David Blight at Appomattox

Here’s Professor David Blight of Yale University, first on the Legacies of Appomattox.


He really goes a far distance to come back around to make his point.

Next is an open phone segment with Professor Blight handling questions and comments from the C-SPAN audience.


He makes a mistake in claiming Jefferson Davis was never indicted for treason.  Jefferson Davis was in fact indicted for treason.  The case of US v. Jefferson Davis wound a convoluted path, eventually ending when Chief Justice Chase ruled the 14th Amendment had already punished Davis for treason, so to try him again would be double jeopardy, and the charge was nolle prossed.



  1. Rosemary · · Reply

    Is the student allowed to call out the prof like that? 🙂
    I did that once and got a B instead of the A I earned. But my prof was no Dr. Blight. I am rather fond of Dr. Blight.
    Good info on the legal stuff, Al.

    1. Well, I call ’em like I see ’em. 🙂

      I’m fond of Dr. Blight as well, but he does tend to meander in his talks.

  2. Bob Nelson · · Reply

    Yes he does meander but what a magnificent meanderer/story teller. I’d rather listen to him than most any other CW speaker with the exception of Gary Gallagher and Brooks Simpson. I recognize much of his speech from an earlier presentation you cited. Robert Penn Warren, his oracle, Uriah Parmele and Thomas Freedman are all reprised here. I was frankly surprised at the really small turnout. As for indictments for treason after the CW, most folks do not know that there were thousands of indictments. There were 1,900 in east Tennessee alone. In Maryland, some 4,000 names — men who had joined the Confederate army — were submitted to a grand jury but they were all vacated after it became apparent that there was little public support for such mass trials. Davis, Lee, Johnston, Stephens, Longstreet, other Cabinet members, the St. Albans’ raiders and a number of Confederate governors were also indicted. When the case against Davis was dropped in 1869 it put an end to all the others. For a good, short paper on this subject, see William Blair’s “Why Didn’t the North Hang Some Rebels? The Postwar Debate over Punishment for Treason” (Marquette University Press, 2004). It’s only about 35 pages long and is available from Amazon for $5.

    1. Blair expanded what he had in that lecture in his book, With Malice Toward Some.

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