James Oakes (historian)

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For the English footballer, see Jimmy Oakes.
For the senior circuit judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, see James L. Oakes.
James Oakes
Born December 19, 1953

James Oakes (born December 19, 1953 in Bronx, New York) is an American historian, and is a Distinguished Professor of History and Graduate School Humanities Professor at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York where he teaches history courses on the Civil War and Reconstruction, Slavery, the Old South, Abolitionism and U.S and World History. He taught previously at Princeton University and Northwestern University.[1]


Oakes attended Catholic schools in New York City, before enrolling at Baruch College, CUNY, where he earned a B.A. in history in 1974.

Oakes earned his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, under the late Kenneth Stampp, author of The Peculiar Institution among other notable titles. His 2008 book, The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics was a co-winner of the 2008 Lincoln Prize.[2]

Oakes' book is notable for presenting a new framework with which to compare Lincoln and Douglass and their views of race. The Lincoln Prize jury also noted that Oakes succeeded in creating a scholarly work which was accessible to the general public.

His most recent work focuses on Emancipation and how it was implemented throughout the Southern states. Oakes has written and published many articles, encyclopedia entries, and Op-Eds.[3]


Oakes currently lives in Manhattan with his wife, Deborah Bohr, a health research administrator, and their son, Daniel.



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