In Defense of Hoosier Home Rule

Published on 8 May 2017 under Featured
In Defense of Hoosier Home Rule

The lead Sunday editorial in the Indianapolis Star (here) and a recent edition of Howey Politics Indiana (here) feature a piece of mine arguing for renewed emphasis on “home rule” by the Indiana state legislature. The idea, modeled off the national principle of federalism, gives more choice, options, flexibility, and freedom to local leaders. Now those ideals are under greater attack than at any time since Hoosier home rule began.

Look Back: First Quarter 2017

Published on 5 April 2017 under Featured
Look Back: First Quarter 2017

As we enter the second quarter of 2017, it seems worthwhile to summarize here some of my academic and popular press pursuits during the first quarter, some of which I have not yet highlighted here. In the month of February I published five popular press pieces:

In January I presented to the Southern Indiana Civil War Roundtable on the topic of “Little Egypt Goes to War,” the roots and beginnings of the 80th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment. Later in March I presented to the Indiana Political Science Association, first in a roundtable on the American Presidency and then with a paper titled “The Arc of Our New History.”

Southwestern Indiana Civil War Monuments

Published on 31 March 2017 under Civil War

I recently completed minor pages on the history of several Civil War monuments in Southwestern Indiana:

The Jasper monument is particularly interesting because it is one of the rare Union memorials erected in part by a veteran of the Confederate army. After serving for a period with the Confederate army, John Gramelspacher fled and would go on to serve in the Union army. He was even admitted as a member of the Grand Army of the Republic.

Also of note is the Gibson County Civil War Honor Roll Memorial. This was the first regimental monument erected in Indiana in memory of soldiers of the Civil War. Moreover, it claims to be the only monument in Indiana, or in the United States, that was erected and dedicated by any regiment in honor of its dead while that regiment was still in the service.

CMOS to Unveil 17th Edition

Published on 30 March 2017 under Books

Confirming rumors that have been swirling for some time, the Chicago Manual of Style announced this week that it will introduce its 17th edition in September. Included among the changes in the 17th edition, E-mail will become email (no hyphen), Internet will become internet (lowercased), and the use of ibid. for repeated citations will no longer be preferred. The citation chapters will also reflect the ever-changing universe of electronic sources, including social media posts and comments, private messages, and app content.

George W. Rains and the Augusta Powder Works

Published on 29 March 2017 under Civil War

George Washington Rains, 1865

Ted Savas has a new two-part feature article in Civil War Times magazine that reflects some truly ground-breaking research focusing on George Washington Rains and the Augusta Powder Works, the South’s only major source of gunpowder during the Civil War. He writes at his blog, A Publisher’s Perspective:

After years of careful study and in-depth discussion with a couple other historians I respected, I reached conclusions that ran wholly contrary to what everyone else had ever written about Civil War strategy, General Sherman, the Atlanta Campaign, his March to the Sea, and even the beginning of his 1865 Carolinas Campaign.

The work appears to dramatically change and illuminate our understanding of the importance of Augusta and Sherman’s decision regarding the city and its ordnance complex. Savas’s essay is divided into two sections: “Part 1 sets the foundational importance of Augusta and its war industries, and Part 2 combines the objective data balanced against Union decision-making).”

Old Flag Gets New Life

Published on 15 September 2016 under Civil War
Old Flag Gets New Life

In spring 1861, five women in Sparta, Illinois — Mrs. Mary Ann McHenry, Mrs. James Ward, Mrs. Barbara Gordon, Mrs. Ann McLaughlin, and Mrs. Mary McLaughlin — gathered to hand-piece and stitch a unique American flag with 34 stars, the stars themselves in the shape of a large star. Making a flag may seem like trivial work, but soldiers placed great importance on regimental flags and sacrificed their lives defending them from enemy capture. Those flags symbolized pride and honor. Moreover, regimental flags had an important practical use: identifying a unit’s place on the battlefield.

Officers used the Sparta-made flag to recruit Union troops in Belleville, Illinois; and it traveled with various units throughout 1861. James McHenry carried the flag while recruiting for Company H of the 22nd Illinois, and it then went to Belleville, Illinois, with companies H and I in May 1861. The flag returned to Randolph County and was carried by Henry McDonald with Captain Alexander Wybus’s company to Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis, Missouri. The company disbanded there, some men going into the 10th Missouri and others into the 5th Illinois, but most into Company C of the 30th Illinois. Then the flag was carried by McDonald with Companies C and E of the 30th Illinois to Belleville, thence to Birds Point, Missouri. At Birds Point, flag owner James McHenry presented the flag to Charlie E. Brown of Blaire.

Charlie E. Brown used it to recruit for Company G of the 80th Illinois. Although he took it with him to Centralia as the company flag, it was so striking and effective that Col. Thomas G. Allen decided to use it for the entire 80th Illinois regiment until the unit received an official flag from the government at Louisville, Kentucky.

After the war, Mr. Brown presented the flag to the high school museum at Sparta, Illinois. The flag now belongs to the University Museum at Southern Illinois University. The museum expects to stabilize, preserve, and share the flag with the public.

Donald Trump and the Presidency

Published on 11 May 2016 under Personal
Donald Trump and the Presidency

Earlier this year I was excited and honored to be selected as a delegate to the 2016 Republican National Convention. However, due to political developments since that time, and after considerable thought, I decided not to attend. I could not in good conscience attend a coronation and celebration of Donald Trump. My statement on the subject is below along with a summary of some of the firestorm that followed.

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Born of Clay

Published on 11 February 2016 under Books
Born of Clay

I’m pleased to announce the publication of Born of Clay: The Story of the Claiborne · Claybourn · Clayborn Families in the United States. I regard this book as my magnum opus. Clocking in at over 500 pages with detailed biographical information on thousands of individuals, this is an unparalleled history of the Claiborne – Claybourn – Clayborn families in the United States. Beginning with Joshua Clyburn in the late 1790s, this history gets progressively more detailed as the generations progress toward modernity.

As early as 1906, Verner Marvin Claybourn began collecting data on the Claybourn Family, and on the English family from whom he believed the family descended. In about 1935 Harriette Pinnell Threlkeld became interested, did some research, and with Verner collected data on the hundreds of descendants of William Divine Claybourn, her great-grandfather. From their foundational core I published this one-of-a-kind book on thousands of individuals connected to the family. Click here to buy a copy.