Phillip W. Magness

U.S. Economic & Political History

More on Lincoln & Fugitive Slaves

| March 26, 2014

On Monday I weighed in on the Daily Show controversy surrounding the recent appearance of Andrew Napolitano, specifically looking at the Fugitive Slave Act. Whereas the historians on Jon Stewart’s panel seized upon Napolitano’s remarks attributing enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act to Lincoln, I pointed out that at least in the narrow sense Napolitano […]

Lincoln and the Wadsworth Letter: a Reconstruction Forgery?

| March 26, 2014

One of the most unusual documents in the Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (Roy Basler, ed) is an excerpt of a letter allegedly written in 1864 by Lincoln to Gen. James S. Wadsworth. The document seems to reveal Lincoln’s support for universal black suffrage while also hinting at elements of an egalitarian turn in his racial views. […]

Oakes, Napolitano, and Lincoln’s enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act

| March 24, 2014

A little over a week ago I strongly criticized Judge Andrew Napolitano’s recent appearance on the Daily Show for his slipshod handling of Civil War history and for a couple of factual errors in his presentation about the Morrill Tariff. I was not the only critic, and others also seized upon Napolitano’s claim that Lincoln […]

Some thoughts on the MOOC fad

| March 22, 2014

Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs for shorthand, are all the rage these days in U.S. higher education. These technologically trendy, web-based providers of academic content have been touted as a fundamentally disruptive force in the higher ed marketplace and, in the most fanciful portrayals, perhaps even the beginning of the end for the traditional […]

Before you start claiming that tariffs caused the Civil War…

| March 12, 2014

It’s an argument we’ve all heard before: tariffs really “caused” the Civil War. The claim is unequivocally in error and was the historical biproduct of a conscious Confederate diplomatic strategy to draw the free trade-oriented Great Britain to its side in the war despite the latter’s antislavery disposition. There is a subtler truth though that […]

More on Colonization, Lincoln, and Butler

| March 2, 2014

The Civil War Memory blog has weighed in to the ongoing discussion about Lincoln and colonization with an interesting inquiry, asking “to what extent does Lincoln’s continued advocacy of colonization overshadow the rest of his public statements and policy decisions?” I’ve offered my thoughts in the comments section over there, echoing several points of my […]