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Looking at both sides of history

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One of the things that I have been putting a lot of thought into recently is the dual nature of just about everything in the universe. There are two sides to everything.

Even the historical research that I do has a duality. When doing research, you can always find two sides of the story.

One example will be the death of Lt. Ward at Fort King. This happened on January 31st, 1835. You won't read about it in Sprague or Mahon because it happened with the Florida Volunteer soldiers, and not the regular army. I have found two sides of that story.

Lt. Ward was ordered to be the officer of the guard. Ward claimed that it wasn't his tour, and didn't want to do it. Col. Parish ordered him arrested for failure to obey orders, and Ward resisted arrest and threatened anyone who tried with his pistols. Col. Parish went and faced him, at which point Ward was shot dead by the Colonel.

An inquiry was held, and Col. Parish was cleared of any wrongdoing. Ward had resisted an order from a commanding officer and threatened him, so Col. Parish was justified in shooting Ward.

The Army Navy Chronicle takes the position of the board of inquiry, that Ward had disobeyed a lawful order by a senior officer, had disobeyed his commanding officer, and threatened to kill him. The senior officer was justified in his actions.

The other point of view as that Ward was popular among the enlisted men, and some of the junior officers. Lt. Henry Prince laments the death of Ward in his diary.

This is an example of duality in historical research. You cannot fully understand and appreciate what happened without seeing all sides.

A bigger example is Indian Removal. To briefly sum it up without getting emotions involved is that you cannot completely understand Indian Removal without understanding the main person who pushed it, President Andrew Jackson. I have found it very important to understand this complicated individual. You can consider him evil if you want, but I think it is important to understand him and be familiar with the history and his actions. I recommend reading at least three biographies or books about him. There are quite a number out there, and many recent works give a pretty good assessment of him without glorifying or demagogue him. It is definitely not simple and few people ever seek to understand the complete picture.
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On February 4th, 2009 04:01 am (UTC), connor_campbell commented:
i have run the range from liking him, to not liking, to greatly respecting him. he is often condemned for the Indian Removal, and yet put on a pedestal by others. i think some of what he did was wrong, or done the wrong way, but in my opinion, he is the most successful president this country has ever had. i had to do a lesson plan about the Jacksonian Era, specifically the time he was in office, for my classroom management course last semester (you can see my podcast for it here - http://voicethread.com/#q+andrew+jackson.b198601.i1077619 - the sound isn't too good, i don't have a good microphone) and in the process learned a lot about him that i didn't know. he is the only president to do away with the national debt! he had the country running IN THE BLACK! his administration saw the country expanded, new states admitted, long-standing policies started, and for the first time gave the everyday working man a voice in the government. he was brave, a great fighter, and an accomplished soldier that, at a time when the men under him were in horrible condition and dire straights at one point, gave his horse for sick and wounded and walked along side them back to their headquarters. he was also stubborn, a dueler, ticked off an incredible amount of people in and out of government, and held grudges. there is no way anyone can say he is all good or all bad and still claim to have any passing acquaintance with reality. he was a very complex man, with strong feelings, firm beliefs, and stuck by them. i believe that everything he did was in the interest of his country. The Indian Removal Act was a bad thing, yet at the time was considered to be in the interest of the nation. some of the things done by him or at his orders may not have been the best way to do them, but either way, i believe that he has been the most successful president during his time in office. and i respect him for that.
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On February 4th, 2009 11:13 am (UTC), seminolewar replied:
Yep, that is why he is a very complex individual. He saved our country from the British, and 20 years later forced a large population to be uprooted from their home and moved west. He is not someone that you can talk about in a few minutes and get people to fully understand. I believe that his personality was such that he demanded things his way, and got what he wanted.
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