Henry Louis Gates Jr.: Harvard professor arrested, racism accusations, charges now dropped


(Bill Carter/Demotix Images) Police led Henry Louis Gates Jr. away in handcuffs after his arrest on Thursday at his home in Cambridge.

  • Case Recalls Tightrope Blacks Walk With Police: ….Like countless other blacks around the country, Mr. Medley was revisiting his encounters with the police as a national discussion about race and law enforcement unfolded after the arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard’s prominent scholar of African-American history. Professor Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct last Thursday at his home in Cambridge, Mass., while the police investigated a report of a possible break-in there. The charge was later dropped, and the Cambridge Police Department said the incident was “regrettable and unfortunate.”
    In interviews here and in Atlanta, in Web postings and on television talk shows, blacks and others said that what happened to Professor Gates is a common, if unacknowledged, reality for many people of color. They also said that beyond race, the ego of the police officer probably played a role…. NYT, 7-23-09
  • Obama doesn’t regret ‘acted stupidly’ remark about Henry Gates Jr. arrest: What’s everyone so upset about?
    That was President Obama’s response Thursday night during an ABC News interview when asked if he regretted his “acted stupidly” comment during Wednesday night’s press conference.
    “I am suprised by the controversy,” Obama told ABC’s Terry Moran. “I think it was [a] pretty straightforward comment that you probably don’t need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who’s in his own home.” – NY Daily News, 7-23-09
  • Cop who arrested black scholar is profiling expert: The white police sergeant accused of racial profiling after he arrested renowned black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. in his home was hand-picked by a black police commissioner to teach recruits about avoiding racial profiling.
    Friends and fellow officers — black and white — say Sgt. James Crowley is a principled police officer and family man who is being unfairly described as racist.
    “If people are looking for a guy who’s abusive or arrogant, they got the wrong guy,” said Andy Meyer, of Natick, who has vacationed with Crowley, coached youth sports with him and is his teammate on a men’s softball team. “This is not a racist, rogue cop. This is a fine, upstanding man. And if every cop in the world were like him, it would be a better place.”
    Gates accused the 11-year department veteran of being an unyielding, race-baiting authoritarian after Crowley arrested and charged him with disorderly conduct last week…. – AP, 7-23-09
  • Police Chief Responds to Obama’s Remarks: The top police official here defended the officer who arrested Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., and said his department was “deeply pained” by President Barack Obama’s remark that Cambridge police “acted stupidly” in the case.
    Commissioner Robert Haas called Sgt. James Crowley “a stellar member of this department” who properly followed police procedure and had no racial motivation in arresting the 58-year-old African-American scholar at his home last week. Authorities dropped the disorderly conduct charge this week.
    But Mr. Haas said he would convene a panel to examine the incident and ways to avoid such incidents, which he said “we deeply regret.”… – WSJ, 7-23-09
  • Obama Criticizes Arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates : President Obama bluntly accused the police of acting “stupidly” by arresting the Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. last week after an officer had established that Mr. Gates had not broken into his own home in Cambridge, Mass. Mr. Obama stopped short of accusing the police department of racial profiling, as Mr. Gates has done. But during a prime-time White House news conference that was otherwise largely devoted to health care, Mr. Obama weighed in full bore on the Gates case and suggested that the police should never have arrested him. “There’s a long history in this country of African-Americans being stopped disproportionately by the police,” Mr. Obama said. “It’s a sign of how race remains a factor in this society.” – NYT, 7-22-09
  • Police Drop Charges Against Black Scholar: Authorities agreed to drop a disorderly-conduct charge against renowned Harvard University African-American studies scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., who had been arrested at his own home last week after police answered a call about a suspected break-in there.
    The arrest had sparked concern that Mr. Gates was a victim of racial profiling, a controversial practice in which police allegedly use race as a factor in identifying criminal suspects.
    In a joint statement, Mr. Gates’ lawyer, the City of Cambridge, Mass., its police department and the county district attorney’s office called the July 16 incident “regrettable and unfortunate.” The statement added that “this incident should not be viewed as one that demeans the character and reputation of Professor Gates or the character of the Cambridge Police Department” and that “all parties agree this is a just resolution to an unfortunate set of circumstances.”
    In an interview Tuesday, Mr. Gates said the situation “shows our vulnerability to the caprices of individual police officers who for whatever reason are free to arrest you on outrageous charges like disorderly conduct.” Mr. Gates called a police report alleging he yelled at an officer and was uncooperative “a work of sheer fantasy.”
    Mr. Gates, a Harvard professor and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research, said he hadn’t decided whether to pursue any legal action. He said if the officer who arrested him, Sgt. James Crowley, “sincerely apologized, I would be willing to forgive him.”… – WSJ, 7-21-09
  • Gates chastises officer after authorities agree to drop criminal charge: Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. chastised a Cambridge police officer today and demanded an apology after authorities agreed to drop a disorderly conduct charge against the renowned African-American scholar.
    Gates accused the officer who arrested him at his Cambridge home of having a “broad imagination” when he summarized last Thursday’s confrontation in police reports, and he denied making several inflammatory remarks.
    “I believe the police officer should apologize to me for what he knows he did that was wrong,” Gates said in a phone interview from his other home in Martha’s Vineyard. “If he apologizes sincerely, I am willing to forgive him. And if he admits his error, I am willing to educate him about the history of racism in America and the issue of racial profiling … That’s what I do for a living.”
    Gates, 58, was handcuffed and booked last Thursday following a police investigation into a suspected burglary at his Ware Street home near Harvard Square. A passerby spotted Gates and his driver, who had dropped him off from the airport, trying to push the front door open and called the police. The door had been jammed. Police responded and arrested Gates after they said he became belligerent.
    Earlier today, the Middlesex district attorney’s office announced plans to drop criminal charges against Gates. The City of Cambridge and the police department recommended today that prosecutors not pursue charges in a joint statement from authorities and Gates that called the confrontation “regrettable and unfortunate.”
    “This incident should not be viewed as one that demeans the character and reputation of professor Gates or the character of the Cambridge Police Department,” the statement said. “All parties agree that this is a just resolution to an unfortunate set of circumstances.”
    Cambridge Mayor E. Denise Simmons said in a statement that the controversy illustrated “that Cambridge must continue finding ways to address matters of race and class in a frank, honest, and productive manner.”… – Boston Globe, 7-21-09
  • Henry Louis Gates Jr. Arrested: Colleagues of Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard’s most prominent scholar of African-American history, are accusing the police here of racism after he was arrested at his home last week by an officer investigating a report of a robbery in progress.
    Professor Gates, who has taught at Harvard for nearly two decades, arrived home on Thursday from a trip to China to find his front door jammed, said Charles J. Ogletree, a law professor at Harvard who is representing him.
    He forced the door open with the help of his cab driver, Professor Ogletree said, and had been inside for a few minutes when Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department appeared at his door and asked him to step outside.
    Professor Gates, 58, refused to do so, Professor Ogletree said. From that point, the account of the professor and the police began to differ…. – NYT, 7-21-09
This booking photo released by the Cambridge, Mass., Police Dept., shows Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. APThis booking photo released by the Cambridge, Mass., Police Dept., shows Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
  • Black scholar’s arrest raises profiling questions: Henry Louis Gates Jr., the nation’s pre-eminent black scholar, was arrested at his home near Harvard University after forcing his way through his front door because it was jammed. Gates was arrested on a disorderly conduct charge last Thursday after police said he “exhibited loud and tumultuous behavior.” He was released later that day on his own recognizance. An arraignment was scheduled for Aug. 26. Police refused to comment on the arrest Monday…. – AP, 7-21-09
  • Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. arrested outside his home, calls Cambridge police ‘racist’: A distinguished black Harvard University professor was handcuffed and dragged off his porch to jail after Massachusetts cops mistook him for a burglar. Henry Louis Gates Jr., one of the nation’s most renowned scholars of African-American history, was busted when he repeatedly accused a cop of racism for confronting him, police said. “Why, because I’m a black man in America?” Gates, 58, demanded, the police report said…. – NY Daily News, 7-21-09
  • Harvard professor arrested, racism accusations: An acclaimed black US scholar accused a police officer in Cambridge, Massachusetts of racism for investigating reports of a break-in as he entered his own house, after which he was arrested, police records have shown.
    Henry Louis Gates, 58, considered a preeminent professor of African American studies at the prestigious Harvard University, was charged with disorderly conduct. Police cited his “loud and tumultuous behavior.”
    Gates was seen by a passing woman to be attempting entry to the front door of his house — which was damaged — along with another black man, according to the police report from July 16.
    The woman alerted the police and by the time a uniformed officer arrived Gates was inside his home and reporting the faulty door to the Harvard Real Estate office, said a statement later released by Gates’ lawyer, Charles Ogletree.
    The other man at the scene was Gates’ hired driver.
    “Professor Gates informed the officer that he lived there and was a faculty member at Harvard University,” Ogletree said.
    According to the police report, Gates repeatedly told officers at the scene that “this is what happens to black men in America.”…. – AFP, 7-20-09

History Buzz July 20, 2009: 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11 & the 1st Moon Landing







  • Julian E. Zelizer: What Jimmy Carter had right: On July 15, 1979, President Jimmy Carter delivered one of the more controversial speeches in recent presidential history. When Carter delivered what would come to be known as the “malaise” speech America was in bad condition. Inflation was devastating the economy. Unemployment rates were high. OPEC had increased oil prices several times within a few months. With his re-election on the horizon, Carter watched his approval ratings plummet to below 30 percent…. – Politico, 7-15-09


  • Craig Nelson: Apollo 11’s Bright Glare ROCKET MEN The Epic Story Of the First Men On the Moon WaPo, 7-19-09
  • Hobson Woodward: Shakespeare’s Storm A BRAVE VESSEL The True Tale of the Castaways Who Rescued Jamestown . . . WaPo, 7-19-09
  • Lynn Hudson Parsons: Power to (Some of) the People THE BIRTH OF MODERN POLITICS Andrew Jackson, John Quincy Adams and the Election of 1828 WaPo, 7-19-09
  • Thomas Levenson: HISTORY A New Newton NEWTON AND THE COUNTERFEITER The Unknown Detective Career of the World’s Greatest Scientist WaPo, 7-19-09
  • Martha A. Sandweiss on W. Ralph Eubanks: The Family That Rejected Jim Crow THE HOUSE AT THE END OF THE ROAD The Story of Three Generations of An Interracial Family in the American South WaPo, 7-19-09
  • Greg Grandin: UTOPIAS Welcome to the Jungle FORDLANDIA The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City WaPo, 7-19-09
  • Richard Holmes: Science and the Sublime THE AGE OF WONDER How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science NYT, 7-19-09
  • Richard Holmes: THE AGE OF WONDER How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science, Excerpt – NYT, 7-19-09
  • David Kennedy on Margaret MacMillan: What History Is Good For DANGEROUS GAMES The Uses and Abuses of History NYT, 7-19-09
  • Margaret MacMillan: DANGEROUS GAMES The Uses and Abuses of History, Excerpt – NYT, 7-19-09
  • Greg Grandin: Dearborn-on-Amazon FORDLANDIA The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City NYT, 7-19-09
  • Greg Grandin: FORDLANDIA The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford’s Forgotten Jungle City, Excerpt – 7-19-09
  • Alistair Horne: Got Your Back KISSINGER 1973, the Crucial Year NYT, 7-19-09
  • Alistair Horne: KISSINGER 1973, the Crucial Year NYT, 7-19-09
  • Larry Tye: A Fastball Wrapped in a Riddle SATCHEL The Life and Times of an American Legend NYT, 7-19-09
  • Larry Tye: SATCHEL The Life and Times of an American Legend NYT, 7-19-09
  • James Gavin: No Prisoner of Love STORMY WEATHER The Life of Lena Horne NYT, 7-19-09
  • James Gavin: STORMY WEATHER The Life of Lena Horne, Excerpt – NYT, 7-19-09
  • Jackson Lears continues his search for the origin of our times – John Summers in Book Forum (7-17-09)



  • David Garrow “At 100, NAACP debates its role”: David Garrow, a civil rights historian, says there has been a shift from the traditional notion of black civil rights because of steady growth in black civic participation and decline of civil-rights-era protest groups…. – Chicago Tribune, 7-13-09
  • One Step Was Plenty First Man to Walk on the Moon Stoically Backpedals on Earth: Forty years ago today, Neil Armstrong became the most famous man on the planet by taking a short walk off of it. Since then he’s tried to live with that fact, and also live it down. – WaPo, 7-19-09


  • Charles W. Eagles: Author discusses new book on James Meredith and his battle to enroll at the University of Mississippi The Price of Defiance: James Meredith and the Integration of Ole Miss Inside Higher Ed (7-14-09)


  • Jonathan Brent: Former editorial director of Yale University Press and general editor of its celebrated Annals of Communism series is now in charge of one of the world’s most important archives of Jewish life – Chronicle of Higher Ed (7-15-09)


  • August 1, 2009: An Evening with Ken Burns: Kens Burns has been making documentary films for more than 30 years. Since the Academy Award-nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, he has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made. The late historian Stephen Ambrose said of Burns’ films, “More Americans get their history from Ken Burns than any other source.” This evening will afford Chautauqua an opportunity to hear one of the most influential documentary makers of all time. Chautauqua Institutition. For more info 716-357-6200. – Jamestown Post-Journal, 5-21-09


  • BBC to launch new series on history of Christianity – Religious Intelligence, 6-19-09
  • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV Weekend Schedule
  • PBS History Detectives: Mondays at 9pm
  • History Channel: Weekly Schedule
  • History Channel: “Beyond the Moon: Failure Is Not an Option 2” – Monday, July 20, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: Apollo 11 Specials – Monday, July 20, 2009 at 4-11pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Live from ’69: Moon Landing” – Monday, July 20, 2009 at 8:30pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Moonshot” – Monday, July 20, 2009 at 9pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Last Days on Earth” – Tuesday, July 21, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Journey to 10,000 BC” – Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Mega Disasters: New York City Hurricane” – Wednesday, July 22, 2009 at 6pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Mega Disasters: San Francisco Earthquake” – Friday, July 24, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Cities Of The Underworld” Marathon – Friday, July 24, 2009 at 4-6pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Stealing Lincoln’s Body” – Friday, July 24, 2009 at 9pm ET/PT
  • History Channel: “Ancient Aliens” – Saturday, July 25, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT



  • Buzz Aldrin: Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon, July 23, 2009
  • Alice Morse Earle: Child Life in Colonial Times (Paperback), July 23, 2009
  • William A. DeGregorio: The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents, Seventh Edition, August 15, 2009
  • Douglas Hunter: Half Moon: Henry Hudson and the Voyage That Redrew the Map of the New World, September 1, 2009
  • Annette Gordon-Reed: The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (Paperback), September 8, 2009
  • Jon Krakauer: Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman, September 15, 2009


In Memory of Civil War historian Kenneth Stampp, 1912-2009

Civil War historian Kenneth Stampp dies at 96

Here’s the History Doyen profile, I edited and was first published on the History News Network, November 27, 2006.

Kenneth M. Stampp

What They’re Famous For

Kenneth Milton Stampp is the Alexander F. and May T. Morrison Professor of History Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught from 1946-1983. He is an award-winning historian of slavery, the American Civil War, and Reconstruction, and is considered the leading scholar in his area.

Stampp was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1912, and came of age during the depression years. He attended the Milwaukee State Teachers’ College, and then the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he graduated his B.A. in 1935 and his M.A. a year later in 1936. Stampp worked on his PhD under the direction of Charles A. Beard and William B. Hesseltine, who served as his dissertation advisor. Stampp completed his doctorate in 1942, and then briefly worked at the University of Arkansas and the University of Maryland from 1942 to 1946. In 1946, he began his tenure at Berkley where he taught for 37 years before retiring. Kenneth M. Stampp JPG

In 2006 Stamp celebrated the 60th anniversary of his affiliation with the UC, Berkley. His most well known publication is The Peculiar Institution, for which he is most remembered, and is “starting point for modern studies of US slavery.” Stampp’s next book The Era of Reconstruction countered the school of thought of William A. Dunning (1857-1922) and his followers, by claiming that Reconstruction was in fact a success, and as Stampp writes “the last great crusade of nineteenth-century romantic reformers.” The book served to “cement” Stampp as the leading authority on the Civil War and Reconstruction. Stamp’s many distinctions include being awarded the American Historical Association Award for Scholarly Distinction in 1989, and in 1993, the Lincoln Prize for lifetime achievement, which was given by the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College. He has held visiting professorship posts at numerous institutions, including, Harvard University, University of London, University of Munich, and Oxford University.

Personal Anecdote

Master’s Thesis on Antislavery in the South

I had no doubt after meeting Hesseltine that he was the man I wanted to work with. Well, he was the most dynamic American historian there. Perhaps not the most profound, but certainly the most dynamic. Hicks, by comparison, was rather drab. I always thought of him as the man in grey; his complexion was sort of grey, and he wore grey suits. There was a certain quiet charm about him, and I took courses from him in Western history and recent American history. But Hesseltine, the first course I took from him was American constitutional history, and he was a Beardian. One of the first things he had us read was Beard’s economic interpretation of the constitution, and in those Marxist days, this made sense to me.Hesseltine bought it, and he sold it. I was convinced that this was a satisfactory explanation for the nature of the constitution and for the motives of its framers.

He had a wonderful lecture style. He was witty, he was clever, his lectures were full of humor. Challenging, sometimes outrageous generalizations. But I was rather young and naive then, and he seemed to me awfully exciting. There was no discussion in these lectures. He lectured, and we listened. For a while, I was scared to death of him. I thought he was wonderful, but I was afraid of him.

The next term, in the fall, I started taking his year course in the history of the old South and the sectional conflict and Civil War and Reconstruction, and that’s what really excited me. He was a southerner himself; he came from Virginia, but he was a kind of southern maverick at the time. He always claimed that the men who ran the–and they were men at that time, mostly–the Southern Historical Association would have nothing to do with him. He was never elected president of the Southern Historical Association, and he claimed that it was because he was just too much of a rebel.

I loved graduate school, I really did. I look back with great nostalgia to Madison in the thirties. It was a wonderful place. I really did like graduate school and got to know people who were lifetime friends during those years.

I had to pick a thesis topic immediately when I started graduate work, and I picked as the subject of my master’s thesis the antislavery movement in the South. That was my first experience with research into important primary sources. I picked it myself. I don’t remember how–I must have read something about antislavery sentiment in the Old South. The Southern critics of slavery were largely Quakers; there were antislavery organizations in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee–not in the Deep South, where organized antislavery was impossible. Antislavery Southerners advocated gradual, compensated emancipation, and then the colonization of the emancipated slaves somewhere outside the United States, back to Africa or wherever. That was the kind of movement they supported.

Dissertation: Indiana Politics during the Civil War

I intended to keep working in that period and that field. Somehow, I got interested in an Indiana politician. I have no Indiana connections. Indiana is politically an interesting state, and I’ll explain why. I got interested in an Indiana politician named Oliver P. Morton. He was a Democrat in his early life, and broke with the Democrats in 1854 over the Kansas-Nebraska bill. He joined a group that was at that time known as the Anti-Nebraska Democrats. They were one part of the coalition that formed the Republican party, old Whigs and Anti-Nebraska Democrats and antislavery Free-Soilers, some former members of the Know-Nothing party.

Morton was a fairly important, active politician during the 1850s, and in 1860, he ran for lieutenant governor on the Republican ticket and was elected. Another Republican, [Henry S.] Lane, was elected governor. Everyone knew in advance that he was going to be elected to the United States Senate. He was, and Morton became governor in 1861.

My interest in Morton never changed, but I finally decided that I disliked the man so much that I couldn’t possibly write a biography of him. That’s an interesting matter.

The more I got to know him, the more I got to dislike the man, and that’s an interesting thing to think about. Biographers usually write about people they like and not often about people they don’t like. Perhaps there would be some interesting biographies if they were written by people who didn’t like their subjects, like some of the Nixon biographies, for example.

By that time, I had done quite a lot of research on Morton as governor, as Civil War governor of Indiana.

Then the question was, if I don’t want to do a biography of Morton, how do I salvage off-and-on research over a couple of years? I finally decided that I was going to do a more general study of Indiana politics during the Civil War. This turned out to be a fascinating subject because Indiana was a fascinating state during the Civil War.

I ended with the end of the war in my dissertation. I have an introductory chapter on the 1850s about the formation of the Republican party and the election of 1860; the second chapter is on the secession crisis; then the rest is on the war and the social consequences. I have a concluding chapter that tries to summarize my view of what had happened in society in Indiana during the war and to the politics of Indiana. That’s where I ended it.

After I wrote the dissertation, I reworked it, did some cutting, and submitted it for publication.

My life that year was very simple: work. I worked in the Indiana State Library and the Indiana Historical Bureau. They were both in the same building, but they had different collections. In the evening at least five nights a week, I went to the Indiana Public Library and worked on newspapers for the 1850s and 1860s, and that’s about all there was to my life. I knew my roommate, I got to know the people at the Indiana State Library, but I had virtually no social life while I was down there. It was just work. Sometimes my roommate and I played two-handed bridge at night just for diversion. I read when I could, but it was really just the library all day long.

I think I was kind of lonesome down there with not knowing anybody. I had had a rather active social life in Madison, and this was drudgery in some respects, but the research was exciting, I loved it.

I was out of graduate school as far as that was concerned. No, I had plenty of time just to work on my dissertation.

I had finished teaching up in Fond du Lac and the term ended in Madison. It was the same drudgery being a teaching assistant, making out the exams and grading the exams and attending lectures that I was hearing for the third time.

By the end of July or early August, I finally finished my research on that dissertation, and I thought it was time for a holiday. Jobs were almost nonexistent, so I was delighted to take the job at Arkansas. I could have had one more year on the extension; I could have had a second year.

In June 1941, we moved back down to Madison. Some time while I was up in Rhinelander, I had a letter from a young professor who used to teach at the University of Wisconsin, his name was Fred Harvey Harrington. He was a Ph.D. from New York University, and he was the young man in the History Department there, in American history. I got to know him fairly well the year that I was Hesseltine’s teaching assistant and teaching in Fond du Lac. They came over to see Kay and me a number of times, and we went to see them.

The next year, the year I was in Rhinelander, he left Madison to go to the University of Arkansas to become head of the Department of History and Political Science as a full professor. Some time in the late spring of 1941, I heard from Hesseltine and got a letter from Harrington that there was a one-year job. Somebody was going on leave at the University of Arkansas, and Harrington wanted to offer it to me. I took it.

So in June we went back down to Madison, and we found an apartment. It was a terribly hot summer, I remember, and I spent the whole summer writing my dissertation. Before the summer was over, I had it all written except one concluding chapter. I showed it all to Hesseltine, and he approved it, thought it was good. I’m not very good in heat, especially humid heat, the kind we had in Wisconsin. I can remember sitting in a bathtub with a big board on the side, writing in the bathtub in cool water with my notes there.

By September, I had just one last chapter, about fifteen or twenty pages, I had to write, and early in September, we started for Fayetteville, Arkansas.

That fall–it’s all connected with Pearl Harbor–I finished the last chapter of my dissertation, and I was to go back to Madison. Pearl Harbor was on the seventh, I think it was a Sunday, and I was to go back to Madison and take my Ph.D. exams the following Wednesday.

I took my oral exam on the tenth of December. That day I think their minds were on Pearl Harbor and other things more than my exam. They did ask some questions. I had my usual trouble with Chester Penn Higby, the European historian, who asked me some impossible questions. Selig Perlman, the man with whom I took my outside field in economics, labor history and socialism and capitalism, was on the committee. He thought my dissertation was excellent. I got by with everyone except Higby.

After it was over, I was sent out then called back in, and everyone congratulated me except Higby. He just walked out and never said a word to me. He could never forgive me for that, even though I had given him an explanation. I think I did very well in my oral exam. So I passed, and I was a Ph.D. at last.

An Offer from Berkeley

Then in the spring of 1946, things began to happen. Hofstadter got an offer from Columbia, and I knew he was leaving. Mills got an offer from Columbia, and I knew he was leaving. And there I was–I wasn’t going to get the job at Hopkins, and I wasn’t going to get the job at Swarthmore. I thought, My God, I’m going to be here again. Freidel is fired, Hofstadter is leaving, Mills is leaving, and I’m going to be here alone.

In April 1946 I went to a kind of rump meeting of the Mississippi Valley Historical Association in Bloomington, Indiana. John D. Hicks had been one of my professors at Wisconsin.

He was very much in favor of Roosevelt’s foreign policy. He knew Hesseltine, and I was a Hesseltine student. John D. Hicks was at the Mississippi Valley meeting in Bloomington, Indiana. It was a small meeting, and I remember Hicks saying, “Let’s have a drink together. You know, I’m an old Wisconsin–” he was out here [in Berkeley] now. He came out here in ’42. So we sat and had a drink and talked about Wisconsin and about Hesseltine. And that was that.

The next month, early May of 1946, I got a letter from Hicks and a letter from Hesseltine offering me an instructorship out here. He had written to Hesseltine and said that he was interested in bringing me to Berkeley. I said, “Instructorship? I’m an associate professor. I know it’s only Maryland, but I’m not going to start over again.” He wrote to Hesseltine and said, “Tell Stampp to accept it,” an instructorship. I said, “No.” I wrote back and said, “I’ll step down one rank. I’ll go back to assistant professor, but I’m not going to take an instructorship.” Well, I think Hicks had sort of said, “That’s all I can do.” Ultimately it was changed.

It was raised to an assistant professorship, and more than that, it was raised to a second-step assistant professorship. My salary at Maryland at that time was $3,500, and going to Berkeley, my salary would be $3,600. That wasn’t much of an inducement. Well, it turned out when I got here that it was going to be $3,900, and that helped a lot.

I didn’t even know where Berkeley was. I had to find a map. I thought Berkeley was somewhere in southern California. I was that ignorant about the university. I found it was across from San Francisco. I had never been to San Francisco. I had been to Los Angeles but not San Francisco. I told Hofstadter about the job, and he said, “Well, surely you’re not going to take it.” I said, “Well, I’d like to get out of here, and I wouldn’t mind going out there for a few years.” He said, “Well, I must say, I don’t think much of the history department at Berkeley.”

Well, he knew, for example, that the dominant figure for some years was Herbert Eugene Bolton and that Bolton didn’t have any use for men who taught American history. You should teach history of the Americas.

I came out. I told Hofstadter I would go out at least for a few years. I went to Madison that summer and taught in the summer session. My wife was with me. Then I managed to get a car. They were hard to get in 1946, but through an influential brother-in-law I got a car so I could drive out.

We got into California on the twelfth of September, I remember, and stopped up in the mountains. I loved the mountains, I wanted to stop in the mountains, so we stopped in the little village of Cisco, elevation of about 5,500 feet, and found a motel there.

The next day, we drove on down– driving into the Bay Area then was something because there was no freeway. You had to drive through Roseville and every community on the way–Davis, and right through Richmond, and Rodeo and so on. I thought we would never get here.

I remember we finally came out on–I think there was an East Bay freeway then–the freeway the afternoon of September thirteenth, and I looked at San Francisco and the bay and the Golden Gate Bridge, and I fell in love with it, absolutely fell in love.

Settling into Teaching and Publishing

I began teaching a survey course in American history. I remember walking in to 101 Cal [California Hall]–I don’t know whether you remember 101 Cal when it was a lecture hall, held about 400 students.

It was a nice lecture hall–you didn’t realize the size of it from the podium because it was sort of like this [shaped like an amphitheater]. I had never lectured to more than thirty-five students, and I walked in there one Tuesday morning and found 400 students in there, and four teaching assistants whom I had not met yet. I still remember one of them asked whether I had my registration card with me. I looked kind of young then. I had to tell them I was going to run this course. And–wow, that was an experience, I must say, lecturing to that many students. That was really nerve-shattering.

My own field, really, for the first time. I gave my course in the history of the Old South. I had about, oh, sixty or seventy students in it. It was a nice-sized group. I had a seminar–it must have had seven or eight students in it. That I liked very much.

I spent all my spare time writing And the War Came, and also I went East for conventions, took the train East. I got travel money, research money, to do that. I conferred with a new director of the Indiana Historical Bureau, I believe in 1947. I had sent him the revised dissertation manuscript, and he thought it was great, “We’re going to publish it.” That was wonderful. It came out in 1949, finally. So I was hard at work on And the War Came. I finished that in 1948.

I sent it to LSU Press, Louisiana State University Press, and they loved it. They took it and published it in 1950, so that looked pretty good: a book out in 1949 and another book in 1950.

It had wonderful reviews. I didn’t get a single critical review; it really was good. I found out later that it was second for the Pulitzer Prize. I found that out through the head of the LSU Press.

I had learned how to lecture to 400 people, and I was not too bad at it, I was pretty good. As a matter of fact, Hicks had heard that my lectures were very good, and my enrollment in my upper-division course had grown from about fifty or sixty students the first time to 200 or 300 students. I lost that small group there. Hicks once asked me whether I had preachers in my family or something.

The Peculiar Institution

To my best recollection, it was a former graduate student, Richard Heffner, who, hearing my feeling that there was a need for a new book, said, “Well, why don’t you write it?” and I thought about it. I do insist that it had nothing to do with the civil rights movement.

The book came out in 1956, and so somebody suggested–I think it was Win [Winthrop] Jordan, actually, who used to be in our department–that it was somehow connected with the civil rights movement, and it really wasn’t. My decision to write it dated back to the forties.

I began working on it as soon as I finished a book called And the War Came, which I finished in 1948. In the spring of 1952, I had applied for a Guggenheim, and I received one. I was due for a sabbatical. So I planned to be away for the whole year, from the summer of ’52 to the summer of ’53. That’s when I was going to do the bulk of my research on this book.

In January, I moved to Chapel Hill. I had written to a friend at the university there, and he had found a quite satisfactory place for us to live in a suburb of Chapel Hill called Carboro, which is a mill town. It was rather interesting living in a Southern mill town for a while. I couldn’t have done the book without going there, yes. I don’t think it had any effect on the tone of my book. A lot of the Southerners whom I saw, when the book came out, didn’t write to me and say, “This is a great book.”

When the Guggenheim year was over in July, we came back to Berkeley. I had a little more research to clear up out of secondary sources, but I began writing in the late fall or maybe early winter of 1953-’54. It was a terrible experience beginning that book. I was terribly concerned about this book and my responsibility in writing it. I really wanted to write a book that would persuade Southerners that slavery wasn’t quite like the myths and legends.

Now, the question of a publisher, Knopf published it, but I had an unfortunate relationship with Knopf with my book And the War Came–giving them an opportunity to reject it twice. It was a double humiliation. Anyway, And the War Came was out in 1950, and it had very good reviews. Alfred Knopf, the old man, was pretty peeved at one book man at Knopf, one of their field men, because he’s the one who had solicited the manuscript. I had said, “I will never publish a book with Knopf.” Anyway, this man came to me in 1952 at a convention and said, “I hear you’re writing a book about slavery.” I said, “Yes, but Knopf is not going to have it.” I don’t think is an exaggeration: I think he must have been under considerable pressure from Knopf because he practically got on his knees and asked for it. I said, “I’ll never send you the manuscript. If you want to give me a contract without ever seeing the manuscript, okay.” And I got it.

Sight unseen. I was never going to let them turn down another manuscript or another book of mine. So I’m very glad because Knopf makes beautiful books, and he does a pretty good job of promoting. So I sent the manuscript to Knopf the late summer of 1955, and I had an editor whose name I can’t remember, and he disappeared before the book was finished. He probably was fired. Knopf was always firing people. So for the last bit, I didn’t have an editor. The manuscript–it was a clean manuscript. I had a typist who really made no typos–I couldn’t find any–and raised a couple of questions. She did a little bit of editing, actually, anyway. So the manuscript was a nice clean one that I sent to Knopf; then later in his reminiscences, Alfred Knopf said that in all the time that he was running his company, he had only received two manuscripts that could go straight to the publisher without editing. Mine was one, he said; another was a friend of his who also had written on black history. Well, that was partly true, but it also covered the fact, or disguised or concealed the fact, that my editor had been fired. Anyway, it’s a nice story, and it never made me unhappy to have Knopf say that my manuscript was so letter-perfect.

It was published in October, 1956. As far as I know, it received no prizes. There was no Pulitzer prize or Bancroft prize. There was a prize at that time given for the best book in Southern history, and it didn’t even win that prize, though I think it was by far the best book in Southern history that year. The only prize actually came years and years later — I got the Lincoln prize in 1993. It was sort of a lifetime award, but the thing they always featured in their presentation prize was The Peculiar Institution, which most people think is the most important book I wrote.


By Kenneth M. Stampp

  • “As one reflects upon the problem of causation one is driven to the conclusion that historians will never know, objectively and with mathematical precision, what caused the Civil War. Working with fragmentary evidence, possessing less than a perfect understanding of human behavior, viewing the past from the perspective of their own times, finding The Causes of The Civil War JPG it impossible to isolate one historial event to test its significance apart from all others, historians must necessarily be somewhat tentative and conjectural in offering their interpretations.It may then be asked whether there was any point to the enormous effort that has gone into the various attempts to find the causes of the Civil War. If after more than a century the debate is still inconclusive, would not the historian be wise to abandon his search for causes and confine himself to cataloging facts and compiling statistics? Is it not all the nore discouraging to find, as the documents in this book indicate, that historians often merely go back to interpretations advanced by partisans while the war was still in progress? I think not. Because the century of historical inquiry, if it leaves the causes of the Civil War still open to debate, has nevertheless been extremely illuminating. uncertainty about the war’s causes has driven historians back to the sources time and time again, with the result that we have gredually enlarged our knowledge and and deepened our understanding of our greatest national crisis. Hence I find the prospect of a continuing debate, however much it may annoy those who find it disagreeable to live with uncertainties, the best promise that research and writing in this period of American history will continue to have vitality.” — Kenneth M. Stamp in the Introduction of “The Causes of The Civil War”
  • But Indiana Democrats did not long encumber their cause with a nostalgic yearning for things that had passed. The leaders of these western agrarians were soon busy resurrecting their party in order to re-engage their foes and to make themselves felt in the new nation. They quickly confessed that slavery was dead and warned that Democrats should not “tie the corpse around their necks.” Instead they preferred to face the living issues of national reconstruction.What these issues would be did not long remain in doubt. The Sentinel reminded its readers that the war had left the tariff question unsettled and that in this respect the interests of the West and South were still identical. Western Republicans, it affirmed, were the mere tools of New England, and tariff reduction could be the program by which the Democracy would rescue the nation from “a great manufacturing aristocracy.” Other party leaders saw in the growing indignation of western farmers against the railroad monopolies another problem demanding a solution. Finally, there were already cries of protest against the national banking system which enriched a few men but failed to meet the West’s constant need for additional capital.The Sentinel confidently predicted that the present attempt of New England to be “overseers of the whole nation” would be as odious to the West as the past attempt of the South had been. Hence, it prophesied, the western states, with their identity of interests, would soon make themselves a power in the land. “And they will make that power felt in impressing their policy upon the nation.” The roots of western insurgency were already deep in the soil of Indiana. In 1872 and 1876 the Democrats would capitalize on agrarian discontent with the new order to capture the governorship; in the latter election they would, for the first time since 1856, win the state’s presidential electoral votes. From their ranks would come the leaders of the Granger and Populist movements.

    But the triumphant Republicans, heirs to the Whig tradition, were equally prepared for the future and ready to meet this new threat from their irrepressible foes. The Indianapolis Journal noted with satisfaction that war and Republican rule had brought to the Northwest an unprecedented degree of material well-being. Indiana, it observed, was a region “of unabated prosperity.” Accordingly, in the spring of 1865 Indiana’s political rulers surveyed the Hoosier scene and pronounced it good. Kenneth M. Stampp in “Indiana Politics during the Civil War”

  • Critics of slavery, certain white men think, err when they assume that the Negroes suffered as much in bondage as white men would have suffered. One must remember, argue critics of critics, that to the Negroes slavery seemed natural; knowing no other life, they accepted it without giving the matter much thought. The Peculiar Institution JPGNot that slavery was a good thing, mind you-but still, it probably hurt the Negroes less than it did the whites. Indeed the whites were really more enslaved by Negro slavery than were the Negro slaves. This poet-slavery argument, like the ante-bellum proslavery argument, is based on upon some obscure and baffling logic. It is not unlike James H. Hammond’s confident assertion that “our slaves are the happiest…human beings on whom the sun shines”; or his complaint that “into their eden is coming Satan in the guise of an abolitionist.”A former slave once pronounced a simple and chastening truth for those who would try to understand the meaning of bondage: “Tisn’t he who has stood and looked on, that can tell you what slavery is,-’tishe who has endured.” “I was black,” he added, “but I had feelings of a man as well as any man.” One can feel compassion for the antebellum southern white man; one can understand the moral dilemma in which he was trapped. But one must remember that the Negro, not the white man, was the slave, and the Negro gained the most from emancipation. When freedom came-even the quasi-freedom of “second-class citizenship”-the Negro, in literal truth, lost nothing but his chains. — Kenneth M. Stampp in “The Peculier Institution”
  • NOT LONG AGO one of America’s best political commentators made an observation about the problem of causation in history that every responsible historian would surely endorse:I hold a kind of Tolstoyan view of history and believe that it is hardly ever possible to determine the real truth about how we got from here to there. Since I find it extremely difficult to uncover my own motives, I hesitate to deal with those of other people, and I positively despair at the thought of ever being really sure about what has moved whole nations and whole generations of mankind. No explanation of the causes and origins of any war — of any large happening in history — can ever be for me much more than a plausible one, a reasonable hypothesis. 1This is a position to which I fully subscribe, and I believe that it is as valid for explanations of why a war was won or lost as for explanations of why a war began.

    With this cautionary statement in mind, I am going to suggest one of the conditions, among several, that may help to explain why the South lost the Civil War. I think there is reason to believe that many Southerners — how many I cannot say, but enough to affect the outcome of the war — who outwardly appeared to support the Confederate cause had inward doubts about its validity, and that, in all probability, some unconsciously even hoped for its defeat. Like all historical explanations, my hypothesis is not subject to definitive proof; but I think it can be established as circumstantially plausible, because it is a reasonable explanation for a certain amount of empirical evidence….

    Very soon, as a matter of fact, white Southerners were publicly expressing their satisfaction that the institution had been abolished and asserting that the whites, though perhaps not the blacks, were better off without it. Many were ready now to give voice to the private doubts they had felt before the war. They denied that slavery had anything to do with the Confederate cause, thus decontaminating it and turning it into something they could cherish. After Appomattox Jefferson Davis claimed that slavery “was in no wise the cause of the conflict,” and Alexander H. Stephens argued that the war “was not a contest between the advocates or opponents of that Peculiar Institution.” The speed with which white Southerners dissociated themselves from the cause of slavery is an indication of how great a burden it had been to them before Appomattox.

    The acceptance of emancipation, of course, did not commit Southerners to a policy of racial equality. Rather, they assumed that the free Negroes would be an inferior caste, exposed to legal discrimination, denied political rights, and subjected to social segregation. They had every reason to assume this, because these, by and large, were the policies of most of the northern states toward their free Negro populations, and because the racial attitudes of the great majority of Northerners were not much different from their own. White Southerners were understandably shocked, therefore, when Radical Republicans, during the Reconstruction years, tried to impose a different relationship between the races in the South — to give Negroes legal equality, political rights, and, here and there, even social equality. Now for the first time white Southerners organized a powerful partisan movement and resisted more fiercely than they ever had during the war. The difference, I think, was that in rejecting Radical race policy they felt surer of their moral position, for they were convinced that Northerners were perpetrating an outrage that Northerners themselves would not have endured. Thus the morale problem was now on the other side; and the North, in spite of its great physical power, lacked the will to prevail. Unlike slavery, racial discrimination did not disturb many nineteenth-century white Americans, North or South. Accordingly, in a relatively short time, chiefly because of the unrelenting opposition of white Southerners, Radical Reconstruction collapsed.

    The outcome of Reconstruction is significant: it shows what a people can do against overwhelming odds when their morale is high, when they believe in their cause, and when they are convinced that defeat means catastrophe. The fatal weakness of the Confederacy was that not enough of its people really thought that defeat would be a catastrophe; and, moreover, I believe that many of them unconsciously felt that the fruits of defeat would be less bitter than those of success. — Kenneth M. Stampp in “The Southern Road to Appomattox”

  • “Could all of this have been avoided — would the course of the sectional conflict have been significantly altered — if Buchanan had remained true to his pledge and demanded the submission of the whole Lecompton constitution to the voters of Kansas? That is a question no historian can answer. It is doubtful that a firm stand by Buchanan would have resulted in southern secession, because the provocation would not have been sufficient to unite even the Deep South behind so drastic a response. Nor would it have been sufficient to produce a major split in the national Democratic party. Accordingly, without a divided and demoralized national Democracy, Republican successes in the elections of 1858 and the presidential election of 1860 would have been a good deal more problematic.America in 1857: A Nation on the Brink JPG Yet, contrary to the optimists of 1857, removing the Kansas question from national politics, although eliminating a serious irritant, would not have assured a lasting settlement of the sectional conflict. The possibilities for other crises over slavery were far too numerous. Sooner or later, any one of them, like Lecompton, might have disrupted the Democratic party, perhaps, as in 1860, led to the nomination of two Democratic presidential candidates, and resulted in the election of Abraham Lincoln or some other “Black” Republican. The triumph of a Republican presidential candidate proved to be the provocation that turned the southern threats of secession, heard so often in the past, to reality.On December 6, 1858, after the Democratic disasters in the northern autumn elections, Buchanan sent his annual message to the lame-duck session of the Thirty-fifth Congress. He began with his own explication of the Lecompton controversy, expressing satisfaction that Kansas at last appeared to be “tranquil and prosperous” and was attracting thousands of emigrants. The rebellious activities of the “revolutionary Topeka organization” had been abandoned, thus proving that “resistance to lawful authority . . . cannot fail in the end to prove disastrous to its authors.” Although he continued to believe that approval of the Lecompton constitution would have “restored peace to Kansas and harmony to the Union” more rapidly, he “cordially acquiesced” in the English bill which Congress preferred. Still, it was “to be lamented that a question so insignificant when viewed in its practical effects on the people of Kansas, whether decided one way or the other, should have kindled such a flame of excitement throughout the country.” In this manner, at the end of a disruptive party controversy, Buchanan made his case for posterity.

    Rarely, it must be admitted, has any President, during his term in office, confessed publicly that he was guilty of an important error of judgment. He may on occasion, using the passive voice, concede the possibility that mistakes had been made, leaving responsibility for them in doubt. Buchanan would not concede even that. Referring to his message of February 2, 1858, which recommended approval of the Lecompton constitution, he now assured Congress and the public that he had no regrets. “In the course of my long public life,” he defiantly asserted, “I have never performed any official act which in the retrospect has afforded me more heartfelt satisfaction.” Let him be remembered, then, for that! — Kenneth M. Stampp in “America in 1857: A Nation on the Brink”

    About Kenneth M. Stampp

  • “Students and scholars alike will benefit from this collection of eight essays by one of the nation’s finest historians of the Civil War era. Stampp considers the crises of the 1850s that produced the Republican Party, the concept of a perpetual Union that the North went to war to defend, and the role of Abraham Lincoln in the sectional conflict. — Robert Detweiler reviewing “The Imperiled Union: Essays on the Background of the Civil War” in “History Teacher”
  • The bloodiest Civil War battles of the historians, unlike those of history, have been fought over events before rather than after 1861. And unlike the historic battles, the historiographic engagements still rage, the issue still in doubt in many instances. Most of them have been going on for more than a century, and while there have been occasional truces and lulls in the fighting, latest bulletins from the front offer little prospect for peace. Kenneth M. Stampp takes us on a guided tour of the classic antebellum battlefields of historiography….Professor Stampp is well qualified as a guide to these battlefields of the historians. A veteran of most of the campaigns and still a participant on active duty in several, he is well posted on the strength, weakness, and firepower of the forces engaged. After first pointing out, identifying, and assessing all belligerent units and reserves on a particular field, he puts on a demonstration as a participatory guide. Pitching in with live ammunition he leads a charge himself and often leaves the field littered with casualties. While he makes no secret of the colors he flies and the cause he fights, he shows a proper regard and, in all but a few cases, a seemly gallantry toward his foes. Bearing scars from many past encounters, he has learned a due respect for the forces of opposition and usually prefers to consider their intentions honorable if misguided. — C. Vann Woodward reviewing “The Imperiled Union: Essays on the Background of the Civil War” in New York Review of Books
  • Kenneth M. Stampp is by common acclaim the dean of historians of the Civil War era, and the long and honorable list of his works more than justifies the title; but not since “The Era of Reconstruction” (1965) has he used the narrative form. Now that it is becoming so academically fashionable, he has perhaps decided to show the young how an old master can handle it; and the result is a triumph of the historian’s craft. The argument underlying this chronicle of one year could not be stated more modestly, but almost every detail contributes to it; and the cunning structure of the narrative, which amounts to a carefully calculated arrangement of details, will compel readers to discover Mr. Stampp’s thesis for themselves and make it their own. — Hugh Brogan reviewing “AMERICA IN 1857 A Nation on the Brink” in NYT
  • “For almost firty years Kenneth Stampp’s writings and teachings have charted the course of historical inquiry regarding slavery and the Civil War. Standard textd have incorporated much of what Stampp has said about the era of Reconstruction that we forget how revolutionary many of Stampp’s arguments were when they first appeared. He rejected such former common-places as slavery being a benign insitution, as a “blundering” generation and “irresponsible agitators” alone bringing on secession and civil war, and as Republican corruption and vindictiveness marking Reconstruction as a tragic era. Save for his assumptions about the cultural unity of races and his emphasis on the exploitive, regimented character of master-slave relationships in The Peculier Institution: Slavery in the Antebellum South– assumptions and emphasis currently challenged in recent work on slavery, sometimes by Stampp’s own former students- Stampp’s work has proved remarkably durable.” — Randall M. Miller in the “Journal of Southern History” about “New Perspectives on Race and Slavery in America: Essays in Honor of Kenneth M. Stampp”
  • “In this reassessment of the period after Appomattox, Kenneth Stampp, professor of history at the University of California at Berkeley, calls the Southern version dead wrong. He is only one of dozens of contemporary historians who have recently undertaken to reconstruct the Reconstruction. Of these revisionists, Stampp is easily the most The Era of Reconstruction JPGprovocative. His proposition is that the impenitent postwar South set to work at once to restore the very order that it had supposedly yielded in defeat. The idea was to negate the war’s outcome.In this cause, says Stampp, the North served as unwitting accomplice. Lincoln’s assassination propelled Andrew Johnson into the White House, a kind-hearted and derivative man anxious to implement Lincoln’s injunction to let the South up easy. To staff the governments of the secessionist states, he granted wholesale pardons to Confederate officers and civil servants—and such men did not waste time accepting the chance to preside….The South’s version of Reconstruction blames everything on those vengeful Yankees who rammed their triumph down rebel throats—and implies that until then the rebels were willing to acknowledge the inevitable price of defeat. Stampp’s purpose is to expose this version as a falsehood that has graduated, over the years, into a Southern mystique. His book presents compelling arguments that Selma is the predictable heritage of a South that, though losing a war, at once conspired to evade the moral indemnity that was its toll.” — Time review article on “THE ERA OF RECONSTRUCTION, 1865-1877” (Apr. 23, 1965)
  • “One white scholar who did much to quicken interest in Afro-American history was Kenneth M. Stampp. His book The Peculier Institution: Slavery in the Antebellum South, was, in the words of Robert H. Abzug, a “landmark in the rewriting of Afro-American and race relations history.” The Peculier Institution opened new interpretations of the Afro-American past. Stampp assumed a unity among Americans that that transcended the differences dividing them, writes Abzug. After the publication of The Peculier Institution, white scholars in particular began to examine black history in terms of individual experiences. Even Stanley M. Elkins, whose book Slavery: A Problem in American and Institutional and Intellectual Life, which appeared in 1959, adopted an environmental rather than a biogenetic argument to explain the existence of Sambo as a childlike, lazy, dependent slave. Stampp and his students have looked at the effects of slavery and racism on both whites and blacks.” — Robert L. Harris, Jr. in the review article “The Flowering of Afro-American History”
  • “For the vast majority of Berkeley students whose lives Ken Stampp touched, of course, it is as a teacher of American history that he is best remembered. And with good reason: I have never known a teacher whose classroom presentations were more beautifully organized and controlled, more literate and logical, more eloquently understated, and more appealing to the common sense of students. Whether lecturing before hundreds of restless academic novices in cavernous Wheeler Auditorium or to upper-division students in his courses on sectional conflict, or supervising a dozen separate scholarly inquiries in seminar, his “presence” uniformly reflected a deep respect for the discipline of history and a delight in teaching.” — John G. Sproat, Professor Emeritus of History University of South Carolina
  • “In his distinguished studies of the sectional conflict, Kenneth M. Stampp has pushed aside musty curtains and opened sensitive topics to fresh inquiry. He has never deluded himself into believing that his work is “definitive,” for his grasp of the human factors in the historical equation makes it apparent to him that other generations will write histories conditioned by their own perspectives. Yet, his contributions are not likely soon to be set aside and forgotten. For the most enduring quality of his work may well be his capacity to comprehend the essence of a historical situation, then to express it in terms that make it all but self-evident. Nowhere is this quality more apparent than in the closing lines of his classic study of slavery: “One can feel compassion for the antebellum southern white man; one can understand the moral dilemma in which he was trapped. But one must remember that the Negro, not the white man, was the slave, and the Negro gained the most from emancipation. When freedom came– even the quasi-freedom of ‘second-class citizenship’–the Negro, in literal truth, lost nothing but his chains.” It is difficult to conceive of an intellectual climate in America in which that truism could be refuted.” — John G. Sproat, University of South Carolina in “Dictionary of Literary Biography”
  • Basic Facts

    Teaching Positions:
    1940-41: Instructor, University of Wisconsin, Extension Division
    1941-42: Instructor, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
    1942-46: Assistant Professor, University of Maryland, College Park
    1946-83: From Assistant Professor to Morrison Professor, University of California, Berkeley

    Visiting Professor: Harvard (1955), SUNY, Binghamton (1980), Colgate (1981) Williams College (1983)
    Summers: University of Wisconsin, Madison (1945, 1946, 1949, 1952), University of Colorado, Boulder (1958).

    Area of Research:
    Slavery, American Civil War, and Reconstruction

    BS, PhM, PhD, University of Wisconsin, Madison (1935, 1937, 1942)

    Major Publications:

  • Indiana Politics During the Civil War, (Indiana Historical Bureau, 1949).
  • And the War Came: The North and the Secession Crisis, 1860-1861, (Louisiana State University Press, 1950, with a new preface by the author, 1970).
  • The Peculiar Institution, (Knopf, 1956).
  • Andrew Johnson and the Failure of the Agrarian Dream: An Inaugural Lecture Delivered before the University of Oxford on 18 May 1962, (Clarendon Press (Oxford, England), 1962).
  • The Era of Reconstruction, 1865-1877, (Knopf, 1965).
  • The Southern Road to Appomattox, (University of Texas at El Paso, 1969).
  • The Imperiled Union: Essays on the Background of the Civil War, (Oxford University Press, 1980).
  • Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War, (microform), (University Publications of America (Frederick, MD), 1985-2000).
  • America in 1857: A Nation on the Brink, (Oxford University Press, 1990).
  • The United States and National Self-Determination: Two Traditions, (Gettysburg College, 1991).
  • Contributor of articles to historical journals.

    Editor, Contributor, Joint Author:

  • (Contributor) Problems in American History, (Prentice-Hall, 1952).
  • (Editor) The Causes of the Civil War, (Prentice-Hall, 1959, revised edition, 1974, 3rd revised edition, Simon & Schuster, 1991).
  • (Co-author) The National Experience, (Harcourt, 1963, revised editions, 1968, 1973).
  • (Coeditor with Esmond Wright) The McGraw-Hill Illustrated World History, (McGraw-Hill, 1964).
  • (Editor with Leon F. Litwack) Reconstruction: An Anthology of Revisionist Writings, (Louisiana State University Press, 1969).
  • Awards and Grants:

    Phi Beta Kappa (1935);
    MA, Oxford University, 1961;
    LHD, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, 1981;
    Guggenheim Fellow, 1952-53,1967-68;
    Fulbright Lecturer, Amerika-Institut, University of Munich, 1957, 1968, 1972;
    Commonwealth Fund Lecturer, University of London, 1960;
    Harmsworth Professor of American History, Oxford University, 1961-62;
    President, Organization of American Historians, 1977-78;
    Visiting Fellow, All Souls College, Oxford University, 1979;
    Confederate Memorial Literary Society, Award of Merit, 1980;
    Commonwealth Club, Silver Medals, 1981, 1991;
    Shortlisted for Pulitzer Prize, 1991;
    American Historical Association Award for Scholarly Distinction, 1989;
    Organization of American Historians Distinguished Service Award, 1993;
    Lincoln Prize, Lincoln and Soldiers Institute, Gettysburg College, 1993;
    Telford Taylor Public Service Award, Yeshiva University Law School, 1995;
    Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences;
    Southern Historical Association Certificate of Achievement, 2005.

    History Buzz July 13, 2009: 30th Anniversary of Jimmy Carter’s Malaise Speech




    • Obama’s Secret Meeting With Historians: The president held a dinner at the White House for leading presidential scholars
      Obama held a dinner at the White House residence with nine such scholars on June 30, and it turned out to be what one participant described as a “history book club, with the president as the inquisitor.” Among those attending were Michael Beschloss, H. W. Brands, Douglas Brinkley, Robert Dallek, and Doris Kearns Goodwin. Obama asked the guests to discuss the presidencies that they were most familiar with and to give him insights into what remains relevant to the problems of today. – Kenneth T. Walsh in US News & World Report (7-10-09)



    OP-EDs & BLOGS:


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    • Shaun A. Casey: RELIGION AND POLITICS Faith in the Electorate THE MAKING OF A CATHOLIC PRESIDENT Kennedy vs. Nixon 1960 WaPo, 7-12-09
    • Richard Wrangham & Tom Standage: Cooking Up a Pot of Civilization CATCHING FIRE How Cooking Made Us Human, AN EDIBLE HISTORY OF HUMANITY WaPo, 7-12-09
    • Margaret MacMillan: Getting History Right DANGEROUS GAMES The Uses and Abuses of History WaPo, 7-12-09
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    • Craig Nelson: ROCKET MEN The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon, Chapter Seven A Way to Talk to God – NYT, 7-8-09
    • Elijah Wald: Roll Over, John Lennon HOW THE BEATLES DESTROYED ROCK ‘N’ ROLL An Alternative History of American Popular Music NYT, 7-10-09
    • James MacGregor Burns: New Book on Supreme Court by Historian Packing the Court: The Rise of Judicial Power and the Coming Crisis of the Supreme Court iberkshires.com (7-6-09)
    • James MacGregor Burns says Supremes Really Govern America Packing the Court: The Rise of Judicial Power and the Coming Crisis of the Supreme Court MICHIKO KAKUTANI in the NYT (7-6-09)




    • Immanuel Ness: You Say You Want a Reference Book About Revolution? The International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest, 1500 to the Present Inside Higher Ed (7-8-09)
    • Michael Oren: Israeli Ambassador in conversation with Jeffrey Goldberg
      youtube.com (7-2-09)



    • August 1, 2009: An Evening with Ken Burns: Kens Burns has been making documentary films for more than 30 years. Since the Academy Award-nominated Brooklyn Bridge in 1981, he has gone on to direct and produce some of the most acclaimed historical documentaries ever made. The late historian Stephen Ambrose said of Burns’ films, “More Americans get their history from Ken Burns than any other source.” This evening will afford Chautauqua an opportunity to hear one of the most influential documentary makers of all time. Chautauqua Institutition. For more info 716-357-6200. – Jamestown Post-Journal, 5-21-09

    ON TV:

    • Niall Ferguson: The Ascent of Money Brings The Economic Crisis Down to Earth on PBS each Wednesday in July – About.com, 6-29-09
    • BBC to launch new series on history of Christianity – Religious Intelligence, 6-19-09
    • C-SPAN2: BOOK TV Weekend Schedule
    • PBS History Detectives: Mondays at 9pm
    • History Channel: Weekly Schedule
    • History Channel: “The Exodus Decoded” – Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Mega Disasters: San Francisco Earthquake” – Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 6pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Cities Of The Underworld: New York: Secret Societies” – Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “The Antichrist” – Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Angels: Good or Evil” – Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 4pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Lost Worlds: The Real Dracula” – Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 6pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “True Story of the Bridge on the River Kwai” – Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “The Lost Pyramid” – Friday, July 17, 2009 at 2pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “UFO Files: The Pacific Bermuda Triangle” – Friday, July 17, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “Kennedys: The Curse of Power” – Saturday, July 18, 2009 at 8pm ET/PT
    • History Channel: “The Kennedy Assassination: Beyond Conspiracy” – Saturday, July 18, 2009 at 10pm ET/PT



    • Roger S. Bagnall: Oxford Handbook of Papyrology, July 14, 2009
    • David Maraniss: Rome 1960: The Summer Olympics That Stirred the World (Reprint), July 14, 2009
    • Buzz Aldrin: Magnificent Desolation: The Long Journey Home from the Moon, July 23, 2009
    • Alice Morse Earle: Child Life in Colonial Times (Paperback), July 23, 2009
    • William A. DeGregorio: The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents, Seventh Edition, August 15, 2009
    • Douglas Hunter: Half Moon: Henry Hudson and the Voyage That Redrew the Map of the New World, September 1, 2009
    • Annette Gordon-Reed: The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family (Paperback), September 8, 2009
    • Jon Krakauer: Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman, September 15, 2009


    July 10, 2009: Obama’s First 4th in the White House, Bush Celebrates in OK., Obama’s Meeting in Moscow, & G-8 Summit


    President Obama and President Medvedev sign agreements


    • Voters’ Remorse — Is Baracklash on the Horizon? Since January Obama has failed to help many of his core supporters. Will they soon turn against him?: Call it Baracklash: so far, Barack Obama isn’t helping many people who voted for him in high percentages when he was elected president eight months ago. Fox News, 7-9-09
    • Obama Approval Drops by Double Digits in Ohio Poll: A new poll found that President Barack Obama’s approval rating has dropped by 13 percentage points from two months ago in Ohio, traditionally a critical swing state in presidential elections. The survey by Quinnipiac University released today showed 49 percent of Ohio voters approved of Obama’s job performance, down from 62 percent in a May 6 poll. The disapproval figure for Obama in the new poll was 44 percent, up from 31 percent in the May survey. The pollsters termed Obama’s ratings “lackluster” in a release, and said the numbers were his lowest marks “in any national or statewide Quinnipiac University poll since he was inaugurated.” – Bloomberg, 7-7-09
    • Obama kicks back for the Fourth Golf, cookout, rock concert mark president’s holiday: President Barack Obama took his own advice Saturday, relaxing on the Fourth of July with some golf, a cookout and a private Foo Fighters concert in the backyard, capped by the annual fireworks show on the National Mall. While Vice President Joe Biden celebrated with U.S. forces in Iraq, the president played host to 1,200 members of the military and their families at a White House barbecue. In his weekly radio and online video address, Obama called on Americans to celebrate the spirit of their national day with family and friends. “Kick back and enjoy a little time off,” he advised. “I hope that’s exactly what all of you do.”… – Baltimore Sun, 7-5-09


    The President calls in to the H1N1 Flu Summit

    Bill Branson, N.I.H. Photography, 7/9/09

    H1N1 Summit

    HHS opens a contest with a $2,500 prize for best H1N1 PSA video as the Administration holds an all-day summit on preparation.
    Learn More
    Watch the live-stream

    G8 Group Photo

    • Obama to conclude summit talks, meet with pope: Global problems, Africa and the pope all figure in President Barack Obama’s day…. – AP, 7-10-09
    • Obama set for emotional visits to Vatican, Ghana: President Barack Obama is ending three days of often-wonkish policy discussions with fellow world leaders to embark on two of the most photogenic and emotional events of his young presidency: meeting the pope at the Vatican and becoming the first black American president to visit a mostly black African country. He was throwing in a televised news conference from Italy for good measure. Obama, his wife and daughters were to meet Pope Benedict XVI shortly before leaving Italy late Friday for Ghana. The two men have spoken by phone but not met before, aides say…. – AP, 7-10-09
    • NY Senate gets to work after resolving roadblock: New York’s Senate stalemate ended Thursday as it started 31 days ago, with a freshman Democrat convulsing the 62-seat house by switching sides and getting a powerful leadership post in the majority… Bronx Sen. Pedro Espada’s return to the Democratic conference gives Democrats a 32-30 majority for the first time since the June 8 coup. As part of the deal, Espada took the title of Senate majority leader…. – AP, 7-10-09
    • Despite Obama’s pledge, G-8 makes little headway on global warming: The president promises at the Italy G-8 summit that the U.S. will lead on climate change, but familiar obstacles — compounded by the global recession — produce familiar results…. – LAT, 7-9-09
    • Obama and Kadhafi shake hands: US President Barack Obama shook hands warmly on Thursday with Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, long reviled in Washington. The landmark handshake took place as leaders from major economic powers and emerging nations prepared to take a group photo at a summit in L’Aquila, central Italy…. – AP, 7-9-09
    • Health care overhaul bill suffers another setback: The drive to remake the nation’s health care system suffered yet another setback in Congress on Thursday when a pivotal group of House Democrats demanded numerous changes in legislation the leadership was drafting on a fast track. The emerging bill “lacks a number of elements essential to preserving what works and fixing what is broken,” 40 members of the Blue Dog Coalition of moderate to conservative Democrats wrote in a letter to party leaders. To win their support, they said, any legislation would need to be much more aggressive in reining in the growth of health care…. – AP, 7-9-09
    • Worst violence since US pullback hits Iraq: Bombs killed nearly 60 people in Iraq on Thursday in the worst violence since U.S. combat troops withdrew from urban areas last week, and American forces released five Iranian officials suspected of aiding Shiite insurgents. U.S. officials said they believe the Iranians, detained in northern Iraq in January 2007, had facilitated attacks on American-led forces but handed them over to the Iraqi government at its request because they were obliged to do so under a U.S.-Iraqi security agreement. The U.S. State Department said it was concerned their release could present a security threat to American troops in Iraq…. – AP, 7-9-09
    • AP source: Burris won’t run for full Senate term: Sen. Roland Burris, whose deep ties to former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich seemed to doom his Senate tenure from the start, will not run for a full Senate term in 2010. The move increases Democrats’ chances of holding on to the former Senate seat of President Barack Obama…. – AP, 7-9-09
    • US officials eye North Korea in cyber attack: U.S. authorities on Wednesday eyed North Korea as the origin of the widespread cyber attack that overwhelmed government Web sites in the United States and South Korea, although they warned it would be difficult to definitively identify the attackers quickly. The powerful attack that targeted dozens of government and private sites underscored how unevenly prepared the U.S. government is to block such multipronged assaults…. – AP, 7-9-09
    • Presidential records a time capsule of Bush years: Spread upon a table are a sampling of gifts to former President George W. Bush: a purse made of vines from the Thai queen, a Texas Rangers jersey autographed by pitcher Nolan Ryan and a framed mosaic of St. Peter’s Basilica from the pope. The gifts, documents and electronic records accumulated during Bush’s two terms have gone from the White House to a warehouse in suburban Dallas, just a few miles north of a turnpike named for his father. They will remain there until Bush’s $300 million presidential library — the nation’s 13th and the third in Texas — opens in 2013 on the Southern Methodist University campus near downtown Dallas. “It’s a wonderful eight-year time capsule,” said Jennifer M. Schulle, the registrar for the Bush library. “It’s everything that was going on — politically, personally and socially.”… – AP, 7-9-09
    • US, other wealthy nations vow global warming cuts: Targeting global warming, President Barack Obama and other leaders of the world’s richest industrial countries pledged Wednesday to seek dramatic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 to slow dangerous climate change. Setting a marker for success, they agreed for the first time that worldwide temperatures must not rise more than a few degrees…. – AP, 7-8-09
    • Near Tents and Ruins, G-8 Summit Meeting Opens: It had seemed an audacious choice: bringing the leaders of some of the world’s most industrialized countries to a city ravaged by an earthquake just three months before. But as so often happens in Italy, a country that appears to handle last-minute emergencies better than long-term planning, the Group of 8 summit meeting opened here on Wednesday without any glaring hitches.
      “We’re proud that we were able to pull off a miracle,” Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Wednesday evening at a news conference. ‘I thank everyone who agreed to move the venue here,” Mr. Berlusconi said, adding that world leaders said they were “happy” to come to L’Aquila, “the capital of grief.” – NYT, 7-8-09
    • PROMISES, PROMISES: Obama tax pledge unrealistic: President Barack Obama promised to fix health care and trim the federal budget deficit, all without raising taxes on anyone but the wealthiest Americans. It’s a promise he’s already broken and will likely have to break again. Obama and the Democratic-controlled Congress have already increased tobacco taxes — which disproportionately hit the poor — to pay for extending health coverage to 4 million children in working low-income families. Now, lawmakers are looking for more revenues to help pay for providing medical insurance to millions more who lack it at a projected cost of $1 trillion over the next decade. The floated proposals include increasing taxes on alcohol, which could raise $62 billion over the next decade, and a new tax on sugary drinks such as soda, which could raise $52 billion…. – AP, 7-8-09
    • House Dems look at surtax on the wealthy: A plan to raise taxes on the wealthy is emerging as the leading option among House Democrats looking to finance health care legislation that President Barack Obama wants. Numerous officials say that under the proposal, an income tax surcharge would be imposed on individuals earning more than $200,000, with a higher threshold for couples…. – AP, 7-8-09
    • Obama, summit partners, eye intense global talks: President Barack Obama joined fellow world leaders in Italy Wednesday for talks on threats to global security and stability at a summit where climate change, a continuing global economic crisis, nuclear proliferation and world hunger took top billing. The G-8 meetings may lack the intrigue of Obama’s sit-downs earlier in the week with Russia’s top leaders, or the emotion of the reception the first black American president surely will get in Ghana Saturday. But they didn’t lack for ambition, on the surface at least, as the world’s most powerful officials discuss the problems threatening the planet. AP, 7-8-09
    • Mixed results for Obama’s first Moscow summit: For two days, President Barack Obama pressed the reset button with Russia. The results: He ended up getting the expected agreement on deep cuts in nuclear arsenals, but he is leaving Moscow with few assurances of Kremlin help in solving other issues key to his foreign policy agenda. He is also leaving behind a spark he hopes will blaze to life and thaw U.S. relations with a former superpower with a chip on its shoulder. But his two days of summitry produced no unexpected breakthroughs…. – AP, 7-7-09
    • Palin returns to work, defends decision to resign: Gov. Sarah Palin returned to the spotlight Tuesday with an appearance in a remote Arctic village where she stood by her perplexing decision to resign just as she tries to elevate her national profile ahead of a possible 2012 presidential run…. – AP, 7-7-09
    • Power of Stimulus Slow to Take Hold Rising Joblessness Blunts President’s Plan for Recovery: Five months after Congress approved a massive package of spending and tax cuts aimed at reviving an ailing economy, the jobless rate is still climbing and the White House is scrambling to reassure an anxious public that President Obama’s prescription for economic recovery is on the right track. Yesterday, Obama took time out of his first presidential trip to Moscow to defend the $787 billion stimulus package, arguing that the measure was the right medicine at the right time. “There’s nothing that we would have done differently,” he told ABC News…. – WaPo, 7-7-09
    • Democrats expand Senate control, yet splits remain: Democrats have potential to clear Republican hurdles. Obama still faces challenges in passing major measures. Democrats achieved their biggest majority in the U.S. Senate in decades on Tuesday as Al Franken of Minnesota finally took his seat — but President Barack Obama will still have to fight hard to muster the votes to pass healthcare reform and other major initiatives…. – Reuters, 7-7-09
    • Reading (Too Much?) Into Palin’s Resignation: Unanticipated events in politics — say, for example, Sarah Palin’s announcement that she was quitting as governor of Alaska — tend to be overanalyzed, imbued with more motive, forethought and political calculus than might really be there…. – NYT, 7-7-09
    • Bush gives Oklahoma town a special Fourth of July: The July Fourth celebration here featured all the food and revelry you would expect of a small-town holiday event. Swing sets and shaved ice. Root beer in corked bottles. Brass bands and bunting. Yet this remote city in western Oklahoma also won the lottery when it came to the headliner for “Let Freedom Ring 2009”: George W. Bush. The Woodward visit represents the latest example of Bush’s tendency to limit his public appearances to friendly venues…. – The Dallas Morning News, 7-6-09
    • Vietnam War architect Robert McNamara dies at 93: Robert S. McNamara, the brainy Pentagon chief who directed the escalation of the Vietnam War despite private doubts the war was winnable or worth fighting, died Monday at 93. McNamara revealed his misgivings three decades after the American defeat that some called “McNamara’s war.” “We of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations acted according to what we thought were the principles and traditions of our country. But we were wrong. We were terribly wrong,” McNamara told The Associated Press in 1995, the year his best-selling memoir appeared…. – AP, 7-6-09
    • US Congress back to wrestle with healthcare reform: Health care overhaul still faces big obstacles. Congress begins month of intensive healthcare work. Plan’s cost remains crucial factor…. After a week of holiday barbecues and hometown parades, the U.S. Congress returned to work on Monday to face what could be the year’s most severe test — finding common ground on a huge and costly U.S. healthcare overhaul…. – Reuters, 7-6-09
    • Health-Care Plan May Not Pass Senate by August, Grassley Says: Congress will probably complete a health-care overhaul this year, though the Senate is unlikely to complete consideration of a measure by the August recess as planned, the Senate Finance Committee’s top Republican said. “We might get it out of committee by the August recess,” Senator Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television…. – Bloomberg, 7-6-09
    • A Busy Week Ahead as Senate Starts Work on Climate Bill: The Senate climate debate cranks up this week with a series of hearings and high-level meetings aimed at producing legislation that can be matched up with last month’s House-passed bill…. – NYT, 7-6-09
    • GOP: Dems have closed door on open government But Democrats say progress being made toward transparency: To many Republicans, that June 26 energy policy legislation will be remembered as the 1,400-page bill that broke the camel’s back. After Democratic promises to run the most open and transparent Congress in history, Republicans say they are stunned by the number of closed-off debates over legislation, including spending bills, and the lack of time to actually see, let alone read, measures before the House votes…. – Salt Lake Tribune, 7-5-09
    • Obama to meet powerful Putin for first time: U.S. President Barack Obama meets Russia’s most powerful politician, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, for the first time on Tuesday as part of a trip designed to improve relations between the world’s top nuclear powers. Obama’s meeting with the former KGB spy follows talks on Monday with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that produced agreements on a target for cuts in nuclear arms and a deal to let U.S. troops fly across Russia to fight in Afghanistan. On the second day of his visit to Russia, Obama is also due to deliver a major speech on democracy, the global economy and the U.S.-Russian relationship…. – Reuters, 7-6-09
    • Obama seeks new start in sagging US-Russia ties: Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev end a seven-year hiatus in U.S.-Russian summitry on Monday, with each declaring his determination to further cut nuclear arsenals and repair a badly damaged relationship…. – AP, 7-5-09
    • Alaskans Consider Palin’s Legacy As She Prepares to Leave Office: In November 2006, as Sarah Palin celebrated her gubernatorial victory at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage, she told the crowd she would bring a “new energy” to the governor’s office, stand up to “Big Oil” and usher in a new era of ethical reforms. But less than three years later, Palin is calling it quits, and Alaskans offer mixed assessments of her legacy as she steps down with 18 months left in her term. – WaPo, 7-6-09
    • Top Republicans puzzled by Palin’s abrupt resignation: Sarah Palin has no intention of retiring from public life, the soon-to-be ex-Alaska governor’s spokeswoman said Sunday, but top Republicans are expressing befuddlement at the decision by one of the party’s leading presidential prospects to give up her job… – USA Today, 7-5-09
    • Observers: Palin resignation cuts losses in Alaska: Ever since Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin returned from the presidential campaign trail, many Alaskans felt her heart wasn’t in the job…. – AP, 7-5-09
    • Sarah Palin not under FBI investigation, agency spokesman says: The former GOP vice presidential candidate’s surprise resignation as Alaska governor had set off speculation, including rumors of a pending federal corruption probe or charges. – LAT, 7-4-09
    • Palin Resigning Governor’s Job; Future Unclear: At a Friday news conference, Gov. Palin said, “I am determined to take the right path for Alaska even though it is unconventional.” Ms. Palin, 45, the Republican vice-presidential nominee last year, was supposed to serve through the end of 2010; she said she would cede control of the state to Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell on July 25. – NYT, 7-3-09
    • Text: Palin’s Announcement: Transcript of Sarah Palin’s speech on Friday in Wasilla, Alaska, as she announced that she would be resigning as governor, as recorded by The New York Times – NYT, 7-3-09
    • Hillary Clinton tougher on Iran than political-straddler Obama: While Secretary of State Hillary Clinton advocated a stronger U.S. response to the beating and killing of protesting Iranians, President Obama resisted. When he finally at least said he was appalled and outraged by the Iranian government behavior, it was long after both England and France had condemned it. Always the egotist, Obama did not even let Clinton know that he was finally going to speak out and took the action without informing her. The situation was one more piece evidence of Obama’s weak-kneed response when it came to standing up to tyrants around the world. It was a reminder of his shaking hands and accepting a book from Chavez and his willingness to talk with other U.S. enemies without preconditions. And his bow in Saudia Arabia is not to be forgotten…. – Examiner, 7-3-09
    • Washington Post says publishers’ conference won’t be held: The Washington Post asked lobbyists and business leaders to pay $25,000 to attend a dinner discussion with government officials and journalists at the home of its publisher, and then canceled the event after the invitations became public. The newspaper’s executive editor, Marcus Brauchli, said Thursday that no one in the newsroom had vetted the invitation and its journalists would not participate. “The Washington Post’s name is not for sale,” Brauchli said. “The Washington Post’s reputation is not for sale.”… – AP, 7-2-09
    • Obama says he gets daily prayers on his BlackBerry: President Barack Obama says he gets a prayer every morning on his BlackBerry. Obama told reporters from religious news organizations on Thursday that White House faith director Joshua DuBois sends him a morning devotional every day to his e-mail device. He says it’s a “wonderful practice” that started during the campaign…. – AP, 7-2-09

    ELECTIONS 2010, 2012….

    • Cahill to leave Democratic party, set himself up for independent run: State Treasurer Tim Cahill this week will change his political party designation from Democrat to unenrolled, the first step in mounting an independent challenge to Democratic governor Deval Patrick in the 2010 general election, two advisers said today…. – Boston Globe, 7-6-09
    • Romney Emerges as Top Issues Play to His Strength: Most Republicans have just finished what might be called the spring of their discontent. Not much went right in the first half of the year; not much to cheer about. But not Mitt Romney. For this unsuccessful 2008 Republican presidential contender, it is hard to imagine how events could be moving more decisively in his favor in 2009. One can almost hear him wondering: Why didn’t things break this way last year? WSJ, 7-5-09
    • Bill Clinton to appear at Maloney fundraiser: Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s plan to challenge Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in the Democratic primary next year will get a surprising boost later this month: a fundraiser headed by Bill Clinton. The former president is scheduled to raise money for the Manhattan Democrat on July 20 – despite the efforts of President Barack Obama and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) to clear the field for Gillibrand…. – Newsday, 7-2-09
    • Maine Dems circle GOP contender over stylized ‘O’: O, boy. The executive director of the Democratic Party in Maine is accusing a Republican who’s considering a run for governor of stealing the stylized “O” from President Barack Obama’s Web site. Arden Manning says Les Otten’s “O” is a close copy of one on the Obama Web site…. – AP, 7-2-09


    • Palin Post-Resignation: “I Am Not a Quitter; I Am a Fighter”: “I am not a quitter; I am a fighter,” Palin said to CNN while on a family fishing trip in Dillingham, Alaska. Palin granted interviews with select media outlets to explain her decision to step down from office. “I want to help Alaska in different venues, on a different level,” she said. – TV Guide, 7-7-09
    • REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT AT THE NEW ECONOMIC SCHOOL GRADUATION Gostinny Dvor Moscow, Russia: That’s why I have called for a “reset” in relations between the United States and Russia. This must be more than a fresh start between the Kremlin and the White House — though that is important and I’ve had excellent discussions with both your President and your Prime Minister. It must be a sustained effort among the American and Russian people to identify mutual interests, and expand dialogue and cooperation that can pave the way to progress. – White House, 7-7-09
    • How Obama speech sounds to Russian ears: What President Obama said to a Moscow audience and what Russia’s political elite heard were not necessarily one and the same — even when his words sought to reassure.
      I know Russia opposes the planned configuration for missile defense in Europe. And my administration is reviewing these plans to enhance the security of America, Europe and the world. And I’ve made it clear that this system is directed at preventing a potential attack from Iran. It has nothing to do with Russia. In fact, I want to work together with Russia on a missile defense architecture that makes us all safer. But if the threat from Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs is eliminated, the driving force for missile defense in Europe will be eliminated, and that is in our mutual interest.’
      ‘It is our commitment to certain universal values which allows us to correct our imperfections, to improve constantly and to grow stronger over time. Freedom of speech and assembly has allowed women, minorities and workers to protest for full and equal rights at a time when they were denied. The rule of law and equal administration of justice has busted monopolies, shut down political machines that were corrupt and ended abuses of power. . . . Competitive elections allow us to change course and hold our leaders accountable. . . . Governments which serve their own people survive and thrive; governments which serve only their own power do not.’
      ‘State sovereignty must be a cornerstone of international order. Just as all states should have the right to choose their leaders, states must have the right to borders that are secure, and to their own foreign policies. That is true for Russia, just as it is true for the United States. Any system that cedes those rights will lead to anarchy. That is why we must apply this principle to all nations — and that includes nations like Georgia and Ukraine. America will never impose a security arrangement on another country.’ – LAT, 7-7-09
    • PRESS CONFERENCE BY PRESIDENT OBAMA AND PRESIDENT MEDVEDEV OF RUSSIA The Kremlin Moscow, Russia: We’ve just concluded a very productive meeting. As President Medvedev just indicated, the President and I agreed that the relationship between Russia and the United States has suffered from a sense of drift. We resolved to reset U.S.-Russian relations, so that we can cooperate more effectively in areas of common interest. Today, after less than six months of collaboration, we’ve done exactly that by taking concrete steps forward on a range of issues, while paving the way for more progress in the future. And I think it’s particularly notable that we’ve addressed the top priorities — these are not second-tier issues, they are fundamental to the security and the prosperity of both countries…. – White House, 7-6-09
    • No joke: Al Franken takes his new job seriously: “I think they’ll get to used to the idea that I’m a senator, that I’ve kind of changed careers,” Franken said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I just don’t think it will take that long. They’ll see what I do and what I say. Mainly I’m going to put my head down and get to work.”… “As someone who will have been in the committee a grand total of six days and isn’t an attorney, I kind of see myself fulfilling a certain role for Americans watching the hearings,” he said. Franken also said he is looking forward to getting involved in health care legislation and wants to play a role in crafting legislation that contains costs. “It is unsustainable the way we are going,” he said. – AP, 7-6-09
    • Bush Jokes About Retirement, Describes Courage as Key to American Spirit Former President George W. Bush looked back as far as the signers of the Declaration of Independence and as recently as the U.S. soldiers fighting wars abroad as examples of the patriotism and bravery that define Americans: “Patriotism comes in all different kinds of forms,” said the president, who noted a 60-year-old man from Nevada who got a waiver to enroll in the military after his son was killed in Iraq. The man is now serving as a Navy medic.
      “They did the right thing even when it was hard. They did the brave thing even when risky. They did the noble thing even when many others would not,” the president said….
      Having recently returned to Dallas, which he now calls home, Bush said he told his wife that he was “free at last.” “She says, ‘Yeah, you are free to take out the garbage and free to mow the lawn.,'” Bush joked. “I said ‘wait a minute, you’re talking to the former president.’ And she said, ‘Well, consider that your new domestic policy agenda.'” – Fox News, 7-5-09
    • Obama’s backyard bash: Welcome to the White House. (Applause.) And happy Fourth of July. Michelle and I are honored and proud to have you here on the Fourth. And we’re humbled to be joined up here by heroes — men and women who went beyond the call of duty in battle, some selflessly risking their lives again and again so that others might live. True to form, they — like all of you — say they were just doing their job. That’s what makes you the best of us, and that’s why we simply want to say thank you to each and every one of you for your extraordinary service to our country.
      We’re joined in that sentiment by Vice President Joe Biden, who, as many of you know, is marking Independence Day with troops in Iraq; and Jill Biden, who’s spending it with military families in Germany.
      I should say that there’s also one girl in particular who’s just thrilled that all of you are here — and that is Malia Obama, because this happens to be her birthday, as well. (Applause.) When she was younger, I used to say that all these fireworks were for her. (Laughter.) I’m not sure she still buys that, but even if this backyard is a little bit unique, our gathering tonight is not so different from gatherings that are taking place all across the country, in parks and fields and backyards all across America. In small towns and big cities, folks are firing up grills, laughing with family and friends, and laying out a blanket in preparation for the big show. They’re reliving the simple, unmistakable joys of being an American….
      But I want to say this to all of you: You have done everything that has been asked of you. The United States of America is proud of you. I’m proud to be your Commander-in-Chief. And that’s why, this Fourth of July, I renew my pledge to each and every one of you — that for as long as I have that immeasurable honor, you will always have the equipment and support you need to get the job done. Your families will always be a priority of Michelle’s and mine, and remain on our hearts and on our minds. And when our service members do return home, it will be to an America that always welcomes them home with the care that they were promised.
      It is, after all, your service — the service of generations of soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen — that makes our annual celebration of this day possible. It’s your service that proves that our founding ideals remain just as powerful and alive in our third century as a nation as they did on that first Fourth of July. And it is your service that guarantees that the United States of America shall forever remain the last, best hope on Earth. – Politico, 7-4-09
    • Remarks of President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House July 4, 2009: Hello and Happy Fourth of July, everybody. This weekend is a time to get together with family and friends, kick back, and enjoy a little time off. And I hope that’s exactly what all of you do. But I also want to take a moment today to reflect on what I believe is the meaning of this distinctly American holiday.
      Today, we are called to remember not only the day our country was born – we are also called to remember the indomitable spirit of the first American citizens who made that day possible.
      We are called to remember how unlikely it was that our American experiment would succeed at all; that a small band of patriots would declare independence from a powerful empire; and that they would form, in the new world, what the old world had never known – a government of, by, and for the people…. – White House, 7-4-09
    • Mike Huckabee: Palin May Not Be Able To Handle Pressure Of Presidential Run: But her reason for resigning — that she was dogged by critics who cost her state millions in legal fees 00 will be a liability for her if she seeks the White House, Huckabee said. “If that had been the case for me, I would’ve quit in my first month,” said Huckabee. If she’s looking to be a national political figure, it’s not going to get easier, he said. “In a primary this is going to be an issue she’ll have to face. Will she be able to withstand the pressure?” he asked. Huckabee and Rove appeared on “Fox News Sunday.” – Huff Post, 7-5-09
    • Colin Powell worries Obama tackling too much: Colin Powell worries that President Barack Obama is trying to tackle too many big issues at one time and he offers this advice: take a hard look at costs and consider the additional red tape that will be created. “The right answer is, ‘Give me a government that works,'” the former secretary of state said in a television interview to be aired Sunday. “Keep it as small as possible,” added Powell, who said he has spoken recently with Obama and stays in touch with him.
      “I think one of the cautions that has to be given to the president — and I’ve talked to some of his people about this — is that you can’t have so many things on the table that you can’t absorb it all. And we can’t pay for it all,” Powell said. “And I never would have believed that we would have budgets that are running into the multi-trillions of dollars, and we are amassing a huge, huge national debt that, if we don’t pay for in our lifetime, our kids and grandkids and great grandchildren will have to pay for it.” In the interview with CNN’s “State of the Union” that is to air Sunday, Powell said he hasn’t changed his mind. “Keep it as small as possible. Keep the tax burden on the American people as small as possible, but at the same time, have government that is solving the problems of the people,” he said. He said Obama “has to start really taking a very, very hard look at what the cost of all this is. And, how much additional bureaucracy and will it be effective bureaucracy.” AP, 7-4-09Gen. Colin Powell expresses alarm about Obama spending: In an interview to be broadcast on CNN’s “State of the Union with John King” Sunday, July 5, 2009, Powell expressed concern that Obama’s ambitious iniatives may be enlarging the size of government and that the federal debt it too much. He said: “I’m concerned at the number of programs that are being presented, the bills associated with these programs and the additional government that will be needed to execute them.” Powell also said that, in regard to Obama’s spending; “…And we can’t pay for it all.” – Examiner.com, 7-3-09
    • Obama confident in recovery despite jobs report: The government reported that employers cut a larger-than-expected 467,000 jobs in June. The unemployment rate climbed to a 26-year high of 9.5 percent.
      “And I’m absolutely confident that we can, at this period of difficulty, prove, once again, what this nation can achieve when challenged,” Obama said in the Rose Garden after a meeting with executives from energy companies.
      “Obviously, this is little comfort to all those Americans who have lost their jobs,” he said.
      “So these companies are vivid examples of the kind of future we can create,” the president said Thursday in the Rose Garden, flanked by energy industry leaders. “But it’s now up to the Senate to continue the work that was begun in the House to forge this more prosperous future. We’re going to need to set aside the posturing and the politics, and when we put aside the old ideological debates, then our choice is clear.” He added: “It’s a choice between slow decline and renewed prosperity. It’s a choice between the past and the future.” – AP, 7-3-09
    • Obama: Court leaves room for affirmative action: President Barack Obama said Thursday the Supreme Court is “moving the ball” to limit affirmative action, but he stressed that its ruling in favor of white firefighters still allows employers and educators to take race into account in hiring, promotions and admissions.
      “This was a very narrow case, so it’s hard to gauge where they will take it,” Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press. The president said the city might have prevailed if it “had thought through how it was going to approach the issue ahead of time and said, ‘We think merit and highly qualified firefighters are absolutely important. That doesn’t contradict our desire to make sure that there is diversity in a city that’s 60 percent black and Hispanic. Let’s design promotion approaches that reconcile those two things.'” Instead, Obama said, “I think what people instinctively, probably, reacted to on that particular case had more to do with the fact that the people that studied for those tests already had a set of expectations that were thwarted.” – AP, 7-2-09
    • Hillary Clinton delivers remarks on 4 July holiday: “For Americans, the 4th of July is a day to reconnect with loved ones, to remember our history, and to renew our commitment to democracy, tolerance, and justice. As President [Barack] Obama said in Cairo last month, these are not just American values, these are core principles we share with people everywhere. So it is fitting that we open our doors and share this day with our friends and neighbors around the world,” said Clinton. “We all share responsibility for working together to ensure a more peaceful and prosperous future,” she said, adding: “So I hope that today’s celebration will become tomorrow’s partnership.” – Wsashington TV, 7-2-09
    • SC gov’s wife may be able to forgive affair: South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford says she may be able to forgive her husband’s much-publicized affair with an Argentine woman, but true reconciliation will take more time. In a statement e-mailed to reporters Thursday, Jenny Sanford called her husband’s behavior inexcusable but said she may be able to give him another chance. It was her first public remark since Gov. Mark Sanford told The Associated Press that Maria Belen Chapur is his soul mate but he is trying to fall back in love with his wife. “Forgiveness opens the door for Mark to begin to work privately, humbly and respectfully toward reconciliation with me,” she said. “However, to achieve true reconciliation will take time, involve repentance, and will not be easy.” – AP, 7-2-09
    • INTERVIEW OF THE PRESIDENT BY ALLAFRICA.COM Blue Room July 2, 2009: Q We asked visitors to our site, AllAfrica.com, what they might be interested in with respect to your policy. And as you might imagine, the responses are everywhere: conflict resolution, development issues, trade issues, et cetera. But they and we have one immediate question: How is it that you happened to pick Ghana as the first place to visit in sub-Saharan Africa?
      THE PRESIDENT: Well, part of the reason is because that Ghana has now undergone a couple of successful elections in which power was transferred peacefully, even a very close election. I think that the new President, President Mills, has shown himself committed to the rule of law, to the kinds of democratic commitments that ensure stability in a country. And I think that there is a direct correlation between governance and prosperity. Countries that are governed well, that are stable, where the leadership recognizes that they are accountable to the people and that institutions are stronger than any one person have a track record of producing results for the people. And we want to highlight that…. – White House, 7-2-09


    The President gives an interview to AllAfrica.com
    (President Barack Obama gives an interview to AllAfrica.com in advance of a major speech in Ghana on Thursday, July 2, 2009. Official White House Photo, Pete Souza)
    • Julian Zelizer “Commentary: Democrats should act now”: Democrats are elated because Sen. Al Franken, former comedian and radio host, is finally coming to town. The gates of political heaven seemed to open when former Sen. Norm Coleman finally conceded.
      During his much awaited victory speech, the senator-elect said that “I am not going to waste this chance.”
      With that statement, Franken started his senatorial career with an important message to his colleagues. Without any doubt, 60 votes in the filibuster-happy Senate is a lot better than 59.
      With 60 votes, a united Democratic Party can obtain cloture and end attempted Republican filibusters. But the problem is that 60 votes does not make the Senate “filibuster-proof.”
      That would require 60 votes, plus Democrats sticking together….
      Without compromise by both sides, a moment of unusual opportunity can quickly disappear…. As the 2010 midterms move closer, Democrats must realize these are the best legislative conditions that they might encounter in the next four to eight years. – CNN, 7-6-09
    • Douglas Brinkley “Hussein’s Gun May Go on Display at Bush Library”: Douglas Brinkley, an author and history professor at Rice University, said the pistol opened a psychological window into Mr. Bush’s view of his presidency. “It represents this Texas notion of the white hats taking out the black hats and keeping the trophy,” Mr. Brinkley said. “It’s a True West magazine kind of pulp western mentality. For President Bush, this pistol represents his greatest moment of triumph, like the F.B.I. keeping Dillinger’s gun. He wants people generations from now to see the gun and say, ‘He got the bad guy.'” Mr. Bush once said his favorite biography was of Sam Houston, the Texas hero who would have kept a gun from a vanquished enemy, Mr. Brinkley said. The fact that Mr. Hussein’s gun was unloaded was an amazing “irony,” he added. – NYT, 7-6-09
    • Thomas Whalen Analysis: Why is Sarah Palin resigning?: More than seven months after the presidential election, former Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin is sending shockwaves through the political world. Palin announced today that she is stepping down at the end of the month. There has been a lot of speculation that she may run for president in 2012. Thomas Whalen, a presidential historian and Boston University professor joins NECN for more on the announcement…. – NECN, 7-3-09
    • Diane Ravitch, Historian of education, NYU and Brookings: Sarah Palin is so yesterday. Frankly the blood sport of baiting Palin got tiresome. How much more mileage can the media wring out of this woman? She is just not that interesting, and the campaign of 2008 is over. Really over. Politico, 7-5-09
    • Julian E. Zelizer, Professor of History and Public Affairs, Princeton: Governor Palin’s decision is very revealing of how she understands the “executive leadership” qualities that she and Republicans boasted about on the campaign trail. If the going gets tough–or is no longer interesting– just quit. If Palin does run for president, her supporters, and the nation, better keep a close eye on her vice presidential running mate because who knows how long she would want to stay on the job before deciding to move on. Her Republican primary opponents will certainly have more than enough to talk about with voters. – Politico, 7-5-09
    • Doris Kearns Goodwin “Barack Obama’s Martha’s Vineyard days to come”: The Obamas face a similar situation that the Clintons did: Neither have their own vacation home or estate. “Unlike FDR, who had Hyde Park, or Lyndon Johnson or George W. Bush who had their own ranches, they need to find a place where they can relax, which the others did by going to their own homes,” said author and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. The presidential getaway is no small matter: The off-hours have given shape to the imagery of the presidency. Ronald Reagan cultivated a sun-baked masculinity by spending time at Rancho del Cielo, his California ranch. “Once, when an aide told President Reagan that it might be better if he didn’t go to his ranch so much, he said: ‘You can tell me a lot of things, but you can’t tell me that,'” said Goodwin…. Politico, 7-5-09
    • BARBARA HOWARD: The Politics of Blackness: You say why Republican party; I say why not?: Whenever I see Democrats revise history, I don’t know whether to laugh at how uninformed they are or be afraid at how much they lie. I tend to be more afraid because the desired end result is to discredit the Republican Party, keeping black folk loyal to the Democratic Party.
      So when I read in Leonard Pitts’ Miami Herald column, “GOP blind to its race problem,” that “the modern GOP was created in 1965 with a stroke of Lyndon Johnson’s pen,” I couldn’t help but laugh. I would hope that Pitts would have done his homework to realize that he had stretched the truth so far as to be unrecognizable.
      He wrote about an aide to Tennessee State Senator Diane Black (R), sending a distasteful email about Obama, accusing her and most of the party (as usual) of racism, calling them “weasels in elephants’ clothes.”
      But instead of remaining silent, Frances Rice, president of the National Black Republican Association (NBRA) set P itts straight. In her article, “Democrats’ Racial Hypocrisy,” she quotes Gerald Alexander, who refutes the argument that all the racist Democrats crossed over to the Republican Party in “The Myth of the Racist Republicans.”
    • She also quotes the Rev. Wayne Perryman, who in “Unfounded Loyalty” gives the Democrats’ history in slavery, segregation and socialism. Unfortunately, blacks blindly joined the Democratic Party because of their complete ignorance of its actual civil rights record. They only know the fabricated one…. – South Florida Times, 7-3-09

    South Lawn on 4th (The view of the South Lawn of the White House as the Foo Fighters performed on July 4, 2009. Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

    President and First Lady watch fireworks

    (President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama watch the fireworks over the National Mall from the White House on July 4, 2009. Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

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