Don’t ignore that which is contrary…

Posted on March 25, 2013 by


It’s interesting… the more I dig (historical research), the more I find examples to the contrary. “To the contrary of what?”… one might ask.

Is it… the “norm”… whether that be a long-standing norm, or one that is acceptable at a particular time (trending)?

There are times in which I hear arguments made, yet know examples that prove to the contrary.

Why is it that there are some who are bent on being so static/unbending in their “understanding” of people… or groups of people in history?

Black Confederates, USCTs, Northerners, Southerners, Confederate soldiers, Union soldiers, etc., etc. Stereotypes and generalizations run rampant. Is this the result of examinations of history that are top-down centric?

Yes, “top-down”.

I think the difference is the way in which we look at the war. Take the top-down approach, and it’s easy for some to broad-brush people in history. It becomes too easy for some to put people in one category or the other. Personally, I find that rather sloppy practice.

From the bottom-up approach, however, let the people define themselves, and… generalizations be darned. Yes, I find, the more I research, the more contempt I have for those who won’t bend. If, from the bottom-up, the person or people one selects to research doesn’t/don’t speak for him/herself/themselves, either in written words or in action (and actions that are carefully considered by the researcher) actions, those being examined shouldn’t automatically be defined using the top-down theory. “He was a soldier in the Confederate army, and therefore fighting to preserve slavery” or… “he was a soldier in the USCT, and therefore fighting for his freedom, and/or that of others.” Theoretically, both might be correct, if defined on a large scale… but not necessarily from the personal level. Why should we ignore considerations made, by people of the past,  from the personal level?

In the past few weeks… maybe a month or more actually… I’ve been talking about “pendulum swings”, whether in passing in comments, or elsewhere, off-blog. For some, it’s extreme in either one direction or the other. While those on one side of the pendulum swing are often the targets, why are those on the other side of the swing not coming under equal scrutiny? 

I wonder sometimes, if those who are unbending simply haven’t looked deep enough, yet… or, perhaps they don’t want to look any deeper, feeling perfectly satisfied with the answer that suits them best. 

Even after over 25 years of research, I’m still finding information that challenges my understanding… as in the case of Southern Claims Commission applications from African-Americans who were rejected because… wait for it (even though I mentioned this in passing in another post)… the commission felt that they were disloyal!

There’s much ground to be covered… in the immense depth that remains (sometimes, this seems surprising… considering…) of the story of the war; AND improvements to be made… in the manner in which we approach the subject as those in search of the history of the war.

< End Rant >