Manisha Sinha

Ph.D, ColumbiaProfessor Manisha Sinha, History Department, University of Connecticut
James L. and Shirley A. Draper Chair in American History

Office Hours, Spring 2022: Mon & Wed 2:30-3:30 pm and by appointment
Office: Wood Hall, Rm 219
Phone: (860) 486-2253
Fax: (860) 486-0641
Draper Research Assistant: 860-486-2752
For more information visit:


Areas of Specialty

The Long Nineteenth Century: Transnational histories of slavery, abolition, and feminism, the History and Legacy of the Civil War and Reconstruction, United States History, Political History, African American History, Southern History.



Manisha Sinha is the James L. and Shirley A. Draper Chair in American History at the University of Connecticut and a leading authority on the history of slavery and abolition and the Civil War and Reconstruction. She was born in India and received her Ph.D from Columbia University where her dissertation was nominated for the Bancroft prize. She is the author of The Counterrevolution of Slavery: Politics and Ideology in Antebellum South Carolina, which was named one of the ten best books on slavery in Politico in 2015 and recently featured in The New York Times’ 1619 Project. Her multiple award winning second monograph The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition was long listed for the National Book Award for Non Fiction. It was named Editor’s Choice in The New York Times Book Review, book of the week by Times Higher Education to coincide with its UK publication, and one of three great History books of 2016 in Bloomberg News. She is the recipient of numerous fellowships, including two yearlong research fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities as well as two from the Mellon Foundation. She is the Eighth recipient of the James W.C. Pennington Award for 2021 from the University of Heidelberg, Germany. In 2018, she was a Visiting Professor at the University of Paris, Diderot and was elected to the Society of American Historians. She is a member of the Board of the Society of Civil War Historians and of the Council of Advisors of the Lapidus Center for the Historical Analysis of Transatlantic Slavery at the Schomburg, New York Public Library. She taught at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst for over twenty years, where she was awarded the Chancellor’s Medal, the highest recognition bestowed on faculty. She is currently writing a book on the “greater reconstruction” of American democracy after the Civil War, which is under contract with Liveright (Norton).

Professor Sinha has been interviewed by the national and international press. She has been on National Public Radio, NBC, Democracy Now, BBC News, C-SPAN, Pacifica, Euro News, Canadian Television News, Canadian Broadcasting Company, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, China Global News, Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, TLC’s Who Do You Think You Are, and was an advisor and on-screen expert for the Emmy nominated PBS documentary, The Abolitionists (2013), which is a part of the NEH funded Created Equal series. She has lectured all over the country and internationally in the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Australia, India, Ireland, and New Zealand. The Chinese rights to The Slave’s Cause have recently been sold to Beijing Han Tang Zhi Dao Book Distribution Co., Ltd.


Selected Publications

The Slave’s Cause: A History of Abolition (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2016)

  • Frederick Douglass Book Prize, Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, Yale University
  • Avery O. Craven Award for Best Book on the Civil War Era, Organization of American Historians
  • Best Book Prize, Society of Historians of the Early American Republic
  • James A. Rawley Award for the Best Book on Secession and the Sectional Crisis published in the last two years, Southern Historical Association
  • National Book Award for Non Fiction, Long List
  • Honorable Mention in the U.S. History category for the American Publishers Awards for Professional & Scholarly Excellence (PROSE)

Co-authored, The Abolitionist Imagination (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012)

Co-edited, Contested Democracy: Freedom, Race and Power in American History (New York: Columbia University Press, 2007)

Co-edited, African American Mosaic: A Documentary History from the African Slave Trade to the Twenty First Century Vol. I To 1877 & Vol. II From 1865 to the Present (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2004) 

The Counterrevolution of Slavery:  Politics and Ideology in Antebellum South Carolina (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000)

  • Finalist, Avery O. Craven Award for Best Book on the Civil War Era, Organization of American Historians
  • Finalist, George C. Rogers Award for Best Book on South Carolina History


Recent Articles and Essays

*Foreward, Fugitive Movements: Commemorating the Denmark Vesey Affair and Black Radical Antislavery in the Atlantic World (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2022): xi-xiii.

*The Case for a Third Reconstruction,” The New York Review of Books, February 3, 2021

*“Of Scientific Racists and Black Abolitionists: The Forgotten Debate over Slavery and Race,” in To Make Their Own Way in the World: The Enduring Legacy of the Zealey Daguerreotypes eds. Ilisa Barbash, Molly Rogers, Deborah Willis (Cambridge, Mass.: Peabody Museum Press and Aperture, 2020): 235-258.

* “The Problem of Abolition in the Age of Capitalism,” American Historical Review 124 (February 2019): 144-163.

 * Afterword: “The History and Legacy of Jacksonian Democracy,” Journal of the Early Republic 39 (Spring 2019): 145-8.

* Guest Editor and Introduction, Special Issue on Abolition, Journal of the Civil War Era 8 (June 2018): 187-189.

*Preface, Undoing Slavery: American Abolitionism in Transnational Perspective, 1776-1865 eds. Michael Roy, Marie-Jeanne Rossignol, & Claire Parfait (Paris: Editions Rue d’Ulm, 2018).  

*“Reviving the Black Radical Tradition,” in Race Capitalism Justice Forum 1 Boston Review (Boston, 2017): 66-71.


Selected Awards and Fellowships 

James W.C. Pennington Award, University of Heidelberg, Germany, 2021

Elected Councilor, American Antiquarian Society, 2021-

Elected to the Board of Trustees, Connecticut Historical Society, 2021-

Mellon Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester 2020-2021

Mellon-Schlesinger Fellowship, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University, 2019-2020

Elected Member, Society of American Historians, 2018-

Kidger Award for excellence in teaching, research and writing, and service to the profession, New England History Teachers’ Association, 2018

Top 25 Women in Higher Education and Beyond, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, March 9, 2017

Elected Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 2017-

National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, Massachusetts Historical Society, 2016-2107

Distinguished Graduate Mentor Award in Recognition of Outstanding Graduate Teaching and Advising, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 2016

Exceptional Merit Award, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 2013

Chancellor’s Medal and Distinguished Faculty Lecture, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 2011

Howard Foundation Fellowship, Brown University, 2009-2010

Faculty Fellowship, Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, Harvard University, 2007-2008

Elected Member, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, 2006-2020

National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, 2004-2005

Appointed to Distinguished Lecture Series, Organization of American Historians, 2003-

Research Grant, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia 1999

Rockefeller Post Doctoral Fellowship in the Humanities, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 1994-95

Post-Doctoral Fellowship, W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research, Harvard University, 1993-94

Whiting Fellowship in the Humanities, Columbia University, 1992-93