Heather Cox Richardson: Just the facts Ma’am

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Here’s what you need to know about the Heather Cox Richardson Newsletter.

The Heather Cox Richardson Newsletter

Heather Cox Richardson has a very popular history newsletter on the site, Substack. Her newsletter, Letters from an American, covers events in politics. 

A history professor at Brown College, her popularity is soaring. 

According to a report by the New York Times, a report that she did on a bipartisan spending measure generated more than 50,000 reactions on Facebook.  The subscription to her newsletter costs $5 monthly and is on track to bring in more than 1 million dollars a year.  Her audience is mainly women around her age of 58. Dr. Richardson uses direct explanations in her articles, and much of the time goes against the direction of the mainstream media.

Heather Cox Richardson and Responsible Reporting

Richardson’s position has put her in the category of being an expert on historical fact in the eyes of many readers.  With this much popularity, it is imperative that responsible reporting practices are followed.  This means reporting the facts accurately and conveying an honest and forthright message to the reader.  Oftentimes, reporters will use true facts but will mix in untrue facts to spin a story a certain way.

Richardson on the Civil War

 Unfortunately, on a report about the Civil War, Richardson mixes fact with opinion but spun in such a way that it all appears as fact.  The Historical Review reported that in post on July 3rd, Richardson was quoted as saying, “What the founders declared self-evident was not so clear eighty-seven years later, when southern white men went to war to guarantee that Black Americans, Indigenous Americans, Chinese, Mexicans, and Irish would be permanently locked into a lower status than whites. In that era, equality had become a “proposition,” rather than “self-evident.” 

The Need for Clarifications and Transparency   

There are several incorrect parts to this statement that need to be clarified.

  • The defense of slavery was the driving force behind the Civil War.
  • Abraham Lincoln led the Republican Party to give The Declaration of Independence and its principles a place the founding of the nation
  • Confederate leaders backed John C. Calhoun in an effort to block the Declaration from being added to the nation’s founding
  • “White Southern Men” fought on both sides of the war
  • Women were also instrumental in the Civil War
  • Indigenous Americans and the people of color that Richardson referred to in her statement also fought on both sides of the war
  • Native Americans fought on the side of the Confederacy
  • Many Mexican Americans especially those from South Texas were primarily pro-Confederate

The aim of the Confederacy was slavery, it was not to suppress any particular race or group of people.  Lumping “white southern men” into the same category and insinuating that their goal was keeping certain groups of people “down” in an effort to set them at odds with other is irresponsible.  There is a portion of every race and group of people that fought on both sides of the Civil War, and this should be recognized as historical fact.