History professor to examine abolitionists’ role in Civil War

By Collegian News Staff

Civil War reenactors (Flickr: Tom Gill/Lapstrake)

If the once-simmering conflict over slavery and states’ rights still stirs blood in your veins, you may be in luck: an associate professor of history at the University of Massachusetts will be addressing whether abolitionists may have sparked the Civil War as part of the Distinguished Faculty Lectures Series Wednesday at 4 p.m. in the Massachusetts Room, on the third floor of the Mullins Center.

Associate Professor of Afro-American Studies and History Manisha Sinha, who holds an undergraduate degree from Delhi University, a master’s in history from State University of New York Stony Brook and a master’s of philosophy and a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University, will give present a lecture titled “Did Abolitionists Cause the Civil War?” marking the sesquicentennial of the start of the Civil War. The talk will address the role of abolitionists in the conflict, according to a Friday release from the UMass Office of News and Media Relations, and will examine how abolitionism arced from a fringe movement calling for social change to a major political party standing against slavery. She will also consider what the release calls the “often overlooked” role African Americans had in abolitionism and discuss the impact of the war’s states’ rights debate in the contemporary polemic.

According to the release, Sinha is a widely-published historian, having authored “The Counterrevolution of Slavery: Politics and Ideology in Antebellum South Carolina” in 2000 and more recently published co-editing “Contested Democracy: Race and Power in American History” in 2007 and “African American Mosaic: A Documentary History from the African Slave Trade to the Twenty First Century,” with John H. Bracey Jr. in 2004. She is also currently working on a history of the abolitionist movement, which will be titled “Refining Democracy: African Americans and the Movement to Abolish Slavery, 1775–1865.”

Sinha came to UMass as an assistant professor in 1994, according to the release, and became associate professor in 2001.

Upon completing her lecture, Sinha will be presented with a Chancellor’s Medal for earning distinguished faculty status. The medal is “the highest honor bestowed on individuals for exemplary and extraordinary service to the campus,” according to the release.

-Collegian News Staff