
49:58
have devoted themselves deeply to trying
50:00
to bring change in this area and and I
50:05
wrestle with this myself nothing’s
50:08
changed you know the scholars have not
50:12
really made a dent in this sort of
50:16
Christian nationalist culture now
50:19
they’ve probably made a dent among an
50:21
educated class of christian college
50:23
students who read this book in their
50:24
American Revolution class or something
50:26
like that right but they really haven’t
50:28
made a dent at all in fact I would even
50:29
argue since the appearance of these
50:31
books and this is nothing against those
50:32
historians I think since the appearance
50:34
of those books the Christian nationalist
50:36
sentiment for a variety of reasons
50:37
whether it be the Bush administration or
50:39
whatever has become stronger in some
50:42
ways so you know I mean one of the
50:47
things I tried to do with this book is
to to write it you know for a Christian
audience
50:53
I trying to publicize it in sort of
50:57
circles you know I’ve done 25 radio
interview so far for the book about 75%
of them have been on conservative talk
radio I’ve gotten hammered I mean I’ve
gotten you know it’s sometimes it’s been
a little ugly and I’ve just tried to try
to keep civility you know where I don’t
get I’m not allowed to have a word in
edgewise on this issue you know I mean
that’s somebody who said we were arguing
the other day about Thomas Jefferson’s
51:20
religion and I said well certainly
51:22
Jefferson was a nice guy was saying do
51:24
Jefferson was born again and it
51:26
certainly Jeffers certainly Jefferson
wasn’t an Orthodox Christian he rejected
the inspiration of the Bible the Trinity
even the resurrection you know well he
wasn’t an Orthodox Christian but he was
a believer you know how do you how do
you argue with that how do you you know
the beta and then okay and now you know
let’s go to the commercial break Oh
51:42
short of it so so in some ways I’m sort
51:45
of i’m sort of you know caught up in
51:49
these two minutes sound bites that I’m
51:50
sort of railing it I don’t know I
51:53
honestly don’t know how it you know I
51:55
mean now a positive example I taught a
51:58
five-week attend an evangelical free
51:59
church in insane where i live in
52:02
mechanicsburg i taught a five week class
52:06
on this book that was a wonderful
52:08
experience most of the people there had
52:12
read David Barton and that’s it and in a
52:15
face-to-face sort of community of people
52:17
there about 45 50 people who are in the
52:20
class it was a wonderful experience now
52:23
I don’t know if I convinced everyone but
52:25
there was this you know this so you know
52:27
i just got done reading day I James
52:29
Davis and hunters book to change the
52:30
world he talks about this idea of sort
52:33
of faithful presence you know you know
52:35
doing what you can in the places where
52:37
God has placed you whether that be
52:39
westshore evangelical free church you
52:41
know or the mosier’s know that church
52:43
right or or you know the local community
52:47
center or the rotor you know and is that
52:50
going to make a dent who knows but you
52:52
know hunter has some interesting things
52:53
to say they’re about the way a culture
52:54
gets changed now so I wish I could give
52:59
you some kind of definitive answer to
53:00
that but it’s it’s tough you know in
53:03
some ways you’re like a donkey feel like
53:05
a Don Quixote all the time
53:06
tilting at these windmills but you know
53:09
that’s our vocation right you know we
53:11
just keep hammering it we just keep
53:13
hammering at keep going it yeah oh I
53:16
think most if not all the people of
53:19
poach history in this way they are
53:21
speaking of that I’ve heard of our
53:25
historians professors yeah people with
53:27
doctors that kind of says to me that in
53:30
order to get to that point you have to
53:31
study and pursue it like crazy mm-hmm
53:34
and so do you see a possibility for
53:36
people with a history minor one side
53:39
major so like people looking at your
53:41
people that are you majoring in history
53:42
you see it possible for them to get this
53:46
perspective on history without digging
53:49
deeper than the standard textbook
53:55
it does i understand i’m thinking about
53:57
it it’s a good question you know how is
54:01
the casual sort of history buff you know
54:03
you’re probably right it’s obvious going
54:06
to take more reading than just the
54:07
standard textbook having said that you
54:09
know i’m optimistic on this again maybe
54:11
I’m a little too optimistic in this
54:13
whole presentation I’m very much aware
54:14
of that but um I’m optimistic in the
54:17
fact that you know there are you know
54:20
look at the look at the New York Times
54:21
bestseller list people do read history
54:23
you know people people are interested in
54:25
reading David McCullough and you know
54:28
barbara tuchman magus you little older
54:31
now or ron sure no on washington or
54:33
something to that effect but they might
54:38
be the people who might just have to be
54:39
willing to change their minds based upon
54:41
any time you know they might be open to
54:43
changing their minds is we the people
54:45
that read david art and are not really
54:47
you know they’re looking to have their
54:49
physician confirmed and they’re not
54:51
particularly interested in the
54:53
complexity and so forth of the past but
54:55
maybe you know it and I could be my
54:58
argument here could my problem here
54:59
could be sort of just the failure of us
55:01
being a sort of liberally educated
55:02
society to begin with you know that
55:05
could be that could be the issue but
55:09
it’s amazing though to me I mean I mean
55:11
this is this is why I continue to do
55:13
this I mean what’s amazing to me is that
55:14
there are Christians who are picking up
55:17
david barton it by the millions in some
55:19
cases and reading him and you know or
55:22
marshall and manual the light and the
55:24
glory you know you know i’m guessing if
55:27
you go into the typical sort of
55:29
evangelical household and they have one
55:31
history book it’s either going to be
55:32
something by david barton or something
55:33
by the late Peter Marshall and David
55:35
manual you know about providential
55:38
history and that’s so you know could
55:42
there be an alternative literature on
55:45
that that’s but again you need to be
55:46
careful i mean i remember the first time
55:48
i talked about this and again i’m deeply
55:50
committed to sort of going into these
55:52
local places and doing these things I
was in a retirement center and I was you
know I was young I was you know younger
dumber and you know i went in there like
the you know the academic you know i’m
going to show you that america wasn’t a
Christian nation you know in a very
conservative part of Pennsylvania

you know and I went in both guns blazing
you know and it was awful it was for me
it was him back you know I look back on
embarrassed by that because I was trying
to convince these people that everything
they believed all their life was wrong
and I was ready to slam it down their
throats and you know and fortunately
they invite me back I can’t believe why
they fight me back every twice a year to
speak but but um you know that’s not the
way to do it you know I mean there’s
there’s got to be a sort of sensitivity
and a grace associated with how to pull
this off and most academics aren’t sort
of in tune to you know wired to do that
56:45
but yeah yeah David as we see the danger
56:53
yeah we try to shy we’re possible
56:58
however writing history is it something
57:02
that our readers expect for
57:05
interpretation this is interesting i was
57:08
at a meet I was at a meeting of the
57:09
conference on faith in history out of
57:11
the way was six or eight years ago and
57:13
there was this graduate student I think
57:15
she was so calm Canada he might have
57:17
been from like British Columbia some
57:18
from University British Columbia who was
57:19
critiquing George Marsden’s biography of
57:21
jonathan edwards and was very upset
57:24
because it was such a detached you know
57:27
scholarly biography and this and this
57:30
woman was saying you know hey I’m a
57:32
Christian I wanted to know you know I
57:33
wanted to you know learn I know I wanted
57:36
to grow spiritually from from reading
57:38
you know I wanted to I wanted Marsden to
57:40
say yes and Edwards was right you know
57:42
we should know and actually marcin has
57:44
done that in other sort of essays and
57:46
non-academic places but you know she was
57:49
very disappointed at how d’italie on his
57:51
account of the Great Awakening right you
57:53
know this was this was God moving I want
57:55
to know this i want Marsden to tell me
57:57
this you know and and so so yeah I think
58:01
I think you’re everybody’s looking for
58:03
that in history and I just don’t think
58:08
that’s the historians primary task of
58:10
doing now it’s hard not to I’m not hit
58:12
sitting here arguing for some type of
58:14
objectivity or anything like that but
58:16
but I would argue we try as hard as we
58:18
can knowing limits to sort of tell the
58:20
truth and this is sort of how we believe
58:22
it happened you know someone else could
58:24
be doing the same thing and come up with
58:25
a completely different different
58:26
orientation I’m not suggesting that you
58:28
know but yeah I mean the past the it’s
58:32
two sides of the same coin I mean on one
58:35
hand I’ve stressed strangeness and far
58:37
in this and difference and so forth but
58:40
there is another side of that coin right
58:42
the past does speak to the present it
58:44
does help us to understand the
58:45
complexities of our world today you know
58:48
it should in some ways provide us with
58:50
some kind of guidance in the present and
58:53
so forth but they’re the danger becomes
58:54
just making the past little more than
58:56
sort of a useful you know it’s what’s
58:58
good for us and you know that’s that’s
59:00
the danger when you go that direction
59:01
but certainly that’s an important part
59:03
of it yeah
59:05
so I’m just wondering so with with your
59:09
take on on how history is supposed to be
59:11
on how history supposed to be practice
59:13
are all other disciplines when they
59:15
approach history only practicing a
59:16
pseudo history that it seemed to be what
59:19
I am didn’t it yeah I’ve said this and
59:22
had colleagues at Messire just you know
59:24
you know grow me on this you know but I
59:27
actually had an English major in a class
59:30
where I dementia miss and she was very
59:31
upset that you know literature you know
59:33
engaging with you know and and I would
59:35
agree but I do think I mean history is a
59:39
separate discipline I think for a reason
59:42
you know we do we do sort of approach
59:46
the past with with the purpose of trying
59:49
to understand what happened good or bad
59:51
and all its sort of complexities rather
59:55
than using the past you know
59:57
sociologists might use the pass but the
60:00
whole purpose right or point of a
60:01
sociologist using the past if we’re give
60:03
me for you sociology majors here right
60:05
is to is to provide some necessary sort
60:08
of background for the point that they
60:09
want to make you know in the present or
60:12
how their study of human behavior
60:14
affects the way we live today again the
60:17
hit past the his study of history can do
60:19
that but I don’t think that’s the
60:20
primary purpose and i can’t speak with
60:23
any degree of authority to the way other
60:24
disciplines do it but there is something
60:28
unique pick up weinberg it’s a great
60:30
great did you know Weinberg Tracy when
60:32
you were at UW with you or never got to
60:35
know him yeah are you familiar with the
60:37
book I mean it’s a great yeah it’s a
60:38
great I use it with my teachers i teach
60:41
a i teach a history sort of teaching
60:45
history course and that’s the sort of
60:48
foundational text in that course yeah
61:05
I just question like I’m not sure how
61:09
conceptually your
61:23
if that’s it
61:28
well I think there’s there’s debate
61:31
among historians torian’s about the role
61:35
of empathy I have a colleague in my own
61:37
Department who believes it’s impossible
61:40
to empathize in the pen you know you can
61:41
be example of you know you can’t
61:43
empathize with Hitler there’s the danger
61:44
of you’ll you’ll buy into what he’s
61:46
saying you know something to that effect
61:48
I mean it Hayden white and others have
61:51
other sort of theorists have sort of
61:54
made this same case that empathy is not
61:56
I tend to disagree i mean i think i
61:58
think empathy and understanding is at
62:02
the core of the discipline i mean you
62:03
need to you need to learn to listen to
62:06
someone else to walk in their shoes if
62:08
it means I mean that’s that isn’t the
62:11
method that i’m referring to now you
62:13
could walk in the shoes of someone that
62:15
you Fred’s I said at the talk that you
62:17
might find morally reprehensible I think
62:20
history requires us to do that and to at
62:24
least understand you know what the world
62:27
needs to understand something about the
62:28
world in which they lived and understand
62:31
something about you know how they how
62:33
they engaged with that world so again
62:38
I’m not sure I’m answering your question
62:39
or not but I mean I think I think it’s a
62:42
fundamental difference from from sort of
62:44
looking for the past simply for moral
62:46
lessons you know help us live better in
62:51
the present it’s it’s it’s encountering
62:54
the foreign country you know i i’d like
62:58
to think that empathy you know i’d like
63:00
to think history you know I tell us to
63:01
my students all the time I think by
63:02
studying history you learn to understand
63:04
people that are different from you and
63:06
nice this actually may be a transferable
63:09
skill if you want to use that phrase
63:10
that that might actually help you get
63:12
along better with the person in the
63:14
cubicle next to you that you might not
63:15
like in your first job you know because
63:17
you learn you learn these kinds of
63:19
skills about empathize and how to listen
63:27
all right thank you very much everyone I
63:30
appreciate your attention

FBI Enforces Anti-Debt Peonage Statutes After Pearl Harbor

Peonage, also called debt slavery or debt servitude, is a system where an employer compels a worker to pay off a debt with work. Legally, peonage was outlawed by Congress in 1867. However, after Reconstruction, many Southern black men were swept into peonage though different methods, and the system was not completely eradicated until the 1940s.

In some cases, employers advanced workers some pay or initial transportation costs, and workers willingly agreed to work without pay in order to pay it off. Sometimes those debts were quickly paid off, and a fair wage worker/employer relationship established.

In many more cases, however, workers became indebted to planters (through sharecropping loans), merchants (through credit), or company stores (through living expenses). Workers were often unable to re-pay the debt, and found themselves in a continuous work-without-pay cycle.

But the most corrupt and abusive peonage occurred in concert with southern state and county government. In the south, many black men were picked up for minor crimes or on trumped-up charges, and, when faced with staggering fines and court fees, forced to work for a local employer would who pay their fines for them. Southern states also leased their convicts en mass to local industrialists. The paperwork and debt record of individual prisoners was often lost, and these men found themselves trapped in inescapable situations.

The End of White Christian America: A Conversation with E. J. Dionne and Robert P. Jones

91:25
Just two quick points.
One is I think there has been a tension
throughout American history between prophetic religion
and what you could call the alternative.
Liturgically, you could call it law-based.
And the African-American church has always
partaken of the prophetic.
And I’ve always found that you can–
if you’re talking about talking to a Christian,
you know which side they are on by whether they quote Micah,
Isaiah, and Amos or Leviticus.
And whether they–
[LAUGHTER]
–quote– whether they quote the social passages of the New
Testament or the conversion passages of the New Testament.
And I think you saw that in the fight over slavery.
You saw that over social justice issues
in the progressive era in the ’30s.
I mean, you saw it in the Civil Rights years.
I think that’s a deep tension that’s always running
through American religion.
100:21
that obviously, slave owners wanted their slaves
to be Christians, but that they were–
I remember reading this.
I haven’t seen evidence of it.
That they actually had Bibles printed up
for slaves, in which the Bible was printed,
but the Book of Exodus was left out.
Yeah.
Oh, OK.
I’ve heard that, yes.
I want to get that on display somewhere.
I’ve heard that, as well.
And what’s fascinating is how deeply important the book
of Exodus is in every African-American church,
and how central it is African-American preaching,
for obvious reasons.
I mean, “let my people go.”
But yes.
I’m going to try to remember where I have found this
because there were very–
the first slave owners tried to keep the slaves illiterate,
and actually didn’t want them reading the whole Bible
because the Bible is very dangerous.
And there was often a tradition of one slave, at least,
becoming literate.
And the original African-American churches
were in the woods, and they were–
and the slaves were very conscious of those parts
of scripture that pointed to the freedom.
And so I think, in some cases, they were limited Bibles.
But in a lot of cases, the effort
was to keep the slaves illiterate so
that they would only hear the parts,
say, of Saint Paul, that said slaves, obey your masters,
and that sort of thing.
Which was the part that influenced Billy Graham when
he spoke in Moscow— in Russia.
Spoke in Russia, yeah.
Thank you.