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Dr. W. Caleb McDaniel
Board Member Emeritus

Dr. McDaniel is Assistant Professor of History at Rice University and a historian of slavery, abolitionism, transatlantic reform, and the nineteenth-century United States.

Recipient of the 2014 Merle Curti Award, recognizing the outstanding work of American intellectual history published the previous year, for his book entitled The Problem of Democracy in the Age of Slavery: Garrisonian Abolitionists and Transatlantic Reform.

His first book, The Problem of Democracy in the Age of Slavery, 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.