Eric L. McKitrick (1920–2002) was a historian of the United States. Educated at Columbia, McKitrick taught at the University of Chicago and Rutgers before returning to Columbia in 1960. He is perhaps best known for Andrew Johnson and Reconstruction; his other works treated slavery and the American South, as well as the history of the American party system.

IN THE REVIEW

The Good Loser

Jefferson Davis, American

by William J. Cooper Jr.

Jefferson Davis: Unconquerable Heart

by Felicity Allen
Most literate Americans know who Jefferson Davis was. But what they know is mostly an abstraction: the presidency of a defeated Confederacy in the Civil War. Some of the more historically learned have, to be sure, given an inordinate amount of attention to this abstraction through end-less debates among themselves …

Washington the Liberator

George Washington's Mount Vernon: At Home in Revolutionary America

by Robert F. Dalzell Jr. and Lee Baldwin Dalzell
George Washington’s Mount Vernon, the husband-and-wife collaboration of Robert and Lee Dalzell, is a lovely book. It ought to be widely read and generally praised, but it may not be, inasmuch as its title—the only title it could possibly have—unavoidably sends all the wrong signals. It looks like a specialized …

The Liberator

All on Fire: William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition of Slavery

by Henry Mayer
There appear to be two opposing theories, implicit in how various historians have thought about the ending of slavery, for explaining the process whereby substantial numbers, perhaps a majority, of people in the Northern states were converted to an antislavery frame of mind during the thirty years or so prior …

JQA: For the Defense

John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, a Private Life

by Paul C. Nagel

Amistad

a film directed by Steven Spielberg, and produced by Steven Spielberg and Debbie Allen and Colin Wilson
Within the past two years or so the historical visibility of John Quincy Adams has been enhanced to a degree that could scarcely have been anticipated a few years earlier. William Lee Miller’s Arguing about Slavery was a circumstantial account of how Adams, in his post-presidential career as a Massachusetts …

Portrait of an Enigma

American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson

by Joseph J. Ellis
Up until a few years ago differences of view regarding Thomas Jefferson, to the extent that they existed, tended to occur among scholars within a professional community rather than between professionals on the one hand and voices from the lay public on the other. The latter mostly took their cues …

A Hero of Antislavery

Arguing about Slavery: The Great Battle in the United States Congress

by William Lee Miller
When we consider the troubled history of race relations during the hundred and thirty-odd years since Emancipation, it seems scarcely credible that the North, virtually as a unit, could have been willing to fight a long and costly war whose root cause was black slavery and the free states’ aversion …

The Great White Hope

Henry Clay: Statesman for the Union

by Robert V. Remini
It has always seemed rather a pity that Henry Clay, for all the times he tried between 1824 and 1848, never quite made it to the presidency. In all the gallery of public figures in the political life of antebellum America, probably none was referred to oftener than he, in …

Did Jefferson Blunder?

Empire of Liberty: The Statecraft of Thomas Jefferson

by Robert W. Tucker and David C. Hendrickson
What remains of the once formidable Jefferson industry may be sore pressed to weather Empire of Liberty, which is a little like a leveraged takeover by less-than-friendly outsiders. But the raiders, Robert Tucker and David Hendrickson, political scientists rather than historians, have finally made a place for what should have …