Freedom National

James Oakes on why the Left should study the movements that abolished slavery.

Slaves at a coffee yard in a farm. Vale do Paraiba, Sao Paulo, 1882. Marc Ferrez / Moreira Salles Institute Archive.

James Oakes is a professor of history at the CUNY Graduate Center whose work has focused on slavery, abolitionism, and the Civil War. In this conversation, we talk about the development of his historical philosophy, the impetus behind his books The Radical and the Republican and Freedom National, and why the Left could learn from studying the abolition of slavery.