My Road to the Civil War
McPherson, James M., The Wilson Quarterly
AS WE BEGIN MOVING THROUGH THE SESQUICENTENNIAL commemoration of the American Civil War, my mind returns to the time more than a half-century ago when I decided to become a historian of the Civil War era. Unlike many of my friends and colleagues, I did not have a youthful fascination with the war. When I arrived at Baltimore in 1958 for graduate study at Johns Hopkins University, I had not read anything specifically on the subject, apart from a couple of books by Bruce Catton. I had not taken a college course on the Civil War because my college did not offer such a course.
I had a vague and rather naive interest in the history of the South, in part because, having been born in North Dakota and brought up in Minnesota, I found the South exotic and mysterious. My senior year in high school, nine black students integrated Little Rock Central High School under the protection of the U.S. Army. I was well enough acquainted with history and current events to know that the constitutional basis for the black students' presence at Central High was the Fourteenth Amendment, one of the most important products of the Civil War. In retrospect, it seems apparent that this awareness planted the seed of my professional interest.
That seed germinated within days of my …
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Publication information: Article title: My Road to the Civil War. Contributors: McPherson, James M. - Author. Magazine title: The Wilson Quarterly. Volume: 35. Issue: 3 Publication date: Summer 2011. Page number: 78+. © Not available. COPYRIGHT 2011 Gale Group.
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