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  • Revising Civil War History: A Kinder, Gentler William Tecumseh Sherman

    Revising Civil War History: A Kinder, Gentler William Tecumseh Sherman

    The New York Times featured an article this November titled 150 Years Later, Wrestling With a Revised View of Sherman’s March. The article looked at the controversy surrounding a recent placement by the Georgia Historical Society of a new historical marker on the grounds of the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library and Museum. The marker commemorates Sherman’s historic March to the Sea and seems to be an attempt by the GHS to introduce a kinder and gentler General William Tecumseh Sherman […]

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  • Hylton v. United States Part 1: Federalists v. Antifederalists (1776-1796)

    On June 28, 2012 the Supreme Court in the Case of National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (Known as NFIB) ruled that the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare”, is constitutional. Chief Justice John Roberts surprised legal and constitutional scholars by ruling that the act was constitutional, not based on the commerce clause as some were suspecting, but on the taxing power given to Congress by the United States Constitution. He wrote,  “The same analysis here suggests that the shared […]

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  • Spencer Roane: The Marshall Court’s Greatest Foe

    Spencer Roane: The Marshall Court’s Greatest Foe

    When Thomas Jefferson won the 1800 presidential election, Republicans hoped that he would finally be able to dislodge the Federalist’s near decade-long control of the Supreme Court. Ailing Chief Justice Oliver Ellsworth resigned that fall, and John Jay declined the outgoing president John Adam’s nomination. This meant that unless Adams acted quickly, Jefferson would be able to nominate his favorite for the position: Spencer Roane, a Republican judge serving on the Virginia Court of Appeals and a passionate supporter of […]

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  • New “Pickett-Pettigrew” Charge Interactive Panorama

    New “Pickett-Pettigrew” Charge Interactive Panorama

    Historical Spotlight is pleased to release our second panorama of the Battle of Gettysburg. This panorama depicts Cemetery Ridge as viewed from the North Carolina Memorial. This is the view Pettigrew’s Division would probably have had as they advanced toward the Copse of Trees. Again, if one scrolls over a monument its identification will appear. We have also added a new feature: If one highlights the 69th Pennsylvania, 26th North Carolina or U.S. Artillery Battery A monuments, a link is available […]

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  • The Legal Tender Acts Study Questions and Resources

    The Legal Tender Acts (1862-1865): A Revolution In U.S. Monetary Policy 1. What did Secretary of the Treasury Salmon Chase’s Report to Congress on December 9, 1861 reveal about the Union’s financial status? 2. Why could the government no longer borrow from the banks? 3. How much was the Civil War costing the Union per day? 4. Describe the main features of the initial Legal Tender Bill. 5. What does legal tender mean? 6. What is a fiat currency? 7. […]

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  • California Defies the Union: The War on Greenbacks

    California Defies the Union: The War on Greenbacks

    In February 1862, the federal government passed the Legal Tender Act. This law mandated that the public had to accept fiat government notes (greenbacks) for all debts public and private. However, the State of California defied the federal government for seventeen years and retained a gold standard.

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  • The Legal Tender Acts (1862 -1865): How The Federal Government Disrupted Retail Trade

    The Legal Tender Acts (1862 -1865): How The Federal Government Disrupted Retail Trade

    There are some things that governments do very well. John Locke said societies unite and form governments for the mutual preservation of their lives, liberties and property. When governments stay this course and focus on protecting man’s inalienable rights, societies flourish. However, when governments try to manipulate the marketplace and economic law, unintentional negative consequences usually result. Such was the case with the first Legal Tender Law passed by the United States Congress on February 25, 1862 during the first […]

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  • Resources for the Serious Historian

    Resources for the Serious Historian

    Resources for the Serious Historian The philosopher George Santayana is known for his famous saying, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Indeed, everyone should become a serious historian: studying the events of the past and uncovering the true facts of what occurred in order to understand the events of the present. In this post, I’ve compiled four helpful Internet resources that provide access to wide collections of primary source documents and the research of other […]

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  • Shays’ Rebellion: The American Revolution’s Final Battle

    Shays’ Rebellion: The American Revolution’s Final Battle

    From 1786 to 1787, only three years after the Revolutionary War, the state of Massachusetts was gripped by an armed rebellion as Daniel Shays and Luke Day led a revolt against the local government. Shays’ Rebellion has often been dismissed as a small and insignificant uprising by a rabble of poor indebted farmers, but historian Leonard L. Richards’ in his book Shays’s Rebellion: The American Revolution’s Final Battle presents a very different thesis. Following the rebels’ defeat, each man was […]

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  • The Wealth of Nations: A Case for Free Markets

    The Wealth of Nations: A Case for Free Markets

    Adam Smith’s Revolutionary Economic Theory in Wealth of Nations In 1776, Adam Smith penned An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations in order to discover the best economic policy a nation should follow. Ultimately, he concluded that a free-market system (in which the government had limited intervention in the marketplace) would lead to the most productive nation. Developing such revolutionary theories as the division of labor, the invisible hand, and freedom of trade, Smith successfully challenged mercantilist ideas […]

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  • Plunkitt of Tammany Hall

    Plunkitt of Tammany Hall

    “He Seen His Opportunities, and He Took ‘Em” The Blessings and Curses of the Urban Political Machine William L. Riordon’s Plunkitt of Tammany Hall compiles numerous talks that New York Senator George Washington Plunkitt gave in defense of his political career in the 1800s as a ward boss in the political machine known as Tammany Hall. While progressive reformers decried this urban political machine as a cancer on American democracy, Plunkitt presents the thesis that the machine’s existence is justified because it […]

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  • Benjamin & William Franklin: Father and Son, Patriot and Loyalist

    Benjamin & William Franklin: Father and Son, Patriot and Loyalist

    Sheila L. Skemp’s Benjamin and William Franklin attempts to disprove the opinion that because Loyalists and Patriots during the Revolutionary War had divergent political views, they can simply be categorized into two distinct parties: “good guys and bad guys.” Using the accounts of Benjamin Franklin (a Patriot) and William Franklin (a Loyalist), Skemp demonstrates how the distinction between the two parties was not so black and white.

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