A House Built by Slaves: African American Visitors to the Lincoln White House
By Jonathan W. White
JMC fellow Jonathan W. White has written a book exploring the forgotten story of how President Lincoln welcomed African Americans to his White House in America’s most divided and war-torn era:
Jonathan White illuminates why Lincoln’s then-unprecedented welcoming of African American men and women to the White House transformed the trajectory of race relations in the United States. From his 1862 meetings with Black Christian ministers, Lincoln began inviting African Americans of every background into his home, from ex-slaves from the Deep South to champions of abolitionism such as Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth. More than a good-will gesture, the president conferred with his guests about the essential issues of citizenship and voting rights. Drawing from an array of primary sources, White reveals how African Americans used the White House as a national stage to amplify their calls for equality. Even 155 years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln’s inclusion of African Americans remains a necessary example in a country still struggling from racial divisions today.
Jonathan W. White is an Associate Professor of American Studies at Christopher Newport University. He is the author or editor of ten books and more than one hundred articles, essays and reviews about the Civil War. Emancipation, the Union Army, and the Reelection of Abraham Lincoln was named a best book of 2014 by Civil War Monitor, was a finalist for both the Gilder-Lehrman Lincoln Prize and the Jefferson Davis Prize, and won the Abraham Lincoln Institute’s 2015 book prize. Midnight in America: Darkness, Sleep, and Dreams during the Civil War was named a best book of 2017 by Civil War Monitor. Additionally, Professor White serves on several historical organization boards and was chosen as the recipient of the 2019 Outstanding Faculty Award of the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, the highest award given to faculty in the Commonwealth.
Professor White is a JMC fellow.
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