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Richards, Leonard L. (Leonard Richards)

Richards, Leonard L. (Leonard Richards)

PERSONAL:

Education: Graduated from University of California, Berkeley; University of California, Davis, Ph.D., 1968.

ADDRESSES:

Office—Department of History, College of Humanities and Fine Arts, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Historian and educator. University of Massachusetts, Amherst, professor of history. Has also taught at San Francisco State College and University of Hawaii.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Beveridge Prize, American Historical Association, 1970, for Gentlemen of Property and Standing: Anti-Abolition Mobs in Jacksonian America; Pulitzer Prize finalist, 1987, for The Life and Times of Congressman John Quincy Adams; Lincoln Prize second place, 2001, for The Slave Power: The Free North and Southern Domination, 1780-1860.

WRITINGS:

Gentlemen of Property and Standing: Anti-Abolition Mobs in Jacksonian America, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1970.

The Advent of American Democracy, 1815-1848, Scott, Foresman (Glenview, IL), 1977.

(As Leonard Richards; editor, with William Graebner) The American Record: Images of the Nation's Past (two volumes), Knopf (New York, NY), 1982, 3rd edition, McGraw-Hill (Boston, MA), 1994, 5th edition, 2006.

The Life and Times of Congressman John Quincy Adams, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1986.

The Slave Power: The Free North and Southern Domination, 1780-1860, Louisiana State University Press (Baton Rouge), 2000.

Shays's Rebellion: The American Revolution's Final Battle, University of Pennsylvania Press (Philadelphia, PA), 2002.

(With Maria R. Miller and Erik Gilg) A Return to His Native Town: Martin Van Buren's Life at Lindenwald, 1839-1862: A Historic Resource Study, National Park Service (Boston, MA), 2006.

The California Gold Rush and the Coming of the Civil War, Knopf (New York, NY), 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

Historian and educator Leonard L. Richards is the author of a number of critically acclaimed works, including Gentlemen of Property and Standing: Anti-Abolition Mobs in Jacksonian America, winner of the Beveridge Prize, The Life and Times of Congressman John Quincy Adams, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and The California Gold Rush and the Coming of the Civil War.

In The Slave Power: The Free North and Southern Domination, 1780-1860, Richards examines the political power of Southern slaveholders in the federal government. The concept of the Slave Power "rested on the constitutional clause that allowed southerners to count three-fifths of their slave population for purposes of representation and taxation," observed Journal of Southern History critic Louis S. Gerteis. He continued, "Richards shows that northeastern Federalists accepted the three-fifths ratio as long as they retained power but ultimately blamed it for their eventual defeat and downfall." Richards notes that from 1788 to 1850 Southerners held a virtual monopoly on the presidency, Supreme Court, and key congressional positions. "Just how Southern politicians fashioned and maintained such overwhelming dominance at the federal level lies at the heart of Richards's study," noted William L. Barney on H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online. Though Barney also noted that the author "has highlighted the political side of the Slave Power at the expense of its emotional appeal," he remarked that the author "is superb in depicting a Slave Power construct grounded in Northern frustrations over Southern dominance of the national political arena."

Richards critiques long-held interpretations of the armed uprisings that took place in Western Massachusetts from 1786 to 1787 in Shays's Rebellion: The American Revolution's Final Battle. The insurgents, a group of primarily small farmers burdened by crushing debt, were headed by Daniel Shays, a veteran of the American Revolutionary War. Demanding tax relief and protective legislation, the armed rebels forced a number of debtors' courts to stop business. "Far from being the dregs of society, Richards demonstrates that the Shaysites were sturdy yeomen farmers and their sons," wrote Stuart Leibiger in the Historian. Leibiger added, "The protest was driven not by insolvency, concludes Richards, but by resentment against an unfair state government dominated by self-serving eastern elites."

In The California Gold Rush and the Coming of the Civil War, Richards "lucidly explores the development of California politics as a struggle between a free North and a slave-based South," stated Library Journal reviewer Nathan E. Bender. The discovery of gold at Sutter's Mill in 1848 launched the nation into a heated debate over statehood for the region; California was admitted to the union as a free state in 1850, angering many Southerners. "Richards hones in most productively on the internal and external politics related to the pre-1850 California territory," a contributor in Publishers Weekly remarked, and Booklist critic Jay Freeman noted that the author "offers a broad panorama that moves seamlessly from the goldfields to the halls of Congress."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Heritage, April 1, 1987, review of The Life and Times of Congressman John Quincy Adams, p. 106.

American Historical Review, October 1, 1987, Mary W.M. Hargreaves, review of The Life and Times of Congressman John Quincy Adams, p. 1035; October 1, 2001, Wallace Hettle, review of The Slave Power: The Free North and Southern Domination, 1780-1860, p. 1357.

American History, December 1, 2002, David Everitt, review of Shays's Rebellion: The American Revolution's Final Battle, p. 67.

American History Illustrated, February 1, 1987, review of The Life and Times of Congressman John Quincy Adams, p. 6.

Booklist, February 15, 2007, Jay Freeman, review of The California Gold Rush and the Coming of the Civil War, p. 27.

Boston Globe, May 1, 2007, Michael Kenney, review of The California Gold Rush and the Coming of the Civil War.

Choice, May 1, 2001, E.M. Thomas, review of The Slave Power, p. 1681; February 1, 2003, J.J. Fox, Jr., review of Shays's Rebellion, p. 1045.

Cobblestone, December, 2004, "Books to Read," review of Shays's Rebellion, p. 44.

Historian, fall, 2004, Stuart Leibiger, review of Shays's Rebellion, p. 595.

Journal of American History, June 1, 1987, Kinley Brauer, review of The Life and Times of Congressman John Quincy Adams, p. 167; December 1, 2001, Jonathan H. Earle, review of The Slave Power, p. 1077; September 1, 2003, Thomas J. Humphrey, review of Shays's Rebellion, p. 625.

Journal of American Studies, December 1, 2002, John Ashworth, review of The Slave Power, p. 554.

Journal of Interdisciplinary History, January 1, 2002, Amy Amoon, review of The Slave Power, p. 487.

Journal of Southern History, November 1, 1987, Vernon L. Volpe, review of The Life and Times of Congressman John Quincy Adams, p. 660; August, 2002, Louis S. Gerteis, review of The Slave Power, p. 683.

Journal of the Early Republic, fall, 2001, Daniel J. McInerney, review of The Slave Power, p. 543.

Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2006, review of The California Gold Rush and the Coming of the Civil War, p. 1212.

Library Journal, March 1, 2007, Nathan E. Bender, review of The California Gold Rush and the Coming of the Civil War, p. 95.

New England Quarterly, March 1, 2003, Robert A. Gross, review of Shays's Rebellion, p. 126.

New Yorker, October 13, 1986, review of The Life and Times of Congressman John Quincy Adams, p. 157; March 19, 2007, review of The California Gold Rush and the Coming of the Civil War, p. 142.

New York Review of Books, April 12, 2001, review of The Slave Power, p. 28.

Presidential Studies Quarterly, spring, 1989, review of The Life and Times of Congressman John Quincy Adams, p. 390.

Publishers Weekly, December 4, 2006, review of The California Gold Rush and the Coming of the Civil War, p. 46.

Reviews in American History, March, 2002, Susan-Mary Grant, "The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Counterrevolution," p. 31.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), February 22, 1987, review of The Life and Times of Congressman John Quincy Adams, p. 7.

Virginia Quarterly Review, winter, 2003, review of Shays's Rebellion, p. 7.

William and Mary Quarterly, October 1, 2002, "The Changing Face of Antislavery," p. 1040; July 1, 2003, Woody Holton, review of Shays's Rebellion, p. 689.

Yankee, May 1, 1987, Geoffrey Elan, review of The Life and Times of Congressman John Quincy Adams, p. 168.

ONLINE

H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://www.h-net.org/ (October, 2001), William L. Barney, review of The Slave Power.

Random House Web site,http://www.randomhouse.com/ (July 4, 2007), "Author Spotlight: Leonard L. Richards."

University of Massachusetts Amherst Department of History Web site,http://www.umass.edu/history/ (July 4, 2007), "Leonard Richards."

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