A. I thought that Eric Foner’s biography of Lincoln was excellent. He was a sort of middle class resident of western North Carolnia who became in the 1850s increasingly resentful of the control of southern society, of the suppression of the non-slaveholders, by the slaveholding elite that held them back, as he saw it. Slavery undermined the concept of the dignity of labor and held down the white working man because labor was identified in the South with slavery. Could you speak on this a little bit more? Q. He also writes regularly for The Spectator. In his last speech—it turned out to be his last speech—he came out in favor of qualified suffrage for freed slaves, those who could pass a literacy test and those who were veterans of the Union army. There’s no question about that. As of this date, James is married. On November 10, 2004, McPherson became the 39th Judge Advocate General of the Navy, a position he held until 2006.. Identity politics undermines a person’s achievements and perpetuates the lie that immutable characteristics are the most important thing about a person. Q. Are you aware that the glossy magazine is being distributed to schools across the country, and the Chicago public school district has already announced that it will be part of the curriculum? He remained interested in the South and wanted to find a southern liberal tradition, and even a radical tradition, which was the underlying motive of his interest in the southern Populists and Tom Watson, portraying them as potential racial egalitarians until the 1890s when things went sour for them, and they themselves went sour. McPherson is known for his outspokenness on contemporary issues and his activism, such as his work on behalf of the preservation of Civil War battlefields. James B. McPherson, in full James Birdseye Mcpherson, (born Nov. 14, 1828, Sandusky county, Ohio, U.S.—died July 22, 1864, near Atlanta, Ga.), Union general of the American Civil War about whose death General Ulysses S. Grant is reported to have said, “The country has lost one of its best soldiers, and I have lost my best friend.”. The Civil War did fill up half the bottle. And that’s especially true in parts of the South where slavery was marginal to the social order: western Virginia, eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina. One catalyst for his interest in the private lives of the Civil War volunteer soldiers came out of the yearly tours to battlefields that he makes with his students at Princeton University. Second, it abolished the institution of slavery. While the emphasis originally was on fighting for the Union, fighting for the United States, fighting to defend the flag, increasingly that became bound up with a conviction that the only way the North was going to win the war, preserve the Union, and prevent further, future rebellions against the Union, was to destroy slavery, which had brought the war on in the first place. Name Instructor Course Date James M. Mcpherson: Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam Introduction September 17, 1862, is arguably the Americans bloodiest day. The third thing the Civil War accomplished was a potential, and partial, transformation, in the status of the freed slaves, who with the 14th and 15th amendments achieved, on paper at least, civil and political equality. On October 13, 2017, President Donald Trump announced the nomination of McPherson to become the General Counsel of the United States Department of the Army. The 1619 Project also attacks it as founding a slavocracy. So I thought the account, which emphasized American racism—which is obviously a major part of the history, no question about it—but it focused so narrowly on that part of the story that it left most of the history out. He has served as the Acting United States Under Secretary of the Army since July 23, 2019, and was sworn into the position full-time on March 25, 2020 following confirmation by the Senate. The people you’re talking about claim that it’s never gone beyond slavery, or that something almost as bad as slavery replaced slavery. Q. Sometimes James goes by various nicknames including James P Mcpherson, James P Mcphersn and James Mc Pherson. The war is commonly referred to as the Battle of Antietam whose aftermath left more than 6,000 soldiers dead… But secession, ironically, brought on the very revolution that it attempted to preempt, through the war: the abolition of slavery. If you gain a majority in Parliament, which the antislavery forces in Britain did in the early 1830s, you can pass legislation banning slavery, which is exactly what happened. I find it problematic. Q. First, it preserved the United States as one nation. James McPherson's fast-paced narrative fully integrates the political, social, and military events that crowded the two decades from the outbreak of one war in … Johnson (River of Dark Dreams) is also at Harvard. In addition to serving as president of the American Historical Association, he has been … Nobody knows for sure. Q. A. The letter acquired four signatories—James McPherson, Gordon Wood, Victoria Bynum, and James Oakes, all leading scholars in their field. What was your initial reaction to the 1619 Project? Yes, I saw that too. We can’t say for sure when slavery would have come to an end, and under what conditions it would have come to an end, but clearly there would have been no 14th and 15th amendments for a long time, if ever. Suppose the South had won the Civil War. Civil War Historian James McPherson April 2015 marks the formal end of the sesquicentennial of the American Civil War with the commemoration of Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender to Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Va. James' weekly Good Sauce podcast comes out every Tuesday. Is it correct to say that by the end of his life Lincoln had drawn to a position proximate to that of the Radical Republicans? The response in the North, and especially among the men who signed up—and they were all volunteers for the first two years of the Civil War, and they were mostly volunteers throughout—viewed it at first as an unprovoked attack on the flag. From 1990 to 1993 he sat on the Civil War Sites Advisor… But there was also a more social dimension to the American Revolution, and a movement toward greater democracy, though they didn’t like to use that term. Well, the American Revolution was first and foremost a war for independence. But it’s not so simple, as it turns out. James M. McPherson. It was a crucial step on the way to the eventual proletarian revolution, as Marx perceived it. A. There is a historian, Gerald Horne, who has recently argued that it was waged as a slaveholders’ counterrevolution, to protect their property rights. It seems to me that all of these books jump over the Civil War. A. A. , McPherson enlisted in the Army in 1972, and served three years as a military policeman, before leaving the Army for college. In this article, James McPherson, an emeritus professor of history at Princeton University, explores various interpretations attempting to explain the cause of sectional strife. Even though Jim Crow, segregation, disenfranchisement, lynching, all of these things became blots on the United States in the later 19th century, and well into the 20th, at least children couldn’t be sold apart from their parents, wives couldn’t be sold apart from their husbands, and marriage was now a legal institution for freedpeople. A. , McPherson is a recipient of the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and the Meritorious Service Medal. He served as a judge advocate and trial counsel at several Navy commands and ships before and after completing his graduate training in 1991. Because this is a subject I’ve long been interested in I sat down and started to read some of the essays. And so I don’t think you can really separate those two motives. And the Freedom Rides that started in 1961 when I was still in graduate school. In the parts of the South where slavery was a minimal factor—in the Appalachian Mountain chain for example, in western Virginia and in eastern Tennessee, where there are very few slaves and very few slaveholders, a lot of the whites did not want to fight for the Confederacy, to risk their lives for what they saw as a slaveholders’ war. Q. James Edwin McPherson (born January 20, 1953) is an American government official and retired United States Navy rear admiral.He has served as the Acting United States Under Secretary of the Army since July 23, 2019, and was sworn into the position full-time on March 25, 2020 following confirmation by the Senate. The stories of Ossian and Finn, and preceding them, the stories of Cuchulain and Deirdre, and the old gods, have been retold many times, notably in Marie Heaney’s Over Nine Waves: A Book Of Irish Legends (1994). Almost from the beginning of American history that’s been true. Up until that time, the perspective on slavery and the abolitionists was very much a southern perspective—that’s oversimplifying it, but it was there—and a kind of right-of-center perspective. One of the people they approached is Kevin Kruse, who wrote about Atlanta. So with the slave system, as Senator Hammond of South Carolina put it, the slaves are the “mudsill” of the society, and all whites were above that mudsill because they were white. Certainly, they were part of a capitalist world order. Well, not every white southerner bought that argument.  In 1979 he was commissioned as an ensign in the Judge Advocate General's Corps of the Naval Reserve. And this was the first step toward doing that. …Well the initial motivation was revenge for the attack on the flag. A. A. I think it’s partly an outgrowth of broader social and political developments of the past twenty years or so. The Princeton University history professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author spoke at the Western Reserve Historical Society on April 29, 2000. Could you tell us something about him? As of this date, James is married. James Macpherson, (born October 27, 1736, Ruthven, Inverness, Scotland—died February 17, 1796, Belville, Inverness), Scottish poet whose initiation of the Ossianic controversy has obscured his genuine contributions to Gaelic studies. I studied with him at Johns Hopkins from 1958 to 1962, when, I think, he was gradually moving a little bit toward the right. A. I knew that its purpose was for education, but I haven’t heard many of the details of that, including what you’ve just mentioned. The United States is still a single nation. A NORTH-EAST councillor has called for Banff to mark the legend a folk hero whose hanging was the last public execution in the town. He was designated as Acting United States Secretary of the Navy on April 7, 2020, following the resignation of Thomas Modly. It does not make very much sense to me. Q. He was bothered by the countercultural aspects of liberalism that emerged in the later 1960s. But if I could do it by freeing the slaves, I would do that.’ (The full text of Lincoln’s letter to Greeley’s New York Tribune.) In June 1994, he reported to the staff of Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet as the Force Judge Advocate. They saw Abraham Lincoln and his Republican Party as just as bad as the abolitionists. James M. McPherson is one of the nation's most renowned historians of the American Civil War era. Q. David Brion Davis says that the abolitionists viewed the Declaration of Independence as sacred scripture…. It’s both. A. It’s been some time since I’ve read it. James maintains relationships with many people -- family, friends, associates, & neighbors -- including Karen Jury , Patricia Mcpherson , Jenny Vanduinen , Dolores Karpinski and Laura Zielinski . James McPherson Twitter: @JimBMcPherson I have a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science and am a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association. "Banff's Robin Hood", James Macpherson, was executed at the town's Mercat Cross on November 16, 1700. Why do you think the 1619 Project is happening now, and being so heavily promoted? A. So while the official motivation was preservation of the union, that increasingly became merged with the destruction of slavery, which had launched the attack on the flag in the first place. The World Socialist Web Site recently spoke to James McPherson, professor emeritus of history at Princeton University, on the New York Times’ 1619 Project. Q. We’ve spoken to a lot of historians, leading scholars in the fields of slavery, the Civil War, the American Revolution, and we’re finding that none of them were approached. I think that that’s a vast oversimplification. Cotton and sugar were central. But it’s also half full. W hen The New York Times Magazine published its 1619 Project in August, people lined … In December 1995, he joined the staff of the Vice Chief of Naval Operations as the Assistant for Legal and Legislative Matters. They have one daughter. He previously pastored a significant church in Australia and South Africa. Slavery doesn’t exist anymore. Let me ask you about the American Revolution, even though I know this was not your research field.  The United States Senate confirmed his nomination by voice vote on December 20. I read the letters and diaries of well over 1,000 of them, and their attitudes on this question ranged all the way from a racist, pro-slavery position to a kind of radical egalitarian perspective. I think it gets at a powerful element in the southern ideology in the antebellum. And his interpretation of the southern Populists and Tom Watson grew out of that. So did Lincoln. Have you had a chance to review any of the literature on slavery and capitalism, by for example Sven Beckert, Ed Baptist, and Walter Johnson? The emphasise on … And that’s what’s missing from this perspective. , Media related to James E. McPherson at Wikimedia Commons, Acting United States Secretary of the Navy, United States Under Secretary of the Army, The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School, National Association of Attorneys General, 2020 coronavirus pandemic on USS Theodore Roosevelt, Register of commissioned and warrant officers of the United States Navy and reserve officers on active duty (1985), "McPherson officially sworn in as undersecretary of the Army", "UNDER SECRETARY OF THE ARMY - James E. 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McPherson - General Counsel of the Army, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=James_E._McPherson&oldid=985069740, Judge Advocates General of the United States Navy, United States Navy rear admirals (upper half), United States Under Secretaries of the Army, University of San Diego School of Law alumni, The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School alumni, Short description is different from Wikidata, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 23 October 2020, at 19:32. You were a student of C. Vann Woodward, if I am not mistaken. James Macpherson is a sought after international speaker with a background in journalism at the Courier Mail and Daily Telegraph. JAMES M. MCPHERSON George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History Princeton University T Nhe traditional answer to the question posed by the title of this paper is: Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves. And that broadened into an idea of not only revenging the flag, and the ideas that it stood for, but of taking revenge against what they were increasingly calling “the Slave Power.” So, almost from the beginning, there was not really a sharp division between fighting for the integrity of the United States, and against the institution that had attacked it. But it existed in the ideology of the pro-slavery argument. The book, which earned the 1989 Pulitzer Prize in History, spans over eight … This article was updated at 7:35 p.m. The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and Slavery. Part of the Republican critique of slavery that emerges in the 1850s is the idea that slavery degraded all labor. James M. McPherson (born October 11, 1936) is an American Civil War historian, and is the George Henry Davis '86 Professor Emeritus of United States History at Princeton University. James McPherson, dean of Civil War historians and another Pulitzer winner, said the Times presented an “unbalanced, one-sided account” that “left most of the history out.” It’s the ancient question about whether the glass is half full or half empty. In fact West Virginia becomes a union state—one-third of the state of Virginia—in the Civil War. That’s how the Republicans got votes in 1860. Could you speak specifically on what motivated Union soldiers in the Civil War? The dominant political party most of the time from 1800 to 1860 was the Democratic Republican Party under the Virginia dynasty of Jefferson and Madison, which metamorphosed into the Democratic Party under the Tennessean Andrew Jackson and his successors. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Battle Cry of Freedom, his most famous book. It looks like that literature informs the 1619 Project, especially the essay by Matthew Desmond. And I was a little bit unhappy with the idea that people who did not have a good knowledge of the subject would be influenced by this and would then have a biased or narrow view.  Defense Secretary Mark Esper designated McPherson as Acting Secretary of the Navy on April 7, replacing Thomas Modly who resigned the same day. The family migrated to Sydney in 1836. And there’s nothing like the protections for the institution of slavery that exist in the American Constitution in the British political order.  He received his Juris Doctor (J.D.) That was a part of the “free labor ideology” that 50 years ago Eric Foner wrote about so effectively. It is a vast oversimplification. Notable people with the surname include: It was also the most traumatic experience endured by any generation of Americans. , McPherson is a native of San Diego. He had already drafted the Emancipation Proclamation, and he was preparing the way for it. And Republicans in the North seized on that as part of their free labor ideology. It’s like the question of what would have happened had Lincoln not been assassinated. Spring 2010, Vol. Learn More: James McPherson's Pulitzer Prize winning book "Battle Cry of Freedom" is available from our Civil War Trust-Amazon Bookstore James McPherson was born in North Dakota and raised in Minnesota, where he graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in 1958. Marx certainly saw the abolition of slavery as a kind of bourgeois revolution that paved the way for the proletarian revolution that he hoped would come in another generation or so. But of all the versions of the tales of Ossian, the most lastingly controversial are those by James Macpherson (1736-96). You mentioned that you were totally surprised when you found Project 1619 in your Sunday paper. He qualified in 1847 and soon became Thurlow's partner but was restless. Few individuals have influenced the understanding of an entire historical topic more than Princeton University historian Dr. James McPherson. Q. Q. Out of the Revolution came an anti-slavery ethos, which never disappeared, even though the period from the 1790s to the 1830s was a quiet period in the antislavery movement—though there was the Missouri Compromise of 1820. Hinton Rowan Helper made that a theme of his famous book. McPherson's works mostly focus on the American Civil War and Reconstruction, including Battle Cry of Freedom, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1989, and For Cause and Comrades, which won the Lincoln Prize in 1998. The Civil War accomplished three things. Yet another argument that’s made is that the Civil War, and emancipation in the United States, came late, compared to Great Britain which did in 1833, and it’s argued, “Look, the British did it voluntarily without a great civil war.”. In order to preempt that revolution that would have overthrown slavery in the South, they undertook what I called, and borrowing this from Arno Mayer, a preemptive counterrevolution, which was secession. 188 . McPherson’s bold 1988 narrative, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era, examines the social, political, and economic factors related to antebellum America and the Civil War. , He and his wife Jennifer are married and have two adult children. He graduated from San Diego State University in 1977 with an undergraduate degree in public administration. The World Socialist Web Site recently spoke to James McPherson, professor emeritus of history at Princeton University, on the New York Times’ 1619 Project. One of the problems they run into is that, if it’s the case that everyone agreed…. He was designated as Acting United … But again, I think it lacks context, lacks perspective on the entire course of slavery and how slavery began and how slavery in the United States was hardly unique. James Edwin McPherson (born January 20, 1953) is an American government official and retired United States Navy rear admiral. He has mastered the art that Shelby Foote noted many historians lack, that of telling history in a way ordinary men will read. He received his PhD in 1963 from Johns Hopkins University, where he studied with C. Vann Woodward. A. Attitudes in the Union Army ranged from extreme racism to a kind of radical idealism and anti-slavery. I’d say that, almost from the outset, I was disturbed by what seemed like a very unbalanced, one-sided account, which lacked context and perspective on the complexity of slavery, which was clearly, obviously, not an exclusively American institution, but existed throughout history. While visiting the battlefields and re-examining the gruesome events there, his students often ask, \"Why were men willing to cross thi… He lives in New Jersey with his wife of forty-three years, Patricia.  Eugene Genovese (1930-2012). (Library of Congress) The Civil War had a greater impact on American society and the polity than any other event in the country’s history. So I read a few of the essays and skimmed the rest, but didn’t pursue much more about it because it seemed to me that I wasn’t learning very much new. In September 2000, he assumed command of Trial Service Office East, Norfolk, Va. I suppose she’s using DNA metaphorically. That’s a significant step beyond slavery as it existed before 1865. A. The analysis you’ve just given fits with the very good histories of the era, which acknowledge the complexities and contradictory character of the politics, and the way that that interacted with the movement of many, many people. Back in the 1930s, he, like many intellectuals and artists, flirted with socialism, even the Communist Party. Q. The herrenvolk idea was an ideological effort to undercut class conflict among whites in the South by saying that all whites are superior to all blacks, all whites are in the same category, they are not of different classes. And the Times did not approach you? A. So you had strong currents of unionism in those parts of the South. Q. It presents the origins of the United States entirely through the prism of racial conflict. Q. Nikole Hannah-Jones refers to Lincoln as viewing African Americans as “an obstacle to national unity.” And then she moves on. Q. Nikole Hannah-Jones, the lead writer and leader of the 1619 Project, includes a statement in her essay—and I would say that this is the thesis of the project—that “anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country.”. 1 By James M. McPherson Enlarge An 1870 engraving of the Battle of Gettysburg, possibly Pickett s charge. A. I get asked this question a lot. I don’t think that any serious historian ever denied that the South was bound up with the global capitalist system. I think slavery would have continued for another generation. McPherson has served as the executive director of the National Association of Attorneys General. . That part of it—that the South is as capitalist as the North, or Great Britain—is unpersuasive to me. McPherson is … But the idea that racism is a permanent condition, well that’s just not true. On Nov. 3rd, 1999, Professor James McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom, appeared for a lengthy political discussion about the candidacy of George W. Bush on the "Democracy Now" program of the socialist Pacifica Radio Network. McPherson is a Scottish surname. These authors draw an equal sign between what they perceive to be a fully developed capitalist South, and the North. He has served as the Acting United States Under Secretary of the Army since July 23, 2019, and was sworn into the position full-time on March 25, 2020 following confirmation by the Senate. Q. It did exist, at least in theory. James McPherson is a master of prose and storytelling as evidenced in Battle Cry of Freedom. His award-winning career has spanned four decades, and includes such highly prestigious honors as Pulitzer Prize, two Lincoln Prizes, the NEH's Jefferson Lectureship in the Humanities, and a term as the president of the American Historical Association. ET on December 23, 2019. Those two were, in effect, permanent achievements. The slaveholders saw the triumph of the Republicans in 1860 as a potential revolution that would abolish slavery. … Exactly. Do you recommend any recent books on the subjects we’ve discussed today? James's present occupation is listed as a Principal at J B Mcpherson. Clearly that would have gone on. Yes. A. A. Over time, like most people I suppose, he became more conservative, moving toward a sort of southern liberal ideology, in his interpretation of segregation in The Strange Career of Jim Crow, which Martin Luther King publicly called a kind of Bible of the Civil Rights movement. The best book about the American Civil War If you're ready to take the plunge and get the fullest account of the events leading up to, during, and after the Civil War, then this is the best book there is. A former newspaper reporter, editor and public relations professional, I've taught media history, media criticism, and journalism skills courses. He received the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. 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