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James Oakes Books In Order

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Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Ruling Race: A History of American Slaveholders (1982)Description / Buy at Amazon
Slavery and Freedom: An Interpretation of the Old South (1990)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Oakes Diaries: Business, Politics, and the Family in Bury St Edmunds, 1778-1827 (1991)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
Of the People: A History of the United States (With: Jeanne Boydston,Michael E. McGerr,Jan Ellen Lewis,Nick Cullather) (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865 (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Scorpion's Sting: Antislavery and the Coming of the Civil War (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon
When You Walk Through A Storm: A heartbreaking true life story, chronicling how two people struggle for survival against all the odds. (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Crooked Path to Abolition: Abraham Lincoln and the Antislavery Constitution (2021)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

Beyond Freedom: Disrupting the History of Emancipation(2017)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Worlds of James Buchanan and Thaddeus Stevens: Place, Personality, and Politics in the Civil War Era(2019)Description / Buy at Amazon
Knowing Him by Heart: African Americans on Abraham Lincoln(2022)Description / Buy at Amazon

James Oakes is a leading historian of the happenings of nineteenth century America who has made a name for himself for path breaking scholarship. Over several essays and books, he has tackled the history of the United States right from the Revolutionary War and up to the Civil War.
In his early works, he focused on happenings in the South of the United States as he examined slavery as a social and economic system that shaped life in the south. His earliest works such as The Destruction of Slavery in the United States and The Ruling Race earned him awards such as the Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize. This is an annual prize for fine scholarship on the American Civil War in English.

Dr Oakes went to Baruch College for his bachelors degree and then proceeded to the University of California from where he got his masters and doctoral degrees. He has been a professor of the Graduate Center and has chaired the Graduate School Humanities department for more than two decades.
Prior to moving to the Graduate Center he was a professor at Northwestern and Princeton Universities.

Oakes won the 2008 Lincoln Prize for his work “The Radical and the Republican.” The jury for the award highlights how the author made use of innovative comparative frameworks in exploring the lives and careers of Douglass and Lincoln and how the two men viewed race.

The prize administrators also asserted that it was a scholarly work that was easy to read even for people that are not scholars. His more recent works have been about the implementation of emancipation across the states of the south.

In 2013 he published Freedom National and this was the novel that won him his second Lincoln Prize. The main theme of the work was an exploration of the assertion that the Republican Party under Lincol has been against slavery both prior to and after the war. It viewed the definition of people as chattels as a violation of freedom principles as set out in the US Constitution, international and natural law.
Many reviewers called the novel one of the best insightful works on the complex historical process that we have come to refer to as the emancipation. Over the years, Oakes has written a ton of opinion pieces, encyclopedia entries and articles on the history of the south.
James Oakes currently lives with his health administrator and health researcher wife Deborah Bohr in Manhattan.

“Freedom National” by James Oakes is a novel that tells the history of emancipation. It chronicles the initiatives brought by the Republican and Lincoln in Congress. It also couples this with the actions of runaway slaves from the South and the bold actions of the soldiers of the Union. The work shatters the myth that the main objective of the Civil War was to restore the Union before military necessity made it a war to end slavery.

Oakes asserts that Union and Liberty are inseparable and were part of Republican policy from the very get go. By 1861 the federal government began emancipating slaves under military authority without compensation to slaveholder. In some of the states along the Border the Republicans tried to talk officials into implementing gradual abolition by promising colonization abroad and compensation for freed slaves.

Oakes effectively shows that the 1863 proclamation marked neither the end or the beginning of the emancipation. It resulted into an aggressive phase of military emancipation that sent soldiers into the south to enlist men into the army and entice slaves away. Nonetheless, slavery was still very entrenched in the south as slaveholders remained determined to take back freed slaves that were trapped behind ever shifting lines of the Union.

To ensure that slavery ended alongside the war, Lincoln passed the Thirteenth Amendment to formally abolish slavery in the entire US. It was the final act that showed the determination of Lincoln to bring to a meaningful end a moment of great social upheaval.

“The Radical and the Republican” by James Oakes is an exploration of how Lincoln viewed civil rights and how this changed over the course of the Civil War. Douglass is used as a foil to Lincoln and they begin their famous debates in 1858. Steven Douglas linked Lincoln to abolitionism and also suggested that he wanted internarriage between whites and blacks and equal rights for Negroes.

Some of the responses that Lincoln gives are distressing as he tries to avoid supporting civil equality and focused on how evil slavery was and how it was criticval to ensure that it did not expand further. Given that Douglas is an abolitionist he is mistrustful and ambivalent of Lincoln and even doubts if he is truly committed to ending slavery.

Douglas would remain distrustful of Lincoln as he found him too slow to act and quick to temporize when it came to slavery. In fact, Lincoln is recorded as having rebuked Hunter and Freemont, two of his generals that had been more aggressive in trying to free the slaves.
Lincoln wanted to maintain a cordial relationship with border states as he believed they were critical in the quest to win the war. But according to Douglas, Lincoln was just waffling and being weak. His attitude would change once Lincoln made the Emancipation Proclamation.

James Oakes “The Crooked Path to Abolition” asserts that it was when Lincoln said that the Constitution was against slavery that made freedom a fundamental right in the United States. Everywhere there was federal power, freedom was the morm and where the state was more powerful slavery persisted. The federal government needed to take action to finally abolish slavery and Lincoln and his allies had to use everything in their arsenal to undermine slavery.
When Lincoln was a Congressman, he sponsored a bill to abolish the institution in the state. When he came back to politics in 1854, he fought the Kansas-Nebraska Act which he believed was unconstitutional. He was determined to persuade all states that slavery was evil and that gradual abolition with colonization of free blacks abroad and compensation was a viable path.

Following the Civil War, Lincoln took advantage of the many options available as he declared slaves that had fled to the north free. He also declared the Emancipation Proclamation the undermined slavery in the Southern States as it was a presidential military mandate.
This resulted in slavery being abolished in six states that came to the Union side and this resulted in an avalanche that eventually culminated in the abolition of slavery in 1865.

Book Series In Order » Authors » James Oakes

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