The National Archives recently made available 6,000 digitized images online for free. They come from the Mathew Brady Photographs of Civil War-Era Personalities and Scenes (National Archives’s Local Identifier 111-B) series. If you aren’t familiar with Brady,
Mathew Brady (1823-1896) was one of the most prolific photographers of the nineteenth century, creating a visual documentation of the Civil War period (1860-1865).
During the Civil War, Brady and his associates traveled throughout the eastern part of the country, capturing the effects of the War through photographs of people, towns, and battlefields. Additionally, Brady kept studios in Washington, DC and New York City, where many influential politicians and war heroes sat for portraits.
While most of the photos are understandably from the post-Early Republic period, I thought you might be interested in seeing individuals such as John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, and Andrew Jackson, all of whom are located in “Named Subjects.”
The 2010 Tennessee Conference of Historians will meet on the campus of Cumberland University on 10-11 September 2010. This year’s keynote speaker will be Dr. Caroline Janney, Associate Professor of History at Purdue University. An OAH Distinguished Lecturer, Dr. Janney is the author of Burying the Dead but Not the Past: Ladies’ Memorial Associations and the Lost Cause, as well as numerous articles on the Civil War, the Lost Cause, memory, and gender. Dr. Janney will also be speaking at Cumberland University on the Thursday evening of 9 September 2010. The Thursday lecture will be free and open to the public.
You can register online for the conference at www.cumberland.edu/tch.
I’m especially proud to have two of my students presenting papers at this conference. Chris Tucker was one of my former students at Southern New Hampshire University. He went on to graduate school at Dartmouth and is starting his Ph.D. program at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, this fall. His paper had its origins in his senior thesis. Emily Taylor is currently a history major at Cumberland. Her paper will be a revised version of a research paper that she wrote for my Jacksonian course this past spring.
Cumberland will also be represented by three of its history faculty. Rick Bell will be presenting a paper on Horn Springs, a nineteenth-century Wilson County, Tennessee, resort. Natalie Inman, the newest member of our department, will be part of a panel discussing Native Americans. I will be discussing a condensed version of an historiographical essay on Andrew Jackson and slavery that I recently wrote for History Compass.
Make your plans to attend. If you want more information, check out the link above or contact me directly.
Robert V. Remini is widely regarded as the authoritative historian of the Jacksonian period. His biographies of Andrew Jackson, Henry Clay, and Daniel Webster are monumental works that remain definitive studies of the lives of these three politicians of the Middle Period.
Remini brings his wealth of knowledge about the Early Republic period to his newest book, At the Edge of the Precipice: Henry Clay and the Compromise That Saved the Union (New York: Basic, 2010). This study of the Compromise of 1850 is essentially a micro-biography of Clay during the congressional debates over slavery and territorial expansion that pivotal year. Remini is careful to give Clay both credit and criticism for his work in preventing sectional division and, perhaps, civil war. His well-crafted narrative approach to history is present, lending tension and anticipation to the events of 1850.
Remini subscribes to the “Blundering Generation” thesis in explaining why the Compromise of 1850 succeeded and the nation divided in 1860. Presidents such as Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, and James Buchanan, and politicians such as Jefferson Davis, William H. Seward, and Stephen Douglas simply were not up to par with the Clays, Calhouns, and Websters of the previous generation. In this assessment, Remini ignores the reality that Calhoun did more to lead the nation to civil war than any of those named above, and that by his own admission, Fillmore and Douglas were key players in helping achieve the 1850 compromise legislation. He argues that the Compromise of 1850 allowed two things to occur that kept the Confederate States from achieving its goal: It allowed the northern states to modernize, thus giving them a technological and military advantage during the Civil War; and it provided the nation time to find its political savior: Abraham Lincoln.
I have assigned this book in my Fall 2010 Civil War course. Historians familiar with the period will not find anything new in the book, but undergraduate students should find it an interesting and insightful read.