Nichols, David A. 1939- (David Allen Nichols)

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Nichols, David A. 1939- (David Allen Nichols)


Born February 4, 1939, in Lyons, KS; son of Arthur Alvin (a carpenter) and Merle Nichols; married Esther Wells (a church musician), May 30, 1960 (divorced, April, 1976); children: Preston, John, Yolanda; stepchildren: Lora, Bonnie Anthis. Education: Southwestern College, Winfield, KS, B.Mus., 1960; Northwestern University, M.Mus., 1964; Roosevelt University, M.A., 1970; College of William and Mary, Ph.D., 1975. Religion: United Methodist.


Director of orchestras at public schools in Huron, SD, 1960-63; director of music at Methodist church in Des Plaines, IL, 1963-65; director of orchestras at public schools in Glenview, IL, 1964-67; Huron College, Huron, 1967-78, began as assistant professor, became full professor of history and humanities, director of community services, 1975-78, assistant to the president, 1976-78; Southwestern College, Winfield, KS, staff, 1978-2003, chair of the management division, 1979-85, associate professor of social science and business, 1978-83, professor, 1983-85, vice president for development, 1985-91, vice president of academic affairs and dean of faculty, 1992-2003. Member of South Dakota Board of Cultural Preservation, 1973-74; member of Beadle County Democratic Committee.


South Dakota Historical Society, Organization of American Historians.


Inducted into the Southwestern College Scholars Hall of Fame, 2007.


Lincoln and the Indians: Civil War Policy and Politics, University of Missouri Press (Columbia, MO), 1978, reprinted, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 2000.

A Matter of Justice: Eisenhower and the Beginning of the Civil Rights Revolution, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to periodicals, including New York Times and Los Angeles Times. Also contributor to history journals.


David A. Nichols is a retired professor and dean who is the author of two history books, Lincoln and the Indians: Civil War Policy and Politics and A Matter of Justice: Eisenhower and the Beginning of the Civil Rights Revolution. In the latter, Nichols looks at the 1957 forced integration of Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, which took place because of President Dwight D. Eisenhower's orders. During that event, nine African Americans, known as the "Little Rock Nine" were enrolled into a previously all-white school. Throughout the book, Nichols traces Eisenhower's political importance to the civil rights movement, a viewpoint that is not commonly explored. According to Nichols, some of the key accomplishments that cement Eisenhower's position as a leading civil rights proponent are his oversight of the integration of the military and Washington, DC, and his instatement of Earl Warren as chief justice of the Supreme Court. Indeed, Warren made many of the landmark rulings that led to the success of the civil rights movement.

A Matter of Justice was widely reviewed and almost universally acclaimed. Boston Globe contributor James A. Miller found that Nichols "makes a strong case for Eisenhower's legislative achievements." Indeed, Miller noted: "How is it that, at the same time we honor and celebrate the dignity and heroism of the Little Rock Nine, we overlook or—even worse—forget Eisenhower's role in this historic event?" Miller concluded that "in A Matter of Justice David A. Nichols aims to redress this state of affairs." Discussing Nichols's anticipation of arguments against his thesis, a Publishers Weekly critic noted that Nichols "attributes skepticism about Eisenhower's motives to the president's ‘restrained rhetorical style.’" All in all, a Kirkus Reviews contributor stated: "Nichols focuses on the facts, but he also offers a careful analysis of why Ike has not received proper historical credit."

Nichols told CA: "I have had an unusual career as a historian. Educated as a musician, I became fascinated with politics and civil rights in the 1960s. The gap of nearly three decades between my first and second books reflects a consuming commitment to my alma mater, Southwestern College, for twenty-five years. My intent in both books has been to look over the president's shoulder by digging deeply in documents that historians tend to ignore. Historians distort the record when they settle for studying only public statements, read modern attitudes backward, or inflict partisan bias on their interpretations. A Matter of Justice is my favorite because it is a groundbreaking reinterpretation that refutes much of what prominent historians have written about Eisenhower."



Associated Press, September 10, 2007, Andrew DeMillo, "Eisenhower's Civil Rights Legacy," review of A Matter of Justice: Eisenhower and the Beginning of the Civil Rights Revolution.

Boston Globe, November 21, 2007, James A. Miller, review of A Matter of Justice.

Journal of American History, June, 2008, Jack M. Bloom, review of A Matter of Justice, p. 266.

Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2007, review of A Matter of Justice.

Library Journal, September 15, 2007, Karl Helicher, review of A Matter of Justice, p. 71; September 15, 2007, "Q&A: David A. Nichols," p. 72.

Publishers Weekly, July 9, 2007, review of A Matter of Justice, p. 47.

ONLINE, (August 5, 2008), A Matter of Justice, video presentation at the Clinton Presidential Library.

Public Broadcasting Service Web site, (September 25, 2007), transcript of a Tavis Smiley Show interview with the author.

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Nichols, David A. 1939- (David Allen Nichols)

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