Is the Abbeville Institute a Reliable Source for Information Related to the Civil War?

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NH Civil War Gal

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I don't ascribe to their summary of Southern history, though they hit on some interesting points I hadn't thought about. Those great Southerners, again considered often the greatest of Americans and especially thinkers, were pushing the boundaries of their times, they were progressives, they were less attached with what was and more focused on what could be, of constant improvement and not being complacent with leaving things as they were or are.

That spirit seems completely lost on this group.

This - excellent summary.
 

Andersonh1

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One of the things I enjoy about the Abbeville Institute is the focus on other aspects of Southern history. Case in point, a summer conference on music. I've only started listening to these lectures, but there's some good stuff here, even if you don't agree with their view of the war. Bobby Horton, talking about "The War in Lyric and Song"? Count me in.

https://www.abbevilleinstitute.org/...thern-identity-through-southern-music/page/2/
 

Scrubby

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As a new member and a life-long voracious reader, I must thank all of you for a spirited and relevant introduction to the AI. As a result of reading this thread, I've added the Institute to my morning review of thought-provoking websites. A word of caution to some, if you are fearful and anxious about stifling someone else's thought and expressions, it rather taints other valid points you may later wish to make. First impressions are always that.
 

MattL

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As a new member and a life-long voracious reader, I must thank all of you for a spirited and relevant introduction to the AI. As a result of reading this thread, I've added the Institute to my morning review of thought-provoking websites. A word of caution to some, if you are fearful and anxious about stifling someone else's thought and expressions, it rather taints other valid points you may later wish to make. First impressions are always that.

True AI has left quite a distasteful first impression on most of us (and even some who defend it to some extent share such impressions).

It's perfectly fine for an agenda driven blog with some scholarly contributors (though the contributions to the blog itself typically are not scholarly and clearly not intended to be held to that quality).

If you read the history of it basically it's a deliberate created echo chamber for that purpose. Again nothing wrong with that, just keep in mind what it is and what it isn't.
 

CSA Today

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As a new member and a life-long voracious reader, I must thank all of you for a spirited and relevant introduction to the AI. As a result of reading this thread, I've added the Institute to my morning review of thought-provoking websites. A word of caution to some, if you are fearful and anxious about stifling someone else's thought and expressions, it rather taints other valid points you may later wish to make. First impressions are always that.

The Abbeville Institute is a much-needed counter to TOV types, much of modern-day academia, and other anti-Southern agenda driven media forces anxious to force their interpretation of Southern history on Southern people
 

MattL

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The Abbeville Institute is a much-needed counter to TOV types, much of modern-day academia, and other anti-Southern agenda driven media forces anxious to force their interpretation of Southern history on Southern people

anti-Confederate is not anti-Southern. Just like anti-red coat Brits from the American Revolution is not anti-Modern Britain.
 

jdb79

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The Abbeville Institute is a much-needed counter to TOV types, much of modern-day academia, and other anti-Southern agenda driven media forces anxious to force their interpretation of Southern history on Southern people

This is exactly the function of AI: a reaction to a focused effort to transform all of the traditional American nations into Lesser New York. The South and its old Ivanhoe-God-and-guns culture is more boisterous and individualistic than, say, Minnesota, so it gets the lion's share of the media/political attacks. There's been a natural flattening of American culture since the introduction of mass culture, especially tv (Wendell Berry complains that his grandkids don't sound or act much different than any other kids elsewhere in the US), but the process was evidently taking too long or had started to reverse itself, so now we've moved on to outright cleansing.

The best part of the Internet Era is that it's hard to force an interpretation of anything on anyone anymore outside of a few cultural bottlenecks like the university or social media, which can be managed if one is not excessively agreeable. Along with other factors the selective balkanization of culture made possible by the Internet and the absence of a unifying mass culture is contributing to the urban/suburban-rural divide. You can see that in usual nasty politics and even here in our diametrically opposed views of war, empire, colonialism, and the legitimacy of the CSA. Without Internet resources, I doubt I would've questioned Lincoln or the outcome of his war any more than my parents did.

For the poster who complained that AI emphasized "white" Southern culture--as though all Southern whites were the same nation or as though any True Southerner would hesitate for a moment to make fun of Arkansas or Atlanta--a stew made of one horse and one squirrel has a notably horsey flavor. Southern culture is Cavalier culture moved across the ocean and spiked with Ireland and West Africa and France and more, but the core of traditional Southern culture, like New England, is English. That won't change unless the population changes, and that process usually doesn't go well.

Beyond that observation, Abbeville makes no bones about the several cultures found in the South. Michael Kogan, who has a credible claim that an ancestor of his was the first European to set foot in the New World under Columbus, has a lecture about the role of Sephardic Jews in the Old South and has spoken at several conferences. There is a population fo Southern intellectual that can't zip it about Judah Benjamin or Bernard Baruch. Ben Jones--a Democrat politician, which means that he had to give the keynote--spoke last year about growing up on the black side of town and getting some of his teeth loosened by the 1960s KKK when he was marching. They talk about the cultural significance of blues and jazz to a fault.

I find all of it a little much, but they're decent and sincere, and it seems older generations are more invested in the idea of pan-American solidarity and unity than Gen X and on are. But they're not shunning non-white influence in Southern culture and nations.
 

MattL

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This is exactly the function of AI: a reaction to a focused effort to transform all of the traditional American nations into Lesser New York.

I'm not sure what a "traditional American nation" is. I mean American nations are Canada, US, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, etc. Their traditions are far different the the US and some of them far more ancient American than much of the US.

Did you mean traditional American regions, or cultures? Places within the US. Please clarify.

If so I don't know of my fellow Arizonans (I live in California for work now but spent the majority of my first 21 years in my home state of Arizona) would probably disagree we are anything like a "Lesser New York". In fact everywhere I lived I've never heard even such a concept. I've lived in Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, California (and 3 years as a child in Massachusetts). Each place was it's very own distinct culture (even Western Mass).

The South and its old Ivanhoe-God-and-guns culture is more boisterous and individualistic than, say, Minnesota, so it gets the
lion's share of the media/political attacks.

I don't know, do you know Minnesota culture well enough to say that? I can't comment on that though I have in fact gotten opposing sentiments from Southern friends and family (my mother was born in Texas and the majority of my ancestry is Southern, though I was born in Arizona). That some of that specific culture you refer to (which is only a portion of Southern culture) is actually pretty anti-individualistic.

Personally I've found Oregonians probably to be the most individualistic people I know.

There's been a natural flattening of American culture since the introduction of mass culture, especially tv (Wendell Berry complains that his grandkids don't sound or act much different than any other kids elsewhere in the US), but the process was evidently taking too long or had started to reverse itself, so now we've moved on to outright cleansing.

The US has always been a melting pot. Pre-White Southern culture was flattened into that White Southern culture. Much of the old Jeffersonian progressive enlightenment culture has been flattened out of much of it, the desire to challenge traditions, even if some basic aspects of the agrarian side of it has remained in some form.

The best part of the Internet Era is that it's hard to force an interpretation of anything on anyone anymore outside of a few cultural bottlenecks like the university or social media, which can be managed if one is not excessively agreeable. Along with other factors the selective balkanization of culture made possible by the Internet and the absence of a unifying mass culture is contributing to the urban/suburban-rural divide. You can see that in usual nasty politics and even here in our diametrically opposed views of war, empire, colonialism, and the legitimacy of the CSA. Without Internet resources, I doubt I would've questioned Lincoln or the outcome of his war any more than my parents did.

I don't completely agree with your first half, though I think in general I agree with your premise and some of your conclusions. I personally would have never easily been able to dig through Virginia secession convention notes, Arkansas and Alabamas. All the various contemporary statements by secessionists (and their counterparts), collections of orders regarding Fort Sumter (confirming Lincoln was consistent in his claim of pursuing only subsistence resupply first), etc.

An open sharing of information, especially contemporary records, that would take many hours, days, and weeks to study yourself is pretty powerful. Also an opportunity to challenge your views and thoughts and preconceptions, whatever they are (even if many don't use it to challenge such).

For the poster who complained that AI emphasized "white" Southern culture--as though all Southern whites were the same nation or as though any True Southerner would hesitate for a moment to make fun of Arkansas or Atlanta--a stew made of one horse and one squirrel has a notably horsey flavor. Southern culture is Cavalier culture moved across the ocean and spiked with Ireland and West Africa and France and more, but the core of traditional Southern culture, like New England, is English. That won't change unless the population changes, and that process usually doesn't go well.

Before you criticize any poster here for generalizing "white" culture keep in mind that's the term the AI uses themselves, a quote from their Purpose page, itself a quote from someone else.

----
Rarely these days, even on southern campuses, is it possible to acknowledge the achievements of the white people of the South
----

Beyond that observation, Abbeville makes no bones about the several cultures found in the South. Michael Kogan, who has a credible claim that an ancestor of his was the first European to set foot in the New World under Columbus, has a lecture about the role of Sephardic Jews in the Old South and has spoken at several conferences. There is a population fo Southern intellectual that can't zip it about Judah Benjamin or Bernard Baruch. Ben Jones--a Democrat politician, which means that he had to give the keynote--spoke last year about growing up on the black side of town and getting some of his teeth loosened by the 1960s KKK when he was marching. They talk about the cultural significance of blues and jazz to a fault.

I find all of it a little much, but they're decent and sincere, and it seems older generations are more invested in the idea of pan-American solidarity and unity than Gen X and on are. But they're not shunning non-white influence in Southern culture and nations.

That's one side of it... the majority of their history based articles (and many others) have a very modern political slant and most of their online posting are of more blog quality than peer reviewed article quality. It's a political club with a clear political agenda among much (if not most) of their content. Not to say the people being such things aren't those who produce scholarly content or aren't scholars themselves, but at least if you follow their web articles it's clearly intended to be a self minded opinion blog/destination rather than what many others might identify as a scholarly "institute."

Just because all of their content isn't blatantly targeted at pushing a modernist Lost Cause agenda doesn't mean most of it isn't. Just reading their purpose page makes much of that agenda of that specific outlet clear. Of course that doesn't mean I'm suggesting I dismiss everything they say just because I've found most of their content to be quite agenda driven (lacking any attempt to be objective and balanced), just something I'd advise those reading it's content to keep in mind. It is what it is.

I would also point out you might be careful about generalizing based on generations. Just because you might identify a group of older people in a specific area having a specific set of ideals doesn't mean that generalization applies to all people of those generations. I can only speak from personal experience of course and I certainly know you'd find a generation of older people in places in Oregon and other places that might be completely different than what you generalize as generational.
 

MattL

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Just because someone has an "agenda", or makes their political persuasion known..... doesn't make their statements false.

Nope and I never claimed as such. I've also said multiple times there's no problem with what they are. I imagine all of us here expose ourselves to things that are more objectively targeted research, analysis, etc sort of platforms of information as well as those that are deliberately agenda driven. Being agenda driven isn't in itself malevolent, it's how we organize, work together, find like minded people, and can even be the basis for conversing with friends etc. I'm just trying to point out they clearly are an agenda driven platform, they state it clearly in their mission statement in the Purpose page so just making sure people are fully aware when we are discussing them in a general sense.

I tend to disagree with much of what they say, in particular their conclusions. I also am innately skeptical of a site that mixes modern political statements with history analysis so readily (it makes it even more clear the history is likely through the lens of their modern political views with little attempts to be objective). With that said just because I even disagree with much of what they say doesn't mean I disagree with all of what they say either.

I'm odd though, so I don't apply how I approach sources of information to others without knowing further. For example I have many friends and family with a wide variety of views and they express them constantly on Facebook. I have never unfriended anyone or hidden any post streams (or even any part of them). I find it interesting to expose myself to streams of views that might greatly agree with my own and others that constantly disagree with my own. Not everyone gets value out of seeing so much "noise" however. I make no judgements on how others approach things compared to myself, I think neither is better or worse, just individual. With that concept though I peruse sites like AI. I want to see what people on a distinctly different set of views believes (well at least different to myself in the present), in that case them being clearly agenda driven actually gives me a great value. I don't assume very article is slanted in that perspective but I have that context going in so when I see it I'm not surprised and I can in fact peruse their articles with clear expectations of what I'm going to get.

Basically they are the opinion section of a news website, with most everything else cut out. It is what it is, doesn't make them innately wrong or it even an invalid place, just people might look at their name and the nature of their focus on history (and some of the credentials of those who contribute) and think this is something more objective or scholarly.
 
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Viper21

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Don't really care if you believe it or not. It's true. We've had "secular progressives" like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison for our entire history. Nothing is more "Traditional American" than that. We've had taxes for our entire history as an independent nation. Perhaps you'd like to side with the racists. I'll call them out.
Again, I say nonsense. The term, "Traditional American" has nothing to do with race. Calling the term, "a racist dog whistle" is absurd. Wish I could say I'm surprised.....
 
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Alright, enough. Next comment gets the axe.

If anyone has anything new to say about the Abbeville Institute, fine. Otherwise find another thread. Maybe wiping a few of these.
 

CSA Today

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anti-Confederate is not anti-Southern. Just like anti-red coat Brits from the American Revolution is not anti-Modern Britain.

Of course not, no more so than being anti-TOV, or anti-radical leftist Yankees is being anti-Northern. Such descriptions are no more characteristic of most or all Northerners than is Lost Causer or Neo-Confederate characteristic of all Southerners. Two of the most Southern/ProConfederate people I know are from the North. Then too, you occasionally meet the native-born Southern Yankee wannabe around here, so it's not always where you are located or where you are from..
 

WJC

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***Posted as Moderator***
The topic of this thread is not support for the rebellion, support for the Lincoln Administration's policies or desertion rates of either army. It is the question, "is the Abbeville Institute a reliable source for information on the Civil War?
Please limit discussion to that topic.
Off-topic posts will be edited or deleted.
 

thomas aagaard

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That is such a bigoted statement
Not when it is true.

Some years ago I actually contacted them and asked if they could provide me with evidence of one black man "who was able to sign up with everyone knowing he was black. Hold military rank and fight in a unit that was a member of the confederate Army. (before spring of 1865) So no slaves who was forced. No men who could pass as whites, and no militia units."

It was a serious request, since I would love to learn more about the colored men who wanted to serve the CSA.
(like the group of Ceroles in Mobile who asked to be enlisted in November 1863)

Instead of just giving me that, they gave me a link to a kickstarter for a book about a servant.
The text on the website for the kickstarter was all about how historians lie about the many thousands of colored who served as soldiers... But the book was about a servant and not about men who fought... And the site did not in anyway give evidence of anyone serving as soldiers.

I pointed this out and got this reply.
"In other words, by default you acknowledge that blacks served the Confederate army and some were given pensions after the war and showed up at Confederate veteran reunions, even into the 1930s when the South was characterized as "intolerant." You lose. Thanks for playing. Now stop trolling our page and do something constructive, like maybe worrying about how you can centralize power in Denmark like your hero "Honest" Abe or subvert self-government like the Republican Party of the 1860s or invade another country. But hey, you have Danish examples for that. See Christian IV."

So instead of providing the evidence asked for they when on a rant about centralization of power and a danish king who ruled back in the early 17th century... something that got nothing to do with the topic.

In the end they failed to give me the name of one single colored man who served as a soldier for the CSA.
(people on this forum have been able to gather a good list of names of men who in the paperwork do appear to have held positions in the csa military was not legal for them to hold... but they did so anyway)


This group is all about a modern libertarian agenda.
Nothing wrong with that political standpoint. But they are trying to pretend to be an actual academic institute about the past.
When they are in fact all about modern politics and some of their members are also political commentators.

All historical interpretation is biased in different ways. But if you are political active you need to be open and honest about it.
 
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