Phillip W. Magness

On libertarian stupidity and the Civil War

Ideologically-driven history begets bad historical interpretation, typically of the type that selectively casts about for bits and pieces of a story to confirm a fixed bias. Or that which carelessly passes over complications to the same. In either case a desired narrative leads the evidence, sometimes unwittingly. Yet ideological constructs are also informed by history, …

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History and the “Social Justice” debate

At risk of venturing into political philosophy, I have to admit my intrigue with an ongoing dialogue between David Friedman and a group of commentators for the always-insightful Bleeding Heart Libertarians blog on the question of “social justice.” As an advance warning the debate is primarily philosophical and addresses this concept in the abstract. Though the …

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Compensated Emancipation at the Hampton Roads Conference of 1865

Though long a domain of Civil War specialists, the Hampton Roads Peace Conference of February 3, 1865 largely avoided popular attention until it was recently thrust into the cinematic spotlight as a climactic turning point in Steven Spielberg’s movie Lincoln. This event, held aboard a steamship off of Fort Monroe, Virginia brought together Abraham Lincoln …

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Lincoln & Colonization: A Response to Allen Guelzo

In the Winter 2013 issue of the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, historian Allen C. Guelzo of Gettysburg College took vigorous exception to my scholarship on Abraham Lincoln’s involvement with the colonization movement, including two prior articles I have written for the same journal and my 2011 book, co-authored with Sebastian N. Page, Colonization after Emancipation: Lincoln …

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Welcome!

I decided to add a blog to this site for the purpose of recording my thoughts, research notes, and reactions to emerging trends in the study of history. Stay tuned for more coming soon!