James Ford Rhodes: Difference between revisions

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==Early life and education==
Cleveland was a center of the Western Reserve, heavily settled by New Englanders like his parents. His father Daniel P Rhodes was a Democrat and a friend [[Stephen A. Douglas]]. He opposed the Lincoln administration during the Civil War; Rhodes said he was a "[[Copperhead (politics)|Copperhead]]." That caused problems for his sister, who was finally allowed to marry the up -and -coming [[History of the United States Republican Party|Republican]] businessman-politician [[Mark Hanna]].<ref> Thomas J. Pressly, ''Americans Interpret their Civil War'' (1954) p 169.</ref>
 
Rhodes attended [[New York University]], beginning in 1865. After graduation, he went to Europe, studying at the [[Collège de France]]. During his studies in Europe, he visited ironworks and steelworks. After his return to the United States, he investigated iron and coal deposits for his father.
Rhodes moved to Boston for access to its libraries and supportive intellectual community. He devoted the rest of his life to historical research and writing United States history. Wrote was never politically active, any bounce between the two major parties in the reconstruction era he generally supported the Republican Party, but opposed by separate. In the 1880s he was a [[Bourbon Democrat]] who supported Grover Cleveland and favored low tariffs, despite his own connection with the iron and steel industry. Supported William McKinley in 1896, and Theodore Roosevelt in 1904. In 1912 he supported Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat. He Supported Wilson's position in support of the league of nations. Rhodes told his grandson that he started life" as a strong Democrat, then became a strong Republican, then a lukewarm Democrat, and now I suppose I am a lukewarm Republican." <ref>Pressly, ''Americans Interpret their Civil War'' p 171.</ref> His gyrations are important because one of the strongest features of his multi-volume history is the valuation of both political parties, written from a generally neutral position that sees both strengths and weaknesses in each party.
 
His major work, ''History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850'', was published in seven volumes, 1893–1906; the eight-volume edition appeared in 1920. His single volume, ''History of the Civil War, 1861-1865'' (1918), earned him a [[Pulitzer Prize]] in History that year.
 
==Historical approach==
Rhodes focused on national politics. Working from primary sources of newspapers and published memoirs, Rhodes tracked the process by which major national decisions were made. He evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of all the major leaders. He detailed the corruption he found in the [[Reconstruction era of the United States|Reconstruction]] Republican governments in Washington, D.C., and the Southern states. He said that granting of unqualified suffrage to blacks after emancipation was a mistake and added to the problems during Reconstruction.
 
Rhodes's interpretation of the role of slavery strongly influenced intellectual opinion and historiography. Unlike the first generation of historians, who had been personally deeply committed on the slavery issue, Rhodes approached it dispassionately. He argued that slavery indeed was the main cause of the war. What he meant was an abstract political-economic system that law voters and politicians into position. He paid relatively little attention to slaves themselves, focusing on how the politicians and the foreigners used the issue to their advantage. He argued:
*[[Oxford University|Oxford]] and several United States universities gave him [[honorary degree]]s.
*[[James Ford Rhodes High School]] in Cleveland was named for him.
 
==Bibliography: Books by Rhodes==
* ''History of the Civil War, 1861–1865'' (1918), one-volume version; Pulitzer Prize [http://www.bartleby.com/252/ online]