The Lost Gettysburg Address Book

New Gettysburg Book Reviewed by Harry Stout at Yale

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The Lost Gettysburg Address by David Dixon represents a masterful reconstruction of the life and times of Charles Anderson, 27th Governor of Ohio, and member of an accomplished American family descended from Revolutionary War hero, Richard Clough Anderson. Meticulously researched and engagingly written, this book illustrates the importance of “B list” American luminaries who did not make it into the history books, but who played indispensable roles in making the early American republic.  A Civil War hero in his own right, Governor Anderson also delivered an address at the Gettysburg dedication that “bookended” the famous orations of Edward Everett and Abraham Lincoln.  Through clever detective work, Dixon located this supposedly lost address and includes it in the appendix to this work.  Throughout, Dixon provides an account of Anderson’s life and career, and the forces that shaped them, that is informative, richly documented and consistently interesting.

 

Harry S. Stout

Jonathan Edwards Professor of America Religious History

Yale University

Lost Gettysburg Address Returns After 153 years

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A lost Gettysburg address that even the National Park Service was unaware of? How could that possibly be?

What makes history so exciting to me are the new discoveries that keep popping up on a regular basis. Who knew that someone would find Richard III’s bones below a parking lot, or that one lucky garage sale addict would find an original copy of the Declaration of Independence behind an engraving in a battered, old picture frame?

I felt a little like Indiana Jones when Rob Tolley, the man responsible for saving and donating much of former Ohio governor Charles Anderson’s private papers, asked me to review and identify a stack of documents. While reading through them, several pages sounded familiar. As it turned out, these were drafts that Anderson created while he prepared for his address, which followed Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863. Since the delivery manuscript has already been donated to the Ohio Historical Society, Rob and I felt that Gettysburg also deserved to have a small piece of this long lost history so they could preserve it for posterity.

On Monday, September 19th, 2016, I had the pleasure of acting on behalf of The Lost Gettysburg Address 005Tolley to donate eight original manuscript pages of Charles Anderson’s Gettysburg address. Ed Clark, superintendent and Greg Goodell, curator of the National Park Service at Gettysburg National Military Park were on hand to receive the artifacts. It was an exciting moment for all of us. Now the complete story of the speeches on Dedication Day can be told, and Lincoln’s Gettysburg address more fully understood as part of a rhetorical ensemble, with each speech having a distinct political purpose.

We hope that some day, a small mention might be made of Anderson’s Gettysburg address in the park museum, or perhaps at the Wills house downtown, where Lincoln finished composing his iconic address.

A Rookie Outfielder in the World Series of Civil War History

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sacredtrust3

Please forgive me for resorting to the time-honored, but hackneyed habit of using sports analogies to describe important life events. I certainly do not want to waste time arguing about which golfer was the best player never to win a major tournament, or if Jim Kelly was still one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks, despite losing multiple Super Bowls. I rarely watch sports anymore and recycled my television set last year. Popular parlor games in the Civil War community, such as: “Who was the best/worst Union general?” bore me to tears.

That said, when I received the email from the Gettysburg Foundation inviting me to speak at the 2016 Sacred Trust Talks I was, for lack of a more sophisticated emotion, giddy. The roll of participants in past events reads like the lineup at the upcoming geezer lollapalooza in the desert. The Who, Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan have nothing on McPherson, Holzer, Goodwin and Gallagher in my estimation of a star-studded event. What in the world were they thinking, inviting an unknown author with one book, a dozen published articles and a rather thin, second career resume?

When the schedule came out online, I was so well-known that the coordinator gave me a different middle initial. The fact that I was speaking before a history rock star, Dr. Allen C. Guelzo, only made it more intimidating. Would my listeners retain anything I said after hearing Guelzo ponder whether Lee was a traitor or a hero? I guess I should be thankful that I did not follow S.C. Gwynne, who sells more books about Stonewall Jackson in one week than I ordered from the printer.

Multiple cameras and microphones, teleprompters, and an audience that included several people that know more about a single battle than I know about the entire conflict, all conspired to create the potential for anxiety and fear. Then the unexpected happened. I had a thoroughly enjoyable time. The talk went well, and I incorporated all of my wife’s last-minute changes. Thankfully, there were questions answered and even some books signed and sold.

I am used to showing up at most speaking engagements lugging my books around like a cross between a one-man-band street performer and a door-to-door vacuum salesperson. The Gettysburg Foundation, on the other hand, leaves nothing to chance, pampering their speakers at the tent and during the book signing. Cindy Small and her staff, along with Ed Clark and Chris Gwinn from the National Park Service, deserve a lot of credit for their professionalism. Year after year, they pull off an outstanding event.

At the book signing tables, I was the only author participating with one lonely book to peddle. Jeff Shaara had his own library and Guelzo’s line of admirers stretched well into the hallway. Despite my meager offerings, I wore a smile as big as Ernie Banks on the day of a doubleheader. This might be old hat to some of the participants, but for this rookie, it was a magical day. Thanks to everyone who made this dream come true.

 

 

Civil War Talk Radio – Best in Class

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  1. Did my rite of passage as Gerry’s guest last night on Civil War Talk Radio. This podcast has been running for about 12 years now, and I do think it is best-in-class. I have done other interviews and podcasts but here are the differences that I believe make this show worth your time:

    First, the host, Gerry Prokopowicz, with both a PhD and a J.D, is an expert in the field and a skilled interviewer. He reads the books carefully (not all hosts or reviewers do that, believe it or not) and asks intelligent, thought-provoking questions. He challenges his guests and uses his skills as a former attorney to follow up when the conversation flows in an interesting direction.These questions are entirely unscripted, as the guests are not asked to give Gerry pre-planned or stock questions. This gives the show added credibility, in my view.

    Second, the programming, covering not only fiction and non-fiction books published by trade, university, and indie presses, but gaming, publishing and other aspects of the contemporary Civil War enthusiast landscape, offers listeners variety.

    I find it best to skip through the first 10 minutes or so of updates on the East Carolina sports teams or his senior soccer league ( a technique he uses to establish a relationship with his audience) and get to the start of the interviews. This is very easy to navigate to when on the computer, not as easy in the car.

    If you have not checked out Gerry’s show, I recommend that you give it a shot. You can scroll through the archives and pick out the topics and guests that most interest you. load them on your device and listen to them as you drive to your favorite battlefield.

My Interview with Bull Runnings

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Bull Runnings | A Journal of the Digitization of a Civil War Battle

Interview – David T. Dixon,”The Lost Gettysburg Address”

28012016

David Dixon is the author of The Lost Gettysburg Address, a book I thought I previewed a while back. It seems it slipped through the cracks! In brief, this is the story of the third speaker on the program for the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetery in November, 1863, Charles Anderson. Mr. Dixon took some time to answer a few questions about himself and his book. Read on!

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Dixon4x5rBR: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

DTD: I became fascinated with history at an early age, when my father gave me a copy of the historical fiction classic Northwest Passage, by Kenneth Roberts. Throughout my adult life, I served on the boards of historical societies, organized local preservation efforts, and helped create a maritime museum. After more than twenty years in marketing with Fortune 500 corporations, I went back to school and earned his M.A. in history from the University of Massachusetts in 2003. Since then I have published numerous articles in scholarly journals and magazines. Most focus on black history and on Union sympathizers in the Civil War South. They are available for free download at my website, B-List History. My biography of U.S. and Confederate congressman Augustus R. Wright appeared in The Georgia Historical Quarterly in 2010. I am most intrigued by the vexing problem of defining “loyalty” in the context of the American Civil War.

BR: What got you interested in the Civil War? Who were your early influences?

DTD: When my father passed away at a young age, I began to examine his family history and found that a number of his ancestors were Southern Union men. This really surprised me, since my great grandmother was involved in a Georgia chapter the United Daughters of the Confederacy. I had no idea that there was so much active dissent on the Confederate home front. I began reading voraciously on that subject. Scholars writing about Southern Union men and their families such as Carl Degler, William W. Freehling, Daniel Sutherland, John Inscoe and many others helped me understand this lesser-known side of the Civil War. Coincidentally, the late Thomas Dyer of the University of Georgia was finishing Secret Yankees: The Union Circle in Confederate Atlanta around the same time as I was doing research for my M.A. thesis, Civil War Unionism in Floyd County, Georgia. Dyer’s book is wonderful and remains my favorite in the sub-genre.

BR: Why the interest in Charles Anderson?

DTD: I stumbled upon Anderson quite by accident. He had been in my idea file due to his progressive views on racial equality and his denial of the generally accepted notion (in his day) of white Anglo-Saxon supremacy. I planned to write a short article about him, but as I started to research him I found many interesting story lines. Once I saw a brief article on the discovery of the lost Gettysburg speech, I was hooked. Anderson is a character who deserves a scholarly biography.

BR: Can you briefly describe the discovery of the document in question?

DTD: Rob Tolley, a lecturer in anthropology at Indiana University, befriended Anderson’s great grandson, Bartley Skinner. One day, several cardboard boxes containing Anderson’s papers arrived at the Skinner ranch in a remote area of western Wyoming. Among the hundreds of letters and documents that Skinner asked Tolley to identify, catalogue and donate was a 39 page speech, handwritten on a gray, lined legal pad. Tolley donated Anderson’s speech to the Ohio Historical Society without knowing its importance. A few years after he donated the item, he determined that it was indeed the long-lost manuscript of Anderson’s Gettysburg oration. I took part in the thrill of discovery last year, when asked by Rob to help identify a number of documents yet to be donated. Among these were eight draft pages of the speech. We have arranged to donate these drafts to the Gettysburg National Military Park. We hope to bring more attention to the third major address at Gettysburg. In my book, I argue that one must consider all three major speeches at the Gettysburg dedication (Everett, Lincoln, and Anderson) as a rhetorical ensemble. Each had a distinct purpose. Those purposes were not only to honor the dead Union soldiers, but they were also expressly political.

BR: How does an understanding of Anderson better our understanding of his times?

DTD: Anderson was one of the most outspoken Southern Union men of his day. He was a slave owner who risked everything on numerous occasions due to his loyalty to the Union. This devotion to Union, as Gary Gallagher describes so well in his book, The Union War, was the overwhelming factor in motivating loyal men, north and south, to risk their lives and fortunes to support Lincoln’s war effort. Anderson’s experiences as a Union man who lived in both the north and the south in the critical years leading up to the war, supports Gallagher’s thesis. In Anderson’s life story, one can trace both the origins of this strong allegiance to Union, as well as the challenges that Southern men faced, in particular, to stay true to their country.

BR: Can you describe how long it took to write the book? Was there anything that you discovered along the way that surprised you? When did you know you were “done”?

DTD: The research took about 15 months, and then another 4 months to complete the manuscript, all while holding down my day job. What surprised me the most, besides the incredible adventures of Anderson himself, was the wealth of primary sources available to help me tell Anderson’s life story. Hundreds of family letters, dozens of speeches, parts of his personal library, diaries of his daughters, newspaper reports, photographs – you name it, it was there for my inspection. This allowed me to paint an intimate portrait of this unusual character with some sense of certainty. In many ways, Anderson tells his own life story and I simply moderate and add historical context. I knew I was “done”, if one can ever really be done, when the entire narrative felt complete and was well-supported by primary sources.

BR: Can you describe your research and writing process?

DTD: Most non-fiction authors whom I know enjoy the research part of the book-writing process the most. I was very fortunate to begin this project early in 2014. With so many archival indexes now online, I was able to make my trips to various libraries and archives in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Texas organized and efficient. I was also lucky that the largest collection of Anderson papers resides at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, about 80 miles from my home. Many historians will tell you that the Huntington is a Mecca for 19th century American history research.

My process involved several steps. First, I tried to locate and get my hands on every shred of primary source material I could find. Second, I developed a detailed chronological timeline of important events in Anderson’s life. At this point, a number of compelling story lines emerged and I constructed detailed outlines for each. Some stories were worth only one chapter, but others, like Andersons’s role in the secession drama in Texas, ended up as several chapters. After I organized my data and thoughts in this way, I poured over relevant secondary sources, adding context to the timeline and outlines. I then wrote the chapters I felt most prepared to write first, with the idea that they should be able to stand on their own – small stories within the larger narrative. Once I had peer reader feedback and had revised at least a dozen times, I turned the manuscript over to the professional editors and copywriters for the “red ink” treatment. It is an arduous process, but tremendously rewarding.

BR: How has the book been received so far?

The Lost Gettysburg Address 30 March 2015 KINDLEDTD: I am happy to report that the book has been received very well by reviewers in several of the important Civil War blogs and magazines. I was especially pleased to read Civil War News Book Review Editor Ed Bonekemper’s comments. He said, “It’s amazing that stimulating and informative Civil War books with whole new perspectives keep coming out of the woodwork. This one makes it a pleasure to be a book review editor and reviewer.” I have never met Ed, but I feel that I owe him an adult beverage at the very least.

BR: What’s next for you?

DTD: The book launched recently, so I am really focused on getting the news about the lost speech and Anderson’s story out to a broad audience over the next year at least. My calendar is filling up with speaking engagements at round tables, historical societies, and conferences. I really enjoy sharing the story with these intelligent audiences, and this will take up much of my time for the balance of 2016. When I do embark on the next book, it will need to meet several criteria: The story has to be one that has not been told. There has to be a large collection of primary sources available. Finally, the main character or characters need to have a close connection with an important event or series of events. The Lost Gettysburg Address sets a very high bar for me in terms of these essential elements. I would rather wait until I find another amazing untold story like this one, rather than spend my time on previously plowed ground. I have been approached with a few ideas, but none of them meets all my requirements. So, for now, I will continue to talk and write about Charles Anderson and his compelling life story – at least until my wife decides to kick his ghost out of our house.

Diversity and Vibrant Civil War Round Tables

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dixonatSFCWRT   Cocktail hour at the San Francsico CWRT

What image do people outside the core group of Civil War enthusiasts have of the typical round table club? This is an important question, as such impressions may largely determine the ultimate health and success of these organizations in the today’s fast-changing social landscape. In the early 19th century, fraternal orders like the Masons and the Odd Fellows were a vital part of the social fabric of most every city of any size in our nation. Many of these chapters are now defunct. Membership, in many cases, has dwindled for decades.  A related question is: How is interest developed among those who have never attended any of the thousands of CWRT monthly meetings occurring every year?

My demanding business career over the past 35 years compelled me to operate on the fringes of the American Civil War community, publishing a few articles each year on topics that interested me. I never ventured into the inner circle of CW buffdom. Now that my first book is out, I am faced with delivering talks to more than a dozen such clubs over the next several months. I began this rite of passage for most serious authors in the genre with more than a little trepidation.

I am not a military historian. Having never attended a round table before last fall, I imagined a small, monolithic assembly of ancient white ex-military men arguing over the miniscule details of this troop movement on that day of a particular battle that their ancestor happened to fight in. My perceptions began to change when I started visiting CWRT websites. Numerous clubs have an excellent and informative presence on the web. Speaker lineups often include not only books on battles and tactics, but also a wide range of topics, from wartime politics to slavery to women and the home front.  Other sites seem to be stuck in an older paradigm, are not terribly visitor-friendly, or lack variety in their program topics.

On January 21, I gave my first talk of the New Year at the San Francisco Civil War Round Table. I must admit that as an outsider, I had low expectations. Their website is adequate, but still probably ranks in the lower half of the CWRTwebsites I have surfed. Patrick Doyle is the president of this group and the meetings are held at the United Irish Cultural Center just steps from Ocean Beach. Early arrivers at the cocktail hour made me feel welcome. Despite their greetings, I was apprehensive. My book does have two chapters concerning military campaigns and battles, but if this crowd was looking for bold new perspectives on Perryville and the Battle of Stones River, they were in for a big disappointment.

I need not to have worried. Once I met a the members it became clear to me that this was no motley collection of old school Lost Cause adherents and testosterone-infused military strategy wonks.  The men and women of this fine club were from every conceivable background. A number were accomplished authors themselves. A well-known local singer and actor attended as a guest. There was no shortage of advanced degrees in this crowd. I got the distinct impression that these folks had a lot going on in their lives that did not revolve around the Civil War. It is San Francisco after all.

I believe that diversity is one of the recipes for the SFCWRT’s success. The program director, Bob Hubbs, does a nice job of bringing a wide range of speakers on many different topics to this club – no small feat, given the accomplished constituency he serves. Table talk in my corner of the room went in many different directions, including local history, film, and other arts and entertainment subjects. At times, it felt more like a colloquium than what I expected to be a narrowly-focused discussion. My audience was attentive and enthusiastic, and the questions were probing and thought-provoking.

Many CWRTs are embracing change in terms of technology and recognizing the value of diversity in membership and programming. Others, I am afraid, may be left behind as new generations of adults experience an avalanche of leisure options, both virtual and attendance-based to enhance their lifelong learning. The SFCWRT seems to be on the path towards a 21st century club model that really works, despite being so far away from the major battlefields of our great national struggle. It will be good to watch them grow and prosper.