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The Importance of History

by David Brion Davis I’m concerned with the erosion of interest in history — the view expressed by even some leading teachers and intellectuals that we should “let bygones be bygones,” “free” ourselves from the boring and oppressive past, and concentrate on a fresh and better future. I’m passionately committed to the cause that distinguishes […]

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9780195301731

Wilberforce University: a pioneering institution in African American education

What do opera singer Leontyne Price, activist Victoria Gray Adams, civil rights organizer Bayard Rustin, and Harvard sociologist William Julius Wilson have in common? They all attended or graduated from Wilberforce University. Located outside of Dayton, Ohio, Wilberforce was the first institution of higher education to be owned and operated by African Americans.

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Republicans 9780199936625

Mapping historic US elections

Today is Election Day in the United States, and we combed our archives for the stories behind historic American elections. Explore America’s presidential and Congressional history, from Abraham Lincoln’s first Senatorial race in 1858 to George W. Bush’s hotly-contested victory against Al Gore in 2000.

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Presidents, protest, and patriotism

By Andrew J. Polsky
In the midst of a military conflict, domestic antiwar opposition always vexes a president. This reaction is understandable. He sees the criticism as a risk to national security, something that will give aid and comfort to the enemy, demoralize American troops in combat, and weaken the resolve of the public. What he fails to appreciate is how protest serves as a warning that something has gone very wrong with his war.

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To sell a son… Uncle Tom’s Cabin

On 5 June 1851, the abolitionist journal National Era began running a serial by the wife of a professor at Bowdoin College. A deeply religious and well-educated white woman, Harriet Beecher Stowe was an ardent opponent of slavery. As she wrote to the journal editor, Gamaliel Bailey: “I feel now that the time is come when even a woman or a child who can speak a word for freedom and humanity is bound to speak… I hope every woman who can write will not be silent.” The work, eventually titled Uncle Tom’s Cabin: Or Life Among the Lowly, became a national sensation.

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Osama and Obama

By Andrew J. Polsky
No Easy Day, the new book by a member of the SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden on 30 April 2011, has attracted widespread comment, most of it focused on whether bin Laden posed a threat at the time he was gunned down. Another theme in the account by Mark Owen (a pseudonym) is how the team members openly weighed the political ramifications of their actions.

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“The picture was made for the apple”

By David Bodenhamer
Americans do not question the revolutionary character of the Declaration of Independence. Far fewer view the US Constitution in such terms. It is easy to identify many reasons for this duality. The Declaration speaks in the cadences of Shakespeare and the King James Bible. By comparison, the Constitution is a mechanics manual or lawyers brief. The Declaration offers a concise statement of first principles and goals; it created a nation, and it called for noble sacrifice for the sake of liberty. The Constitution is more procedural.

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Canadian Thanksgiving

By Christopher Hodson
Americans, think fast: pause those (no doubt) raucous Columbus Day festivities and tilt an ear to the north. Sounds from beyond the 45th parallel should emerge. These may include Molson-fueled merriment and the windswept yawning of those huge CFL end zones. That’s right, it’s Canadian Thanksgiving! Yeah, they have one too.

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9780199778805

Setting the scene of New Orleans during Reconstruction

The Reconstruction era was a critical moment in the history of American race relations. Though Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation made great strides towards equality, the aftermath was a not-quited newly integrated society, greatly conflicted and rife with racial tension.

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