Historian James M. McPherson Discusses his Role as a Historical Consultant on 'Mercy Street'

Recently, noted Civil War historian James M. McPherson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Battle Cry of Freedom” (1988), visited Binghamton University to deliver the ninth annual Shriber Lecture. Professor McPherson sat down with WSKG History to discuss his career and Civil War history. In this clip from our interview, Professor McPherson discusses his involvement as a historical consultant on PBS’s Civil War medical drama MERCY STREET. MERCY STREET is currently in production on its second season. 

(The partial transcript below has been edited for clarity.)

Highlights from the interview
There were a half-dozen different historical consultants, each of them with a different expertise. My role was, as a Civil War historian, to make sure that they got the references to what was going on in the war… right.

Historian James M. McPherson on the Continuing Impact of the Civil War Today

Recently, noted Civil War historian James M. McPherson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Battle Cry of Freedom” (1988), visited Binghamton University to deliver the ninth annual Shriber Lecture. Professor McPherson sat down with WSKG History to discuss his career, Civil War history, and his involvement as a historical consultant on PBS’s Civil War medical drama MERCY STREET. In this clip from our interview, Professor McPherson shares his thoughts on some of the lasting impacts of the Civil War. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwlGXNyb3jQ

(The partial transcript below has been edited for clarity.)

Highlights from the Interview
Well, we would not have a black man as president of United States had it not been for the changes accomplish by the Civil War – the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments of course framing those changes. We might not even be one country had it not been for the outcome of the Civil War.

Historian James M. McPherson Discusses the Influence of the Civil Rights Movement on his Career

Recently, noted Civil War historian James M. McPherson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Battle Cry of Freedom” (1988), visited Binghamton University to deliver the ninth annual Shriber Lecture. Professor McPherson sat down with WSKG History to discuss his career, Civil War history, and his involvement as a historical consultant on PBS’s Civil War medical drama MERCY STREET. In this clip from our interview, Professor McPherson discusses the influence of the Civil Right Movement on his career. 

 

(The partial transcript below has been edited for clarity.)

 
On the influence of the Civil Rights Movement and his career
When I got to Baltimore, and this was at the end of the 1950s and in the early 1960s, I was surrounded by the Civil Rights Movement and by a kind of historical deja vu. Because, in the 1960s there was this confrontation between the Federal Government and southern political leaders who were vowing massive resistance to national law, talking about interposition of the state sovereignty between people of the state and the national government, violence in the South, federal troops being sent into the South… On a different scale, a massive scale, this had happened a hundred years earlier and what was going on in the 1960s had a direct relationship to what went on in the 1860s. So I decided to do my dissertation on the civil rights activists of the 1860s, the abolitionists…

Historian James M. McPherson Talks Civil War History and 'Mercy Street'

Recently, noted Civil War historian James M. McPherson visited Binghamton University to deliver the ninth annual Shriber Lecture. Professor McPherson sat down with WSKG History to discuss his career, Civil War history, and his involvement as a historical consultant on PBS’s Civil War medical drama MERCY STREET.  

Dr. James McPherson is the George Henry Davis ‘86 Professor of History Emeritus at Princeton University and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Battle Cry of Freedom” (1988). He taught American history at Princeton University for 42 years and served as president of the American Historical Association. McPherson’s work mainly focuses on the American Civil War and Reconstruction and he is the recipient of two separate Lincoln Prizes.