". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Historical Research - The Next Projects

In preparation for next history project, as mentioned previously, it's the post-Civil War eras into which I dig. As mentioned previously this means historians such as C Vann Woodward.

It also means earlier historians as Henry Wilson, who was the 18th Vice President of the U.S. (1873–1875), Senator from Massachusetts (1855–1873), and always a strong opponent of slavery.

He was the first of those in the Union north who lived through the lead-up and the war itself to write a history of the Civil War: the exceedingly valuable History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, (three volumes, 1872–77), and earlier, History of the Reconstruction Measures of the Thirty-ninth and Fortieth Congresses, 1865-68 (1868).  This came out long before Abraham Lincoln: A History (1890), the  ten-volume account of the life and times of Abraham Lincoln, written by John Nicolay and John Hay, who were his personal secretaries during the American Civil War.

This project will concentrate on other kinds of writing of the periods as much as historical studies, and photography, and ultimately the movies.

The other project is the South American war for independence from Spain and Simon Bolívar, and the connections among the South American hero, Andrew Jackson and Napoleon. The three have reputations in certain quarters as 'democrats', liberators, and revolutionaries.  All three were tyrants after achieving power.

Painting by Goya 1808-1812: Napoleon the Colossus
How did Napoleon, for instance, achieve a reputation for tolerance of Jews, when he was viciously anti-semitic? How he can be given credit as a an emancipator of slaves is impossible to understand, as his official and unofficial policies toward slavery included grandiose plans to reinstate slavery in the Caribbean and fill with slavery all of the Louisiana territory that in a pique he threw at the U.S. -- and then wanted back, but too late.

There are connections here, among them and the War of 1812 as well as Romanticism, which I'd like to tease out.  This also makes for good conversationswith Cuban intellectuals.

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