Secretary of War Edwin Stanton

Here’s William Marvel snearing his way through a presentation on Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton. His contempt for Stanton is palpable.

The video’s description reads, “William Marvel talked about Edwin Stanton, Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of War during most of the Civil War. Mr. Marvel argued that Stanton’s loyalties to people lasted only as long as they were useful to him. He also gave examples of Secretary Stanton’s broad wartime powers, and suggested that they were often applied with disregard for civil liberties.”


  1. Shoshana Bee · · Reply

    Quote: “His contempt for Stanton is palpable.”

    Actually, what crossed my mind was that Marvel has more contempt for Lincoln than he does Stanton, but Stanton served as a great tool to jab at Lincoln. I am only vaguely familiar with the speaker, but had I not already been very familiar with Stanton beforehand, I would suspect that a certain amount of bias was driving the content of the lecture. It made it very difficult to watch the video objectively, as I begin to feel more than a bit of “curmudgeon” undertone burbling to the surface now and again. Perhaps I am having an off night, but I flat out do not like this speaker. I thought the closing jabs aimed at academics, regarding his books, was embarrassing (for him) at best, unseemly and unprofessional at worst.

    1. Yes, I think Mr. Marvel consciously cultivates the curmudgeon persona. I thought his book on Andersonville was very good, and I hear good things about his book on Ambrose E. Burnside, but I don’t hear good things about his four-volume history of the war. His talk here doesn’t fill me with confidence in his objectivity.

      1. I am not a fan of his Andersonville book, because he totally misrepresents the exchange and parole issues, but his Burnside book, while a bit of an apologia, has a lot of merit.

        1. Is that the only problem you saw with the book, Jim? Anything you saw or heard regarding what he said about Andersonville itself?

          1. He criticized Ovid Futch’s book for relying too much on discredited memoirs like the Ransom diary, but in Futch’s forward/preface he (Futch) specifically says that he found Ransom unreliable and used it only when he could find corroboration. (Caveat: I’m typing this at work, from memory.) But as for the bulk of the book, I did not see anything obviously wrong. Of course, my main purpose in reading it was to see what he said about the exchange and parole question.

          2. Thanks, Jim.

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