Marian Miner Cook

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The Antislavery Origins of the Civil War and Emancipation

Mon, February 12, 2024
Dinner Program
James Oakes

We know the proslavery origins of the Civil War: The slave states seceded to protect slavery. But the war had antislavery origins that are not as well understood. James Oakes, one of the preeminent historians of the American Civil War, the Reconstruction Era, and abolitionism, aims to recover those origins by focusing on antislavery constitutionalism, in order to better explain the origins of wartime emancipation.

James Oakes is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Africana Studies, and American Studies, at the Graduate Center for the City University of New York (CUNY). He is the author of numerous books and articles on the history of slavery, antislavery, and emancipation. Among them are The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics (2007), and Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States (2012), both of which were awarded the Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, an annual award for the finest scholarly work in English on Abraham Lincoln or the American Civil War era. He is currently writing a history of “The Long Civil War, 1776-1865.”

Professor Oakes' lecture is part of the 2023-2024 Lofgren Program on American Constitutionalism at CMC's Salvatori Center for the Study of Individual Freedom in the Modern World.

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