We may think our current situation unique in featuring partisan bubbles in which people mistrust information from the other side. But immediately after the Civil War, a toxic partisan climate caused information on racial violence to become politicized, with eyewitness and newspaper accounts dismissed by opponents as fictions to mask a political agenda. Penn State University professor William Blair discusses the effort to fight the tendency to downplay racial atrocities, when military officers led by U.S. Army generals Ulysses S. Grant and Oliver Otis Howard mobilized the Freedmen’s Bureau to document crimes against African Americans that went unpunished. In doing so, they leaked information to Congress that contradicted the president, their commander. The resulting “Records Relating to Murders and Outrages” helped justify military occupation of the South, exposed the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, and uncovered voter suppression through terrorism.
Author of the recently released “The Record of Murders and Outrages: Racial Violence and the Fight over Truth at the Dawn of Reconstruction,” Dr. William A. Blair is the Ferree Professor Emeritus of Middle American History at Penn State University, Director Emeritus of the Richards Civil War Era Center, and Founding Editor of “The Journal of the Civil War Era.”
Register for the Book Talk: ‘The Record of Murders and Outrages”
April 21 @ 19:00
7:00 pm — 8:00 pm (1h)
Dr. William Blair