A mammoth biography of Frederick Douglass and a new study of the 17th-century colonial American conflict known as King Philip’s War have won this year’s Bancroft Prize, which is considered one of the most prestigious honors in the field of American history.Read More
Gettysburg College and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History announces that David Blight, author of Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom (Simon & Schuster), is the recipient of the 2019 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize.
In “Reconstruction,” an essay published in 1866, Frederick Douglass argued that even as radical Republicans (former abolitionists and their supporters) gained control over America’s constitutional revolution, this might not matter “while there remains such an idea as the right of each state to control its own local affairs,” a notion “more deeply rooted in the minds of men … than perhaps any one other political idea.” What had to be done, Douglass said, was to “render the rights of the states compatible with the sacred rights of human nature.” As “Unexampled Courage,” Richard Gergel’s remarkable book about the early legal stages of the civil rights movement, makes clear, Douglass’s thrilling goal of natural rights and federal power combining to overwhelm states’ rights remained for nearly a century an unrealized dream. Perhaps it still is.Read More
David Blight, author of “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom,” speaks with NPR’s Dave Davies during an interview for Fresh Air on December 17, 2018.
Ta-Nehisi Coates — bestselling author and distinguished writer in residence at New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute — confessed to a packed Yale Art Gallery auditorium that he first became aware of Yale historian David Blight around 2008 while seeking educationally enriching background audio for his steady videogaming habit.Read More
David Blight discussed his new book, “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom” (Simon & Schuster, October 2018) with Ta-Nehisi Coates, distinguished writer in residence at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute, and author of “Between The World And Me” and “We Were Eight Years in Power,” at the Yale University Art Gallery, Thursday, December 6, 2018.Read More
David Blight discussed his new book, “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom” (Simon & Schuster, October 2018) with cultural critic, comedian, and author Baratunde Thurston, at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy in downtown Los Angeles on November 29th. The dialogue, titled “What Does the Life of Frederick Douglass Tells Us About America?” was a Zócalo Public Square/Smithsonian/ASU “What It Means to Be American” event.Read More
“Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom” named one of the 10 Best Books of 2018 by the New York Times.Read More
In the introduction to Frederick Douglass’s second autobiography, “My Bondage and My Freedom,” published in 1855, his friend James McCune Smith wrote that if a stranger landed in the United States and sought out its most prominent men by using newspapers and telegraph messages, he would discover Douglass. Born a slave in Maryland, Douglass had escaped to the North to become a renowned abolitionist orator and writer. He was, Smith said, the sort of person people would ask, “‘Tell me your thought!’ And somehow or other, revolution seemed to follow in his wake.”Read More
David Blight arrives in New York pulling his carry-on luggage, en route from Washington, soon to fly onwards to San Francisco. Such is the interest in his new biography of Frederick Douglass, a book 10 years in the writing and a whole career in the making, he will be on the road till December.
He takes off his lovingly battered Michigan State cap, picks up a coffee and sits down for another conversation.Read More
David Blight, author of “Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom,” speaks with The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart during an interview for the “Cape Up” podcast on Oct. 2 at the WNYC radio studios in New York City.Read More
With President Trump in the White House, everything seems under assault. Civil rights, the rule of law, our moral standing, the global liberal democratic order the United States spent decades, blood and treasure helping to form and maintain. It’s all so precarious, unsettled and unprecedented. But is it, really?
During the pilgrimage with the Faith & Politics Institute last weekend to western New York state and the landmarks of the abolition and women’s suffrage movements that were centered there, we were reminded that these dark days are neither new nor insurmountable. The scene was a panel I moderated with Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.), Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) and two history professors.Read More
In Kevin Powers’ haunting second novel, “A Shout in the Ruins,” the Civil War and the destruction of slavery are a slow, multigenerational earthquake. The book sizzles with authentic tragedy, realism and unreconciled memory. There is no place for glory in this novel, which reveals black and white Southerners along the Virginia-North Carolina border region in two distinct time periods (the 1860s and 1950s-80s) living as though the past is never over.Read More
Historians Peter Onuf, David Blight and Annette Gordon-Reed discussed defining equality and the Declaration of Independence.Read More
The Root, May 28, 2018, video interview with David Blight about the origins of Memorial Day.
David Blight received an award for his commitment to ensuring excellence and equity in graduate education at the Annual Yale Bouchet Conference on Diversity and Graduate Education at Yale University on Saturday, April 28, 2018.Read More
For a century and a half Ulysses S. Grant has been a baffling and inspiring presence in the American literary and historical imaginations. Born in 1822 and raised by a pious Methodist mother, as a young man he was quiet, given to depressions, and lacking much ambition. Only his love of horses seemed to animate him and give him a reason to excel in his education at West Point, which his scheming father desired for him more than he did. In his thirties, he was a complete failure, at times a drunkard, destined to die forgotten. He found his vocation and success on America’s killing fields; his meteoric trajectory in the Civil War makes him a remarkable case of a nobody who became almost everything.Read More
The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition celebrated the 20th anniversary of its founding last Friday with a panel discussion on the life of Frederick Douglass, whose 200th birthday was also last week.Read More
Two hundred years ago, one of the most important Americans was born close to the Tuckahoe River on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Frederick Bailey didn’t know the exact date of his birth, so he chose Feb. 14. Twenty years later, when he escaped from slavery, he became Frederick Douglass. By the time of his death in 1895, he had become one of the greatest orators and writers of the century.