Tuesday, April 17, 2007

More Thoughts on William Freehling: A Coda to the Footnotes

I feel somewhat guilty having criticized Professor Freehling in earlier posts. To make amends, I should emphasize that a review of the footnotes (I know, they're really endnotes) reveals an encyclopedic knowledge of both primary and secondary sources. Nor do titles appear solely for the sake of citing them. For example, several footnotes discuss and sometimes intelligently criticize books such as J. Mills Thornton's Politics and Power in a Slave Society, Lacy Ford's Origins of Southern Radicalism (both discussed here), William Barney's The Secessionist Impulse, and Charles Dew's Apostles of Disunion.

A surprising number of footnotes (in addition to the one I discussed earlier) use the word "guess" or otherwise acknowledge that historical interpretation is an uncertain task.

Perhaps, then, it's best to say that, in order to appreciate The Road to Disunion II and how carefully Professor Freehling has considered the alternatives before reaching his conclusions, the footnotes are required reading.


  1. Anonymous8:58 AM

    Absolutely -- it's a much better read if you take the time to explore the footnotes.

    Also a few other state level books you may or may not be familiar with and would likely enjoy....

    Marc Kruman's "Parties and Politics in NC", James M. Woods' "Rebellion and Realignment: Arkansas Road to Secession". I think you alluded to Daniel Crofts' "Reluctant Confedertates" which covers TN and VA in an earlier post, but maybe not.

  2. I appreciate your taking the time to comment. Thanks!

    I have mentioned Daniel Crofts' excellent book, and I have high regard for Marc Kruman's NC volume as well. The studies of individual states, and of sections of individual states, demonstrate why it is so difficult to discuss Civil War causation in broad terms -- the devil is in the details, as they say.

    I don't know the Woods Arkansas book, but on the list it goes! Thanks again.


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