William S. McFeely (born c. 1930) is an American historian. He retired as Professor of History at the University of Georgia in 1997 and has been affiliated with Harvard University recently.
McFeely received his B.A. from Amherst College in 1952, and Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University in 1966. He studied there with, among others, C. Vann Woodward, whose book The Strange Career of Jim Crow was a staple of the Civil Rights movement. Like Woodward, he sought to employ history in the service of civil rights. His dissertation, later the book Yankee Stepfather, explored the ill-fated Freedmen's Bureau which was created to help ex-slaves after the Civil War. While at Yale, during the tumultuous years of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, he was instrumental in creating the African-American studies program, at a time when such programs were still controversial. He taught for sixteen years at Mount Holyoke College before joining the University of Georgia in 1986. McFeeley won the Pulitzer Prize for his 1981 biography of Ulysses S. Grant, which portrayed the general and president in a harsh light. McFeeley concluded that Grant, "Did not rise above limited talents or inspire others to do so in ways that make his administration a credit to American politics." He retired in 1997, and was a fellow at Harvard's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study during the 2006-2007 academic year. He is presently a Visiting Scholar and Associate Member of Harvard's Afro-American Studies Department and an Associate of their Humanities Center.