Michael Bellesiles is a historian at Emory University. He is the author of Revolutionary Outlaws: Ethan Allen and the Struggle for Independence in the Early American Frontier, BiblioBase, Ethan Allen and his Kin: Correspondence, 1772-1819, Lethal Imagination: Violence and Brutality in American History, and Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture.
Michael's primary interests are cultural violence, the American Revolution, and the connection between them. This had led him to do extensive work on Ethan Allen, and co-found Emory's Violence Studies Program.
He is under investigation for fraud.
Dr. Bellesiles' most famous work, Arming America, argues that guns were very, very rare before the Civil War. He used estate probates, for example, to show how even most of these guns were broken or antiques. For this he won the Bancroft Prize.
Mike's life got interesting when his sources were checked by Dr. James Lindgren, a law professor and legal librarian at Northwestern University. Dr. Lindgren found that Dr. Bellesiles made up his evidence. The Boston Globe was the first major newspaper to pick up on this.
Emory was understandably embarrased by the fuss. The head of the history department, Dr. James Melton, demanded he write a "detailed defense" of the book. "What is important is that he defend himself and the integrity of his scholarship immediately."
Emory University announced this October 9, 2001, in its newspaper, The Emory Wheel.
Reacting to academics’ criticisms of his book Arming America: The Origins of A National Gun Culture, Professor of History Michael Bellesiles will publish a point-by-point defense of his work next month, the University announced last week.
To defend himself, Dr. Bellesiles wrote an article in the digest of the Organization of American Historians (OAH). Part of that article is reproduced below:
Over the ensuing months, in e-mails, faxes, and on the web, I was castigated as "a paid agent of ZOG" (the Zionist Occupational Government, not King Zog of Albania), a "tool of the liberals (or state socialists, as they really are) seeking to steal my guns," and a "faggot feminazi." For fourteen months I have received hateful, threatening, and expletive-laced telephone calls, mail, e-mail, and faxes. Dedicated individuals flooded my e-mail with hundreds of copies of the same message. Others sent repeated viruses from anonymous web addresses that drove me from public e-mail and "hacked" my web site, altering and deleting material.
-"Disarming the Critics,"
In the article, he never addressed the criticisms his critics levied against him. He instead blamed anti-Semites for the criticisms, and said he could no longer give proof because it was destroyed by "hackers."
He claims were immediately countered. The February 2002 edition of the William and Mary Quarterly is largely dedicated to criticms of his honesty.
Update (thanks to uucp): On October 25, 2002, the good doctor resigned from Emory University, following the publication of a damning report of inquiry (http://www.emory.edu/central/NEWS/Releases/Final_Report.pdf)