One Nation Indivisible?

If Kevin Levin wasn’t bad enough yesterday, Lindsay Chervinsky upped the ante.

Chervinsky is a well regarded popular historian. She wrote a little book on Washington’s cabinet that generated some buzz and has a fairly prominent public speaking routine. She is good on media and has a nice personality.

But she’s not a great historian.

Case in point, a recent post at her substack account on secession.

Chervinsky calls the idea “insane” while just finding out that Northerners wanted to secede in the 1790s.

I’ll get to that tomorrow, but the real problem is her improper use of primary documents.

She has been called out for it before on Twitter, and this recent piece on secession is another illustration of her habit to truncate quotations to make a point that the can’t be made from the primary document.

You see, Chervinsky somehow thinks that Northerners were perhaps willing to go to war over slavery in the 1790s, or at the very minimum they would have considered secession because of it.

But that’s not exactly what the document states, and if you read the entire piece (which to her credit she provides a link), you wouldn’t gather that same interpretation.

These people are typically the first to stand up and say, “You neo-Confederates don’t read primary documents! Look at the secession declarations! Just read them!”

That’s their “gotcha” position because they believe most of us have never read them before or don’t know what’s in them.

Just as with those documents, these historians often pick and choose what they consider important.

If it doesn’t support their ideological position, truncate, cut, and provide “interpretation.”

Another word for that is “contextualization.”

Regardless, such tripe is great for podcasts, so I discuss her piece on episode 619 of The Brion McClanahan Show.

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