New York Times Corrections, State Capital Edition

Today the New York Times published a correction to an op-ed that appeared in the paper on November 27. The op-ed, by Ned Blackhawk, was about the Sand Creek massacre, an evergreen memory for liberals who see only the bad in American history:

An Op-Ed article last Friday attributed an erroneous distinction to the Union general Patrick Edward Connor and the Colorado governor John Evans, who were involved in massacres of American Indians in the 1860s. There is no state capital named for them.

This is rather mind-boggling. Ned Blackhawk is a professor at Yale. And he seriously believed that there are state capitals named “Connor” and “Evans”? It’s back to elementary school for him! But wait–maybe Connor and Evans are the capitals of two of the 57 states that Barack Obama said he campaigned in.

John Evans, circa 1870

John Evans, circa 1870

This was the second correction to Blackhawk’s article. If the Times wants to do another one, I have a suggestion. John Evans, at one time governor of Colorado territory, was involved in the founding of both Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois is named for Evans) and Denver University. Blackhawk writes:

The University of Denver and Northwestern are also reckoning with this legacy, creating committees that have recognized Evans’s culpability.

His column is about the Sand Creek massacre. Blackhawk implies that Evans was to blame, in some degree, for that event. But this is false and Blackhawk knows it, because he served on the committee that produced a lengthy report on Evans’s involvement (or lack thereof) in Sand Creek for Northwestern, just six months ago. This is what the report said about Evans’ culpability with regard to the Sand Creek massacre:

No known evidence indicates that John Evans helped plan the Sand Creek Massacre or had any knowledge of it in advance. The extant evidence suggests that he did not consider the Indians at Sand Creek to be a threat and that he would have opposed the attack that took place. …

[N]o known direct evidence establishes that Evans even was aware Chivington intended to attack the encampment at Sand Creek, let alone that the governor helped plan the assault. Evans denied that he knew about the massacre in advance, and nowhere in Chivington’s spoken or written statements, whether at the time of the inquiries or in the years that followed, did he ever implicate the governor.

Emphasis added. Not only did Evans not participate in the massacre, when it happened, he had been absent from Colorado for some time, on the East coast. Blackhawk complains that Evans didn’t “face criminal charges”; well, no, since he had nothing to do with the event.

To be sure, the Northwestern report that Blackhawk co-authored did criticize Evans, both for failing to denounce Sand Creek with enough enthusiasm after the fact, and for failing to protect the Indian tribes sufficiently:

John Evans, despite his efforts to preserve peace, clearly failed in his duty to the tribes.

But any reader of Blackhawk’s column in the Times would understand that Northwestern had found Evans to be “culpable” with respect to the Sand Creek massacre, a proposition that is plainly false. Moreover, the paper’s second correction is itself wrong: it says that Evans was “involved in massacres of American Indians in the 1860s.” This isn’t true, either. So, how about it, Times editors? Let’s see corrections numbers three and four.


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