Thursday, October 11, 2012

Dear readers

I wanted to let you know that my book, Divided Loyalitieswill soon be published] by Savas Beatie LLC, an independent publishing house that has produced many original and award-winning titles over the years. Savas Beatie puts out an outstanding informational e-newsletter each month, Libri Novus.

I would appreciate your support of both my publisher and my book if you would kindly visit and sign up for the e-letter. There is a sign-up box on the left hand side of the homepage where you can enter your email address. Each newsletter includes interviews, excerpts, book news, and much more. And of course, if you know someone else who appreciates cutting-edge original military and general history titles, please feel free to pass along these links to them as well.

Thanks for your support!

James Finck

Friday, September 14, 2012

Chapter 1 Excerpt from Divided Loyalties

Chapter 1: Kentucky’s Political System: 1840 to 1860

In November of 1860, Kentucky, like the rest of the nation, gathered at the polls to elect a new president of the United States. However, this election differed from previous ones in that the very survival of the nation was as stake. Many Southerners saw the possible election of Abraham Lincoln as the ultimate betrayal of their rights and a justification for secession. Unlike the major parties during the antebellum period, the Democrats, Whigs, and Know Nothings, Lincoln and the Republican Party represented only the Northern half of the country. Southerners worried that Lincoln’s sectional views and his party’s free-soil tendencies could threaten the future of slavery. When Illinois Republicans nominated Lincoln as their candidate for the Senate in 1858, he had accepted their nomination with his now famous “House Divided Speech.” In his speech, Lincoln professed his belief that the nation could not survive half slave and half free, leading Southerners to believe that Lincoln intended to attack slavery once he took office. The platform adopted by the Republicans in 1860 even rejected the Dred Scot decision and called for the outlawing of slavery in new territories.1

1 Avery Craven, The Coming of the Civil War (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1957),
391, 417; David Potter, The Impending Crisis, 1848-1861 (New York: Harper & Row Publishers,
1976), 336-339.

Kentucky, like many other slave states, had strong concerns about the election of Lincoln. Though Lincoln was a native son of Kentucky, his sectionalism and free-soil ideology were not accepted by the majority of the population. Slavery had been an institution in Kentucky since statehood. In the 1830s, Kentucky had one of the highest ratios of slaves to whites at 24 percent, and the number of slaves within the state grew further over the next thirty years. However, with the large influx of white immigrants, the percentage of slaves fell to 19, with a total slave population of 225,483 by 1860.2

Most Kentuckians in 1860 did not own slaves, and a small population within the state believed slavery to be morally wrong. However, for most people, whether one owned slaves was purely a question of expense. A slave in antebellum Kentucky cost an average wage earner about two years’ salary. Even with the high expense, 28 percent of Kentucky families did own slaves. This was a very high number compared to the rest of the South, with only Virginia and Georgia having a higher percentage of slave owners. The difference between Kentucky and the cotton states was the number of slaves a family owned. Only five families in Kentucky owned more than 100 slaves; most owned around five or six. The number of slaves in Kentucky was smaller mainly due to the fact that the state’s agriculture was not as labor-intensive. The shift in Kentucky’s economy away from labor-intensive crops led to the profitable business of selling Kentucky’s surplus slaves to the cotton states.3

With families owning fewer slaves but more families owning them, slavery
tied the state to the rest of the South. The slave trade from Kentucky south only strengthened the bond. With the prominence of slavery and the importance of the slave economy, Kentuckians had no interest in supporting Lincoln or the Republican Party.

While most Kentuckians generally disagreed with Lincoln, they also disagreed with the argument that Lincoln’s election was grounds for secession. The Louisville Daily Journal declared itself full of sorrow and anxiety over Lincoln’s possible election and prayed he would not be successful. However, the paper did not believe in abandoning the Union in its time of crisis, and insisted a legally elected president should be supported. It also maintained that the Congress, being controlled by the South, would be too strong to allow
Lincoln to harm slavery in any way. The Journal saw no reason to fear a Republican president. Even one of Kentucky’s most famous and respected Kentucky’s Political System: 1840-1860 3 statesmen, John J. Crittenden, tried to cool passions raised by the chances of Abraham Lincoln’s election. Crittenden delivered a speech in August of 1860 in which he questioned what would happen if Lincoln won while the South still controlled the Congress and the courts. Crittenden did not agree with Lincoln’s politics, but he knew him and believed him to be a good and decent man—and one smart enough to marry a Kentucky girl. Crittenden’s one complaint was not with Lincoln himself but with the Republican Party. Crittenden feared that Lincoln had to follow the ideology of the Republican Party, leading to more sectional agitation for the country; but this factor alone, he said, did not justify secession.4

2 For the history of slavery in Kentucky, see Harold Tallant, Evil Necessity: Slavery and Political
Culture in Antebellum Kentucky (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2003); Lowell H.
Harrison, The Civil War in Kentucky (Lexington: The University Press of Kentucky, 1975), 1;
Lowell H. Harrison and James C. Klotter, A New History of Kentucky (Lexington: University
Press of Kentucky, 1997), 167-168; William W. Freehling, The Road to Disunion: Secessionists at
Bay, 2 vols. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), 2:132, 199.
3 Harrison, Civil War in Kentucky, 1; Barbara Fields, Freedom: A Documentary History of
Emancipation 1861-1867, Series I, 9 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985), 1:
493-194; Harrison and Klotter, A New History of Kentucky, 167-168.

4 Louisville Daily Journal, October 8, 1860; John J. Crittenden, The Union, the Constitution, and the
laws: speech of the Hon. John J. Crittenden, at Mozart Hall, on the evening of August 2d, 1860 (Louisville:
Bradley & Gilbert, 1860), 6.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Interview for Divided Loyalities

An Interview with James Finck, author of Divided Loyalties: Kentucky’s Struggle for Armed Neutrality in the Civil War.

An in-depth study of the twelve months that decided Kentucky’s fate (November 1860 – November 1861), Divided Loyalties persuasively argues that the Commonwealth did not support neutrality out of its deep Unionist sentiment. James Finck recently discussed his upcoming book with publisher Savas Beatie LLC.

SB: Why did you decide to write Divided Loyalties on this particular topic?

JF: While I was researching another project I read a book that inspired me called Reluctant Confederates by Daniel Crofts which explains how slave states in the upper south tried to remain in the Union, but were basically forced south. While reading I kept asking myself about states like Kentucky — it was a slave state, but was able to stay loyal to the Union. I was intrigued and upon further research I found that very little had been written about Kentucky’s secession movement. The last major work on the subject was written in 1926. There are many books about Kentucky in the Civil War, but the secession struggle is just a minor part. I decided this was a book worth writing.

SB: What makes Divided Loyalties different from other books written about Kentucky in the Civil War?

JF: There are many books written about Kentucky in the Civil War; what makes Divided Loyalties different is that I focus on one year and one subject. My only concern was why a slave state with so many ties to the South would remain in the Union. As I said before, in the books that deal with Kentucky, secession is only mentioned in passing, maybe a chapter at most, and never enough detail to understand the full situation.

SB: What kind of content can readers expect to find in Divided Loyalties?

JF: Most of the book deals with the Kentucky secession movement, and how many people in Kentucky supported the South and believed that the state should secede and join the Confederacy. Kentucky was very much a divided state between those who wanted to secede and those who wanted to stay loyal.

SB: What are some features of Divided Loyalties that you think readers will really enjoy?

JF: I am hoping readers will enjoy the small details, the stories of some of the major players and how they influenced and were affected by the secession debates. Men like Governor Magoffin; Presidential nominee John C. Breckenridge; political leader of Kentucky John Crittenden; railroad magnet James Guthrie; and even a young woman named Josie Underwood who had her world turned upside down.

SB: Why would readers not from Kentucky want to read Divided Loyalties?

JF: Even though this book is about Kentucky, I believe it has a wide appeal to anyone interested in the Civil War. The book demonstrates the difficulties that states found themselves in when the war began, especially in the upper south. They had to choose between their nation and their section, it was a difficult time for everyone involved. Understanding Kentucky sheds light on the other border states, i.e., Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Arkansas, because it cannot be a foregone conclusion they would secede. If it was, why did Kentucky not follow? It would seem Kentucky had as much at stake with slavery and their southern rights as the others, yet remained loyal.

SB: Would Divided Loyalties benefit researchers who wanted to know more about the state?

JF: I believe anyone interested in Kentucky politics would greatly benefit from the book. There were three major elections held during the twelve months I covered, including the 1860 presidential election. I broke down all three elections by county giving charts and maps of voting practices in the state. As far as I know this is the only published source where all this data is collected.

SB: Are there any new ideas about the secession movement that you found?

JF: Yes, actually. I believe what I found completely reinterprets how people have always looked at Kentucky. Past historians have always just accepted that Kentucky was more loyal to the Union. What I argue is that they were much more loyal to the south than thought before, in fact, the strength of the pro-Union and pro-secession forces were equal in strength. States like Virginia called a convention to decide on secession, with the majority believing they would never secede. The voting backed this belief as pro-Union candidates dominated. In Kentucky, however, the Legislature blocked calling a convention, fearful that if a convention was called their state might leave the Union. Kentucky seemed to see a bigger threat of secession than Virginia. It was the Unionists who first came up with the idea of being neutral. If they thought it was a foregone conclusion that Kentucky would stay with the Union, then why did they support neutrality while the secessionists fought against it? It was only after the Union party won two important state elections, pushing neutrality, that the States Rights Party began calling for secession believing the Union party would carry them into the war fighting with the Union.

SB: Thank you for your time, we appreciate it.

JF: You’re welcome.

(All copyright laws apply to this interview. However, this interview may be posted digitally on the Internet or printed for use in newspapers, newsletters, magazines, and other similar uses, provided it appears in its entirety and that notice of its use is provided in advance to We allow partial edited use, with advance permission. Please inquire. Include our website and email address with use. Thank you.)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

New Cover

My editor has changed the cover of the book, what do you think?  I am hoping that it will still be released this summer.  One major change is that William C. Davis has written a forward.  He is an amazing historian and his name alone will help sell this book.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Divided Loyalities

As I said last time, this should be an interesting summer.  My Chickasha book is being released on June 11, but shortly after will be my book about the Secession Crisis in Kentucky during the Civil War.  I am excited about this release; I have been working on this project for several years now.  I am including the back cover content to spark your curiosity.  The title of the book is Divided Loyalties: Kentu cky's Struggle for Armed Neutrality in the  Civil War.  

On May 16, 1861, the Kentucky state legislature passed an ordinance declaring its neutrality, which the state’s governor, Beriah Magoffin, confirmed four days later. Kentucky’s declaration and ultimate support for the Union stand at odds with the state’s social and cultural heritage. After all, Kentucky was a slave state and enjoyed deep and meaningful connections to the new Confederacy. Much of what has been written to explain this curious choice concludes Kentucky harbored strong Unionist feelings. James Finck’s freshly written and deeply researched Divided Loyalties: Kentucky’s Struggle for Armed Neutrality in the Civil War shatters this conclusion.

An in-depth study of the twelve months that decided Kentucky’s fate (November 1860 to November 1861), Divided Loyalties argues persuasively that the Commonwealth did not support neutrality out of its deep Unionist’s sentiment. In fact, it was Kentucky’s equally divided loyalties that brought about its decision to remain neutral. Both Unionists and Secessionists would come to support neutrality at different times when they felt their side would lose.
Along the way, Dr. Finck examines the roles of the state legislature, the governor, other leading Kentuckians, and average citizens to understand how Kentuckians felt about the prospects of war and secession, and how bloodshed could be avoided. The finely styled prose is built upon a foundation of primary sources including letters, journals, newspapers, government documents, and published reports. By focusing exclusively on one state, one issue, and one year, Divided Loyalties provides a level of detail that will deeply interest both Kentuckians and Civil War enthusiasts alike.
Kentucky’s final decision was the result of intrigue and betrayal within the Commonwealth while armies gathered around its borders waiting for any opportunity to invade. And it was within this heated environment that Kentuckians made the most important decision in their history.

About the Author: James Finck was raised in Virginia where he developed a love of the Civil War. He received his undergraduate degree in history at the College of William and Mary, a master’s degree at Virginia Tech, and his Ph.D. at the University of Arkansas. Dr. Finck taught history at the University of Texas—Pan American. He currently teaches American history at the University of Arts and Sciences of Oklahoma. He lives in Oklahoma with his wife and three young children.

I will keep everyone update when the book actually is released.  The book is being published by Savas Beatie publishers, you can link to thier website here.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Exciting Book News

This should be an exciting summer on the publishing front; I have my first two books being published. The first one out is called Chickasha, and as the title suggests it is about Chickasha, OK. My second book is called Divided Loyalties: Kentucky’s Struggle for Armed Neutrality in the Civil War.

As I said, Chickasha will be released first; I believe its release date is still scheduled for June 11th. The book is being published by Arcadia Press and is part of their Images of America series It is photographic history of Chickasha from its beginnings in 1892 through about the Great Depression. It is broken down into six chapters: Chapter 1: Transportation and Auxiliaries; Chapter 2: Business; Chapter 3: Culture; Chapter 4: Religious Life; Chapter 5: Education; and finally Chapter 6: the University of Arts and Sciences of Oklahoma.

The Grady County Historical Society is planning on having a kickoff party and book signing some day in June. I will keep everyone posted as to the date.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My New School

I know I need to improve my blogging, it’s been way to long since I made my last post. When I first began this blog, I posted on a regular basis and I need to get back to writing. I have been told by very wise men that the greatest way to improve your writing skills is to write something every day. Until I began blogging I never knew what to write, but with a blog I have a place. Many exciting things have happened in the past few months. We have moved to Oklahoma and have began teaching at my new position. I could not be happier at my new school. I have been asked about my school, so I thought I could fill everyone in. there are only two history professors so I have all the flexibility I could want. The other professor's field is Greece and Rome, so I get to teach all the American classes while he teaches everything else. I do teach the Modern Middle East, while he teaches ancient. I love the freedom I have here. Any American class I can think of I can teach it. I do have to teach one of the sequence classes each semester, which here are broken into four parts. There is a Colonial America class that goes to 1789; then a class from 1789 to 1877; one from 1877 to 1945, then finally a modern American class.

The other class that I teach every semester is part of our IDS curriculum, which is what sets our university apart from most. All of our core classes are IDS or interdisciplinary studies. What is meant by IDS is that all our core or IDS classes are team taught by professors in different disciplines. The classes I teach are American Civ I and II. This semester I am teaching Civ I with an economics professor but next semester it might be an English professor, then maybe a philosophy, music, art, or poly sci professor. It is an awesome approach to teaching and learning from a truly liberal arts approach to allow students to learn subjects from different interpretations. I love teaching with the professor I am teaching with now, economic history is one of my weaknesses and I have actually learned a lot teaching with her. I think our students really enjoy they way we teach together, it is very informal like we are having a conversation between them and ourselves.

So every semester I teach either Civ I or II and one of the history sequences and then I can choose any other class I want to teach after that. I love that I will have a variety and not just the same classes. I love the Civil War but even that can get old after a while. Next semester I am teaching Civ II, American History 1877 to 1945, The history of Presidents and Political Parties, and a reading seminar on early America history. I am excited about this class. We are going to read some of the most important historians each week and come together and talk about them. I have wanted to teach this class for some time. One reason is that there are some books I wanted to read for some time, that I have not found the time, now I will have to read them.

Lastly, I really am enjoying my school, because of the people. I am at a small school, with about 1,100 students, so we have around 30 faculty. Because of the size, we are close. In Texas I only knew a few people outside the history department, here I work with everyone. I do not know everyone well yet, but there are several I have become friends with.

This is enough for now, but I will be better at posting. I have more to say including the publication of two books due out this spring, so I will give information about these soon.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Few Comments About bin Laden Death and Obama's Speech

I want to join with the rest of the nation as we celebrate the defeat of one of the most evil men of the past century. He stands there with Hitler, Stalin and Mao. The only difference between Bin Laden and these others was he did not have the ability to carry out death on the level as a Hitler, but his intent was just as horrific. It has been a long fight, and has hurt this nation as it tore it apart along ideological seems. This morning the nation seems united once more, in a similar if smaller version, of what we saw in the years after 9/11. I wish I was hopeful that this could start to be an end in our war against terror, but I am not. There is still a radical element within Islam that will not rest. I am encouraged by what I am seeing in the middle east, but I will write on that in a different post, but our war on terror will not end with the death of Bin Laden, others will set up to replace him.

As excited as I was last night as I watched the news, I was equally disappointed when I watched President Obama give his address. I was not surprised, I have ceased being surprised, I fact I expected it. Obama, as expected, used Bin Laden’s death for political gain. I was hoping for a short statement, but instead he took credit. He also used the occasion to rewrite a bit of his own history:

“We were also united in our resolve to protect our nation and to bring those who committed this vicious attack to justice. We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda — an organization headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe. And so we went to war against al Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies.”

Obama knew how exited we would be and he wanted to celebrate with us, be one of us. He is correct that we united as a nation and were committed. Almost every Congressman and Senator voted to support President Bush and voted for a declaration of War. Almost every Senator, one of the very few who did not was Obama. He was not part of us then, in fact he was against it. He made his campaign that we were wrong and promised to end the war if elected.

The President continued, “Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we’ve made great strides in that effort.” Here he seems to be giving a nod to President Bush but in the next paragraph said,

“Yet Osama bin Laden avoided capture and escaped across the Afghan border into Pakistan. Meanwhile, al Qaeda continued to operate from along that border and operate through its affiliates across the world. And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.”

In other words, I did what Bush could not. I made Bin Laden a priority and so now we got him. I guess I feel for Bush, he fought an unpopular war to get bin Laden, yet Obama takes all the credit and gets American support, all the while retaining liberal support by saying this is a war we should have never fought. Throughout the speech Obama used rhetoric straight out of Bush’s speeches, the same rhetoric he condemned Bush for as grandstanding, he is now using.

Lastly I was put off by his arrogance. He needed to tone down the use of “I”. The whole speech was I did this and I did that. Here a few examples

“I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority”

“I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden”

“I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation”

“Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation”

“Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was.”

“These efforts weigh on me every time I, as Commander-in-Chief, have to sign a letter to a family that has lost a loved one, or look into the eyes of a service member who’s been gravely wounded.”

I was getting prepared for him to say that he personally after making all the plans actually flew over there and led the mission and that he personally pulled the trigger for the kill shot.

Just to be open, I am not a fan of the president. If you read old posts you will see I tried, I hoped he would be the man he wanted us to believe. So maybe I am just jaded, but in a moment of triumph I was disappointed that the President took the time to make a campaign speech

Friday, April 8, 2011

Book Review-Team of Rivals

During my blogging hiatus I was fortunate to read a few really great books that I thought I would catch up writing a review on. I decided to read Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Goodwin is a popular writer, but I have never read any of her books before, but because this one was on Abraham Lincoln I thought I would give it a try. I was pleased that I did. I found her analysis of Lincoln fascinating. I have read many books on Lincoln, but where this one made its mark was looking at how he dealt with other people. I came away from this book with a new appreciation of the man, and in fact I found that this book made me want to be a better person. Goodwin brilliantly documents how Lincoln had a knack of making enemies into friends. Instead of just getting angry at every slight towards him, and there were many; he found a way to get those making the slights to eventually support them. Bridges that most people would have burned down were not by Lincoln; so later in life he was able to cross them again for his own benefit.

I will give one example. Lincoln early on had difficulty getting along with his Secretary of War Cameron. Several times Cameron threatened to quite if he did not get his way, knowing Lincoln would never accept. Or so he thought. During one disagreement Lincoln accepted his offer by writing him a letter saying he had accepted and planned on nominating Cameron as ambassador to Russia. Cameron was crushed by the news and considered himself fired and worried what the public humiliation would do. Cameron had treated the President very badly while in office including publicly insulting him. Now that Lincoln had a chance for revenge, he did not take it. In letters to the press Lincoln set himself up for disgrace, taking all the blame on himself. He even brought Cameron in and asked his advice on his replacement. Cameron suggested Edwin Stanton, who Lincoln had already decided on, but let Cameron leave thinking Stanton was his idea. Cameron was a man who detested Lincoln, who was fired by Lincoln, yet as Goodwin writes, “Cameron would never forget this generous act. Filled with gratitude and admiration, he would become . . . one of the most intimate and devoted of Lincoln’s personal friends. He appreciated the courage it took for Lincoln to share the blame at a time when everyone else had deserted him. Most other men in Lincoln’s situation, Cameron wrote, “would have permitted an innocent man to suffer rather than incur responsibility.” Lincoln was not like most other men, as each cabinet member, including the new war secretary, would soon come to understand.” (Goodwin, 413)

This is just one example of the kind of man Lincoln was. He allowed himself to look foolish when it came to dealing with his leading General, George B. McClellan. As long as little Mac was the best man for the job, he would keep his job. It was not the constant insults that got Mac fired, it was his ineptitude on the battlefield. Lincoln was not a perfect man. In my own book and recent article I wrote about the Kentucky governor’s election in 1863, Lincoln restricted civil liberties to the point of being unconstitutional. It is hard to judge him, he was trying to save the nation. Goodwin bring to life this extraordinary president with her ability to tell a great story. The book is 755 pages, but reads easy and her writing style makes it easy to finish. In the end it was one of the more enjoyable book I have read. As I said it made me look at my own life and my dealings with people. If I could try to be more like Lincoln, life would be just that much easier.

One exciting note is that I believe they are making the book into a movie, possibly staring Daniel Day Lewis.  We are due for a good Lincoln book, but no matter how good it is you still need to read the book.  There is no way any movie can cover all the information.

Monday, April 4, 2011

I'm Back

Not that anyone but me cares, but I am back writing my blog. It has been much longer then I planned before starting again and I miss it. I have found blogging to be therapeutic, I feel like my brain is always on, never allowing any rest. What I have found is that if I write down what I am thinking I can move on. For anyone interested, let me explain why the long break. I graduated in 2008 and since then I have been on the job market. I have been a lecturer at my current University for the past five years. It has been an excellent opportunity to experience an entirely new culture in South Texas, but being a lecturer is only about one step up from slave labor at my University. While I have been on the hunt for a tenure tract position, I decided to stop blogging. It is unfortunate, but true that many in academia would not hire a new professor with conservative views. The bleeding heart liberal community of scholars who claim to be so open to everyone else’s views did not mean conservative views. I felt it was best to not advertise my political views.

Now, however, everything has changed. This week I was hired as an assistant Professor at a liberal arts University in Oklahoma. My family and I are very excited about the move. It is a small town but I like small towns and we are only half an hour from the city which is perfect. What I am most excited about is how much they seem to love me. I had to give a sample lecture to a group of faculty and students while I visited the University on my interview. When I met with the VP of academic affairs afterwards he told me I gave one the best lectures he had ever seen. About an hour after I got home the next day I received a call offering me the position. I was surprised how fast it came, but I was told they were so impressed and it was a unanimous decision of the committee that they did not want to wait. I am not sure exactly when we are going to move, but I am excited about the next phase in my family’s life. Our journey has taken us from Virginia to Arkansas to Texas and now we will begin our next chapter in Oklahoma.