Tag

Philip Leigh

BlogReview Posts

The Dreadful Frauds

A review of The Dreadful Frauds: Critical Race Theory and Identity Politics, (Shotwell Publishing, 2022) by Philip Leigh In one hundred pages, author Philip Leigh has given us a scathing indictment of Critical Race Theory, Identity Politics, and the corrupting influences of both on America’s two hundred and fifty year meritocracy. It exposes the power politics of the Victimhood Olympics…
H.V. Traywick, Jr.
March 24, 2022
Blog

When does the wisdom of crowds transition to the madness of crowds?

Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal along with Tesla’s Elon Musk and an early Facebook investor, is famed for his thought-provoking questions. One example is a question he typically asks entrepreneurs seeking venture capital from him: “What are you certain to be true that most of your peers would disagree with you about?” Copernicus, for example, might have answered that…
Philip Leigh
January 6, 2022
Blog

Who Are Confederate Monument Critics Really Targeting?

The routine removal of Confederate statues signifies a new stage in the evolution of political progressives. Their vision for a new order that can provide social justice for the so-called oppressed is becoming a secular religion. Assaults on statues are symptomatic that the new faith is working to destroy traditional values. The birth of a new religion—even a secular one—is…
Philip Leigh
October 11, 2021
Blog

Was the Battle of Liberty Place a “Race Riot”?

Although commonly portrayed as one of the largest mob attacks on blacks by white racists during Reconstruction, the so-called 1874 Battle of Liberty Place in New Orleans was really a conflict between the militias of two competing state governments. The story begins in 1868 with the election of Carpetbagger Henry Warmoth as Louisiana’s first elected Republican governor. To ensure future…
Philip Leigh
July 22, 2021
Blog

Robert E. Lee: Educator and Conciliator

Robert E. Lee considered reconciliation and education to be his highest duties after the War. While many other Confederate leaders left the United States, Lee remained in Virginia and worked to heal the wounds of the War. He turned down political positions and refused to capitalize on his name, and instead accepted a position as President of Washington College to…
Philip Leigh
April 21, 2021
Blog

The Postwar Lee at Washington College

Robert E. Lee's tenure as President of Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) should be regarded as one of the most important events in American educational history, and it was for decades. He saved the struggling school, recruited young men from around the South, and instituted the honor code, a set of principles still used by students at the…
Philip Leigh
April 15, 2021
Blog

Robert E. Lee and (Woke General) Please Like Me

Ty Seidule's mea culpa memoir, Robert E. Lee and Me, has generated the predictable supporters: mainstream media outlets, leftist dominated history departments, and neoconservative "intellectuals." This says more about Seidule than his book. He just wants to be loved. On the other hand, his book is a collection of half-truths and cherry picked propaganda designed to meet his "opinion" of…
Philip Leigh
March 22, 2021
Blog

A Good Reason to Honor Robert E. Lee

Yesterday’s melee in Washington provides good reason to honor Robert E. Lee because he demonstrated how he maintained dignity in defeat while convincing many resentful Southerners to reconcile with their former enemies. At the end of the War Between the States in 1865 he had as much reason as any Southerner to reject reconciliation, but he didn’t do that. To…
Philip Leigh
January 19, 2021
Blog

The Yankee Quarantine of Southern Blacks

Legendary financier J. P. Morgan once said: “A man always has two reasons for doing anything: a good reason and the real reason.” His meaning is that our public explanation is a noble one whereas our real reason is self-serving. Any adult knows that the maxim applies to politicians, about whom Robert E. Lee said, “They are among the most…
Philip Leigh
January 15, 2021
Blog

The False Cause Narrative

While watching a seventy-minute interview with Professor Adam Domby about his book, The False Cause, I was surprised at the number of errors, biased interpretations and even endorsement of "extralegal" conduct by anti-statue mobs. The False Cause focuses on Civil War and Reconstruction memory, particularly involving Confederate memorials. First, and foremost, Domby erroneously proclaims that the signature Confederate statues erected in Southern courthouse squares between…
Philip Leigh
November 10, 2020
Blog

They Were Not Traitors

A typical calumny directed at Confederate soldiers is that they don’t merit commemoration because they were traitors. It is a lie for two reasons. First, the Confederate states had no intent to overthrow the government of the United States. They seceded merely to form a government of their own. The first seven states that seceded during the winter of 1860-61…
Philip Leigh
September 16, 2020
Blog

Idiotic Idioms

Identity Politics is changing our language in order to advance its agenda. One example is “people of color.” Hemingway would have convulsed at such a laborious construction. Does its nearly Global use today  suggest  that “people of whiteness” should also be adopted for consistency? While the simpler “colored people” technically has the same meaning, perhaps its potential racist connotation can…
Philip Leigh
August 21, 2020
Blog

Why No Confederate Supreme Court?

The Confederacy never organized a Supreme Court because her founders generally interpreted the U. S. Constitution strictly. Over the years they had seen that the U. S. Supreme Court tended to make rulings, and assume jurisdictions, that strengthened and enlarged the Federal Government. As a component of that Government they realized that the Court had a natural tendency to increase its authority.…
Philip Leigh
May 6, 2020
Review Posts

Secret Trial of Robert E. Lee

A review of The Secret Trial of Robert E. Lee (Forge Books, 2006) by Thomas Fleming Fleming uses this 2006 fictional courtroom drama to formulate arguments for his 2013 Disease in the Public Mind non-fiction book identifying the causes of the Civil War. The story is set in early June 1865 when Robert E. Lee is secretly tried by a military commission…
Philip Leigh
April 7, 2020
Blog

All the Fake News That’s Fit to Print

As explained yesterday, Washington Post reporter Courtland Milloy maligned my “Defending Confederate Monuments” speech presented on Lee-Jackson Day in Lexington, Virginia. He asked that I send him a copy while we were sitting together in the front audience row during the preliminaries. I emailed it before I took the podium. After my speech he thanked me and said, “I will be in touch.” But…
Philip Leigh
March 16, 2020
Blog

The Washington Post Publishes Fake News

On January 21st Washington Post reporter Courtland Milloy wrote an article about my “Defending Confederate Monuments” speech at the January18th Lee-Jackson Day in Lexington, Virginia. His “Lee-Jackson Day with a bit of history and context” article portrays me unfairly. Today’s post responds to one Milloy comment excerpted below: Before giving his keynote speech, Civil War book author Phil Leigh made an offhand remark discounting the role of…
Philip Leigh
February 10, 2020
Blog

Something of Value

An excerpt from North Carolina author Robert Ruark’s best known novel reads: “If a man does away with his traditional way of living and throws away his good customs, he had better first make certain that he has something of value to replace them.” Ruark grew up in Wilmington where he learned to hunt and fish with his grandfathers in…
Philip Leigh
December 4, 2019
Blog

Did Republicans Bribe Voters to Elect U. S. Grant President?

Despite his unrivaled popularity after the Civil War, Republcan Ulysses Grant won the presidency merely three years later in 1868 by a popular vote margin of only 53%-to-47%. In fact, if not for the votes of ex-slaves that had only gained suffrage during the preceding twelve months, he would have lost the popular vote. Thus, he was the choice of…
Philip Leigh
November 26, 2019
Blog

Confederates Were Not Traitors

Confederate statue critics increasingly argue that the monuments should be torn down because they honor traitors. Among such advocates is Christy Coleman, CEO of the Richmond’s American Civil War Museum. While the most common response to her interpretation is to argue that secession was possibly legal, but a more compelling point is that President Andrew Johnson pardoned the soldiers no later than…
Philip Leigh
November 13, 2019
Blog

Pointing out Neocon Errors

Conservative talk radio host Dennis Prager has become a YouTube success with his five-minute videos on politics, history, religion and culture. They’ve been viewed 2.5 billion times and he gets thousands of emails daily. About eighty percent are hosted by prominent experts that include prime ministers, Nobel Prize winners, professors and other credentialed authorities. Prager is an especially effective advocate…
Philip Leigh
September 27, 2019
Blog

Who Won Reconstruction?

Prager U and the American Battlefield Trust recently teamed-up to sponsor this six minute video by Princeton University's Dr. Allen Guelzo who claims that “the North won the Civil War but the (white) South won Reconstruction.” The photo below taken forty-five years after the Civil War shows the true economic conditions of Guelzo’s supposed Southern victors. There was little change in their…
Philip Leigh
September 13, 2019
Blog

Don’t Remove Confederate Monuments

This essay was presented at the 2019 Abbeville Institute Summer School on the New South. In 1965 Texas novelist William Humphrey wrote: If the Civil War is more alive to the Southerner than the Northerner it is because all of the past is, and this is so because the Southerner has a sense of having been present there himself in the person…
Philip Leigh
August 30, 2019
Review Posts

Grant’s Failed Presidency

A review of U.S. Grant's Failed Presidency (Shotwell Publishing, 2019) by Philip Leigh There was a time in recent memory when thoughtful people consistently ranked U.S. Grant's presidency as one of the worst in history. The scandals, military Reconstruction, the mistreatment of the Plains Indian tribes, and the poor economy during the 1870s wrecked his reputation. That all began to…
Brion McClanahan
August 20, 2019
Blog

Economic Reconstruction

Mr. Leigh presented this paper at the 2019 Abbeville Institute Summer School on The New South. Historians have reinterpreted Civil War Reconstruction over the past fifty years. Shortly before the Centennial it was commonly believed that the chief aim of the Republican-dominated Congress was to ensure lasting Party control of the federal government by creating a reliable voting bloc in…
Philip Leigh
August 5, 2019
Blog

Confederate Monuments and Racism?

As noted in earlier posts, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and many academic historians are promoting a false narrative that the Confederate statues erected between 1900 and 1920 were celebrations of white supremacy. In reality, the statues were built because the old veterans were dying-off, which is why there was also a simultaneous surge in Civil War memorial-building in…
Philip Leigh
July 26, 2019
Blog

Civil War PC is Mental Imprisonment

Each of us tends to be a prisoner of our own experience. In a World with billions of people, we experience only a tiny part. Thus, we rely upon our imaginations to complete a mental picture that results in our “worldview,” meaning our personal conception of the World. Moreover, our imaginations are fed by the narratives we learn from academics,…
Philip Leigh
July 4, 2019
Blog

Carr Washing

Silent Sam was a Confederate statue that stood on the University of North Carolina campus at Chapel Hill for 104 years after its 1913 dedication. A student mob toppled it in 2017 for being an allegedly racist symbol. Student hatred had been growing since 2011 when UNC graduate student Adam Domby discovered an outrageously racist incident described by one of…
Philip Leigh
June 7, 2019
Blog

What Did 19th Century Black Americans Think About Confederate Monuments?

One argument used by those wanting to remove Confederate statues is that contemporary blacks had little chance to oppose them when they were erected.  Aside from anecdotal evidence that blacks joined white crowds to observe the dedication ceremonies, one example in Mississippi provides undeniable evidence of explicit high-level black support. In 1890 the Mississippi legislature voted on a bill to appropriate $10,000 for…
Philip Leigh
May 31, 2019
Blog

Nat Turner’s Massacre Apologists

The Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial Commission of the Virginia General Assembly announced that it will spend taxpayer money to erect a statue honoring Nat Turner who was the leader of a drunken slave rebellion that massacred fifty-five whites in the Southeastern part of the state in 1831. Most of the victims were women and children hacked to death with hatches and axes. Thirty-one…
Philip Leigh
May 16, 2019
Blog

Sins and Virtues of “Civil War” History

History is remembered as a narrative, not facts and figures. If the story is told from the viewpoint of past sins, the rendering condemns our ancestors and makes us ashamed of our legacy. If it is told from the viewpoint of ancestral virtues, it leaves us proud of our tradition and inspired to build upon the accomplishments of those who…
Philip Leigh
April 26, 2019
Blog

Leave Confederate Statues Alone

In 1965 Texas novelist William Humphrey wrote: If the Civil War is more alive to the Southerner than the Northerner it is because all of the past is, and this is so because the Southerner has a sense of having been present there himself in the person of one or more of his ancestors. The war filled merely a chapter in his……
Philip Leigh
March 14, 2019
Blog

Rescuing Old Joe

Whoever weds himself to the spirit of this age will find himself a widower in the next.    —   William Inge Few realize that Florida was so committed to The War Between the States that she gave more soldiers to repel Northern invaders than she had registered voters. Gainesville was among the towns that responded. As a result, the…
Philip Leigh
March 7, 2019
Blog

Did Ulysses Grant Own and Rent Slaves?

Even among the most Grant-partial historians there’s no denying that Ulysses Grant and his wife owned slaves prior to the Civil War. In fact, “Ulysses Grant” is the correct answer to a crafty American history trivia question that asks: “Can you name the last slaveholding President?” As growing political correctness causes our culture to increasingly condemn historical figures connected with…
Philip Leigh
February 8, 2019
Blog

The Washington Post March of Infamy

Yesterday The Washington Post published an Op-Ed by former General Stanley McChrystal in which he boasted of removing a long-displayed Robert E. Lee painting from his home to “send it on its way to a local landfill for burial.” It is but one of perhaps a dozen Post articles during the last three years disparaging Lee, Confederate monuments and Southern heritage.  All condemn Lee…
Philip Leigh
November 29, 2018
Blog

When New Yorkers Cheered Dixie

On October 31, 1910—seven years after the Wright Brother’s first airplane flight of less than a minute—seventy-five thousand spectators gathered at Belmont Park to watch a day of competition among pioneering aviators. Events culminated with a thirty-six mile round trip race between Belmont Park to the Statue of Liberty. Only three aviators attempted the trip, which had about one million…
Philip Leigh
September 7, 2018
Blog

Causes of the “Civil War”

In a PBS interview seven years ago historian and Harvard University president Drew Gilpin Faust identified slavery as the cause of the Civil War. “Historians are pretty united on the cause of the Civil War being slavery,” she said before adding, . . . “when the various states announced their plans for secession, they uniformly said that the main motivating factor was…
Philip Leigh
August 9, 2018
Blog

Why the South Erected Confederate Statues

The diagram below graphs the number of Confederate statues erected between 1870 and 1980. Since the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) compiled the data, they suggest the memorials were most frequently put in place during periods of flagrant anti-black sentiment in the South. In short they imply that racism was the prime motive for Confederate monument-building. In truth, however, more…
Philip Leigh
June 29, 2018
Blog

Southern Cultural Genocide

  The quote below indirectly warns about the implications of Confederate statue removals and the censorship of Southern interpretations regarding the Civil War and Reconstruction. Kundera is presently a French novelist born in Brno when the city was located in Czechoslovakia. He lived through both Nazi and Communist totalitarianism before fleeing to France in 1975. His books were banned in…
Philip Leigh
June 11, 2018
Blog

Okinawa Confederate Flag

Five days ago I posted an article citing Eugene Sledge’s With the Old Breed that stated the first American flag to fly over the conquered Japanese fortress at Shuri Castle during the World War II battle of Okinawa was the Confederate battle flag. Sledge, who was present, wrote: Earlier in the morning . . . Marines had attacked eastward into the rains of…
Philip Leigh
April 6, 2018
Blog

Trump’s Aluminum Tariff: A Teachable Moment

President Trump’s proposed ten-percent tariff on refined aluminum yields a teachable moment for Southern history students. Historical analysis of the industry reveals an echo of the Northern tariff policies that angered Southerners during much of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries when the South was generally a raw materials exporter and feedstock supplier to Northern manufacturers. Tariffs during the era usually…
Philip Leigh
March 30, 2018
Blog

States’ Rights

Most modern historians reject any suggestion that the South fought the Civil War over states’ rights. They insist that the only states’ rights the South cared about, “as neo-confederates are loath to admit,” was slavery.  (According to Wikipedia, “neo-confederate is a term that describes the views of who use historical revisionism* to portray the and its actions in the Civil War…
Philip Leigh
March 22, 2018
Blog

“True Grit” as a Reconstruction Story

Although labeled a Western, True Grit is also a novel about Reconstruction in Arkansas and the Indian Territory that would become eastern Oklahoma. The Reconstruction aspects are more evident in the novel, which turns fifty years old this year, than in the movies. The story is about fourteen year old Mattie Ross who leaves her mother, sister and little brother at home…
Philip Leigh
February 19, 2018
Blog

A Changing Reconstruction Narrative

  Those who have read his Count of Monte Cristo can readily appreciate the wisdom of Alexander Dumas who wrote, “The difference between treason and patriotism is a matter of dates.” Similarly, Civil War era historical interpretations are a matter of dates. Consider the example of President Ulysses Grant.  While the many corruption scandals during his presidency cannot be denied, modern biographers and…
Philip Leigh
November 8, 2017
Blog

A Black Advocate for Confederate Monuments

Yesterday’s Washington Post had an article about eighty-eight year old Nelson Winbush who is a Florida black man and proponent of Confederate monuments. His grandfather, Louis Napoleon Nelson, was a Tennessee slave who followed his master and sons into the Confederate military. Initially Louis was a cook but later became a rifleman and a chaplain under the command of cavalry leader Nathan…
Philip Leigh
October 23, 2017
Review Posts

Southern Reconstruction

A review of Southern Reconstruction by Philip Leigh (Westholme, 2017). Confronting the establishment narrative about any historical topic can be a perilous endeavor. There are several that present such large minefields that most historians dare not attempt to cross, among them the “Civil War,” Reconstruction, and the Civil Rights movement. Bucking the accepted version of events in any of those…
Brion McClanahan
September 26, 2017
Blog

What Confederate Monument Critics May Not Know

In 1958 a nearly forgotten thirty-four year old Texas author named William Humphrey debuted his first novel, Home From the Hill, to widespread praise. Legendary director Vincente Minnelli released a film version only two years later. Both the book and the movie are highly rated by Amazon customers. The novel begins as follows: Early one morning last September the men squatting on the Northeast corner…
Philip Leigh
August 4, 2017
Blog

Should Stanford University Change Its Name?

Was California Governor and Senator Leland Stanford—founder of Stanford University—sufficiently racist to justify dropping his name from the university and destroying all publicly displayed memorials to him? Consider Stanford’s remarks in his acceptance speech as the Republican Party’s gubernatorial candidate in 1859: he  cause in which we are engaged is one of the greatest in which any can labor. It…
Philip Leigh
June 12, 2017
Blog

Radical Republican Selective Racial Equality

Most modern historians give the post Civil War Republican Party a free pass on racism. They generally presume that the Party’s demand for black suffrage and civil rights in the South was motivated by the intrinsic morality of racial equality and pejoratively contrast it with the violent resistance such policies sometimes encountered from the region’s whites. Earlier historians, however, more often…
Philip Leigh
May 24, 2017
Blog

Reconsidering Trump’s “Faux Pas”

Despite nearly universal scolding in the mainstream media, President Trump’s suggestion that a compromise similar to the one Andrew Jackson arranged during the 1832 South Carolina nullification crisis might have prevented the Civil War merits analysis for four reasons. First, those pundits accusing Trump of not realizing that Jackson was deceased before the Civil War began either did not understand that…
Philip Leigh
May 9, 2017
Blog

Union Leagues

The Union League is one of the most cryptic of Civil War and Reconstruction era topics even though it was a wellspring of tyranny. Together with the Loyal League identical twin, Southern chapters prompted the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) to evolve from an obscure social club into a violent anti-Republican, and therefore anti-black, vigilante group. The first Union Leagues lodges were formed in…
Philip Leigh
September 29, 2016
Blog

Secession Without Civil War

Since most modern historians agree that the South seceded to protect slavery they often conclude that the Civil War was "all about" slavery. The inference, however, overlooks the possibility that the Southern states could have been allowed to depart in peace. Within the lifetimes of most readers, for example, the Soviet Union peacefully disintegrated into its constituent countries as did…
Philip Leigh
September 2, 2016
Blog

Confederate Memorial Hall and Jack Daniels

In 1935 the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) constructed Confederate Memorial Hall as a residence for girls at Nashville's Peabody College. Originally residents who were descendants of Confederate veterans and agreed to become teachers were granted free room and board. The school and dormitory were acquired by Vanderbilt University in 1979. Earlier this month university chancellor, Nicholas Zeppos, announced…
Philip Leigh
August 22, 2016
Blog

Booker Washington’s Bucket

Post Civil War racial adjustment was a problem Southerner whites didn’t want to face and Northerner whites declined to share. When the war started 40% of the Confederacy’s population was black whereas it was only 1% in the free Northern states. Even a century later blacks represented only 2% of the population of Massachusetts, which was the birthplace of abolitionism.…
Philip Leigh
July 29, 2016
Blog

Wikipedia Book Burning

Editor's note: Mr. Leigh has published a new book titled The Confederacy at Flood Tide.  A sample chapter is available here. I once attempted to correct a Wikipedia article by citing Robert Selph Henry’s 1938 The Story of Reconstruction. The change was automatically rejected by software explaining the book was an unacceptable source. Next, I changed the article’s mistake by…
Philip Leigh
June 24, 2016
Blog

Southern Reparations Have Already Been Paid

As the Sesquicentennial of Reconstruction progresses and the popular press debates whether slavery merits reparations, few students of the era realize that Southerners have already paid a form of reparations; if not for slavery, then as a penalty for the war. As the table below illustrates, for at least twenty-five years after the war three items represented more than half…
Philip Leigh
May 26, 2016
Blog

“Contextualizing” American History

Few, if any, currently prominent historians voice unqualified objection to the destruction of Confederate monuments. The most tolerant among them instead suggest that the memorials should remain, but with new explanatory inscriptions offering “context”—a code word that simplifies to: South=Bad, North=Good. Consider, for example, the contextual marker that might be added to Liberty Hall, former home of Confederate Vice President…
Philip Leigh
May 2, 2016
Blog

Grant Gets the Votes

It is no surprise to Civil War students that Ulysses Grant’s reputation has soared over the last fifty years. During the past twenty years nearly all of his biographies have been favorable. They typically ignore, minimize, or deny his failings. Examples include those of Jean Smith, H. W. Brands, and Joan Waugh. Two more will apparently join the group later…
Philip Leigh
April 18, 2016
Blog

Lee’s Memory

In the wake of growing hostility toward the Confederacy a New Orleans Robert E. Lee statue is scheduled for destruction and debate is underway in Charlottesville, Virginia to remove another one. Even though Washington & Lee is a private university, it has already yielded to pressures to remove the Confederate flag from the Lee Chapel. The school may ultimately feel…
Philip Leigh
April 4, 2016
Blog

The Untold Story of Reconstruction

Widely praised for his 2009 Cotton and Race in the Making of America, author Gene Dattel recently wrote an article titled “The Untold Story of Reconstruction,” in the September 2015 edition of The New Criterion. Although predicting that the present Reconstruction Sesquicentennial shall result in “reams of material blaming the South for our racial conundrum” he concludes that all the…
Philip Leigh
January 15, 2016
Blog

Civil War Arbitrage

Wouldn’t it be great if an act of Congress enabled your federal government bonds to be worth twice what you paid for them? That’s precisely what happened for many federal Civil War bond investors during the Reconstruction Era. In the second year of the War in 1862 it was obvious the federal government could not finance the war without creating…
Philip Leigh
July 31, 2015
Blog

Righteous Cause Mythology

From April to July of 1863 British Lieutenant Colonel Arthur J. L. Fremantle visited all but two Confederate states. He entered at Brownsville, Texas and finished by observing the battle of Gettysburg from the Rebel side where he was a character in both Michael Shaara's novel, The Killer Angels, and the corresponding film, Gettysburg. About 140 years later one of…
Philip Leigh
August 26, 2014
Blog

The True Agenda of the 14th Amendment

The month following Robert E. Lee's surrender at Appomattox in April 1865, Andrew Johnson submitted for comment to his cabinet a plan for reconstructing the Union to include the former Confederate states. All members were originally appointed by the recently martyred Abraham Lincoln and all approved of Johnson's plan. It was modeled after Lincoln's December 8, 1863 reconstruction proclamation. Essentially,…
Philip Leigh
August 4, 2014
Blog

Deconstructing Reconstruction

The table below summarizes Federal Tax revenues and spending for twenty years following the Civil War. For clarity, the total period is separated into four discrete five-year intervals. As may be observed, more than half of Federal tax revenues were applied to three items: (1) Federal debt interest, (2) budget surpluses, and (3) veterans benefits. Although compelled to pay their…
Philip Leigh
July 23, 2014