On Weary Clyburn and John Venable: An Invitation to Discuss the Research of Earl L. Ijames on Black Confederates
Over the past several days there has been a good deal of discussion concerning the research of Earl L. Ijames, a curator at the North Carolina Museum of History. Mr. Ijames has been researching the Civil War military service of black Carolinians. Among his findings are that two blacks, Weary Clyburn and John Venable, served in the Confederate army as members of Carolina regiments (Clyburn in the 12th South Carolina Infantry, Venable in the 21st North Carolina Infantry).
Over at Civil War Memory, Kevin Levin has raised serious questions about Ijames’s research, and it’s apparent that the two scholars have corresponded in a debate that has generated at least as much heat as light. Mr. Ijames challenged Mr. Levin to debate him on his research at one of Mr. Ijames’s appearances. That seemed a bit unfair to me: usually, when a challenge of this sort is offered, the challenger has some input as to how the challenge is to be met. Moreover, I thought that in light of the back-and-forth involved, it would be far superior for Mr Ijames and Mr. Levin to discuss the matter in an online forum. I have volunteered this blog to serve as that forum. Mr. Levin has accepted, and I understand that Mr. Ijames has been emailed this information.
I hope that we can have a discussion of Mr. Ijames’s work on a public forum where everyone can inspect the arguments of both sides and weigh the evidence.