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.
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:
- Erasing History Makes Us More Likely To Repeat Its Mistakes, The Federalist, 20 February 2017
- Gov. Pence faced comparison with Daniels, Howey Politics Indiana, 17 February 2017
- The Bannon-Trump Arc of History, American Spectator, 13 February 2017
- How Congress made it easier to sue Israel, The Hill, 6 February 2017
- Republicans face a great fork in the road, Howey Politics Indiana, 2 February 2017
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.”
Thank you to the 2017 annual conference of the Indiana Political Science Association for inviting me to participate as a panelist on “The American Presidency” with Dr. Thomas Kazee, Prof. Kristina Sheeler, and Prof. Nick LaRowe. I also presented a paper at the same conference titled “The Arc of Our New History: How a theory of history shapes the Bannon-Trump worldview.”
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.
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.
Beginning October 13th, I have joined the Jackson Kelly law firm. I was drawn to Jackson Kelly in particular because it has a skilled group of attorneys locally along with the backing and support of a dynamic, national network of more than 200 attorneys. I have full faith and confidence that no matter what legal issue may arise with clients, our firm can address it with superior service and expertise.
I spent the last six years in-house with Vectren and leaving is certainly bittersweet. I am very appreciative of my experiences with the company and it is an honor and privilege to have worked alongside the Vectren team. However, I am excited about once again working with a diverse set of clients and my colleagues at Jackson Kelly representing businesses, physicians, and municipalities on a wide range of legal issues.
I have published a new book titled “A Memorandum of the 80th Illinois Infantry: Civil War Notes of Pvt. Armgstrong McGee.” It is available here through Lulu Press. This work is a regimental log of the 80th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment documenting its activities in the American Civil War from 27 October 1863 to 17 June 1865. There is no evidence that this memorandum has ever been published before, nor is there evidence that previous Civil War historians knew of its existence.
The 80th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment saw substantial action in the war. It traveled over 6,000 miles and was engaged in more than 20 pitched battles. Although the language used in this memorandum is naturally choppy and rough compared to more modern narratives, it will hopefully serve as a useful puzzle piece in the larger history of the regiment, and indeed of the war itself.