About Me


Nicholas W. Sacco

My name is Nick Sacco. I was born and raised in Saint Louis, Missouri, and continue to live here working as a public historian and writer. I have lived in this city most of my life with the exception of a couple years living in Indianapolis, Indiana.

I hold two Bachelor of Arts degrees in History Education and Music Performance (Electric and Upright Bass) from Lindenwood University (2011) and a Master’s degree in History with a concentration in Public History from IUPUI (2014). I am also a certified teacher of Social Studies, grades 5-12. I am a member of the National Council on Public History, the Missouri Council for History Education, Pi Gamma Mu, Alpha Lambda Delta, and Phi Alpha Theta.

I have been involved with public history since 2010 and have worked for the National Park Service, the National Council on Public History, the Indiana State House, the Missouri Historical Society Library and Research Center, and as a teaching assistant for the Orchard Farm School District in St. Charles, Missouri. To read more about my professional experiences, take a look at my Curriculum Vitae.

My interest in this blog is twofold. First, I would like to use it as an outlet for my writing and research endeavors, which focus mostly on 19th Century American History, although there are other topics of interest to me. More importantly, I want to discuss strategies for educating people of all ages about the importance of history in our lives today. Reading a book about history is a good start towards obtaining knowledge about the past; being able to write about and communicate that knowledge to others in an effective manner is a whole other challenge I hope to meet through this blog.

45 thoughts on “About Me

  1. I found this very interesting reading. My late wife, Lorraine, was national historian for the Woman’s Relief Corps, Auxiliary to the GAR. She had many NY department and national journals that came from the GAR’s national headquarters.

    Jerome Orton, Sons of Union Veterans
    Syracuse, NY
    I am in the telephone book

  2. I came across your blog from Al Mackey’s site. Unfortunately, I committed the crime of disagreeing with him and now with zero evidence he’s painting me as a anonymous phantom enemy, going so far to paint me as the bad guy by saying that he debated whether or not to let my comment through: http://studycivilwar.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/its-symbolic-annihilation-of-history-and-its-done-for-a-purpose/#comments I’ve only ever commented elsewhere once on his blog, and tried protesting my innocence in my latest comment, but of course he’s not going to let it past his moderation.

    By the company they keep, you shall know them. Keep that in mind as you view your blog roll.

    1. Hi Kristoffer,

      I’m not going to speculate or comment on the disagreements between Al and yourself. I’ve had several pleasant face-to-face interactions with Al, I enjoy reading his blog, and I respect his scholarship. Here at this blog I sometimes talk about the Civil War, but I also discuss a wide range of topics related to historical methods, public history, and pedagogy.

      Regarding my blog roll, I endorse each and every one of those blogs because I find them interesting, thought-provoking, and intellectually stimulating. Does that mean I must always agree with the content shared on those blogs? Of course not. Are some of those bloggers mean people online or in real life? Maybe, I don’t know. I simply enjoy them because they have important things to say that help me think in new ways about the past. Every blogger on the blog roll that I’ve interacted with online or in real life has been kind and generous to me, but your interactions with them might be different. I give you my best wishes and hope you enjoy reading my blog if you choose to do so in the future.

      1. I will keep reading your blog. I’m glad you recognize that people can have different experiences with the same person. 😎

    1. Thanks, Pat. I follow your Immigrants Civil War page on Facebook and enjoy reading your content. If you have any feedback to leave regarding the article, feel free to share your thoughts in the future!

      1. I will. Whenever these veteran studies are published, I always ask about the immigration aspects of these organizations. I usually get back blank stares from the authors. I am not sure why they are interested in how the GAR dealt with race, but not with immigration. A quarter of Union vets were immigrants. The native born vets were raised during the Know Nothing Era and ended their time here on earth in the Golden Age of 100% Americanism,

        1. There’s definitely a lot of room for historical analysis of the immigrant experience before, during, and after the Civil War. With regards to the GAR I found myself pretty surprised by how little discussion took place about the role of foreign-born veterans in the formation of the organization.

  3. Nick,
    I am a writer and musician from Virginia, and last year I completed a CD of original songs about the Civil War called “Dream of a Good Death”….I am more musician than historian, but I had a fine time researching and writing the songs. I now perform the CD in theaters as part of evening of music and lecture….kind of a TED-talk meets Roots/Americana concert.
    Anyway, I thought as a musician and historian yourself, you might be interested.
    And if you like it and are inclined, I’d love a brief review and inclusion on your links page.
    You can find it at civilwarsong.com and if you’d like, send me a address and I’ll put a CD in the mail.
    Clark Hansbarger

  4. Hi nick, great article on Frederick Dent (A parting gift from general Grant, 10-30-2014) I was wondering if you know what that gift might have been?

    1. Hi Chris,

      Before he died Grant asked that a check for $500 be sent to his brother-in-law Frederick Dent whenever the funds were available to do so. The Grants’ oldest son Fred mailed his uncle Dent the money in March 1886, eight months after Ulysses passed away.

    2. Hi Nick…Our review of Fred’s letter to his uncle left us with the impression that there may have been a present “in memory of old and happy days” in addition to the $500. If you are interested, I have a picture I would like to share with you; think it would clarify the reasoning behind my belief. If I’ve peaked your interest, please provide contact information where I can forward the picture. Looking forward to your response…

  5. Hi Mr Sacco, A fascinating Grant book to me is General Grant and his Campaigns by Julian K Larke. It was published in 1864.
    I suppose this book and a few more victories helped make him President. Is this the first biography of General Grant ?
    I list it as good because it is a journalistic style easy to read war adventure book.it also has a large appendix with several reports and orders, so some good source material.

    Of course I think Grant’s Memoir is one of the best War histories of Grant. I also include Sherman’s Memoirs because it has lots interactions with Grant.
    You have an excellent blog.
    Stan Hurder, Cleveland TN

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words, Stan.

      I’m not sure if Larke’s biography is the first one of Grant, but it’s one of the first. Orville James Victor has a section on Grant in his “Men of the Time: Being Biographies of Generals,” which was published in 1862, and Phineas Camp Headley wrote a full-length biography of Grant in 1864 entitled “The Hero Boy: Or, the Life and Deeds of Lieut-Gen. Grant.” Also, Albert D. Richardson wrote what at least a few Grant scholars consider to be one of the strongest early biographies of Grant, “A Personal History of Ulysses S. Grant,” which was published in 1868.

  6. Mr. Sacco. I’m not sure how I stumbled across your blog but I am glad I did. My son and I truly enjoy reading History Texts, especially those relating to the 19th century. My interests lie in American History, my son in European History. We are by no means Historians but I believe we will enjoy including your blog on our reading lists.

    1. Hi John,

      Thanks for giving my blog a read and for the kind words! Primary source documents are the wellspring from which we try to understand what happened in the past, and I really enjoy the detective work of finding documents to answer questions and strengthen arguments about a given historical topic. You might also want to check out my blog roll to see other history blogs that I enjoy following. Thanks again for reading!

  7. On this topic, you might be interested in the Tenement Museum’s experiences during the presidential campaign and following the election. As you might imagine, few museums have been hit with the new political reality quite so hard. Their mission of connecting immigration history with contemporary society puts them in the center of the debate:



  8. Hello, I recently attended my daughter’s 3rd grade field trip which took the students around to various monuments in Nashville, TN, including a couple of confederate statues. The person speaking to the children told a very lively story which painted the particular confederate soldier in a wholly flattering light and asked the students “Now, do you think he was a hero?” They all answered “Yes!” But there was no mention of what the confederate soldiers were fighting for. There was absolutely no mention of slavery at all that day. I really object to this and plan to address my concerns with her school. I’m wondering if you have any advice for how to approach this and particularly any recommended articles or supporting documents that would help me explain why this is wrong. I would really appreciate any help!

  9. Dear Nick Sacco: I stumbled onto your blog recently and am very glad that I did. I find your posts thoughtful and interesting, not to mention extremely well written. I’ve become very interested in Ulysses S. Grant and appreciate your perspective.

  10. Hi Nick Sacco,

    I am not sure how to contact you to comment about the words “enslave” and “slave”. What historically bothers me is these terms give a pass to the owners and profiteers of slavery. We fail to learn about the psychology of the society (ours) that allow slavery/enslaving to happen. We fail to examine the motivations of those who practice slavery. For me the word slave always pointed back to the owners. What can be done to grow a profound distaste for slavery. What can be done so that we examine our personal ethical system and our collective ethic system to guard against such perversions in the future.

    Thanks for your work on slave and enslave.

    1. Hi William,

      I have written several posts about the “enslaved people” vs. “slaves” debate, and the discussion in this post was particularly good https://pastexplore.wordpress.com/2015/07/10/the-paradoxical-nature-of-the-enslaved-person-vs-slave-name-debate/ we can continue the conversation here, however.

      To be honest, am I not sure how to respond to your comment. What term exists that wouldn’t give the enslaver a free pass? Can a single term force us to challenge our personal and collective ethic systems and prevent future enslavement of humans in the future? I don’t know. I believe “enslaved people” puts the focus back on the people who were its victims and acknowledges their humanity. I would love to hear your suggestions if you have a term that might better address the sorts of challenges you’ve described. Thanks for commenting!

  11. Hello! My name is Matt and I’m senior History major in Cleveland State University. I have an interest in Public History as a field and career path and was hoping I could ask you about Graduate programs and their relation to public history. Any information would be helpful!

    1. Hi, Matt.

      I would be happy to discuss public history graduate programs with you and answer any questions you might have. Feel free to drop me a line at nws361 [at] gmail dot com.

  12. Mr. Sacco,

    My name is Dustin Nightingale and I am writing you to say how much I appreciate your article on Grant and drinking and breaking down the arguments. Simply, I try to tell good writers that I appreciate them and with this I appreciate your ability to examine the examination. Well done, Sir.

    1. Hi Dustin,

      Thanks so much for reading the blog and for the kind words. I read Chernow’s Grant biography and felt like a lot of his claims about Grant’s drinking were suspect. The more I looked into it, the more I wanted to write my own rebuttal. Thanks again for reading!

  13. Hi Nick. On the “Remember Natchitoches When” facebook page, there’s a discussion going about “The Old Darky” (as I knew it) statue, and there is a link to your article as well. I just now read it. Thank you! Great read. Of course I knew growing up it was racist, but I never knew that history. I’ll be sharing your article with friends.

    1. Hi, Martha! Thanks for the kinds words and the trip down memory lane. As you could see with the comments made on the post at the time I published it, some folks got very angry with some of my interpretations. I assume it’ll be the same on that Facebook page, but as you saw, my larger argument was that you can’t simply throw a controversial monument into a museum and assume all of its problems will simply go away. Thanks for reading and sharing!

  14. Thank you for arranging this blog and for sharing your fascinating practice and knowledge from the lens of a public historian. Before stumbling on this page I didn’t have an inkling about public history as a formal discipline. I’m well aware of the concept of a citizen journalist, public intellectual, academic historian and other wings of practitioners of history. But public history is very unique; in some sense blends those different facets—truly interdisciplinary. I appreciate that you’re using new media and related platforms to implement your practice. Looking forward to reading your commentary on interesting periods in U.S. history and how it can be relevant for contemporary periods.

    1. Hello! I’m glad to hear that you’ve learned some new insights into public history. I don’t write on my blog as much as I used to, but have no intention of stopping anytime soon. Thanks for reading!

  15. And thank you for introducing the National Council on Public History! I’m contemplating of getting a membership in order to connect with folks and share knowledge. It sounds like a gem. Once things normalized hope the community of scholars and historians can convene in public forums.

  16. I am wondering if you know who inherited Frederick Dent’s money/estate after he died in Covington, Kentucky?
    Did Julia Grant inherit any from her father or later, her mother?

    1. Hi,

      I believe you are referring to Ulysses S. Grant’s father, Jesse R. Grant, who died in Covington, Kentucky in 1873. His wife/Grant’s mother, Hannah Simpson Grant, lived another ten years, so my assumption is that she inherited her husband’s wealth and estate in Covington.

      Grant’s father-in-law Frederick F. Dent also died in 1873. He lived at the White House with the Grants and did not have much wealth by the end of his life. He ran into severe financial issues during the 1850s and 1860s and suffered a stroke several months after the end of the Civil War, so the Grants moved him to Washington, D.C. in 1866 and he followed them to the White House after Grant’s inauguration in 1869.

      Hope this answers your question.

      1. Thank You.
        I realized my error after I pressed the send button.

        In Chernow’s biography of Grant he asserts Jesse Grant is a very wealthy man at the time of his death.
        I just curious what happened to the money as I am sure his wife did not spend much on herself.

        An aside:
        I have been studying the Dent family for quite a while.
        I ran across this article.

        This was in a Zanesville, Ohio Newspaper.

        It may be interesting to our citizens to know that the Dent family were residents of Zanesville (Ohio) along about the year 1810 and 1812. The sons of the family were Frederick and Lewis Dent. Frederick, recently deceased, was the father of Mrs. Ulysses Grant. Lewis Dent was the paymaster of the 3d Regiment, O. V. I., under Col. Lewis Cass, serving in Gen. Hull’s expedition.
        Two of the sisters married in Zanesville. One named Eleanor, (for whom Nellie Grant was named) married Col. Abraham Wood. He was at one time a saddler, at other time, a merchant, and afterwards built and owned a furnace. He was a brother-in-law to Peter Mills, a well-known citizen of Zanesville who married Col. Wood’s sister.
        Another sister married Mr. Adair who soon left Zanesville and settled in Chillicothe. The sons after leaving Zanesville, settled in St. Louis.

        Zanesville Daily Courier
        Wed. Eve. December 7, 1873

        Note: Another Zanesville Historian noted that Priscilla Dent married Alexander Adair.

        Name: Priscilla Dent
        Gender: Female
        Marriage Date: 31 Dec 1812
        Marriage Place: Muskingum County, Ohio, USA
        Alexander Adair

        1. Thank you.

          Jesse Grant was indeed wealthy at the time of his passing, but beyond Hannah’s inheritance I’m afraid I don’t have much other info to share on the subject off the top of my head, although it would be worthy of researching further.

          The Dents were a very large family and while Col. Frederick F. Dent was born and raised in Maryland, I know that a large grouping of Dents eventually made their way to Georgia. I didn’t know about any Ohio connections, so this is good to know moving forward. Also interesting to see other Dent relations eventually making their way to St. Louis. One correction, however. Ellen “Nellie” Wrenshall Grant was named after her grandmother Ellen Wrenshall Dent, not Eleanor Dent. Julia Grant states as much in her Personal Memoirs. Thanks again for the info.

        2. This article was written by Thomas W. Lewis, Zanesville, Ohio Historian and author. (1851-1936) He was allowed to look over the many items and notes of Fanny Russell Brush, who had recently departed. Mrs. Brush had collected many stories as she intended to write a book about local history. This part of the article relates a letter from U. S. Grant Jr. to Mrs. Brush. (1857-1927)

          Among the letters which Mrs. Brush received during her efforts to gather materials for her Zanesville book was one written by
          U. S. Grant, Jr. It reads as follows:

          San Diego, Cal. 23 Feb. 1923

          Dear Madam:
          My mother Julia was the daughter of Frederick Dent, who was the son of George Dent. George Dent had other children: Lewis, supposed to have been killed at the Alamo; Fannie who married…(name illegible); Ellen who married Woods, Priscilla who married Adair. George Dent’s grave is in Cumberland County, Maryland. He was the son of Peter.
          I thank you for your interesting letter of 18th of Feby,
          Yours very truly,
          U. S. Grant, Jr.

          This reply appears on a rather interesting letterhead because of the fact that at the top is an excellent engraving of the writer’s father, the famous Ulysses S. Grant. Beneath that are the words, “U. S. Grant Hotel.” A closer look reveals the fact that in 1923, the son, Mrs. Brush’s correspondent was president of the hotel, a large and imposing structure.


          Some of our local writers have stated that Fred Dent, the father of Julia, General Grant’s wife, at one time resided in Zanesville and was in business here. We happen to know that Mrs. Brush believed this erroneous. She was satisfied that it was Fred’s brother, Lewis, who had lived or sojourned here and her letter to U.S. Grant, Jr. was probably written to settle the question.
          The Grant letter is a reminder of the visit paid Zanesville by Lewis Dent and three of his sisters in March, 1814. They came to attend the marriage of Job Stanberry and Dorcas Catherine Clark which took place in John McIntire’s stone house.
          Readers who would like to measure the spirit and atmosphere of that day will find an account of the wedding in the present writer’s” History of Zanesville and Muskingum County,” vol. 1 page 177

          The Sunday Times Signal, published: Zanesville, Ohio
          Sunday, July 22, 1928
          Section 2, page 12

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