David W. Blight

American historian

David William Blight (born March 21, 1949) is the Sterling Professor of History, of African American Studies, and of American Studies and Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University. He is a member of the American Philosophical Society (2021).

David W. Blight in 2019


  • ...These men and their party had overseen an unprecedented centralization of power in the federal government as a means of fighting and winning the Civil War. It is worth remembering, especially in America’s current political circumstances in the early 21st century, that these men of the first Republican Party vehemently believed in government.

"The Civil War Isn't Over" (2015)

"The Civil War Isn’t Over", The Atlantic (April 8, 2015)
  • The first American republic, created out of revolution in the late 18th century, was in effect destroyed. A new, second republic took its place, given a violent birth in the emancipation of four million slaves and the re-crafting of the U. S. Constitution in the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. Those Amendments—ending legal slavery forever, sanctifying birthright citizenship and establishing “equal protection of the law,” and creating black male suffrage—in effect re-made the United States Constitution. This comprised a second American revolution.
  • The death toll, the sheer sense of human loss experienced in the war, North and South, among blacks and whites, left a profound and haunting pall on American society and culture for generations to come. The old, official count of Civil War dead relied upon for a century and a half was approximately 620,000. According to some remarkable new research, as many as 750,000 American soldiers and sailors may have died in the conflict, the majority from disease. Approximately 1.2 million were wounded, including perhaps 30-40,000 northern amputees (there are no equivalent numbers for Southerners) who struggled with life and livelihood well into the late nineteenth century. There is no reasonable count of civilian deaths, nor of the numbers of freed slaves who perished in the struggle for their own emancipation. Research now suggests that a quarter of all freedmen who made it to contraband camps operated by the Union forces died in the process. Based on the military death count alone, per capita, if the Civil War were fought in the United States today with its ten-fold greater population, 7.5 million soldiers would die. For most Americans that is an unthinkable toll, but such was the equivalence for their kinfolk in the 1860s. Whenever Americans have been compelled to face and understand experiences of great loss and suffering—the World Wars, the Great Depression, the attacks of 9/11—they have returned to the Civil War-era for touchstones of understanding.
  • A significant segment of American society hates the President [Barack Obama] and cannot seem to abide a black family living in the White House.

Quotes about

  • (everyone should read:) Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight. Blight’s biography of Frederick Douglass is probably the best biography I have ever read. If you want to understand America, you have to understand Douglass. He is one of the true founding fathers of this country, someone who helped America see what it was, and who helped direct it towards what he believed it could one day be.
Wikipedia has an article about: