Phillip W. Magness

Historian – 19th century United States

A lesser known Memorial Day

| May 26, 2013

May 26, 1854 marks the 159th anniversary of the Burns Affair wherein a group of Boston abolitionists attempted to free Anthony Burns, a fugitive slave, from federal custody on the eve of his return to his owner. The plan to liberate Burns was initiated under the cover of a large anti-slavery rally at Faneuil Hall […]

History and the “Social Justice” debate

| May 21, 2013

At risk of venturing into political philosophy, I have to admit my intrigue with an ongoing dialogue between David Friedman and a group of commentators for the always-insightful Bleeding Heart Libertarians blog on the question of “social justice.” As an advance warning the debate is primarily philosophical and addresses this concept in the abstract. Though the […]

Compensated Emancipation at the Hampton Roads Conference of 1865

| May 14, 2013

Though long a domain of Civil War specialists, the Hampton Roads Peace Conference of February 3, 1865 largely avoided popular attention until it was recently thrust into the cinematic spotlight as a climactic turning point in Steven Spielberg’s movie Lincoln. This event, held aboard a steamship off of Fort Monroe, Virginia brought together Abraham Lincoln […]

Lincoln & Colonization: A Response to Allen Guelzo

| May 7, 2013

In the Winter 2013 issue of the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, historian Allen C. Guelzo of Gettysburg College took vigorous exception to my scholarship on Abraham Lincoln’s involvement with the colonization movement, including two prior articles I have written for the same journal and my 2011 book, co-authored with Sebastian N. Page, Colonization after Emancipation: Lincoln […]

The Ile a Vache – From Hope to Disaster

| May 3, 2013

A brief synopsis of Abraham Lincoln’s failed colonization plan on the Ile a Vache, Haiti, which I authored for the New York Times’ Disunion.

My interview with Pacific Standard

| May 3, 2013

From Q&A: Remember That Time Abraham Lincoln Tried to Get the Slaves to Leave America?: “Colonization is one of those decisions that falls into greater uncertainty simply because Lincoln did not know how the end of slavery was going to emerge, or what it was going to look like. If we accept that about him, it makes […]