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News & Events
American Studies Professor Publishes New Book
(Newport News, Va.) - In his new book, Emancipation, the Union Army, and the Reelection of Abraham Lincoln, CNU American Studies Professor Dr. Jonathan W. White offers a compelling re-interpretation of the presidential election of 1864. Lincoln’s victory in that election 150 years ago helped secure the defeat of the Confederacy and the death of slavery, but White argues that the election results have been largely misunderstood.
By 1864, 19 northern states had passed legislation permitting soldiers to vote — the first instance in American history of absentee voting on such a grand scale — and Lincoln carried 78 percent of their ballots. Most historians have interpreted Lincoln’s landslide support among the troops as evidence of the Union army’s support for emancipation and the Republican Party. However, White argues that soldier support for Lincoln and emancipation was not nearly as universal as scholars have generally believed. Rather, he argues that many Democratic soldiers were intimidated into voting the Republican ticket, while other Democrats in the army chose not to vote because their party had called the war a “failure.” Army support for Lincoln and emancipation was thus far lower than most historians contend.
White’s book has received high praise from leading Civil War scholars. Historian Gary W. Gallagher of the University of Virginia says the book is “the best analysis, by far, of United States soldiers in the critical election of 1864” and “is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand Abraham Lincoln’s reelection to a second term.” Civil War Books and Authors has similarly praised the book, calling it a "deeply original and award worthy effort” that is “essential reading for historians and amateur scholars alike.”
A fellow at CNU’s Center for American Studies, White also serves as the University’s pre-law adviser. An historian of the American Civil War with a particular interest in Abraham Lincoln, American politics and the U.S. Constitution, White holds a BA from Pennsylvania State University and an MA and PhD from the University of Maryland.
His current book projects include Lincoln’s Advice to Lawyers (forthcoming with Sourcebooks in April 2015), The Monitor Is No More: The Final Voyage of the USS Monitor During the Civil War (under contract with Kent State University Press), and a history of sleep and dreams during the Civil War tentatively titled “Midnight in America.” More information about his scholarship is available online.
A four-year public university in Newport News, Virginia, Christopher Newport University enrolls 5,000 students in rigorous academic programs in the liberal arts and sciences through the College of Arts and Humanities, the College of Natural and Behavioral Sciences, and the College of Social Sciences, including the Luter School of Business. CNU offers great teaching and small class sizes with an emphasis on leadership, civic engagement and honor.
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