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Biased Historians Rewriting History?

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by Joshism, Feb 28, 2017.

  1. Joshism

    Joshism Sergeant

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    I saw this in another thread and thought it merited a separate discussion of its own.

    Jeff Davis' self-serving two-volume history of the Confederacy seems like an example of this, but I would be interested to hear who the OP had in mind when this comment was made. Or for that matter examples of what others think falls under this category.
     
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  3. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Captain

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    Jubal Early " the Lost Cause" comes to mind.
    Leftyhunter
     
  4. huskerblitz

    huskerblitz 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

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    Wonder how many authors will be predominately Southern in nature mentioned here? My guess....most.
     
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  5. Bee

    Bee 2nd Lieutenant

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    I believe that the Dunning School boys were from the North....
     
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  6. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Captain

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    So give some Northern examples.
    Leftyhunter
     
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  7. John Hartwell

    John Hartwell Captain

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    All too often it was "biased historians" who wrote the history in the first place. A fresh viewpoint may well be a valuable corrective.
     
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  8. huskerblitz

    huskerblitz 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

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    No. Simply a statement. Let's see how it plays out.
     
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  9. huskerblitz

    huskerblitz 1st Lieutenant Forum Host

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    All writers are inherently biased. This has been brought up before, and fairly recently. From the selection of sources they choose to use to how they interpret those sources...it's all biased. You can't escape it, it's human nature. As I've said before, the good writers are the ones honest enough to admit their biases and actively try to reduce it in their products.
     
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  10. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Captain

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    Not exactly a history writter but Thomas Dixon Jr certainly had a major effect of public perception on the Civil War with his novel " the Clansmen" which D.W.Griffith adopted in the mega hit movie "Birth of a Nation".
    Leftyhunter
     
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  11. AndyHall

    AndyHall Lt. Colonel Forum Host

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    To paraphrase the late Barbara Tuchman, all historians have their own biases, and characters in history that they like or dislike. It's better when it shows, so the reader can take it into account.

    She was speaking about writing biography, but I think that applies to history generally.

    And in response to this:

    . . . historians who rewrite history to suit their own view of the past. . . .

    People who write history do so because they believe they feel have something new to say, or a different way of looking at events in the past. If it's not "revisionist" in some way or other, there's no point in writing it in the first place.
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2017
  12. cash

    cash Brev. Brig. Gen'l

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    Stephen Sears regarding George McClellan.
     
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  13. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Captain

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    Can you provide an example. I own two Sears books one on Antitam and one on Gettysburg and Sears appears to be a very good history writer.
    Leftyhunter
     
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  14. cash

    cash Brev. Brig. Gen'l

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    Look at how he treats McClellan. Little Mac can do no right, and is one step above an outright traitor according to Sears.
     
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  15. Bee

    Bee 2nd Lieutenant

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    As I recently learned from the Winter Lecture Series at Gettysburg National Military Park, so much of what happened at Antietam has been exaggerated & oversimplified at the same time. That so many parts and pieces of McClellan's army did not come together, the numbers en masse did not reflect the actual working parts of the army. For this, McClellan has been made to look much worse than he should.
     
  16. leftyhunter

    leftyhunter Captain

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    Certainly many in congress thought that to be true. On the other hand might be something to it has the forum has had many sharp debates over McCellan. Do you have a specific example that is unfair to McCellan. After all Lincoln did fire McCellan although has we know Burnside was not a huge improvement to say the least.
    Leftyhunter
     
  17. Gladys Hodge Sherrer

    Gladys Hodge Sherrer Private

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    Does a biased person ever know they are biased?
     
  18. 67th Tigers

    67th Tigers Sergeant Major

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    Here's all the absolute clangers in one paragraph: http://67thtigers.blogspot.be/2014/10/research-exercise-how-many-mistakes-in.html

    In this paragraph Sears actually invents an episode that never happened - McClellan eating dinner on the Galena whilst the army fought. The primary source Sears used is now freely available and so can be checked, and Sears actually frequently misquotes la Comte during his work. In another example Sears misquotes la Comte to write out McClellan's command actions at Seven Pines for example. Being difficult to access, Sears' mistranslations and misquotes have gone unchallenged.
     
  19. J. Horace

    J. Horace Private

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    When I hear that a Civil War historical book is an "unbiased account" then I reckon it will be pretty boring.
     
  20. matthew mckeon

    matthew mckeon Brigadier General Moderator

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    In this context, its historians whose research is too complete, arguments too strong and whose books are too long to be addressed, let alone refuted. But they contradict some beloved myth about our heroic ancestors. So the partisan reaches for the last arrow in his quiver: "he's/she's......biased!"

    Then the partisan slumps back relieved and wipes the sweat from his brow. His view is still intact. He is safe from heresy. And he didn't even have to read some long, boring history book.
     
  21. Joshism

    Joshism Sergeant

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    I believe there was am entire thread on the subject of 67th Tigers' defense of McClellan for those interested in that subject.
     
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