Stephen Ambrose committed clerical errors that ruined his reputation… they were technically plagiarism, in the way jaywalking is technically disturbing the peace; both, largely regrettable and easily remedied. His peers, jealous and vain, never accorded him the opportunity to make amends. The subtle absence of quotation marks reverberated through the historical profession as if Ambrose had falsified research or fabricated his sources….
Michael Bellesiles did that and more… he falsified evidence, manufactured sources, and misrepresented his actual research. All of these transgressions were committed to further a modern political cause- gun control. Bellesiles went as far as to use his book to bait Charlton Heston, then President of the NRA. During the heated gun control debate following the Columbine and Sandy Hook school shootings, Liberals redoubled their efforts, including historical analysis. Emory university professor Michael Bellesiles published the notorious Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture. His thesis contended that America’s gun culture developed after WW2, prior to which there was no consistent history of gun ownership in America. Infamy was achieved by the unprecedented level of fraudulent research Bellesiles cited to arrive at his conclusions. He fabricated evidence, distorted statistics, and misquoted historical figures to prove the highly contentious assertion that gun ownership was never part of individual rights in American history.
Bellesiles paid a price for his book… a Bancroft Prize and tenured position removed, he is still publishing books. Ambrose resides in the ground- his reputation forever ruined. The inconsistencies present in the self-policing attempted by the historical profession leaves much to be desired. Clearly, political bias and petty jealousy unjustly influence the process.