Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Questions for Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly

1. Describe your impression of this book. Did you have difficulty getting into this book or were
you drawn into the story from the beginning? 

 2. What surprised you the most about the story? Were you aware of all the events leading up
to the assassination? 

 3. Describe your feelings towards John Wilkes Booth. Were you apathetic? Angry?
Sympathetic? Intrigued? 

 4. What might the historic outcome have been had the kidnapping occurred instead of the

 5. Were the personalities of the individuals in the book realistic? 

 6. Mary Todd Lincoln has been historically portrayed as suffering from depression and mental
instability. How does this compare with her personality as described in this book? 

 7. Several reviewers have pointed out some historical inaccuracies. These include the
following. How do these inaccuracies affect your feelings of the book? 

a. There were several meetings in the oval office. The oval office did not exist until

b. The Ford Theater was burned in 1862 in the book. It burned in 1861.

c. In the book, the peephole in the state box door was carved by John Wilkes Booth. In
reality, it was carved by Harry Ford, manager of Ford's Theater.

d. In the book Lee and Grant met only one time to discuss terms of surrender.
Historically, they met several times.

 8. Should this book be classified as fiction or nonfiction? Historical novel or historical

 9. Do you think any of Bill O'Reilly's known political leanings have infiltrated the book or
influenced the reviews? 

10. Would you recommend this book to another reader? Why or why not?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

“In Their Own Words: Beaufort District during the Civil War”

The Civil War is a timely topic as the Sesquicentennial commemorations are occurring throughout the nation.  We live amongst the remains of the Civil War fought 150 years ago – and seldom do we acknowledge the sites of horrific battles; the scars on our churches, buildings, and national character; or, its impact on the American psyche.  For four long and terrible years, the United States was interrupted by a brutal war that helped define American democracy. 

In popular memory, the Civil War is often seen as having been fought solely between the North and the South over the issues of slavery or state’s rights.  During the course of the war, however, both the Union and Confederacy faced numerous internal divisions.  They were divided by fierce controversies over conscription, the curtailment of civil liberties, and the unequal economic burdens of war.  One’s experience of the war often depended on where one and the members of one’s family were physically located.  In no manner was the Civil War a civil war.    

Civil War 150: Exploring the War and Its Meaning through the Words of Those Who Lived It goes beyond the surface view of the conflict by revealing the deep divisions in the country before the war and gives an in-depth look at the lives of soldiers and the home front as well as the political process of creating emancipation. The readings and discussion groups dig even deeper into first person accounts about the circumstances of the Civil War, their perceptions of the war, and ultimately their understandings about the war.

The institution of slavery had been a source of contention since the founding era. The South Carolina Declaration of Causes looks back to Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence as a model and as the source of the core principles of the new slaveholding republic.  Both the South Carolina Declaration of Causes and Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address deal with the nature of the American federal union, while offering very different views of the Constitution.

1.      How did Southern and Northern understandings of the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the nature and purpose of American republicanism differ?  How did these different perspectives shape the question of secession and of slaveholding?

2.      The editorial in the Charleston Mercury calls for the convening of a secession convention “at the earliest possible time.”  Why was time such an issue?  What did the election of Abraham Lincoln as president signify to the Mercury? Judging from this piece, so you think contemporary Southerners anticipated war as a consequence of secession?

The assigned readings suggest that many Americans, North and South, approached the secession crisis with well-developed preconceptions of the causes of the conflict, and whom to blame for it.

3.      Consider how assigning blame for the war affects one understanding of what the war means to them:

a.      What, for Charles C. Jones Sr., was the religious significance of the war?

b.      How might the use of biblical imagery have affected the way northern readers understood slavery, or the cause and purpose of the Civil War?

c.       Douglass enthusiastically embraces the coming war.  Why? 

d.      Does Greeley’s letter to Lincoln achieve the author’s purpose for writing it? How does the act of writing the letter help Greeley make sense of his experience of the Civil War?

4.      The nation’s early republican ideals did not extend to tens of thousands of people of African descent who were kept in forced servitude.  How would you characterize attitudes toward slavery of:

a.      Abraham Lincoln

b.      Frederick Douglass

c.       The Citizens of Liberty County Georgia

d.      The Confederate senators

e.      The missionaries/teachers

5.      The Emancipation Proclamation is often remembered as a major turning point in the lives of African Americans throughout the United States.  It applied almost exclusively to states and regions in rebellion, however, failing to extend to slaves in the four Border States (Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri and Delaware and the recently seceded from Virginia mountain area of West Virginia). 

a.      How did the adoption of emancipation as a war goal and the raising of black troops change the meaning and the experience of the war in the Union and in the Confederacy?

b.      How did the Emancipation Proclamation change public opinion regarding the war in the North and the South?

c.       Was it simply a military tactic or was it meant to have a more permanent, social impact?

6.      Initially, Americans in both the Union and the Confederacy believed that the war would be a short, nearly bloodless fight. After the initial years of the war, it became clear that neither of these assumptions would come to fruition.

a.      How did families deal with the worsening of the war?

b.      How were the Confederate and Union reactions similar?

c.       What role did the development of new technology, like the railroad and telegraph, play in the changing role of families at home during the war?

d.      How did newspaper reports affect public perception of the Union and Confederate successes and failures?

e.      How did war change the role of women in society as a whole?

7.      Discuss presidential leadership in times of crisis, with an emphasis on Lincoln. 

a.      How did he shape the presidency?

b.      Did he set a precedent for future American leaders?

8.      How did the Civil War shape and change the relationship between the states and the federal government?

9.      What did you find most surprising or unexpected about the writings chosen for this discussion group?

10.  According to a 2011 Pew Research Center poll, 48% of Americans believe that the Civil War was fought “mainly about state’s rights” while 38% believe that slavery was the root cause.  What do you think?  Was the Civil War fought “mainly about state’s rights” or was the root cause the issue of slavery?  Will the discussion today of these first person accounts affect your answer?  

Friday, August 09, 2013

Reading List for September 26 Civil War 150 Discussion with Grace Cordial

CIVIL WAR 150: Exploring the War and Its Meaning through the Words of Those Who Lived It is a national public programming initiative designed to encourage public exploration of the transformative impact and contested meanings of the Civil War through primary documents and firsthand accounts. The Civil War 150 Readers take a broad view of the Civil War, including a variety of viewpoints as shown through contemporaneous writings. The items selected for the Civil War 150 Readers will broaden one’s understanding of the Civil War 150 exhibit.   


Within the Civil War 150 Readers are specific documents which inform us of the local Civil War experience of Confederate residents, the enslaved, Northern teachers and missionaries and members of the military here in Beaufort District, 1861 – 1865.  Two discussion groups on the topic of “In Their Own Words: Beaufort District during the Civil War” will be led by Grace Cordial, Manager of the Beaufort District Collection, to highlight commentary on the local situation. The discussion groups will center on the themes of the Civil War 150 Readers and how those themes are seen in the a selection of extant contemporaneous documents and firsthand accounts relating to Beaufort District’s Civil War history.  To our knowledge a comprehensive compilation of the primary documents and firsthand accounts that explores the Civil War experience as it unfolded in the approximately 1900 square miles that was once Beaufort District does not yet exist. Thus, the list of supplemental primary source document material is highly selective.  Used in conjunction with extracts from the Civil War 150 Readers, we trust that participants will have a deeper understanding of how unique the Civil War experience of the people of Beaufort District was. 


The Civil War 150 Readers are available for download as either a Single-page spread or a 2-page spread from the Civil War 150 Resources page found at  We encourage you to read all five of the Civil War 150 Readers in their entirety. 



We are holding two sessions at the end of September.   Discussion questions will be posted no later than August 24, 2013.  Please join us at the location and time most convenient for you:


·         Wednesday, Sept. 25 | 1:00 – 2:00 pm | Bluffton Branch Library 120 Palmetto Way

·         Thursday, Sept. 26 | 5:30 pm – 6:30 pm | Beaufort Branch Library 311 Scott Street


Extracts from the Civil War 150 Readers will inform part of the conversations at the “In Their Own Words: Beaufort District during the Civil War” BDC@ The Branches Local History discussion groups.  To participate fully in the “In Their Own Words: Beaufort District during the Civil War” discussion sessions, please arrive ready to discuss the following documents within the Civil War 150 Reader series:




Introduction by Manisha Sinha, pp. 3 - 5

Charleston Mercury: What Shall the South Carolina Legislature Do? November 3, 1860, pp. 6 - 9

South Carolina Declaration of the Causes of Secession, December 24, 1860, pp. 36 - 42




Introduction by Eric Foner, pp. 3 – 5

Charles C. Jones Sr. to Charles C. Jones Jr., April 20, 1861, pp. 9 - 11

Frederick Douglass: How to End the War, May 1861, pp. 24 – 26

Horace Greeley to Abraham Lincoln, July 29, 1861, pp. 38 - 39




Introduction by Brooks D. Simpson, pp. 3 - 5




Introduction by Thavolia Glymph, pp. 3 - 5

Let My People Go, December 21, 1861, pp. 12 - 15

Frederick Douglass: What Shall be Done with the Slaves If Emancipated? January 1862, pp. 16 - 20

Memorial of a Committee of Citizens of Liberty County, Georgia, August 5, 1862, pp. 30 - 35

Abraham Lincoln: Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, September 22, 1862, pp. 45 – 48

Debate in the Confederate Senate on Retaliation for the Emancipation Proclamation, September 29, October 1, 1862, pp. 49 - 53

Abraham Lincoln: Final Emancipation Proclamation, January 1, 1863, pp. 56 - 58



WOMEN and the WAR

Introduction by Elizabeth D. Leonard, pp. 3 - 5

Louisa May Alcott: from Hospital Sketches, pp. 19 – 30  

Harriet Jacobs to Lydia Maria Child, March 18, 1863, pp. 31 - 33

Charlotte Forten: Journal, July 20–24, 1863, pp. 48 - 51


To throw a local cast upon the themes above, participants should review at least a few of these additional primary documents and personal accounts from Beaufort District, 1861 – 1865 below:   

B SHAW Blue-Eyed Child of Fortune: The Civil War Letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, edited by Russell Duncan, c1992, particularly Chapters 13 – Chapter 16 covering May 1863 through his death during the Assault on Battery Wagner, Morris Island, Charleston Harbor on July 18, 1863. There are 6 circulating copies of this title available through the SCLENDS libraries.

371.1 JOU The Journal of Charlotte Forten edited by Ray Allen Billington, Dryden Press, c1953.  There are at least 4 circulating copies of this title available through the SCLENDS libraries. We recommend that you use the digital form of this journal by visiting the HathiTrust Digital Library at  You can read the title online or download the book as a PDF to your personal device.  

975.7 LEV The Leverett Letters : Correspondence of a South Carolina Family, 1851-1868, edited by Frances Wallace Taylor, Catherine Taylor Matthews, and J. Tracy Power, 2000. There are 7 circulating copies of this title available through the Local History sections of the Beaufort County Library branches and other SCLENDS libraries.  Concentrate on the Civil War period, 1861 – 1865. 

973.7 RHE A Fire-Eater Remembers : the Confederate Memoir of Robert Barnwell Rhett, edited by William C. Davis, 2000. There are 10 circulating copies of this title available through the SCLENDS libraries.

973.7 TAY A Black Woman's Civil War Memoirs : Reminiscences of My Life in Camp with the 33rd U.S. Colored Troops, late 1st South Carolina Volunteers by Susie King Taylor; edited by Patricia W. Romero; with a new introduction by Willie Lee Rose, c1988.  There are 5 circulating copies of this title available through the SCLENDS libraries. There is a non-circulating copy in the Beaufort District Collection that can be read in the Research Room.

SC 973.782 LUS War Letters of William Thompson Lusk, privately printed, c1911, pp. 95 – 165 spanning the period November 7, 1861 through July 12, 1862.   Lusk served in the 79th New York Infantry from June 1861 to his resignation in February 1863.  We recommend that you use the digital form of this quite fragile book by visiting the Internet Archive Web site at where there are 7 different digital copies of this title to read online or download as a PDF to your personal device.

SC 975.704 PEA Letters from Port Royal Written at the Time of the Civil War, edited by Elizabeth Ware Pearson, c1906.  There is only one copy of this title in the Library system which can be read in the Beaufort District Collection Research Room during our regular hours of operation.  Therefore, we recommend that you use the digital form of this book by visiting the Internet Archive website at  where there are 3 digital formats of this title to read online or download as a PDF to your personal device.

975.799 TOW Letters and Diary of Laura M. Towne: Written from the Sea Islands of South Carolina, 1862 - 1884, c1996.  For purposes of the discussion, carefully read and consider the Civil War related letters and the 1862 – 1865 portion of the diary.  There are 10 circulating copies of this title available through the Local History sections of the Beaufort County Library branches and other SCLENDS libraries.  An alternative way to read the title is to access the Internet Archive website at where there is a digital copy of this title to read online or download as a PDF to your personal device.

·         REF 973.7 WAR The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion is available in printed form in both the Beaufort District Collection Research Room and the Bluffton Branch Library during regular hours of operation.  A digital version is available through the Making of America series posted by Cornell University at  We will discuss some of the official reports and correspondence relating to the Battle of Pocotaligo in October 1862.  The index below indicates the reports and other documents you should read Volume XIV. 1885. (Vol. 14, Chap. 26) found at;cc=moawar;view=toc;subview=short;idno=waro0020.  Chapter XXVI is “Operations on the coasts of South Carolina, Georgia, and Middle and East Florida. Apr 12, 1862-Jun 11, 1863.”

The leader will read a letter or two from L. Brantley Harvey to his second wife, Lavinia Steedley as transcribed in SC 973.782 HAR L. Brantley Harvey: His Civil War Letters & Family History, privately printed, c1993.  This title is available only inside the Beaufort District Collection where the letters can be read during our regular hours of operation.   

Another way to prepare and participate fully in the discussions is to do a little primary research through the South Carolina Digital Library. Here are a few suggestions:

·         The Calvin Shedd Letters, a manuscript collection held by the South Caroliniana Library, are posted in the South Carolina Digital Library at  Many of the letters were written in Beaufort, Hilton Head, and Port Royal, SC and include references to the time he spent in hospital recovering from illness.  He served with the 7th New Hampshire, Company A of the Union Army. 

·         Look through a few issues of the New South newspaper either on microfilm at Beaufort Branch, Hilton Head Branch, or in the Beaufort District Collection or view the collection online at to get an idea of the type of items and events that this Union occupation newspaper published.  If you choose to access the digital version, a search on terms such as “Pocotaligo,” “Honey Hill,” “Port Royal,” “Casualties,” “Land Sales”, “Emancipation” or “Negroes” could prove enlightening. 

·         “A Few Rhymes on the Naval Expedition to Port Royal,” by Henry Albert Setly is a broadside.  This Union Army patriotic verse was printed at Camp Pierpoint, Va., and boasts of the success of Pennsylvania regiments in taking Port Royal, Hilton Head, and Beaufort. View the document at

Created by Grace Morris Cordial, MLS, SL, Beaufort District Collection Manager, 8 August 2013