Why do you defend Michael Bellesiles?

Uh, it’s a tough job but someone out there needs to?

I met Michael when Arming America was still pretty hot stuff. I had read it and though it was an interesting read. I had heard the criticism about the probate records, but that is a very small part of Michael’s book.

Anyway, it seems that my posts on Bellesiles are the most visited of all my posts.

In 2002, Michael Zuckerman, professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania and a prominent Americanist, summed up the argument about Arming America this way: “The critics’ stuff on the probate inventories is bad news for Michael, but the book in no way depends on that. He’s got myriad arguments. If people are so crazy about guns, why are there so few gun sellers? So few gun manufacturers? Why do they need a government subsidy? The critics are casting about for a way to discredit him, and they have fixated on the probate inventories, which is crackpot. They have refused to confront the cumulative force and extent of the argument. In fact, the argument is splendid.”

Or to quote George M. Dennison

As every American historian knows (and knew), no guns were made in the colonies, and relatively few in the United States until well into the 19th century.

Quite frankly, I trust a University of Pennsylvania professor and head of a History department along with my own experience a whole lot more than some blowhard. Especially a blowhard who is guilty of the same crimes he attributes to Bellesiles.

Maybe it took a blowhard to spot the fraud that the blowhard is familiar from his own practise of historiography.

Anyway, just use the label Michael Bellesiles

Posted 28/11/2009 by lacithedog in Arming America, Michael Bellesiles

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