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Defender of the Old South and Architect of the Lost Cause
Albert Taylor Bledsoe (1809–1877), a principal architect of the South’s “Lost Cause” mythology, remains one of the Civil War generation’s most controversial intellectuals. In Albert Taylor Bledsoe: Defender of the Old South and Architect of the Lost Cause, Terry A. Barnhart sheds new light on this provocative figure. Bledsoe gained a respectable reputation in the 1840s and 1850s as a metaphysician and speculative theologian. His two major works, An Examination of President Edwards’ Inquiry into the Freedom of the Will (1845) and A Theodicy; Or, Vindication of the Divine Glory, As Manifested in the Constitution and Government of the Moral World (1853), grapple with perplexing problems connected with causality, Christian theology, and moral philosophy. His fervent defense of slavery and the constitutional right of secession, however, solidified Bledsoe as one of the chief proponents of the idea of the Old South. In An Essay on Liberty and Slavery (1856), he assailed egalitarianism and promoted the institution of slavery as a positive good. A decade later, he continued to devote himself to fashioning the “Lost Cause” narrative as the editor and proprietor of the Southern Review from 1867 until his death in 1877. He carried on a literary tradition aimed to reconcile white southerners to what he and they viewed as the indignity of their defeat by sanctifying their lost cause. Those who fought for the Confederacy, he argued, were not traitors but honorable men who sacrificed for noble reasons. This biography skillfully weaves Bledsoe’s extraordinary life history into a narrative that illustrates the events that shaped his opinions and influenced his writings. Barnhart demonstrates how Bledsoe still speaks directly, and sometimes eloquently, to the core issues that divided the nation in the 1860s and continue to haunt it today.
A History of Pittsburgh’s North Side
Allegheny City, known today as Pittsburgh’s North Side, was the third-largest city in Pennsylvania when it was controversially annexed by the City of Pittsburgh in 1907. Founded in 1787 as a reserve land tract for Revolutionary War veterans in compensation for their service, it quickly evolved into a thriving urban center with its own character, industry, and accomplished residents. Among those to inhabit the area, which came to be known affectionately as “The Ward,” were Andrew Carnegie, Mary Cassatt, Gertrude Stein, Stephen Foster, and Martha Graham. Once a station along the underground railroad, home to the first wire suspension bridge, and host to the first World Series, the North Side is now the site of Heinz Field, PNC Park, the Andy Warhol Museum, the National Aviary, and world headquarters for corporations such as Alcoa and the H. J. Heinz Company. Dan Rooney, longtime North Side resident, joins local historian Carol Peterson in creating this highly engaging history of the cultural, industrial, and architectural achievements of Allegheny City from its humble beginnings until the present day. The authors cover the history of the city from its origins as a simple colonial outpost and agricultural center to its rapid emergence alongside Pittsburgh as one of the most important industrial cities in the world and an engine of the American economy. They explore the life of its people in this journey as they experienced war and peace, economic boom and bust, great poverty and wealth—the challenges and opportunities that fused them into a strong and durable community, ready for whatever the future holds. Supplemented by historic and contemporary photos, the authors take the reader on a fascinating and often surprising street-level tour of this colorful, vibrant, and proud place.
The full-length debut from francine j. harris, allegiance is about Detroit, sort of. Although many of the poems are inspired by and dwell in the spaces of the city, this collection does not revel in any of the cliché cultural tropes normally associated with Detroit. Instead, these poems artfully explore life in a city where order coexists with chaos and much is lost in social and physical breakdown. Narrative poems on the hazards, betrayals, and annoyances of city life mix with impressionistic poems that evoke the natural world, as harris grapples with issues of beauty and horror, loyalty and individuality, and memory and loss on Detroit’s complicated canvas. In twelve sections, harris introduces readers to loungers and bystanders, prisoners’ wives, poets pictured on book jackets, Caravaggio’s Jesus, and city priests. She leads readers past the lone house on the block that cannot be walked down, through layers of discarded objects in the high school yard, and into various classrooms, bars, and living rooms. Shorter poems highlight the persistence of nature—in water, weeds, orchids, begonias, insects, pigeons, and pheasants. Some poems convey a sense of the underbelly, desire, and disgust while others treat issues of religion, both in institutional settings and personal prayers. In her honest but unsentimental voice, harris layers personal history and rich details to explore how our surroundings shape our selves and what allegiance we owe them when they have turn almost everything to ashes. Throughout allegiance, harris presents herself as an extraordinarily perceptive poet with a compelling and original voice. Poetry lovers will appreciate this exciting debut collection.
A Paleoindian Camp in Southwestern Nebraska
Recent research on the intriguing Allen Site in southwestern Nebraska and the nearby Medicine Creek sites has revealed a wealth of new information on the land and animal use of the early inhabitants.
Alice C. Fletcher, E. Jane Gay, and Nez Perce Survivance
The Allotment Plot reexamines the history of allotment on the Nez Perce Reservation from 1889 to 1892 to account for and emphasize the Nez Perce side of the story. By including Nez Perce responses to allotment, Nicole Tonkovich argues that the assimilationist aims of allotment ultimately failed due in large part to the agency of the Nez Perce people themselves throughout the allotment process. The Nez Perce were actively involved in negotiating the terms under which allotment would proceed and simultaneously engaged in ongoing efforts to protect their stories and other cultural properties from institutional appropriation by the allotment agent, Alice C. Fletcher, who was a respected anthropologist, and her photographer and assistant, E. Jane Gay. The Nez Perce engagement in this process laid a foundation for the long-term survival of the tribe and its culture.
Making use of previously unknown archival sources, Fletcher’s letters, Gay’s photographs and journalistic accounts, oral tribal histories, and analyses of performances such as parades and verbal negotiations, Tonkovich assembles a masterful portrait of Nez Perce efforts to control their own future and provides a vital counternarrative of the allotment period, which is often portrayed as disastrous to Native polities.
Wealth, Honor, and Gentility in the South Carolina Lowcountry
William Kauffman Scarborough’s absorbing biography, The Allstons of Chicora Wood, chronicles the history of a South Carolina planter family from the opulent antebellum years through the trauma of the Civil War and postwar period. Scarborough’s examination of this extraordinarily enterprising family focuses on patriarch Robert R. F. W. Allston, his wife Adele Petigru Allston, and their daughter Elizabeth Allston Pringle Scarborough. Scarborough shows how Allston, in the four decades before the Civil War, converted a small patrimony into a Lowcountry agricultural empire of seven rice plantations, all the while earning an international reputation for the quality of his rice and his expertise. Scarborough also examines Allston’s twenty-eight-year career in the state legislature and as governor from 1856 to 1858. Upon his death in 1864, Robert Allston’s wife of thirty-two years, Adele, found herself at the head of the family. Scarborough traces how she successfully kept the family plantations afloat in the postwar years through a series of decisions that exhibited her astute business judgment and remarkable strength of character. In the next generation, one of the Allstons’ five children followed a similar path. Elizabeth “Bessie” Allston took over management of the remaining family plantations upon the death of her husband and, in order to pay off the plantation mortgages, embarked on a highly successful literary career. Bessie authored two books, the first treating her experiences as a woman rice planter and the second describing her childhood before the war. A major contribution to southern history, The Allstons of Chicora Wood provides a fascinating look at a prominent southern family that survived the traumas of war and challenges of Reconstruction.
Leather Britches Smith and the Grabow War
Louisiana’s Neutral Strip, an area of pine forests, squats between the Calcasieu and Sabine Rivers on the border of East Texas. Originally a lawless buffer zone between Spain and the United States, its hardy residents formed tight-knit communities for protection and developed a reliance on self, kin, and neighbor. In the early 1900s, the timber boom sliced through the forests and disrupted these dense communities. Mill towns sprang up, and the promise of money lured land speculators, timber workers, unionists, and a host of other characters, such as the outlaw Leather Britches Smith. That moment continues to shape the place’s cultural consciousness, and people today fashion a lore connected to this time. In a fascinating exploration of the region, Keagan LeJeune unveils the legend of Leather Britches, paralleling the stages of the outlaw’s life to the Neutral Strip’s formation. LeJeune retells each stage of Smith’s life: his notorious past, his audacious deeds of robbery and even generosity, his rumored connection to a local union strike—the Grabow War—significant in the annals of labor history, and his eventual death. As the outlaw’s life vividly unfolds, Always for the Underdog also reveals the area’s history and cultural landscape. Often using the particulars of one small town as a representative example, the book explores how the region remembers and reinterprets the past in order to navigate a world changing rapidly.
Nuclear Testing in Alaska
“Amchitka and the Bomb reconstructs thoroughly the decision by the Atomic Energy Commission to use Amchitka Island in the Aleutians as a test site for nuclear missile weaponry . . . utterly disregarding the fact that the island was a wildlife refuge. It will be an important contribution to environmental and Alaska studies and to national defense studies.” - Stephen Haycox, University of Alaska, Anchorage
The Missouri Frontier from Borderland to Border State
In the heart of North America, the Missouri, Ohio, and Mississippi rivers come together, uniting waters from west, north, and east on a journey to the south. This is the region that Stephen Aron calls the American Confluence. Aron's innovative book examines the history of that region -- a home to the Osage, a colony exploited by the French, a new frontier explored by Lewis and Clark -- and focuses on the region's transition from a place of overlapping borderlands to one of oppositional border states. American Confluence is a lively account that will delight both the amateur and professional historian.