Tag Archives: African-American Suffrage

Will Brooks Simpson Debate?

Arizona State University history professor Brooks Simpson has evidently had difficulty getting me out of his mind after my 4 May post on the 1866 Memphis Reconstruction Era Race Riot.

In less than two months he criticized it—mostly with ad hominem attacks—here, here, here, and here. I responded only once to him.

Among his assaults were innuendos to portray me as a racist and a claim that  my publishers have been “duped.” One of his post headlines identifies me as a “Confederate Heritage Apologist,” thereby implying that nobody can be proud of Confederate Heritage without being an apologist. I, however, respect the heritage of both my Northern and Southern ancestors, thankyouverymuch. Perhaps the professor might consider whether he should be labeled a “Grant Apologist” given the eighteenth President’s dismal White House record and Simpson’s persistent adulation.

Simpson disdains Confederate and Southern heritage. For example, he writes on 19 May, “I think the problem with Confederate heritage today is that it has less to do with the Confederacy…and much more to do with serving as a vehicle through which people express their political views and cultural values.”

In his 24 February post, however, Simpson uses Civil War history to broadcast a personal and current political viewpoint of his own. He cites a New York Times article quoting a poll proclaiming that 20% of Trump supporters think the Emancipation Proclamation was a bad idea. “Wow!” he exclaims.

One problem is that his source cites a poll that does not even mention the Emancipation Proclamation. If the professor had bothered to find the correct poll he would have discovered that 10% of Bernie Sanders supporters also opposed the Emancipation Proclamation. Would he say “Wow!” to that, too?


Brooks Simpson is a paragon for an underlying fault among many academic historians identified by Harvard’s Gordon Wood that might explain why Simpson thinks publishers have been “duped” into issuing my books and articles:

… many historians have become obsessed with inequality and white privilege in American society. And this obsession has seriously affected the writing of American history. The inequalities of race and gender now permeate much of academic history-writing, so much so that the general reading public that wants to learn about the whole of our nation’s past has had to turn to history books written by nonacademics who have no Ph.D.s and are not involved in the incestuous conversations of the academic scholars.

In his response to my Memphis Reconstruction Era Race Riot article Simpson fails to address the concluding point, which is “a central question of the entire Reconstruction Era is whether [Republican advocacy] of black suffrage was chiefly driven by a political, or moral, motivation.” He fails to answer the question in two follow-up posts. Most amusing of all is his self-proclaimed verdict in that he “shredded” my analysis.

Outside of Simpson’s Reality Distortion Field, however, a debate contestant does not get to determine whether he “shredded” an opponent. Independent judges decide the winner. Since Professor Simpson cannot get me out of his head, I’ll give him a chance to restore peace of mind by challenging him to a face-to-face debate as follows:

Proposition: The post-Civil War Republican Party’s advocacy for black suffrage in the South was primarily motivated by a desire to obtain racial equality and not a wish to improve the Party’s political power.

Debating the Affirmative:      Dr. Brooks Simpson

Debating the Negative:            Philip Leigh

Location:                                         To be determined

Date:                                                  To be determined

Since Professor Simpson censors me from his blog perhaps somebody will alert him.


My Civil War Books

The Confederacy at Flood Tide
Lee’s Lost Dispatch and Other Civil War Controversies
Trading With the Enemy
Co. Aytch: Illustrated and Annotated