Eric Foner
American historian
Eric Foner
Eric Foner is an American historian. On the faculty of the Department of History at Columbia University since 1982, he writes extensively on political history, the history of freedom, the early history of the Republican Party, African American biography, Reconstruction, and historiography.
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Henry J. Foner, Labor Leader Accused of Communist Ties, Dies at 97
NYTimes - about 1 month
Mr. Foner, who was the uncle of the historian Eric Foner, led the fur and leather workers union in New York. He and his brothers were accused of belonging to subversive groups.
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NYTimes article
Reconstruction Is Finally Getting The Historical Recognition It Deserves
Huffington Post - about 2 months
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s base in Birmingham, Alabama. A bus station where segregationists attacked Freedom Riders. These civil rights sites of the 1960s, etched in black-and-white images in our memories, are naturals for selection as national monuments. Less obvious, but perhaps more powerful in our nation’s history, is President Barack Obama’s designation of Beaufort, South Carolina, a cradle of Reconstruction. Amid Obama’s last-minute flurry of executive orders and regulatory actions ― pardons, commutations, Arctic drilling bans ― Thursday’s dedication of the Beaufort monument seemed to fall in the shadow of the other two dedicated that day: the motel that served as King’s headquarters in the final push for the Voting Rights Act and the Anniston, Alabama, Greyhound station where a bus was firebombed in 1961. The monument in Beaufort commemorates a segment of the civil rights struggle that is far less prominent in American history. Beaufort’s Reconstruction Era Na ...
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Huffington Post article
'Gateway To Freedom': Heroes, Danger And Loss On The Underground Railroad
NPR - 11 months
Historian Eric Foner recently won the American History Book Prize from the New York Historical Society for Gateway to Freedom, about the underground railroad. Originally broadcast Jan. 15, 2015.
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NPR article
ArtsBeat: Eric Foner Wins Historical Society Book Prize
NYTimes - about 1 year
Mr. Foner is being honored for his book “Gateway to Freedom: The Hidden History of the Underground Railroad.”
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NYTimes article
Joseph A. Palermo: Mitch Daniels, Howard Zinn, and the Politics of History
The Huffington Post - over 3 years
The President of Purdue University and former governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels, deservedly became the target for censure recently in academic circles after emails surfaced exposing his ham-handed attempt to purge Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States from the Indiana curriculum. Shortly after Zinn died on January 27, 2010 at the age of 87, then Governor Daniels wrote to the state's top education officials that "this terrible anti-American academic has finally passed away . . . A People's History of the United States is a truly execrable, anti-factual piece of disinformation that misstates American history on every page. Can someone assure me that it is not in use anywhere in Indiana? If it is, how do we get rid of it before more young people are force-fed a totally false version of our history." Mitch Daniels's attempt to erase Zinn from the Indiana curriculum unveils him as an anti-intellectual who is clueless about the discipline of History as well ...
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The Huffington Post article
Who Won the Civil War?
NYTimes - over 3 years
The Battle of Gettysburg, fought 150 years ago this week, is often considered a turning point in the Civil War, the battle that halted the Confederates' invasion of the North and eventually led to their defeat two years later. But looking back, did the Union really win the war? Responses: Who Won and Lost Changed Over Time Eric Foner, author, "The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery" Memory Took Time to Desegregate Nell Irvin Painter, author, "The History of White People" The United States Won, Period Stephanie McCurry, author, "Confederate Reckoning" Occupation Took a Toll on the North Gregory P. Downs, author, "Declaration of Dependence" You Could Argue That the West Won Patricia Nelson Limerick, author, "The Legacy of Conquest" Mexico Benefitted From the War Brian DeLay, author, "War of a Thousand Des ...
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NYTimes article
Hector Villagra: Our True Americanness
Huffington Post - almost 4 years
Historian Eric Foner has said that "[l]ike all great historical transformations, emancipation was a process, not a single event. It arose from many causes and was the work of many individuals." We are now living through and are on the verge of a great historical transformation, as evidenced by the release of the so-called gang of eight's long-awaited immigration proposal. This transformation, some 20 years in the making, has definitely been a process. It has arisen from many causes and is the work of many individuals, but the role of the many individuals known collectively as the Dreamers cannot be gainsaid. Their name refers to the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which was first introduced in Congress in 2001, came up for a vote several times, but never become law. The DREAM Act would have allowed undocumented high-school graduates and GED recipients a pathway to U.S. citizenship through college or the armed services. The bipar ...
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Huffington Post article
Major Book Prize Winner Announced
Huffington Post - almost 4 years
NEW YORK -- A history of fishing in the Atlantic Ocean and a close study of wartime conduct have been named winners of the prestigious Bancroft Prize. Columbia University announced Monday that the winners were W. Jeffrey Bolster's "The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail" and John Fabian Witt's "Lincoln's Code: The Laws of War in American History." Each author will receive $10,000 for one of the most coveted awards among historians. The winning books were chosen from 223 submissions. The Bancroft Prize was established in 1948 and is administered by Columbia. Previous winners include Eric Foner's "The Fiery Trial" and Sean Wilentz's "The Rise of American Democracy."
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Huffington Post article
America's Understanding of Emancipation Proclamation, Freedom Too Simple For Country's Own Good
Huffington Post - about 4 years
Abraham Lincoln, the tall president with the stovepipe hat, the full beard and the grief-stricken eyes, slipped away from the White House’s annual New Year’s celebration with a few members of his administration. Lincoln steadied his nerves, then his hands. After a few minutes, he took a pen, signed the Emancipation Proclamation and ushered in the beginning of the end of two and a half centuries of American chattel slavery, some of its attendant violence and human degradation. Exactly 150 years ago today, the Emancipation Proclamation -- a monumental document written on both sides of an ordinary sheet of White House paper -- declared slaves living in most of the South “forever free.” For many American adults, it’s also the moment when universal, legal freedom became a reality for an estimated 4 million black slaves. But scholars who have studied the document, Lincoln and Civil War history say the limited understanding of how slaves became free citizens led to a national ...
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Huffington Post article
Famous Lincoln Scholar Dies
Huffington Post - over 4 years
NEW YORK -- Richard Nelson Current, a prolific and award-winning Abraham Lincoln scholar who for decades was a leader in his field and helped shape a more realistic view of the iconic president, has died. He was 100. Current died Oct. 26 in Boston, fellow Lincoln historian Harold Holzer said Thursday. Current's many books included "The Lincoln Nobody Knows" and "Lincoln the President," winner of the Bancroft Prize in 1956. He had many other interests, writing about Daniel Webster, the invention of the typewriter and the state of Wisconsin. In his 80s, he and his wife, Marcia Ewing Current, co-wrote a biography of dancer Loie Fuller. In his 90s, he translated essays and stories by the Norwegian author Knut Hamsun, teaching himself the language of his ancestors. "He never lost his sense of curiosity. It was remarkable," Marcia Ewing Current, married to the historian for 28 years, said Thursday. Holzer noted that Current was the last survivor of a trio of Lincoln ...
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Huffington Post article
Arts & Letters Daily (02 Oct 2012)
Arts and Letters Daily - over 4 years
Eric Hobsbawm, historian of Europe, lifelong Marxist, intellectual polymath, is dead at 95... Guardian... NY Times... AP... Telegraph... Mark Mazower... Timothy Snyder... Michael Burleigh... Stephen Kotkin... Eric Foner... August Strindberg, whether eccentric or mad, had an immense talent for writing, polarizing opinion, and striking up awful relationships with women... more The American Heritage Dictionary, once the choice of fogies, stood as a bulwark against the loose argot of popular culture. Yet it was first to drop an F-bomb into its pages... more
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Arts and Letters Daily article
Book clubs replace book reports for high school students - Worcester Telegram
Google News - over 5 years
The discussion groups ranged in size from one student who chose to read “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery” by Eric Foner to groups so large they either had to be moved to the auditorium, as was the case for Harry Potter,
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Google News article
9/11 at 10 Live Stream - The Nation. (blog)
Google News - over 5 years
Featuring: Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher of The Nation; Melissa Harris-Perry, Professor of Political Science at Tulane University; Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University; and Christopher Hayes,
Article Link:
Google News article
Live Streaming: Ten Years After 9/11 - The Nation.
Google News - over 5 years
“At times of crisis, the most patriotic act of all is the unyielding defense of civil liberties and the right to dissent,” wrote celebrated historian Eric Foner days after the 9/11 attacks. As national security became an obsession in Washington and the
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Google News article
What Happened to Labor? -
Google News - over 5 years
Their academic allies staged a series of crowded teach-ins featuring speakers such as Betty Friedan, the philosophers Richard Rorty and Cornel West, and the historian Eric Foner. “I have a pretty good Geiger counter,” announced Friedan, on returning to
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Google News article
Auburn Public Library acquisitions - Lewiston Sun Journal
Google News - over 5 years
"The Fiery Trial" by Eric Foner. In this landmark work, Eric Foner gives us the definitive history of Lincoln and the end of slavery in America. Foner begins with Lincoln's youth and follows the trajectory of his career across an increasingly tense and
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Google News article
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Eric Foner
  • 2015
    Age 72
    Foner's most recent summary of his views on the significance of Reconstruction was published in The New York Times in 2015.
    More Details Hide Details As a visiting professor in Moscow in the early 1990s, Foner compared secessionist forces in the USSR with the secession movement in the U.S. in the 1860s. In a February 1991 article, Foner noted that the Baltic states claimed the right to secede because they had been unwillingly annexed. In addition, he believed that the Soviet Union did not protect minorities while it tried to nationalize the republics. Foner identified a threat to existing minority groups within the Baltic states, who were in turn threatened by the new nationalist movements. With Olivia Mahoney, chief curator at the Chicago History Museum, Foner curated two prize-winning exhibitions on American history: A House Divided: America in the Age of Lincoln, which opened at the Chicago History Museum in 1990, and America's Reconstruction: People and Politics After the Civil War, a traveling exhibit that opened at the Virginia Historical Society in 1995. He revised the presentation of American history at the Hall of Presidents at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln at Disneyland. He has served as consultant to several National Park Service historical sites and historical museums.
  • 2014
    Age 71
    His free online courses on "The Civil War and Reconstruction," published in 2014, are available from Columbia University on ColumbiaX.
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  • 2011
    Age 68
    In 2011, his book The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery won the Pulitzer Prize for history, the Bancroft Prize and the Lincoln Prize.
    More Details Hide Details He has been awarded honorary doctorates from Iona College; the State University of New York, Purchase; Queen Mary University of London, Dartmouth College, and Lehigh University. Eric Foner was inducted as a Laureate of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois and awarded the Order of Lincoln (the State’s highest honor) by the Governor of Illinois in 2009 as a Bicentennial Laureate. The professional awards which Foner has received indicate the respect given his work. In addition, journalist Nat Hentoff described his Story of American Freedom "an indispensable book that should be read in every school in the land." "Eric Foner is one of the most prolific, creative, and influential American historians of the past 20 years," according to the Washington Post. His work is "brilliant, important" a reviewer wrote in the Los Angeles Times. In a review of The Story of American Freedom in the New York Review of Books, Theodore Draper disagreed with Foner's conclusions:
    In 2011 Foner's The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery (2010) won the Pulitzer Prize for History, the Lincoln Prize, and the Bancroft Prize.
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  • 2000
    Age 57
    In 2000, he was elected president of the American Historical Association.
    More Details Hide Details Foner was born in New York City, New York, the son of Liza (née Kraitz), a high school art teacher, and historian Jack D. Foner, who was active in the trade union movement and the campaign for civil rights for African Americans. Eric Foner describes his father as his "first great teacher," and recalls how, deprived of his livelihood while I was growing up, he supported our family as a freelance lecturer... Listening to his lectures, I came to appreciate how present concerns can be illuminated by the study of the past—how the repression of the McCarthy era recalled the days of the Alien and Sedition Acts, the civil rights movement needed to be viewed in light of the great struggles of Black and White abolitionists, and in the brutal suppression of the Philippine insurrection at the turn of the century could be found the antecedents of American intervention in Vietnam. I also imbibed a way of thinking about the past in which visionaries and underdogs—Tom Paine, Wendell Phillips, Eugene V. Debs, and W. E. B. Du Bois—were as central to the historical drama as presidents and captains of industry, and how a commitment to social justice could infuse one's attitudes towards the past.
  • 1995
    Age 52
    In 1995, he was named Scholar of the Year by the New York Council for the Humanities.
    More Details Hide Details He is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the British Academy and holds an honorary doctorate from Iona College. He has taught at Cambridge University as Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions, at Oxford University as Harmsworth Professor of American History, where he is also an honorary fellow of the Rothermere American Institute, and at Moscow State University as Fulbright Professor. In 2007 the alumni of Columbia College voted to give him the John Jay Award for Distinguished Professional Achievement.
  • 1989
    Age 46
    In 1989 Foner won the Avery O. Craven Award from the Organization of American Historians.
    More Details Hide Details In 1991 Foner won the Great Teacher Award from the Society of Columbia Graduates.
  • 1988
    Age 45
    In 1988 Foner published his definitive book Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877.
    More Details Hide Details It won the Bancroft Prize, the Francis Parkman Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the Avery O. Craven Prize, and the Lionel Trilling Prize. "Foner has established himself as the leading authority on the Reconstruction period," wrote historian Michael Perman in reviewing Reconstruction. "This book is not simply a distillation of the secondary literature; it is a masterly account - broad in scope as well as rich in detail and insight. "This is history written on a grand scale, a masterful treatment of one of the most complex periods of American history," David Herbert Donald wrote in The New Republic. C. Vann Woodward, in The New York Review of Books, wrote, "Eric Foner has put together this terrible story with greater cogency and power, I believe, than has been brought to the subject heretofore." Foner has continued to lecture widely on Reconstruction and published several shorter versions of his major book, including A Short History of Reconstruction, 1863-1877 (1990) and America's Reconstruction: People and Politics After the Civil War (1995).
  • 1982
    Age 39
    Foner has long been considered a leading authority on the Reconstruction Era of American history. In a seminal essay in American Heritage in October 1982, later reprinted in Reviews in American History, Foner wrote,
    More Details Hide Details In the past twenty years, no period of American history has been the subject of a more thoroughgoing reevaluation than Reconstruction—the violent, dramatic, and still controversial era following the Civil War. Race relations, politics, social life, and economic change during Reconstruction have all been reinterpreted in the light of changed attitudes toward the place of blacks within American society. If historians have not yet forged a fully satisfying portrait of Reconstruction as a whole, the traditional interpretation that dominated historical writing for much of this century has irrevocably been laid to rest. That year, he gave the Walter L. Fleming Lectures in southern history, which were later published as Nothing but Freedom: Emancipation and Its Legacy.
  • 1980
    Age 37
    In 1980 he was Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions at the University of Cambridge.
    More Details Hide Details Appointed the DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University in 1988, a chair previously held by his mentor Richard Hofstadter, Foner specializes in 19th century American history, the American Civil War, slavery, and Reconstruction. He served as president of the Organization of American Historians in (1993–94), and of the American Historical Association (2000). He is one of only two persons to serve as president of the Organization of American Historians, American Historical Association, and Society of American Historians. Foner serves on the editorial boards of Past and Present and The Nation. As a public intellectual, he has written for The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, London Review of Books, and other publications. In addition, he has spoken about history on television and radio, including Charlie Rose, Book Notes, and All Things Considered. He has appeared in historical documentaries on PBS and The History Channel. Foner contributed an essay and conversation with John Sayles in Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies, published by the Society of American Historians in 1995. He was the historian in Freedom: A History of US on PBS in 2003.
  • 1976
    Age 33
    In 1976-1977 he was a visiting professor of American History at Princeton University.
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  • 1969
    Age 26
    Foner returned to Columbia for his Ph.D, where he worked under Richard Hofstadter; he finished in 1969.
    More Details Hide Details From 1973-1982 Foner served as a professor in the history department at City College and Graduate Center at City University of New York.
  • 1943
    Age 0
    Born on February 7, 1943.
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