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Encyclopedia > James M. McPherson
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Please see the discussion on the talk page.
For the Civil War General of a similar name see James B. McPherson

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. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Battle Cry of Freedom, his most famous book. He was the president of the American Historical Association in 2003, and is a member of the editorial board of Encyclopædia Britannica. Image File history File links Unbalanced_scales. ... James B. McPherson James Birdseye McPherson (November 14, 1828 – July 22, 1864) was a career U.S. Army officer who served as a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. ... October 11 is the 284th day of the year (285th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1936 (MCMXXXVI) was a leap year starting on Wednesday (link will take you to calendar). ... Combatants United States of America (Union) Confederate States of America (Confederacy) Commanders Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee Strength 2,200,000 1,064,000 Casualties 110,000 killed in action, 360,000 total dead, 275,200 wounded 93,000 killed in action, 258,000 total... A historian is an individual who studies history and who writes on history. ... Pre-Colonial America For details, see the main Pre-Colonial America article. ... Princeton University is a private coeducational research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, in the United States of America. ... The Pulitzer Prize is an American award regarded as the highest national honor in print journalism, literary achievements, and musical composition. ... The American Historical Association (AHA) is a society of historians and teachers of history founded in 1884 and incorporated by the United States Congress in 1889. ... 2003 (MMIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The Encyclopædia Britannica is a general encyclopedia published by Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. ...

Born in Valley City, North Dakota, he graduated from St. Peter High School, and he received his Bachelor of Arts at Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter, Minnesota) in 1958 (from which he graduated magna cum laude), and his Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University in 1963. Currently he resides in Princeton, New Jersey, and is married with one child. Valley City is a city located in Barnes County, North Dakota. ... Official language(s) English Capital Bismarck Largest city Fargo Area  Ranked 19th  - Total 70,762 sq mi (183,272 km²)  - Width 210 miles (340 km)  - Length 340 miles (545 km)  - % water 2. ... St. ... A B.A. issused as a certificate Bachelor of Arts (B.A., BA or A.B.), from the Latin Artium Baccalaureus is an undergraduate bachelors degree awarded for either a course or a program in the liberal arts or the sciences, or both. ... For other people and places of the same name, see Gustaf Adolf (disambiguation). ... Location in the state of Minnesota. ... Capital Saint Paul Largest city Minneapolis Area  Ranked 12th  - Total 87,014 sq mi (225,365 km²)  - Width 250 miles (400 km)  - Length 400 miles (645 km)  - % water 8. ... Year 1958 (MCMLVIII) was a common year starting on Wednesday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated Ph. ... The Johns Hopkins University, founded in 1876, is a private institution of higher learning located in Baltimore, Maryland, United States. ... Year 1963 (MCMLXIII) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will display full calendar) of the Gregorian calendar. ... Nassau Street, Princetons main street. ... Official language(s) English de facto Capital Trenton Largest city Newark Area  Ranked 47th  - Total 8,729 sq mi (22,608 km²)  - Width 70 miles (110 km)  - Length 150 miles (240 km)  - % water 14. ...



McPherson's works include The Struggle for Equality, awarded the Anisfield-Wolf Award. In 1989, he published his Pulitzer-winning book, Battle Cry of Freedom. And in 1998 another book, For Cause and Comrades, received the Lincoln Prize. In 2002 he published both a scholarly book, Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam 1862, and a history of the Civil War for children, Fields of Fury. Unlike many other historians, he has a reputation of trying to make history accessible to the public. Most of his works are marketed to popular audiences and his book Battle Cry of Freedom has long been a popular one-volume general history of the Civil War. Year 1989 (MCMLXXXIX) was a common year starting on Sunday (link displays 1989 Gregorian calendar). ... Year 1998 (MCMXCVIII) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display full 1998 Gregorian calendar). ... The Lincoln Prize has been awarded annually since 1991 by Gettysburg College for the best non-fiction historical work of the year on the American Civil War. ...

McPherson was named the "2000 Jefferson Lecturer in the Humanities" by the National Endowment for the Humanities. In making the announcement NEH Chairman William Ferris said: The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is an independent federal agency of the United States established by the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965 (Pub. ...

James M. McPherson has helped millions of Americans better understand the meaning and legacy of the American Civil War. By establishing the highest standards for scholarship and public education about the Civil War and by providing leadership in the movement to protect the nation's battlefields, he has made an exceptional contribution to historical awareness in America.[1]

Politics and advocacy

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. As president in 1993-1994 of Protect Historic America, he lobbied against the construction of a commercial theme park at the Manassas battlefield. He has also served on the boards of the Civil War Trust and the Association for the Preservation of Civil War Sites, and on the Civil War Sites Advisory Committee. Manassas is an independent city located in the state of Virginia. ...

In 1998, McPherson joined a group of scholars, most of them law professors, in supporting President Bill Clinton against impeachment charges during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. William Jefferson Bill Clinton (born William Jefferson Blythe III[1] on August 19, 1946) was the 42nd President of the United States, serving from 1993 to 2001. ... Depiction of the impeachment trial of Andrew Johnson, then President of the United States, in 1868. ... Monica Lewinsky as she appeared on her U.S. Government ID in 1995 Monica Samille Lewinsky (born July 23, 1973) is an American woman with whom the former United States President Bill Clinton admitted to having a sexual relationship[1] while Lewinsky worked at the White House in 1995 and... A scandal is a widely publicized incident involving allegations of wrong-doing, disgrace, or moral outrage. ...

As president of the American Historical Association (AHA), he used his regular "President's Column" in "Perspectives" to address a some of politically and socially-sensitive issues. He criticized the Bush administration's doctrine of preemptive war in Iraq, citing as examples the American Civil war and World War II. [2] Responding to comments in 2003 when Bush and Condoleezza Rice criticized revisionist historians, McPherson accused the Bush Administration of using deceptive information to "justify an unprovoked invasion" of Iraq. [3] In another column, he detailed the "older forms of affirmative action", such as the "old boys network", that helped people like him advance, and acknowledges that contemporary affirmative action, while imperfect, is less unjust than the old system. [4] George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is the 43rd and current President of the United States, inaugurated on January 20, 2001. ... Preemptive war (or preemptive attack) is waged in an attempt to repel or defeat a perceived imminent offensive or invasion, or to gain a strategic advantage in an impending (allegedly unavoidable) war. ... Condoleezza Rice (born November 14, 1954) is the 66th United States Secretary of State, and the second in the administration of President George W. Bush to hold the office. ... Affirmative Action refers to policies intended to promote access to education or employment aimed at a historically socio-politically non-dominant group (typically, minorities or women). ...

The practice of espousing contemporary political beliefs in his columns drew backlash and criticism from several AHA members who wrote letters to the editor of "Perspectives". David F. Krein, of Scott Community College in Iowa, responded that McPherson "seems intent to use his 2003 term as AHA president as his own "bully pulpit" (as president of the AHA) to promote a personal political agenda" and "implore(d) him to stop" the politicization of his column "for the dignity of the profession" of historians.[5] Don McArthur, of Maine South High School in Illinois, responded that McPherson's politics were "furthering a general public mistrust of academic historians" and requested that he "moderate his obviously intense political aversion to the (Bush) administration" when writing in official AHA publications.[6] Martin J. Weiner, of Rice University, described McPherson's columns as "the most unprofessional thing I have seen in 35 years of reading Perspectives," the AHA's newsletter in which they were published, and suggested the organization's Professional Division should consider McPherson's actions as an "abuse of his office."[7] Scott Community College is a junior college in Bettendorf, Scott County and is part of the Eastern Iowa Community College District. ... Lovett Hall William Marsh Rice University, commonly called Rice University and opened in 1912 as The William Marsh Rice Institute for the Advancement of Letters, Science and Art, is a private, comprehensive research university located in Houston, Texas, USA, near the Museum District and adjacent to the Texas Medical Center. ...

In response, McPherson claimed that he received generally favorable "personal communications" from other members about his columns, stated that he was only giving his personal views, and argued that contemporary politics is an appropriate field for the commentary of historians. He concluded by asking readers, "to decide whether my 'conclusions and arguments' are more or less likely 'to flow automatically from ideology rather than from evidence' than those of the Bush administration."[8]

McPherson has criticized those who defend the inclusion of Confederate imagery in state flags, such as Senator Trent Lott. He has also favored revisionary presentations at Civil War sites in the National Park Service. Actions such as these have led his critics such as DiLorenzo to charge him with politicizing the battlefields.[9] Chester Trent Lott, Sr. ... The National Park Service (NPS) is the United States federal agency that manages all National Parks, many National Monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations. ...

McPherson has been interviewed in the World Socialist Web Site [10], a publication of a socialist political party. He has also published articles in liberal opinion magazine The Nation. Socialism is a social and economic system (or the political philosophy advocating such a system) in which the economic means of production are owned and controlled collectively by the people. ... Look up liberal on Wiktionary, the free dictionary Liberal may refer to: Politics: Liberalism American liberalism, a political trend in the USA Political progressivism, a political ideology that is for change, often associated with liberal movements Liberty, the condition of being free from control or restrictions Liberal Party, members of... The Nation logo The Nation is a weekly left-liberal periodical devoted to politics and culture. ...

Democracy Now interview & UDC boycott

McPherson's political views have led to charges of bias against him and at least one boycott of his books. In 1999 McPherson drew the ire of Confederate genealogy groups when he and Ed Sebesta had an interview with Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez on the liberal Pacifica Radio network's Democracy Now! program. The topic of the interview was then-candidate George W. Bush's financial support of the Museum of the Confederacy, and its Lone Star Ball fundraising event, as well as his views of the historical Confederacy. During the interview, guest Ed Sebesta discussed the Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy, two Civil War genealogical groups that are over one hundred years old. Sebesta argued that these groups were created with the motive of celebrating the Confederacy, including the use of slavery in the Confederate economy, and white supremacy. The interview with McPherson followed in another segment, where McPherson stated: This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Look up Boycott in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Year 1999 (MCMXCIX) was a common year starting on Friday (link will display full 1999 Gregorian calendar). ... It really is irresponsible for Wikipedia to have me listed as Ed Sebesta. ... Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! Amy Goodman (b. ... Juan Gonzalez is an American investigative journalist. ... Look up liberal on Wiktionary, the free dictionary Liberal may refer to: Politics: Liberalism American liberalism, a political trend in the USA Political progressivism, a political ideology that is for change, often associated with liberal movements Liberty, the condition of being free from control or restrictions Liberal Party, members of... Pacifica Radio Network. ... Democracy Now! logo. ... George Walker Bush (born July 6, 1946) is the 43rd and current President of the United States, inaugurated on January 20, 2001. ... Sons of Confederate Veterans logo Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) is an organization of male descendants of soldiers who served the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War. ... The United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) is a sororal association dedicated to honoring the memory of those who served and died in service to the Confederate States of America (CSA). ...

"I think, I agree a 100% with Ed Sebesta about the motives or the hidden agenda, not too, not too deeply hidden I think of such groups as the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans. They are dedicated to celebrating the Confederacy and rather thinly veiled support for white supremacy. And I think that also is the again not very deeply hidden agenda of the Confederate flag issue in several southern states."

In the same interview, McPherson clarified his position that the Museum of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia had changed its orientation, from its original purpose of celebrating the Confederacy: White House of the Confederacy in Richmond, Virginia, built in 1818, photo circa 1939. ... Nickname: Motto: Sic Itur Ad Astra (Thus do we reach the stars) Location in the Commonwealth of Virginia Coordinates: , Country United States State Virginia County Independent City Government  - Mayor L. Douglas Wilder (I) Area  - City 62. ...

"[O]ver time, and especially in the last decade or two, it has become a much more professional, research-oriented, professional exhibit-oriented facility."

He continued,

"I think the motives of people who fundraise money for the museum, and who attend balls in period costume and so on, probably range from celebratory to genuinely historical. So there is a dimension to that. But I do think that the Museum of Confederacy is now a research and professional museum in the same category as other highly regarded museums around the country."

His comments outraged members of the Virginia chapter of the UDC, bringing condemnation of McPherson and calls for a boycott against his books.[11] A year later McPherson responded to the boycott campaign by elaborating on his comments:

"If I implied that all U.D.C. chapters or S.C.V. chapters or anyone who belongs to those is promoting a white-supremacist agenda, that's not what I meant to say," he said. "What I meant to say is that some of these people have a hidden agenda of white supremacy, (which) they might not even recognize they're involved in"

Members of the UDC were similarly offended by these comments. The Virginia UDC responded in their newsletter that "Far from apologizing for his baseless accusations of racism, (McPherson) has now added ignorance to the list of sins that we have committed." The group has not announced an end to their boycott.[12]



  • The Struggle for Equality: Abolitionists and the Negro in the Civil War and Reconstruction. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1964.
  • The Negro's Civil War: How American Negroes Felt and Acted During the War for the Union. New York: Pantheon Books, 1965.
  • Marching Toward Freedom: The Negro in the Civil War, 1861-1865. New York: Knopf, 1968.
  • The Abolitionist Legacy: From Reconstruction to the NAACP. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1975 (1st ed.); 1995 (2nd ed., with a new preface by the author).
  • Ordeal by Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction. New York: Knopf, 1982 (1st ed.); New York: McGraw-Hill, c1992 (2nd ed.); c2001 (3rd ed.).
  • Lincoln and the Strategy of Unconditional Surrender. Gettysburg, PA: Gettysburg College, 1984.
  • How Lincoln Won the War with Metaphors. Fort Wayne, IN: Louis A. Warren Lincoln Library and Museum, 1985.
  • Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988 (1st ed.); 2003 (Illustrated ed.).
  • Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.
  • What They Fought For, 1861-1865. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, c1994.
  • Drawn with the Sword: Reflections on the American Civil War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
  • For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
  • Is Blood Thicker than Water?: Crises of Nationalism in the Modern World. Toronto: Vintage Canada, c1998.
  • Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • The Boys in Blue and Gray. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, c2002.
  • Hallowed Ground: A Walk at Gettysburg. New York: Crown Journeys, 2003.
  • This Mighty Scourge. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.

As editor or contributor

  • Blacks in America: Bibliographical Essays, by James M. McPherson and others. 1st ed. Garden City, N.Y., Doubleday, 1971.
  • Region, Race, and Reconstruction: Essays in Honor of C. Vann Woodward, edited by J. Morgan Kousser and James M. McPherson. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982.
  • Battle Chronicles of the Civil War, James McPherson, editor; Richard Gottlieb, managing editor. 6 vols. New York: Macmillan Pub. Co.; London: Collier Macmillan Publishers, c1989.
  • American Political Leaders: From Colonial Times to the Present, by Steven G. O'Brien; editor, Paula McGuire; consulting editors, James M. McPherson, Gary Gerstle. Santa Barbara, Calif.: ABC-CLIO, c1991.
  • Why the Confederacy Lost, edited by Gabor S. Boritt; essays by James M. McPherson et al. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.
  • Gettysburg: The Paintings of Mort Künstler, text by James M. McPherson. Atlanta, GA: Turner Publishing, c1993.
  • The Atlas of the Civil War, edited by James M. McPherson. New York: Macmillan, c1994.
  • "We Cannot Escape History": Lincoln and the Last Best Hope of Earth, edited by James M. McPherson. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995.
  • The American Heritage New History of the Civil War, narrated by Bruce Catton; edited and with a new introduction by James McPherson. New York: Viking, 1996.
  • Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant, by Ulysses S. Grant; with an introduction and notes by James M. McPherson. New York: Penguin Books, 1999.
  • Encyclopedia of Civil War Biographies, edited by James M. McPherson. 3 vols. Armonk, NY: Sharpe Reference, c2000.

External links

  • Barnes & Noble - Meet the Writers
  • Princeton University Biography
  • Democracy Now November 3, 1999: George W. Bush and the Confederacy: Where Does He Stand?
  • Virginia UDC: Princeton Educator Maligns UDC
  • Presentation on the Civil War



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