Newswise — GETTYSBURG, Pa. – The 2013 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize will go to James Oakes of the Graduate Center, City University of New York, for “Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865” (W. W. Norton & Company).
The Prize is awarded by Gettysburg College and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. Oakes was chosen from 104 nominations as the 2013 recipient. He will receive $50,000 and a bronze replica of Augustus Saint-Gaudens' life-size bust “Lincoln the Man” in a ceremony April 10 in New York City. Oakes earns this honor in the midst of the nation’s 150th commemoration of the American Civil War.
The Prize was co-founded in 1990 by businessmen and philanthropists Richard Gilder and Lewis Lehrman, co-chairmen of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History in New York and co-creators of the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the largest private archives of documents and artifacts in the nation. The Institute is devoted to history education, supporting history theme schools, teacher training, digital archives, curriculum development, exhibitions and publications, and the national History Teacher of the Year Award program.
In the book, Oakes, Distinguished Professor of History at The Graduate Center, City University of New York, covers the history of emancipation, linking the political initiatives of Lincoln and the Republicans in Congress with the courageous actions of Union soldiers and runaway slaves in the South. In “Freedom National,” he challenges the widespread belief that the Civil War was firstly a war to restore the Union, and only later, when it became a military necessity, a war to end slavery. Instead, Oakes asserts that emancipation and union were linked in Republican policy from the start of the war. The book offers a new understanding of the death of slavery and the rebirth of the United States.
“Oakes’s stunning book ‘Freedom National’ restores to view the centrality of slavery to the Civil War. In powerful detail, he shows how slaves, free blacks, Northern whites, and seccessionists all saw the War as about emancipation from the outset. It is a ‘must read’ for anyone who cares about American history,” Gilder Lehrman Institute President James G. Basker said.
“Gettysburg College is honored to join with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History to award the Lincoln Prize to James Oakes. With ‘Freedom National,’ Oakes provides a significant addition to his already impressive scholarly record on the Civil War and provides a fresh perspective on Abraham Lincoln’s approach to emancipation,” Gettysburg College President Janet Morgan Riggs said.
The three-member 2013 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize jury -- Knox College’s George A. Lawrence Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus and Co-Director of the Lincoln Studies Center Douglas L. Wilson, who twice won the Lincoln Prize for “Lincoln's Sword: The Presidency and the Power of Words” in 2007 and “Honor's Voice: The Transformation of Abraham Lincoln” in 1999; the University of Delaware’s Henry Clay Reed Professor Peter Kolchin; and Colby College’s John J. and Cornelia V. Gibson Professor of History Elizabeth D. Leonard, co-winner of the 2012 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize for “Lincoln's Forgotten Ally: Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt of Kentucky” -- recommended three finalists to the Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize Board which makes the final decision.
In addition to Gilder, Lehrman, Basker and Riggs, the Board includes Gettysburg College Trustees Emeritus James R. Thomas and H. Scott Higgins.
Past Lincoln Prize winners include: Ken Burns in 1991 for his documentary “The Civil War”; Allen Guelzo for “Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President” in 2000 and “Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America” in 2005; Doris Kearns Goodwin for “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” in 2006; and Eric Foner in 2011 for “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery.”
An American historian, James Oakes is the Distinguished Professor of History at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, where he teaches history courses on the Civil War and Reconstruction, Slavery, the Old South, Abolitionism and U.S and World History.
He is the author of several acclaimed works on the South and the Civil War, including the 2008 Lincoln Prize co-winner “The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics.”
About the Finalists
Stephen Kantrowitz – “More Than Freedom: Fighting for Black Citizenship in a White Republic, 1829-1889” (The Penguin Press) is narrative account of the long struggle of Northern activists -- black and white, famous and obscure -- to establish African Americans as full citizens, from abolitionism through the Civil War, Reconstruction, and its demise.
Yael A. Sternhell – “Routes of War: The World of Movement in the Confederate South” (Harvard University Press) is a pioneering look at the movement of millions of men and women -- rich and poor, soldiers and civilians, enslaved and free -- onto the roads of the South that connected the battlefield and the home front.
The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, founded in 1994, is a not-for-profit organization that oversees the Gilder Lehrman Collection and conducts history education programs in all 50 states, serving more than 150,000 teachers, their students and communities, across the country every year.
Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college, which enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students, is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.