May 3, 2023 @ 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm

indiana-state-museum Indiana State Museum

Dueling Constitutions: Lecture by Dr. James Oakes

“Dueling Constitutions,” will examine the way the national debate over slavery was also a debate over the meaning of the Constitution. The great abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison famously burned a copy of the US Constitution, denouncing it as a “compact with the devil” and an “agreement with hell.”  But another great abolitionist, Frederick Douglass, argued the opposite, that the Constitution was an abolitionist document and that it was a mistake for the opponents of slavery to hand the nation’s founding charter over to proslavery forces.

Dr. James Oakes is a leading historian of nineteenth-century America, exploring the history of the United States from the Revolution through the Civil War. His books include The Crooked Path to Abolition: Abraham Lincoln and the Antislavery Constitution (W.W. Norton, 2021) and The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics. He holds the Humanities Chair at the City University of New York Graduate Center, where he is Distinguished Professor of History, American Studies and Africana Studies.

James Oakes’ lecture is supported by the Friends of the Lincoln Collection.

Price: Free