Manisha Sinha

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

Office Hours, Fall 2020: email for appointment
Office: Wood Hall, Rm 219
Phone: (860) 486-2253
Fax: (860) 486-0641
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Areas of Specialty

Nineteenth Century United States history: Transnational histories of slavery, abolition, and feminism, the History and Legacy of the Civil War and Reconstruction



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 the 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 annual fellowships from the Mellon Foundation. 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 Center for Research in Black Culture, 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 written for The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Review of Books, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New York Daily News, Time Magazine, CNN, The Boston Globe, Dissent, The Nation, Jacobin, and The Huffington Post and has been interviewed by The Times of London, The New York Times, Smithsonian Magazine, The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, Slate, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Daily Caller, and Gothamist. She has appeared on Democracy Now, Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, TLC’s Who Do You Think You Are, C-SPAN, 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


Selected Articles

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

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

Frederick Douglass and Fugitivity,” Black Perspectives, (November 2018)

Guest Editor and Introduction, Special Issue on Abolition, Journal of the Civil War Era, (June 2018)

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

“’Do Something’: A Letter from Frederick Douglass to an Abolitionist in Ireland,” in James G. Basker General Editor, Frederick Douglass: A Life in Documents Historians Presents Documents from the Gilder Lehrman Collection eds. Justine Ahlstrom & Nicole Seary, (New York: Gilder Lehrman Institute in American History, 2018): 1-3

“The Lion of All Occasions: The Great Black Abolitionist Frederick Douglass,” History Now Frederick Douglass at 200, Winter 2018

“History and Its Discontents,” in The Future of History: Historians, Historical Organizations and the Prospects for the Field edited by Conrad Edick Wright and Kate Viens (Boston: Massachusetts Historical Society, 2017): 79-88

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

America’s Rotten Electoral College System,” in Eric Burin ed., Picking the President: Understanding the Electoral College System (The Digital Press @ the University of North Dakota, 2017)

Abraham Lincoln’s Competing Political Loyalties: Union, Constitution, and Antislavery,” in Nicholas Buccola ed., Abraham Lincoln and Liberal Democracy (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2016): 164-191

“The Long and Proud History of Charleston’s AME Church,” in Chad Williams, Kidada E. Williams, and Keisha N. Blain eds., Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism, and Racial Violence (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2016): 69-70

The Other Francis Ellen Watkins Harper,” Common-place (Spring 2016) Vol. 16 No. 2

“Did He Die an Abolitionist? The Evolution of Abraham Lincoln’s Antislavery,” American Political Thought 4 (Summer 2015): 439-454

Memory as History, Memory as Activism: The Forgotten Abolitionist Struggle after the Civil War,” commonplace 14 (Winter 2014)

Review Essay, “The Complicated Histories of Emancipation: State of the Field at 150,” Reviews in American History 41 (December 2013): 665-671

Architects of Their Own Liberation: African Americans, Emancipation and the Civil War,” OAH Magazine of History 27 (April 2013): 1-6

“Historians’ Forum: The Emancipation Proclamation,” Civil War History 59 (March 2013): 7-31

“Did the Abolitionists Cause the Civil War?” in The Abolitionist Imagination (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2012): 81-108.

“Making Sense of John Brown’s Raid,” in Edward Ayers and Carolyn R. Martin eds., America on the Eve of the Civil War: A Virginia Sesquicentennial Conference (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2010): 69-89, 112-120.

”Allies for Emancipation?: Lincoln and Black Abolitionists,” in Eric Foner ed., Our Lincoln: New Perspectives on Lincoln and His World (New York: W.W. Norton, 2008): 167-196.

“An Alternative Tradition of Radicalism: African American Abolitionists and the Metaphor of Revolution, 1775-1865” in Contested Democracy: Freedom, Race and Power in American History (Columbia University Press, 2007): 9-30

“To ‘Cast Just Obliquy’ on Oppressors: Black Radicalism in the Age of Revolution” William and Mary Quarterly LXIV (January 2007): 149-160

“Coming of Age: The Historiography of Black Abolitionism,” in Timothy Patrick McCarthy and John Stauffer eds, Prophets of Protest: Reconsidering the History of American Abolitionism (New York: New Press, 2006): 23-38

Review Essay “His Truth Is Marching On: John Brown and the Fight for Racial Justice,” in Civil War History 52 (June 2006): 161-169

“Black Abolitionism: The Assault on Southern Slavery and the Struggle for Racial Equality,” in Ira Berlin and Leslie Harris eds., Slavery in New York (New York: New Press, 2005): 239-262

“Eugene D. Genovese: The Mind of a Marxist Conservative,” Radical History Review 88 (Winter 2004): 4-29

“The Caning of Charles Sumner: Slavery, Race and Ideology in the Age of the Civil War,” Journal of the Early Republic Vol. 23, No. 2 (Summer 2003): 233-262

“Revolution or Counterrevolution? The Political Ideology of Secession in Antebellum South Carolina,” Civil War History Vol. XLVI No. 3 (September, 2000): 205-226

“Judicial Nullification: The South Carolina Led Southern Movement to Reopen the African Slave Trade in the 1850s” in Maria Diedrich, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Carl Pedersen eds., Black Imagination and the Middle Passage (Oxford University Press, 1999) 127-143

“Louisa Susanna McCord: Spokeswoman of the Master Class in Antebellum South Carolina,” in Susan Ostrov Weisser and Jennifer Fleischner eds., Feminist Nightmares Women at Odds: Feminism and the Problem of Sisterhood (New York University Press, 1994) 62-87


Selected Awards and Accolades

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-

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

Mrs. Giles Whiting Fellowship in the Humanities, Columbia University, 1992-93