Areas of Interest:
- Nineteenth-Century U.S.
- Slavery and Emancipation
- American Civil War Era
- Transatlantic Activism and Abolitionism
- Social, Cultural, and Intellectual History
- Transnational History
Research and Teaching:
Dr. McDaniel is an historian of slavery, abolitionism, transatlantic reform, and the nineteenth-century United States.
His first book, The Problem of Democracy in the Age of Slavery, won the Merle Curti Award from the Organization of American Historians and the James Broussard prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. It demonstrates that in challenging American slavery, nineteenth-century abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips joined Europeans like John Stuart Mill, Giuseppe Mazzini, and Alexis de Tocqueville in complex, related debates about democracy, nationalism, and the nature of “public opinion.” These debates and their own experiences as transatlantic reformers led Garrisonian abolitionists to believe that constant agitation and cosmopolitan ideals were essential to democracy. By abolishing slavery and defending the freedom to dissent, they hoped to vindicate popular government itself on a global stage, but they also identified problems with democracy that would not be easy for them or their heirs to solve.
Dr. McDaniel's most recent book, Sweet Taste of Liberty, was published by Oxford University Press in 2019. It tells the story of Henrietta Wood, a woman who was born enslaved, freed before the Civil War, kidnapped and re-enslaved, and then freed again by the war. In 1870, she sued the man who had kidnapped and enslaved her in a federal court---and won. A jury awarded her $2,500 in a rare case of restitution that has relevance to ongoing debates about reparations for slavery. To write the book, Dr. McDaniel received support from a Public Scholar grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
He teaches graduate courses in nineteenth-century American history and social and cultural history methods, and also accepts students who wish to work on more specific subjects related to his primary research interests in American radicalism and reform, antislavery, slavery, transnational history, and American intellectual history. He also serves on examinations and dissertations committees for students working in these and related areas.
- “The Case of John L. Brown: Sex, Slavery, and the Trials of a Transatlantic Abolitionist Campaign,” American Nineteenth-Century History 14, no. 2 (June 2013), 141–159
- “Involuntary Removals: ‘Refugeed Slaves’ in Confederate Texas,” in Lone Star Unionism, Dissent, and Resistance: Other Sides of Civil War Texas, ed. Frank de la Teja (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2016), 60-83.
- The Problem of Democracy in the Age of Slavery: Garrisonian Abolitionists and Transatlantic Reform (Louisiana State University Press, 2013)
- "Saltwater Antislavery: American Abolitionists on the Atlantic Ocean in the Age of Steam," Atlantic Studies 8, no. 2 (June 2011), 141-163 (lead article for special issue on "Abolitionist Places")
- "His Brothers' Keeper: John Brown, Moral Stewardship, and Interracial Abolitionism," Slavery and Abolition 32, no. 1 (March 2011), 27-52.
- "Philadelphia Abolitionists and Antislavery Cosmopolitanism, 1760-1840," in Antislavery and Abolition in Philadelphia: Emancipation and the Long Struggle for Racial Justice in the City of Brotherly Love, ed. Richard Newman and James Mueller (Baton Rouge: LSU Press, 2011), 149-173.
- “Repealing Unions: American Abolitionists, Irish Repeal, and the Origins of Garrisonian Disunionism,” Journal of the Early Republic 28, no. 2 (2008), 243-269. Winner of the Ralph D. Gray Article Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic
- “The Fourth and the First: Abolitionist Holidays, Respectability, and Radical Interracial Reform,” American Quarterly 57, no. 1 (2005), 129-151.