mcdaniel head shot

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Ph.D, 2006, Johns Hopkins University
M.A., 2001, Texas A&M University
B.A., 2000, History, Texas A&M University


Areas of Interest: 

  • Nineteenth-Century U.S.
  • Slavery and Emancipation
  • American Civil War Era
  • Abolitionism
  • Social, Cultural, and Intellectual History
  • Transnational History

Research and Teaching: 

Dr. McDaniel is a historian of the nineteenth-century United States, with special interests in slavery, antislavery, emancipation, and the Civil War era.

Dr. McDaniel's most recent book, Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America, was published by Oxford University Press in 2019 and won the Pulitzer Prize in History in 2020. 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---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.

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 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 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 teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in nineteenth-century American history and advises doctoral students working on a wide range of subjects.

Selected Publications: 

  • Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America (Oxford University Press, 2019).
  • “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 Bonds and Boundaries of Antislavery,” Journal of the Civil War Era 4, no. 1 (March 2014), 84-105.
  • The Problem of Democracy in the Age of Slavery: Garrisonian Abolitionists and Transatlantic Reform (Louisiana State University Press, 2013).
  • “His Brothers' Keeper: John Brown, Moral Stewardship, and Interracial Abolitionism,” Slavery and Abolition 32, no. 1 (March 2011), 27-52.
  • “Repealing Unions: American Abolitionists, Irish Repeal, and the Origins of Garrisonian Disunionism,” Journal of the Early Republic 28, no. 2 (2008), 243-269.
  • “The Fourth and the First: Abolitionist Holidays, Respectability, and Radical Interracial Reform,” American Quarterly 57, no. 1 (2005), 129-151.