Finally, Emory University hired a committee to investigate their rising star. Confirming what critics had already said, the investigating scholars were unable to duplicate his data tables, and they found significant evidence of ethical violations, including the outright fabrication of data. This including the citation of data that didn’t exist (such as wills that were never actually left behind, or probate records that had been destroyed a century before in a fire), and even the records that he did use were grossly misrepresented. He also disingenuously quoted historical figures, including George Washington, that so egregiously took statements out of historical context that nobody was willing to argue as having been unintentional.
In short, Bellesiles had committed fraud. Columbia University rescinded the Bancroft Prize (the only time that has been done to date), and under the mounting criticism, Bellesiles resigned his position at Emory University.