In October 2002, he was promoted to rear admiral and assigned as the Deputy Judge Advocate General for the Navy and Commander, Naval Legal Service Command. But he continued to pursue that through the 1950s and 1960s, and I think that influenced me as much as anything in my graduate work. And racial convictions, or “anti-other” convictions, have been central to many societies. Even though Jim Crow, segregation, disenfranchisement, lynching, all of these things became blots on the United States in the later 19th century, and well into the 20th, at least children couldn’t be sold apart from their parents, wives couldn’t be sold apart from their husbands, and marriage was now a legal institution for freedpeople. A. I don’t really know. While visiting the battlefields and re-examining the gruesome events there, his students often ask, \"Why were men willing to cross thi… James McPherson's fast-paced narrative fully integrates the political, social, and military events that crowded the two decades from the outbreak of one war in … That’s a significant step beyond slavery as it existed before 1865. Back in the 1930s, he, like many intellectuals and artists, flirted with socialism, even the Communist Party. When you look at the way the historiography on the Civil War and on slavery has changed over the generations—and I know you’ve made this point in the past—it’s been influenced by contemporary politics.  He concurrently served as the General Counsel of the Army from 2018 to 2020. The people you’re talking about claim that it’s never gone beyond slavery, or that something almost as bad as slavery replaced slavery. And I was a little bit unhappy with the idea that people who did not have a good knowledge of the subject would be influenced by this and would then have a biased or narrow view. And Lincoln’s frequently quoted statement, in his famous letter to Horace Greeley, that, ‘my primary object is to preserve the Union. A. In October 1997, he became Special Counsel to the Chief of Naval Operations. He qualified in 1847 and soon became Thurlow's partner but was restless. The motivations are complex, and the major political perspectives of the time are bound up with the soldiers’ motivations, whether it was a war to preserve the Union or a war to end slavery, or a combination of the two…. I do know that he is a political activist, and he did urge Obama to not place the Confederate wreath in 2009. Q. Q. But again, I think it lacks context, lacks perspective on the entire course of slavery and how slavery began and how slavery in the United States was hardly unique. , He and his wife Jennifer are married and have two adult children. If you gain a majority in Parliament, which the antislavery forces in Britain did in the early 1830s, you can pass legislation banning slavery, which is exactly what happened. One of the people they approached is Kevin Kruse, who wrote about Atlanta. He was bothered by the countercultural aspects of liberalism that emerged in the later 1960s. Historian James M. McPherson “No one deserves more credit than Abraham Lincoln, as commander-in-chief, for the victory of the United States” in the Civil War,” said James M. McPherson. A. I called it a “preemptive counterrevolution.” This is a concept I borrowed shamelessly from my colleague here at Princeton, Arno Mayer, who wrote on preemptive counterrevolution in Europe in the 20th century. James McPherson is a master of prose and storytelling as evidenced in Battle Cry of Freedom. A. Southern political leaders were threatening to take their states out of the Union if a Republican president was elected on a platform restricting slavery.p. In his last speech—it turned out to be his last speech—he came out in favor of qualified suffrage for freed slaves, those who could pass a literacy test and those who were veterans of the Union army. His evaluation begins with explanations offered by the Civil War’s famous actors, ... American politics revolved around the economic interests of these contesting groups. His most noted work was Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Battle Cry of Freedom, his most famous book. As the sesquicentennial of the Civil War draws to a close, historian He was designated as Acting United States Secretary of the Navy on April 7, 2020, following the resignation of Thomas Modly. Few individuals have influenced the understanding of an entire historical topic more than Princeton University historian Dr. James McPherson. W hen The New York Times Magazine published its 1619 Project in August, people lined … The best book about the American Civil War If you're ready to take the plunge and get the fullest account of the events leading up to, during, and after the Civil War, then this is the best book there is. So another generation of black people would have been slaves, another generation of children being sold apart from their parents, and so on. In fact, the principal reason for secession in 1861 was because they had lost control of the United States government for the first time ever. Exactly. Could you speak on this a little bit more? But if I could do it by freeing the slaves, I would do that.’ (The full text of Lincoln’s letter to Greeley’s New York Tribune.) So did Lincoln. This relates to your concept of the “counterrevolution of 1861.” Can you explain that? James also answers to James A Mcpherson and James Andrew Mcpherson, and perhaps a couple of other names. What would have happened with the slavery institution? Q. James B. McPherson, in full James Birdseye Mcpherson, (born Nov. 14, 1828, Sandusky county, Ohio, U.S.—died July 22, 1864, near Atlanta, Ga.), Union general of the American Civil War about whose death General Ulysses S. Grant is reported to have said, “The country has lost one of its best soldiers, and I have lost my best friend.”. If I could do that without freeing the slaves, I would do that. A. Almost from the beginning of American history that’s been true. It’s the ancient question about whether the glass is half full or half empty. , McPherson is a native of San Diego. Q. I think in Battle Cry of Freedom you refer to this as “holding the line” in the South—in the context of the war in which the Confederacy has to muster all these soldiers into the ranks. Q. Nikole Hannah-Jones, the lead writer and leader of the 1619 Project, includes a statement in her essay—and I would say that this is the thesis of the project—that “anti-black racism runs in the very DNA of this country.”. Nevertheless, the anti-slavery ethos that did come out of the Revolution was a subterranean movement that erupted in the 1830s and shaped American political discourse. He had become convinced by the summer of 1862 that he could never achieve his primary goal—the preservation of the Union—without getting rid of slavery. And that’s what’s missing from this perspective. But it’s not so simple, as it turns out. And the slaveholders in the Caribbean, who obviously opposed this, had very little power in Parliament. Marx certainly saw the abolition of slavery as a kind of bourgeois revolution that paved the way for the proletarian revolution that he hoped would come in another generation or so. In order to preempt that revolution that would have overthrown slavery in the South, they undertook what I called, and borrowing this from Arno Mayer, a preemptive counterrevolution, which was secession. And his interpretation of the southern Populists and Tom Watson grew out of that. Whether it existed in practical relations is another matter. Q. McPherson is a Scottish surname. The emphasise on … Well, of course. Yes. He’d in fact already made up his mind when he wrote that letter. Q. In September 2000, he assumed command of Trial Service Office East, Norfolk, Va. Q. A. I thought that Eric Foner’s biography of Lincoln was excellent. And Republicans in the North seized on that as part of their free labor ideology. Have you read Karl Marx’s writings on the Civil War? That is, apart from the 400th anniversary, which is the convenient hook on which this is hanging. He’s a colleague, a professor here at Princeton. A. In this article, James McPherson, an emeritus professor of history at Princeton University, explores various interpretations attempting to explain the cause of sectional strife. It’s like the question of what would have happened had Lincoln not been assassinated. James … The Council, quoting Indigenous activist Kelly Treloar, yesterday tweeted that a high rate of domestic violence in Aboriginal communities was the result of colonisation. I think that that’s a vast oversimplification. And that broadened into an idea of not only revenging the flag, and the ideas that it stood for, but of taking revenge against what they were increasingly calling “the Slave Power.” So, almost from the beginning, there was not really a sharp division between fighting for the integrity of the United States, and against the institution that had attacked it. James Edwin McPherson is an American government official and retired United States Navy rear admiral. Certainly, they were part of a capitalist world order. JAMES M. MCPHERSON George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History Princeton University T Nhe traditional answer to the question posed by the title of this paper is: Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves. Nikole Hannah-Jones refers to Lincoln as viewing African Americans as “an obstacle to national unity.” And then she moves on. One of the problems they run into is that, if it’s the case that everyone agreed…. I don’t think that any serious historian ever denied that the South was bound up with the global capitalist system. The World Socialist Web Site recently spoke to James McPherson, professor emeritus of history at Princeton University, on the New York Times’ 1619 Project. They have one daughter. But of all the versions of the tales of Ossian, the most lastingly controversial are those by James Macpherson (1736-96). But the struggle ever since 1870, when the 15th amendment was ratified, has been how to transform this achievement on paper into real achievement in the society. James Macpherson Grant (1822-1885), politician, was born at Alvie, Inverness-shire, Scotland, son of Louis Grant and his wife Isabella, née McBean. A. George Frederickson [(1934-2008) - TM] came up with the idea of “herrenvolk democracy.” He was a historian at Stanford University who wrote on the ideology of white supremacy in the US, and comparatively with South Africa. The Alabama Democratic convention [instructed] its delegates to walk out of the national convention if the party refused to adopt a platform pledging a federal slave code for the territories.  He received his Juris Doctor (J.D.) So I thought the account, which emphasized American racism—which is obviously a major part of the history, no question about it—but it focused so narrowly on that part of the story that it left most of the history out. A. The Civil War did fill up half the bottle. McPherson has taught at Princeton since 1962 and is the George Henry Davis '86 Professor of American History. …Absolutely, I think so. I read the letters and diaries of well over 1,000 of them, and their attitudes on this question ranged all the way from a racist, pro-slavery position to a kind of radical egalitarian perspective. It’s accomplishments were more political than social and economic, but nevertheless there were some social and economic dimensions to it, progressive dimensions I would say. And the Times did not approach you? Johnson (River of Dark Dreams) is also at Harvard. He graduated from San Diego State University in 1977 with an undergraduate degree in public administration. Q. Baptist (The Half has Never Been Told) is at Cornell University. Over time, like most people I suppose, he became more conservative, moving toward a sort of southern liberal ideology, in his interpretation of segregation in The Strange Career of Jim Crow, which Martin Luther King publicly called a kind of Bible of the Civil Rights movement. The family migrated to Sydney in 1836. And he played a role in bringing them about. Sometimes James goes by various nicknames including James P Mcpherson, James P Mcphersn and James Mc Pherson. Q. Q. A. I knew that its purpose was for education, but I haven’t heard many of the details of that, including what you’ve just mentioned. I think slavery would have continued for another generation. On October 13, 2017, President Donald Trump announced the nomination of McPherson to become the General Counsel of the United States Department of the Army. He received the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. But the idea that racism is a permanent condition, well that’s just not true. The way I see it, while the bottle is not full, it is half full. But it’s also half full.  The United States Senate confirmed his nomination by voice vote on December 20. He doesn’t quite fit the mold of the other writers. On November 10, 2004, McPherson became the 39th Judge Advocate General of the Navy, a position he held until 2006.. … The letter acquired four signatories—James McPherson, Gordon Wood, Victoria Bynum, and James Oakes, all leading scholars in their field. James Edwin McPherson (born January 20, 1953) is an American government official and retired United States Navy rear admiral.He has served as the Acting United States Under Secretary of the Army since July 23, 2019, and was sworn into the position full-time on March 25, 2020 following confirmation by the Senate. On December 5, 2019, Trump nominated him to be Under Secretary of the Army, a position that he had been holding since July 23, 2019, in an acting capacity, while concurrently serving as General Counsel of the Army. A. A. Another element implicit in the 1619 Project is that all white people in the South were unified behind slavery. But secession, ironically, brought on the very revolution that it attempted to preempt, through the war: the abolition of slavery. It is certainly part of the history. You may not be a slaveholder and you may not have much money, but you are white. James McPherson Twitter: @JimBMcPherson I have a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science and am a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association. Q. Let me ask you about the American Revolution, even though I know this was not your research field. And there’s nothing like the protections for the institution of slavery that exist in the American Constitution in the British political order. It was a crucial step on the way to the eventual proletarian revolution, as Marx perceived it. He received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1963. He has mastered the art that Shelby Foote noted many historians lack, that of telling history in a way ordinary men will read. Suppose the South had won the Civil War. Notable people with the surname include: We can’t say for sure when slavery would have come to an end, and under what conditions it would have come to an end, but clearly there would have been no 14th and 15th amendments for a long time, if ever. A. Well, I didn’t know anything about it until I got my Sunday paper, with the magazine section entirely devoted to the 1619 Project. Nobody knows for sure. Q. David Brion Davis says that the abolitionists viewed the Declaration of Independence as sacred scripture…. Q. We’ve spoken to a lot of historians, leading scholars in the fields of slavery, the Civil War, the American Revolution, and we’re finding that none of them were approached. The World Socialist Web Site recently spoke to James McPherson, professor emeritus of history at Princeton University, on the New York Times’ 1619 Project. James Macpherson is a sought after international speaker with a background in journalism at the Courier Mail and Daily Telegraph. His award-winning career has spanned four decades, and includes such highly prestigious honors as Pulitzer Prize, two Lincoln Prizes, the NEH's Jefferson Lectureship in the Humanities, and a term as the president of the American Historical Association. That was a part of the “free labor ideology” that 50 years ago Eric Foner wrote about so effectively. He was a sort of middle class resident of western North Carolnia who became in the 1850s increasingly resentful of the control of southern society, of the suppression of the non-slaveholders, by the slaveholding elite that held them back, as he saw it. He interned in the Naval Legal Service Office (NLSO) in San Diego and then attended Naval Justice School, in Newport, R.I., completing his training in 1982. We know that James's political affiliation is currently a registered Republican; ethnicity is Caucasian; and religious views are listed as Christian. He concurrently served as the General Counsel of the Army from 2018 to 2020. One catalyst for his interest in the private lives of the Civil War volunteer soldiers came out of the yearly tours to battlefields that he makes with his students at Princeton University. We know that James's political affiliation is currently a registered Republican; ethnicity is Caucasian; and religious views are listed as Christian. Q. Q. And this was the first step toward doing that. In the parts of the South where slavery was a minimal factor—in the Appalachian Mountain chain for example, in western Virginia and in eastern Tennessee, where there are very few slaves and very few slaveholders, a lot of the whites did not want to fight for the Confederacy, to risk their lives for what they saw as a slaveholders’ war. Q. While I don’t know entirely what Woodward thought of some of these things, certainly his basic underlying attitude was sympathetic to these changes. Do you recommend any recent books on the subjects we’ve discussed today? So while the official motivation was preservation of the union, that increasingly became merged with the destruction of slavery, which had launched the attack on the flag in the first place. And this is what the people who say the Civil War didn’t accomplish anything are missing. Q. It was basic to the Republican Party. Yet another argument that’s made is that the Civil War, and emancipation in the United States, came late, compared to Great Britain which did in 1833, and it’s argued, “Look, the British did it voluntarily without a great civil war.”. 188 . But his sympathies and his perspective were with the Civil Rights movement—even while maintaining a southern perspective, there’s no question about that. A. Maybe you could speak on Lincoln. A. The 1619 Project also attacks it as founding a slavocracy. James McPherson and the Socialist Pacifica Radio Network. But the idea that the ideology of the planter class in the South was a capitalist ideology, there I’ve always been a little bit more on the side of Eugene Genovese,  who sees the southern ideology as seigneurial. Because this is a subject I’ve long been interested in I sat down and started to read some of the essays. Let me ask you a counterfactual question. Q. As of this date, James is married.  Defense Secretary Mark Esper designated McPherson as Acting Secretary of the Navy on April 7, replacing Thomas Modly who resigned the same day. It presents the origins of the United States entirely through the prism of racial conflict. Are you aware that the glossy magazine is being distributed to schools across the country, and the Chicago public school district has already announced that it will be part of the curriculum? But I don’t know who advised them, and what motivated them to choose the people they did choose. And slavery in the United States was only a small part of a larger world process that unfolded over many centuries. It looks like that literature informs the 1619 Project, especially the essay by Matthew Desmond. Could you speak specifically on what motivated Union soldiers in the Civil War? McPherson is known for his outspokenness on contemporary issues and his activism, such as his work on behalf of the preservation of Civil War battlefields.  In relation to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic on USS Theodore Roosevelt McPherson and Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Michael M. Gilday recommended that Brett Crozier be reinstated as the commanding officer of the Roosevelt on April 25, 2020. He also writes regularly for The Spectator. Because opposition to slavery, and opposition to racism, has also been an important theme in American history. The herrenvolk idea was an ideological effort to undercut class conflict among whites in the South by saying that all whites are superior to all blacks, all whites are in the same category, they are not of different classes. It is an Anglicised form of the Gaelic Mac a' Phearsain and Mac a Phearsoin , meaning "son of the parson". Nowhere is this more obvious than in coverage of female politicians in recent elections. But it existed in the ideology of the pro-slavery argument. I suppose she’s using DNA metaphorically. A. So you had strong currents of unionism in those parts of the South. The dominant political party most of the time from 1800 to 1860 was the Democratic Republican Party under the Virginia dynasty of Jefferson and Madison, which metamorphosed into the Democratic Party under the Tennessean Andrew Jackson and his successors. As of this date, James is married. The response in the North, and especially among the men who signed up—and they were all volunteers for the first two years of the Civil War, and they were mostly volunteers throughout—viewed it at first as an unprovoked attack on the flag. And it also doesn’t account for the countervailing tendencies in American history as well. He also served as the general counsel of the Department of Defense Counterintelligence Field Activity. Although the Times doesn’t list its sources, what do you think, in terms of scholarship, this 1619 Project is basing itself on? As of this date, James is married. , Media related to James E. McPherson at Wikimedia Commons, Acting United States Secretary of the Navy, United States Under Secretary of the Army, The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School, National Association of Attorneys General, 2020 coronavirus pandemic on USS Theodore Roosevelt, Register of commissioned and warrant officers of the United States Navy and reserve officers on active duty (1985), "McPherson officially sworn in as undersecretary of the Army", "UNDER SECRETARY OF THE ARMY - James E. McPherson", "Acting Navy secretary resigns after carrier remarks, Esper names replacement", "San Diego native appointed as acting Navy Secretary", "President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Personnel to Key Administration Posts", "PN1097 — James E. McPherson — Department of Defense", "President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate and Appoint Individuals to Key Administration Post", "Navy Leaders Recommend Reinstating Roosevelt Captain Fired Over Virus Warning", James E. McPherson - General Counsel of the Army, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=James_E._McPherson&oldid=985069740, Judge Advocates General of the United States Navy, United States Navy rear admirals (upper half), United States Under Secretaries of the Army, University of San Diego School of Law alumni, The Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School alumni, Short description is different from Wikidata, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 23 October 2020, at 19:32. Spring 2010, Vol. Other influences on me were being in Baltimore during the Civil Rights movement, and sit-ins and demonstrations in a border city. That even though two-thirds to three-quarters of southern whites did not own slaves, they all owned the white skin. I’d say that, almost from the outset, I was disturbed by what seemed like a very unbalanced, one-sided account, which lacked context and perspective on the complexity of slavery, which was clearly, obviously, not an exclusively American institution, but existed throughout history. …Well the initial motivation was revenge for the attack on the flag. However, for all his skills at penmanship McPherson makes several critical errors in Battle Cry, errors common to his generation. He was designated as Acting United … The Times’ Project is a politically-motivated falsification of history. James McPherson has emerged as one of America's finest historians. I think it gets at a powerful element in the southern ideology in the antebellum. A. In the British constitution Parliament is all-powerful. Solicitor in Sydney before becoming active in Victorian politics and member of both Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament in Victoria. Q. In June 1994, he reported to the staff of Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet as the Force Judge Advocate. As president in 1993-1994 of Protect Historic America, he lobbied against the construction of a Disney theme park near Manassas battlefield. It did continue to exist in Brazil and Cuba for another generation, and it might not have come to an end as it did those two countries had it not already been abolished in the United States. McPherson is … Learn More: James McPherson's Pulitzer Prize winning book "Battle Cry of Freedom" is available from our Civil War Trust-Amazon Bookstore James McPherson was born in North Dakota and raised in Minnesota, where he graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College in 1958. Clearly that would have gone on. So with the slave system, as Senator Hammond of South Carolina put it, the slaves are the “mudsill” of the society, and all whites were above that mudsill because they were white. He previously pastored a significant church in Australia and South Africa. James M. McPherson (born October 11, 1936) is an American Civil War historian, and is the George Henry Davis '86 Professor Emeritus of United States History at Princeton University. Q. A. Filled with fresh interpretations and information, puncturing old myths and challenging new ones, Battle Cry of Freedom will unquestionably become the standard one-volume history of the Civil War. , McPherson enlisted in the Army in 1972, and served three years as a military policeman, before leaving the Army for college. I tried to quantify these things, but it’s hard to make a generalization about two-and-a-half million soldiers. The Princeton University history professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author spoke at the Western Reserve Historical Society on April 29, 2000. McPherson has served as the executive director of the National Association of Attorneys General. But there was also a more social dimension to the American Revolution, and a movement toward greater democracy, though they didn’t like to use that term. Cotton and sugar were central. I know you’ve written on this question. Q. Q. Slavery undermined the concept of the dignity of labor and held down the white working man because labor was identified in the South with slavery. From the Quakers in the 18th century, on through the abolitionists in the antebellum, to the radical Republicans in the Civil War and Reconstruction, to the NAACP which was an interracial organization founded in 1909, down through the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, there have been a lot of whites who have fought against slavery and racial discrimination, and against racism. Well, the American Revolution was first and foremost a war for independence. Lincoln became increasingly convinced, as many of the Union soldiers did, that that the Union could not be preserved if that disturbing factor—slavery—remained. And so I don’t think you can really separate those two motives. Because elsewhere in her essay, Hannah-Jones writes that “black Americans have fought back alone” to make America a democracy. Meanwhile, the slaveholders in the United States actually controlled the government through their domination of the Democratic Party, right through the 1850s.  He was sworn in on January 2, 2018. That part of it—that the South is as capitalist as the North, or Great Britain—is unpersuasive to me. It does not make very much sense to me. He received his PhD in 1963 from Johns Hopkins University, where he studied with C. Vann Woodward. Those two were, in effect, permanent achievements. He lives in New Jersey with his wife of forty-three years, Patricia. She argues that racism is the central theme of American history. Bio: James M. "Jim" McPherson is an American Civil War historian, and is the George Henry Davis '86 Professor Emeritus of United States History at Princeton University. A. I think it’s partly an outgrowth of broader social and political developments of the past twenty years or so. It is a vast oversimplification. They saw Abraham Lincoln and his Republican Party as just as bad as the abolitionists. Q. In recent years, ... turned to politics, until nominated for president in 1860 the dominant, The stories of Ossian and Finn, and preceding them, the stories of Cuchulain and Deirdre, and the old gods, have been retold many times, notably in Marie Heaney’s Over Nine Waves: A Book Of Irish Legends (1994). It seems to me that much of that complexity finds manifestation in the figure of Abraham Lincoln. James McPherson, dean of Civil War historians and another Pulitzer winner, said the Times presented an “unbalanced, one-sided account” that “left most of the history out.” James's ethnicity is unknown, whose political affiliation is none; and religious views are listed as unknown. Identity politics undermines a person’s achievements and perpetuates the lie that immutable characteristics are the most important thing about a person. McPherson is the author of dozens of books and articles, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Battle Cry of Freedom, widely regarded as the authoritative account of the Civil War.