APU Everyday Scholar Podcast

Podcast: Research Focuses on Abraham Lincoln and Illinois History

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Podcast with Dr. Bjorn Mercer, Program Director, Communication, Philosophy, Religion, World Languages and the Arts and
Dr. Richard Hines, Program Director, History

What is it like to conduct historical research and read original documents from the Civil War time period? In this episode, Dr. Bjorn Mercer talks to Program Director Dr. Richard Hines about being a trained historian and conducting in-depth research about the history of Illinois and the role of Abraham Lincoln during the most complex period of United States history. Learn about his efforts to understand why Illinois changed from being Democrat to Republican so quickly during this time period, turmoil between slave states and free states, and the complexities of understanding the true history during this time.

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Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Hello, my name is Dr. Bjorn Mercer. Today, we’re talking to Dr. Richard Hines, Program Director in the School of Arts, Humanities, and Education. Today, our conversation is about Lincoln’s Own House Divided. Welcome, Rick.

Dr. Richard Hines: Welcome, Bjorn. Good to be here with you.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Excellent. It’s great to talk to you. We’ve known each other for a few years. I’m excited to learn more about Illinois and Lincoln, so I’ll jump into the first question. My understanding is that your research focuses on Illinois history and Abraham Lincoln.

Dr. Richard Hines: Well, in a sense. My focus is Illinois during the early part of statehood, 1818 to 1865. Of course, Lincoln was the President at the time, and also served in the House of Representatives in Illinois, and as a Congressman for Illinois in Washington, D.C., as well. So yeah, he’s part of that deal.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: One of the things that I think about in the antebellum period, before the Civil War, is just how complicated everything was and how there’s so many different forces that were going on. Going to the next question, many Americans see Lincoln as perhaps our greatest president, but what piqued your interest in the early history of Illinois?

Dr. Richard Hines: When I was in grad school, I was asked if I would do some work for the Illinois Department of Military Affairs. They wanted me to write a history of the Illinois National Guard during the Civil War. So they flew me out there and put me up in an apartment right across from the state building and their archives there, and I spent three months. I had seven archivists working with me.

I came home with seven crates full of documents, and I decided that I should do something with them other than write the history of Illinois during the Civil War. I used that to springboard off and look for another subject. My big question then was: Why did Illinois suddenly become Republican after being a bastion of the democracy for so long? It just kind of took off from that point.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: With being able to see so many firsthand documents, what was that like going through the pages that were from the time period?

Dr. Richard Hines: I particularly don’t like the writing process. I’m fairly good at it, but it’s tedious for me. I love the research because it just, I don’t know, it’s stimulating to me.

My biggest hurdle is to not go off on tangents. I’ll find a document and think, “Oh my God, this is wonderful,” and it will lead me to a new research question. Next thing I know, I’m researching that and I’ve wasted a whole day, and I should rein myself in and go back to my initial question.

It’s fascinating to dig through those files. A great deal of my family is from Illinois, and we still have a farm. There’s still a farm in the family that’s up in the northern county there. So I found information about them as well. It was a fascinating trip.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: That leads us to the next question. My understanding is that the introduction of cotton and the need to constantly put new land under cultivation forced small Southern farmers to migrate to other regions. Did that process have an impact on Illinois?

Dr. Richard Hines: As cotton culture expanded in the South, land values increased dramatically, and they were constantly putting new land under cultivation, and so it forced the migration of many Southern backcountry farmers. They quite often sought land that was similar to the land from which they came. Southern Illinois is part of the Ozarks, and so it kind of fit into the backcountry culture that existed before, so they migrated to Illinois in great numbers.

Initially, Illinois was populated by individuals from the South primarily, and then French who had settled there prior to the development of the United States. That’s going to change dramatically over time, but initially Illinois was very much tied to the South. Even today, if you venture into southern Illinois, it’s very much like being in the South because they came in such great numbers.

Now, Northerners didn’t migrate into Illinois until after the panic of 1837. Then, from New England, a great many of them began to migrate out to Illinois. They settled in the northern counties of Illinois. So we get an interesting dynamic that occurs in Illinois at the time. This is what makes it significant, is that it mirrored what was going to happen in the nation.

There’s a number of reasons why that’s significant. The first and foremost being that many insist that Jefferson Davis was far better suited to be President during wartime because of his experience, having been the Secretary of War and having been a Senator and having fought in the Spanish-American War. That his experience was far greater than that of Lincoln, and that Lincoln came to the White House ill-prepared to govern a nation at war, or even to deal with the issues that were before him, foremost being slavery.

But in reality, Lincoln had lived through the same process. Prior to going to Washington, D.C., and I can explain that process to you here. Essentially, what was going on in Illinois was that the southern counties were populated by Southerners, and the northern counties were populated by individuals from New England who came and were strongly abolitionist.

Those in the South were strongly tied to the Confederacy. In fact, at the time when the Civil War began, the very first regiment raised in Illinois was raised and commanded by Captain Ulysses S. Grant, who was then sent to southern Illinois to keep the southern counties from seceding from the Union. That was his task. Many of them did anyway.

Regardless, Illinois ended up raising the fourth-largest number of troops in the Civil War. Somewhere around 171 regiments were recruited out of Illinois. Illinois never faced the draft at all because they had so many people that volunteered to serve. In fact, they had too many, and many of them then went off to Missouri and enlisted in Missouri once the war started.

So we get this kind of dynamic whereby in the northern counties there are all these abolitionists who are becoming increasingly more and more abolitionist. In the southern counties, there all these Southerners who, they believe in what’s happening there. And in the middle are this mixing of the two groups.

So we get a setup that’s similar to the United States in that we get the Southern states and the Northern states and then the border states in between, and those would be the central counties of Illinois. They wrestled over this stuff significantly. Now, Illinois entered the Union as a quasi-free state, and there was a great deal of debate about whether Illinois should be admitted to the Union at all.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: You just went through a lot of history. That’s wonderful. I guess the question is, you said Illinois was a quasi-free state, because you said the southern parts were more akin to Missouri. Even when I lived in Missouri, in the southern part of Missouri, it was more akin to Arkansas in the South than, say, the Midwest and the North, even today. Do you find that when people talk about the Civil War and everything about that, they completely over-simplify history?

Dr. Richard Hines: Well, it’s really a complex period, Bjorn. It’s politically one of the most complex periods in our history. I often thought it was one of the most politically complex periods until most recent history. Regardless, at the time of Lincoln’s election, there were three individuals running on the Democratic ticket. There were three separate tickets that were lined up at the time. Lincoln very narrowly won Illinois, only 11% of the vote, so he barely swept his own state.

I call it a quasi-free state, let me go back for a minute. They began to admit states, and it doesn’t become a serious concern until 1820, but they began to do this process whereby they balance free versus slave states. The reason they do this is so that no one has a majority in Congress, so that you keep this balance going.

Well, Mississippi was admitted in 1817, and Indiana had been admitted in 1816. Admittedly, Indiana was pretty much like Illinois, that a large contingent of the population had originally lived in the South. A number of other regions had already applied for statehood, including Missouri and Illinois, and none of them had reached the 60,000 population requirement. But they were already admitting states with fewer than 60,000. So, in that regard, they needed a free state.

Illinois comes along and says, “Okay, we want to join the Union as well, and here’s our constitution.” Well, the problem with the constitution is it spoke of slavery. The initial one was to outlaw slavery. They said, “No, we don’t want to do that.” The next one then allowed for voluntary servitude. Now, many of those contracts were for 99 years. The issue being that they called them indentured servants, and they volunteered to be indentured servants for 99 years, which is not really the case. Most of them were illiterates. They had no idea what they were signing at the time. The other issue, however, is that their children then were born into slavery. They weren’t freed.

The French settlers had already had their slaves, and so they said, “Well, we have our slaves. Can we keep them?” They say, “Yes, you can keep them.” There were about 800. But they also allowed for chattel slavery in two counties in the South, in Gallatin and Saline counties, because of the saltworks there. They had chattel slavery so the slaves could work in the saltworks in a free state.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: The weird thing about discussion about the Civil War today is and it’s not that everybody takes two sides, because that simplifies the conversation. Typically, the loudest things you hear is apologists or whatnot for the South, or basically saying the Union was an absolute good. But the complications, just like you were talking about, are very vast. Typically, I guess, do you find that people have good historical literacy? How does that guide them with their own understanding of themselves maybe?

Dr. Richard Hines: History is important because it’s how we identify ourselves. We look back at our past and say, “Well, this is what we are as Americans.”

I remember watching a video one time, an interviewer asking students at, actually, the University of Texas, “Who won the Civil War?” That was the question. The first person said, “When was that, 1975?” Most of them thought the South won.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Not to get into the Lost Cause and everything like that, but it is interesting, like you said, the stories we tell ourselves and about our families are deeply rooted in history. Why do you think so many people continue to talk about stories about the Civil War when, in reality, that was 156 years ago?

As a country, we’ve gone through many conflicts. We’ve gone through two world wars. If you need some really proud things to think about as a people, America has done a lot of things that we can be proud of. Now, there’s a lot of very messy history, of course, with America that still lives today. But if you’re looking for military pride, there’s a lot to be proud after the Civil War, so why do people still grab onto that?

Dr. Richard Hines: It is a cataclysmic event. The first numbers that came out were around 660,000 deaths, but that’s military mostly, 660,000. Now they’ve expanded that number. I think the most current number is around 750,000. We’ve never lost that many men in a war before. It’s devastating. But that’s only the tip of the iceberg, Bjorn. It’s much deeper than that.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: It is. Just like you said, that’s only military deaths. When you think of a conflict such as World War II, the civilian deaths, of course, were absolutely horrendous because of just the sheer brutality. I would say most of those deaths, you can correct me if I say this incorrectly, were on the Eastern Front, either via the Holocaust or in the Soviet Union, because of just the total war that occurred there.

There was so much civilian chaos and destruction, of course, majority in the South, that the scars would have lasted decades. Do you think that’s what has contributed to it being such an important part of Southern culture? I’m just generalizing, just saying Southern culture. Me as a Westerner, I’ve always lived in the West, the Civil War is history. That’s all it is. It’s very interesting history, but it plays zero into who I am.

Dr. Richard Hines: Well, I was born in Texas, and as a child, we used to insist the South would rise again. We had no idea what that was all about, but we constantly said, “The South will rise again.”

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: When you think of children playing simple games like Cowboys and Indians, now if a child was playing with that, it’s complicated, because history was always complicated, but we really do reduce narratives down to simple things.

The next question I have for you is: What did you find as a result of your research? Like you said, you sometimes delved into these ideas that took you on a side tangent. I’m assuming those side tangents are also very enjoyable to go down.

Dr. Richard Hines: Oh yeah, I love those. I would spend all day in an archive going off in tangents if I could. It’s an exciting task, I think.

I wanted to know, and I mentioned this earlier, why Illinois, which had been a stronghold for the Democratic Party for a long time, Stephen Douglas, Little Giant they called him, was the senator from Illinois. He was a Democrat. They had voted in Democrats for a long time. Why, suddenly, did they become Republicans?

My initial question, I believe, my hypothesis, was that soldiers enlisted and went off in the field and that they wrote letters home to their families and talked about Lincoln and talked about what they were doing, and that eventually that created this change over to the Republican Party. People don’t switch political parties easily. It usually requires some kind of catastrophic event.

One of those events was the Civil War. Another would be the Great Depression. Ordinarily, they don’t just change parties like that, but they changed parties in great numbers. What I found out was they did it because they believed that the Copperheads and those who were talking against the war were putting their sons in danger because their sons were in the field, and they were not going to tolerate that. Eventually, in great numbers, they converted to the Republican Party.

Now, what I found most enlightening, to me at least, was that in that process, many of the farmers in southern Illinois had begun to recruit Black labor, freedmen who were getting away from the war effort and were working their land. Well, then when the war was over, there was talk of a resolution to not allow African-Americans to settle in Illinois or to even be there.

These men who were all for the Civil War in the beginning said, “No, these guys work great, and we want to keep them here because we need them to work the land.” Those small farmers couldn’t take advantage of new machinery that had been recently introduced in 1860, so they were still relying on hand labor, and they got it.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: What was one of the more interesting things you learned about right after the Civil War that happened in Illinois?

Dr. Richard Hines: Right after the Civil War? Well, they finally abolished slavery. They had in a sense prior to that time, but really, slavery. It’s interesting. If we read newspapers during the war in Illinois, they’re still trading slaves. They were still selling them, and you could see it in the newspapers. There weren’t great numbers of them, but they were still doing that. But they finally abolished slavery in 1865, or indentured servitude. They called it voluntary slavery.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: As a historian, what is it like to look through all those primary sources where you see something that today is completely and utterly unethical, immoral from our perspective now? For those people, it was acceptable. What is it like to then go through those documents?

Dr. Richard Hines: Well, as an historian, you have to understand that dynamic that you cannot judge the past with a 21st-century mindset. It’s impossible because we see things differently.

I’ll give you an example of that. We think about the South and slavery, and we think about this deplorable system where slaves were whipped and beaten. In some cases, that happened. That happened a lot. But in most cases, that did not happen, because they were valuable property.

They were worth tens of thousands of dollars, really, on today’s market, if you take that value. You pay $1,000 for a slave in 1840 or something, that’s a lot of money, $1,000 back in that time. It’d be like buying a new car and bringing it home and beating it with a baseball bat. You would be insane to do something like that. You need their labor, so you don’t want to maim them and beat them so they couldn’t work. You need them to work. Slavery varied all over the place, depending on where you were.

The interesting thing is that if you read enough of the documents, that those people believed they were doing a good thing. Today, we look at that and go, “That’s insanity. How can you think that holding someone in slavery is doing a good thing?”

Even if you’re a benevolent slaveholder, you’ve denied them their freedom, if nothing else. At the time, they thought, many of them, devout Christians, and they heard it in church too, that they were doing a good thing. You read their diaries, and they talk about that. You’ll also read that many of them said that slavery wasn’t that profitable. I don’t necessarily believe that, but they will insist that.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: I’m glad you brought that up because today, just like you said, our views of the world are guided by the 21st century, everything we’ve gone through and the moral or the ethical lessons that have been learned. But I find that when we look back at history and we judge, and we say, “Oh, I would’ve never done that if I was during that time,” or my favorite thing, “Nazis are pure evil.”

I find it doesn’t help any conversation when you say, “Well, Nazis are evil, and that can never happen here,” because Nazis were average people in Germany that were led astray and then went down a path. They were good people in a really bad situation with horrible leaders.

Dr. Richard Hines: Well, think about this for a minute, though, Bjorn. Is that when Hitler came to power and the Great Depression had hit, no country suffered more than Germany. My grandfather was there at the time. He traded fine artwork. He had a steamer trunk full of Deutsche Marks that was useless. He could’ve used it to start a fire.

Hitler brought them out of that Great Depression quickly, building a war machine, but still, he brought them out. For them, he was a god. In the United States, it took the war to end the Depression for us, but he did it by involving the public and building his war machine, in a sense.

If you’re a German during that time and you, like you said, history is very complex. We don’t understand that by the end of World War I, more people in Germany were starving to death than were dying on the battlefield. They were starving to death by great numbers because England’s blockade of Germany was very successful. And England kept that blockade in place during the armistice process.

During that whole period, people are still starving to death in Germany because they wouldn’t lift a blockade. Then here comes this guy who says, “I’m going to end the depression right now,” and he does it for you and puts food on the table. You love him at that point.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: All of these conversations are ripe for great ethical and moral discussions, and really the complexities of history, because it is so complex. Now, a side question is, how do you think people delve into history to really get into those complex issues? If you like studying about World War II, you really need to start in World War I and the end of World War I and how those relationships really sow the seeds for the next conflict. How do you get people to really start delving into the complexities versus just looking at the simple narrative that, in a sense, sells easier?

Dr. Richard Hines: It’s interesting. Many years ago when I was teaching at Washington State University, we had gotten a FIPSE grant to study critical thinking, and we developed rubrics. This is way back. At the end of that process, they had asked me, they said, “So how successful was the program?” I said, “Well, I’m not really convinced it was that successful.” They said, “Why not?” I said, “Well, I think that you can’t promote critical thinking in a single course. That would need to be across the curriculum.”

I said, “But I think something good came out of the whole study.” They said, “What is that?” I said, “We learned to ask the right questions.” That’s what historians need to do and teachers need to do, is ask the right questions, because students will just take a superficial look at everything as they read. They read things and study, but they don’t necessarily get deep into it unless you ask them the right questions. That is one of the benefits of working with someone who’s a trained historian, at least.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Then another question, since you were talking about trained historians, how difficult is it as a trained historian not to let your own view of the world or your bias creep into your writings?

Dr. Richard Hines: Well, yeah, we’re really diligent about that. Eventually, you get to the point after doing it long enough that that’s the one thing that you’re always keeping an eye out for.

Our task is to get to the truth. We seek the truth. That’s it. Oftentimes, the document trail leads us in a different direction than what we want it to, but we still have to follow the document trail. We can’t throw stuff out and then say, “Well, I didn’t see anything relevant to that. All I saw was this part.”

I gave you an example earlier that when I was getting ready to write a dissertation, I looked at this question and determined that this is what happened. Then when I got into the documentation, that’s not what happened at all, so I had to take a different course. I was still able to get from point A to point B. I just had to take a different direction to get there.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Since, of course, your focus was Illinois, and of course, Lincoln because of that. What is your opinion of, and this is an aside, the great man theory, where history is guided by unique individuals? I say great man because that’s how it was phrased originally, but the great person theory, I guess you could say. Do you find that Lincoln was a great man for the time?

Dr. Richard Hines: Well, as I said before, I think he was our greatest president, and I admire Lincoln tremendously. He was a tremendous wordsmith, and he could write these speeches that just, I have them all here, and I look at them all the time because they’re amazing. He wrote the Gettysburg Address on a napkin. The other guy spoke forever and said nothing, and then Lincoln got up and, in a matter of minutes, said everything.

He was the right man at the right time. I think that what I was working on with my research at the time proves that, in a sense, that he had been through a tremendous amount of experience in Illinois before going to Washington, D.C. He had been through this slavery debate.

In 1848, because of the fact that southern Illinois residents watched people come down National Road and go to Missouri with their slaves, and they were going, “Oh my God, look at all the money that’s going into Missouri, and none of it stopping here. We need slavery in Illinois.” And so they formed a new constitutional convention in 1848 to make Illinois a slave state. It failed. It failed because there had been, by that time, enough people that had migrated into the northern counties from New England. But they also didn’t try to outlaw slavery. That didn’t happen in 1848 either.

So he had been through all of this stuff. By the time he gets to D.C., he’s well prepared to do what he needed to do, even though people would say, “Well, he violated the Constitution by suspending habeas corpus in Maryland.” I think it was necessary as a war power act.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: That’s one of the things that is very interesting about Lincoln, especially today. Why do you think so many people want to use Lincoln to their own political advantage today? Is it because he is often considered one of the greatest, him and George Washington, as far as the presidents go? But then you’ll also hear these interesting and odd conversations about, “Well, did you know that Lincoln was a Republican, and Republicans today are X, Y, and Z?” They simplify complex political history into, “Hey, look, there’s a great historical figure and one of our greatest presidents, and so that’s why we’re awesome today.”

Dr. Richard Hines: Yeah. Well, the Democrats today are the Republicans of 1860, and the Republicans of 1860 are the Democrats today. The parties have switched around entirely their focuses and so forth.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: This leads us to our last question. We always ask our students this question. What did you find as a result of your research? So I’ll ask it for you. Why is this topic important to you, and how did it guide you in your life?

Dr. Richard Hines: Well, it’s not for my life. Why is that research significant? I think that research is significant because of the fact that two things: Number one is that I think it’s important to know that Illinois was not necessarily a free state when she became admitted to the Union. That was not unusual. It happened in some other states as well.

But I also think that what’s really significant here is this argument that Jefferson Davis had much more valuable experience prior to becoming the president of the Confederacy versus that of Lincoln. And that in reality, Lincoln had been through this same debate for over 20 years and had debated on the floor of the House in Illinois as well. He was well-prepared for that process, and that’s important, I believe, to understand that, that Illinois mirrored the nation and went through the process before we did.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: This leads me to my last follow-up question. Why should we all be amateur historians? I, of course, am a huge proponent of the liberal arts, humanities, learning more, lifetime learning, etc. But especially with history, just like you said, it’s hard to even think of a politician today that can write their own speeches or can craft anything as Lincoln did. Why should people really focus on history and learn more history?

Dr. Richard Hines: Well, it sours our individual histories. You’ll notice, if you go to a state archives anywhere and walk in the door, the vast majority of the people in there are doing genealogy work, so they’re tracing their family histories. And they’re usually elderly.

When we’re young, we’re out to have a good time and to compete and find our place in the world, and then later on, when we start to grow a little bit older, “Okay, now wait a minute. Where do I come from? Where is my place in the world and how did I get there?”

Then suddenly history, later in your life, becomes very significant to you, because you want to know. You want that information that you didn’t have before. The other thing is that then the archivists, they love it when guys like I come in because you got somebody to work with an historian. Regardless, it becomes more important as you become older, and it doesn’t have to be that way.

Right now, I hear history being, I don’t even know the word, bastardized, or whatever the case may be, on a daily basis. This whole 1619 deal that’s going on now, they talk about the introduction of slavery in 1619, but that ship and all the African-Americans aboard that ship became indentured servants and then became free at the end of their indenture.

One of them became the very first legal slaveholder in the United States. Anthony Johnson was his name, and he sued another person who his indentured servant had moved over to that guy’s house because he didn’t like working for Anthony. Anthony sued, and they made that man a slave. So Anthony was the first legal slaveholder in the United States, and his slave was white. Now, that doesn’t justify anything, and please don’t see that, but we need to understand that the introduction of slavery by that first ship, that’s not what happened.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: Do you find that that is an attempt to, again, simplify history and to put a date on something, so then as we teach kids history we can just say, “Look, it started here, and all the bad things started after that”?

Dr. Richard Hines: Well, maybe. I think that in a sense it’s meant to. History has always been used to teach patriotism, and we do that markedly here in the United States. I’m not sure that that’s really a good thing. It’s not meant to be manipulated to do something that you don’t want it to do.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: No, and I completely agree. History should not be about patriotism, because history is history. History should be what actually happened. As a people, we can always be proud, of course, of what occurred in the past, but I know even from my own life, there’s large swaths of American history I didn’t know.

Then when you become an adult and you’re like, “I never learned this? Well, I guess I didn’t learn it because it’s tragic and messy and ugly.” But that also limits your understanding of who you are and who we are as a people. Not that you need to teach eight-year-olds the harsh truth of reality, but by the time kids get into junior high and high school, you are definitely delving into the more complex issues of existence.

Dr. Richard Hines: I think you can delve into many of those without going into deep complexity. You can still get to the nuances of it all without devastating them. We hear all the time about the ivory tower and what we’re teaching their kids and we’re all a bunch of liberals, and whatever the case may be, because we’re teaching them the truth. Many people don’t want to hear the truth, as painful as it is, but we need to understand those things, because if you don’t know them, you’re going to just keep doing them.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: That’s completely correct. That is an odd argument because everything I’ve ever experienced in my life in college and in academia has been a search for the truth. It’s not like I’ve taken courses or talked to people where they’re like, “You know what’s really great? Communism. You know who really did it well? The Soviet Union.” Every conversation about the Soviet Union starts in the ’30s with the Holodomor, and before that with famines and the purges and just the horrible things that Stalin did. Never is it ever like, “Communism is great, and we should have that here.” That way, we’re going to then view our history as terrible and uplift others. It’s really just more about, again, finding the truth.

Dr. Richard Hines: It’s important, Bjorn. We too often go off based on misinformation and act on that. I think a good example of that is Vietnam. That was a civil war, and we got involved believing that there was one state driving all the communist states, and that was the Soviet Union. We look at the Chinese involvement in Vietnam, and our take on that was totally misconstrued at the time. Ho Chi Minh wanted to establish a democracy. He didn’t want to establish a communist state. He wanted democracy. He just wanted to be one party in that process.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: I could see how, if people want history to be simple and they want all the conflicts we were in to be righteous, with Vietnam or even Afghanistan. The history of Afghanistan is such a sad, tragic history, that everybody has beat up on that poor country, and it’s still struggling because of just decades and decades of outside interference.

Dr. Richard Hines: Well, that, and the fact that it’s tribal in nature. The idea was we were going to make it a democratic state. How can you make a democratic state with people who don’t understand democracy, or rule by a system that’s fragmented like that? There’s no centralization there. Despite their best efforts, there’s still not. That’s a fun part.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer: I completely agree. My name is Dr. Bjorn Mercer. Today, we’re talking to Dr. Richard Hines, Program Director in the School of Arts, Humanities, and Education. Thank you for listening.

Dr. Bjorn Mercer is a Program Director at American Public University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in music from Missouri State University, a master’s and doctorate in music from the University of Arizona, and an M.B.A. from the University of Phoenix. Dr. Mercer also writes children’s music in his spare time.

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