The emancipation of four million slaves during the Civil War was the single most revolutionary social transformation in American history. This course considers the complex process that took several generations to complete, from the American Revolution to Reconstruction, including the “first emancipation” during the American Revolution, the growth of an antislavery movement committed to ending slavery through federal policies, the implementation of these policies and their aftermath during Reconstruction, and the social history of emancipation. This course considers not only the policymakers in Washington, but the role of slaves and Union soldiers in the wartime emancipation process, the obstacles to emancipation, and the postwar struggle to secure freedom and expand its meaning.
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• Six seminar sessions with Professor Oakes
• Four pedagogy sessions with a Gilder Lehrman Master Teacher
• Primary source readings that supplement Professor Oakes' lectures
• A certificate of completion for 15 hours of professional development credit
Readings: The optional readings for each seminar session are listed in the “Resources” tab on the course page. Please note that you are not required to read or purchase any print materials. Quizzes are based on the content of the seminar recordings rather than the readings.
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Dr. James Oakes
James Oakes is the Distinguished Professor and Graduate School Humanities Professor at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Early in his career James Oakes published two books on the history of slavery in the antebellum South but later shifted his attention to the history of the antislavery movement, beginning with The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics (2007) and, most recently, The Scorpion’s Sting: Antislavery and the Coming of the Civil War (2014). In 2013 he published a major study of emancipation, Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861–1865, which was awarded that year’s Lincoln Prize. Previously, Professor Oakes taught at Princeton and Northwestern Universities.