A Legendary Historian

Left: Dr. Frank Nickell was welcomed by Commander Clint Lacy Stoddard Rangers Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp # 2290

On Saturday January 25, 2020 the Stoddard Rangers Sons of Confederate Veterans Camp # 2290 welcomed Dr. Frank Nickell to the Stars & Stripes Museum and Library in Bloomfield , Missouri (the birthplace of the Armed Forces newspaper).

Dr. Nickell was a professor at Southeast Missouri State University for four decades and dare I say, the most respected historian in Southeast Missouri.

Dr. Nickell spoke to a capacity crowd about the causes of the Civil War and I must say the most impressive thing about his speech was his ability to engage the crowd and let them determine the causes of the Civil War on their own.

We were both happy and grateful that Dr. Nickell graciously accepted our invitation to address local citizens about the causes of the Civil War.

Special thanks to Dr. Nickell and to the Stars and Stripes Museum & Library in Bloomfield , Missouri for allowing us to host this event!

Below is a news article written by Nancy Nelson Vines for the Daily American Republic Newspaper.

Historian seeks to educate, offer dialogue on Civil War history

Friday, January 31, 2020By NANCY NELSON VINES, Contributing Writer

“I always enjoy speaking to an audience that is knowledgeable of the subject matter, and able to engage in meaningful dialogue,” Dr. Frank Nickell observed after his presentation on Saturday, January 25. Nickell, retired educator from Southeast Missouri State University and noted historian, was the guest speaker at a meeting of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

Nickell addressed a capacity crowd in the library and research room at the National Stars and Stripes Museum and Library in Bloomfield. In his discussion of Causes of the Civil War, Nickell revealed his belief that historians have no more of a definitive answer today, than when the war ended 155 years ago.

“Historians perpetuate their own views,” Nickell pointed out, “so there are as many explanations for the cause of the war, as there are authors who attempted to explain it.”

As he spoke, Nickell addressed the beliefs of numerous historians/authors, and shared brief overviews of their writings, as well as explanations of different phases of interpretation. He repeatedly sought opinions from those in attendance, and delighted in the thought-provoking conversations that ensued.

Nickell began his discussion by addressing two notable books that were published during and immediately following the Civil War.

“The first book to examine what caused the war,” Nickell explained, “was Horace Greeley’s The American Conflict, which was written in 1864 — before the war was even over.”

According to Nickell, Greeley, a renowned Northern journalist, blamed the war on the power held by the Confederate states. Greely viewed their collective power as a challenge to the Federal Government.

“Southerner Edward Pollard’s book The Lost Cause, published in 1866, presented the opinion that the only way the South could maintain their power, was to go to war,” Nickell observed.

As the discussion continued, Nickell sought input from the audience on their opinions as to the cause of the Civil War. Those responses were as varied as the authors’ opinions. Among ideas suggested by attendees were that causes of the war resulted from: the book Uncle Tom’s Cabin, cotton growing, imbalance of tariffs, where people lived at that time, monetary issues, and the idea that slavery was only an excuse to go to war.

“So, in essence,” Nickell summarized, “there is no answer. Every interested person must study the Civil War for himself/herself and arrive at your own conclusions. It is the question that still haunts America.”

The Sons of Confederate Veterans is a non-profit, patriotic, historical, civic and benevolent organization created to preserve the history and legacy of the Confederate soldier. The local organization Stoddard Rangers meets regularly at the Stars and Stripes Museum.

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