Trefousse, Hans Louis 1921–
Trefousse, Hans Louis 1921–
Surname is pronounced "Trayfus"; born December 18, 1921, in Frankfurt, Germany; immigrated to the United States in 1936, naturalized in 1943; son of George L. (a physician) and Elizabeth Trefousse; married Rashelle Friedlander (a teacher), January 26, 1947; children: Roger Philip. Education: City College (now City College of the City University of New York), B.A., 1942; Columbia University, M.A., 1947, Ph.D., 1950. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Jewish.
Home—Staten Island, NY. E-mail—[email protected]
History educator and author. Adelphi College, Garden City, NY, instructor in history, 1949-50; City University of New York, Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, NY, instructor, 1950-57, assistant professor, 1958-60, associate professor, 1961-65, Graduate School and University Center, associate professor, 1962-65, professor of history, 1965-98, distinguished professor of history, 1986, now professor emeritus. Visiting professor at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, 1959, 1968, University of Minnesota, 1963, and Johns Hopkins University, 1964. Editorial advisor, Twayne Publishers. Military service: U.S. Army, 1942-45; became captain; received Bronze Star with oak-leaf cluster and Purple Heart. U.S. Army Reserve, retired; present rank, lieutenant colonel.
Distinguished teaching award, Brooklyn College (now Brooklyn College of the City University of New York), 1960; Guggenheim fellow, 1977-78; American Council of Learned Societies grant, 1984.
Germany and American Neutrality, 1939-1941, A.B. Bookman Associates (New York, NY), 1951.
Ben Butler: The South Called Him Beast!, Twayne (New York, NY), 1957.
(Editor) What Happened at Pearl Harbor?, Twayne (New York, NY), 1958.
(Author of preface and introductory notes) Gideon Welles, Lincoln's Administration, Twayne (New York, NY), 1960.
Benjamin Franklin Wade: Radical Republican from Ohio, Twayne (New York, NY), 1963.
(Editor) The Cold War: A Book of Documents, Putnam (New York, NY), 1965.
The Radical Republicans: Lincoln's Vanguard for Racial Justice, Knopf (New York, NY), 1969.
(Editor) Background for Radical Reconstruction, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1970.
(Editor) The Causes of the Civil War, Holt, Rinehart and Winston (New York, NY), 1971.
Reconstruction: America's First Effort at Racial Democracy, Van Nostrand (New York, NY), 1971.
(Author of introduction, with Harold M. Hyman) Edward McPherson, Hand-book of Politics, Da Capo Press (New York, NY), 1972.
(Author of introduction, Harold M. Hyman) Edward McPherson, The Political History of the United States of America during the Great Rebellion, 1860-1865, Da Capo Press (New York, NY), 1972.
(Author of introduction, Harold M. Hyman) Edward McPherson, The Political History of the United States of America during the Period of Reconstruction, April 15, 1865-July 15, 1870, Da Capo Press (New York, NY), 1972.
Impeachment of a President: Andrew Johnson, the Blacks, and Reconstruction, University of Tennessee Press (Knoxville, TN), 1975.
Lincoln's Decision for Emancipation, Lippincott (Philadelphia, PA), 1975.
(Editor) Toward a New View of America: Essays in Honor of Arthur C. Cole, Burt Franklin (New York, NY), 1977.
(Editor, with Abraham S. Eisenstadt and Ari Hoogenboom) Before Watergate: Problems of Corruption in American Society, Brooklyn College Press (Brooklyn, NY), 1978.
(Editor) Germany and America: Essays on International Relations, Brooklyn College Press (Brooklyn, NY), 1980.
Carl Schurz: A Biography, University of Tennessee Press (Knoxville, TN), 1982.
Pearl Harbor: The Continuing Controversy, Robert E. Krieger (Malabar, FL), 1982.
Andrew Johnson: A Biography, Norton (New York, NY), 1989.
Historical Dictionary of Reconstruction, Greenwood Press (New York, NY), 1991.
(Author of introduction, with Harold Holzer) The Union Preserved: A Guide to Civil War Records in the New York State Archives, edited by Harold Holzer, compiled by Daniel Lorello, Fordham University Press (New York, NY), 1999.
Rutherford B. Hayes (part of the "American Presidents" series), Times Books (New York, NY), 2002.
First among Equals: Abraham Lincoln's Reputation during His Administration, Fordham University Press (New York, NY), 2005.
Editor of "Statesmen and Rulers of the World" series, Twayne, 1966-76. Contributor to Encyclopedia Britannica and to periodicals, including Far Eastern Quarterly, Antioch Review, Mississippi Valley Historical Review, and Civil War History.
Hans Louis Trefousse is a history educator and a leading writer and researcher of American history, particularly the Civil War and Reconstruction eras. Early in his writing career he produced a number of works on those topics as well as on World War II and Cold War era battles and politics. Trefousse also edited or contributed to other titles, including three republished books by Edward McPherson, a Republican journalist and politician who worked for reform in post-Civil War America.
Of all Trefousse's contributions to the study of American history, he is best known for his biographical works on some of the nation's lesser-known presidents. Andrew Johnson, the flawed successor to Abraham Lincoln and the first president of the Reconstruction period, was the first presidential subject of Trefousse's scrutiny. In Impeachment of a President: Andrew Johnson, the Blacks, and Reconstruction, Trefousse dissects the events surrounding Johnson's term in office and his infamous impeachment, the first in American history. This controversial leader's actions and motives have been debated since his tragic term in office, and even more during the impeachment of President Bill Clinton over a hundred years later. Trefousse's book works to dispel myths about the Johnson affair and "remains a corrective to those who lapse too quickly into easy comparisons" with Clinton's impeachment, wrote Paul Horton on the History Cooperative Web site.
Trefousse continued his study of Lincoln's vice president in Andrew Johnson: A Biography. "With the deft skill of a veteran biographer, Hans Trefousse traces Johnson's rise literally from log cabin to the White House," wrote James M. McPherson in Atlantic. Throughout the narrative, the author directly faces the major conflicts and contradictions of Johnson's character, the most glaring of which were his negative views of nonwhites and aristocrats. "Slaves earned their bread by the sweat of their brows, but Johnson wasted no sympathy on them. Quite the contrary; he looked down on blacks as he believed the aristocrats looked down on him," McPherson continued. Next, Trefousse examines the national environment of Johnson's time in Historical Dictionary of Reconstruction. Here, the author assembles almost 250 dictionary-format entries on the major issues, people, and ideas of the time, plus a bibliography, index, and chronology. "This reference book … will be of great use to scholars and general readers," wrote a reviewer for Library Journal. "Pithy, readable articles, spanning the years 1862-96, reflect current scholarship on the period…. As the only reference work of its type, it should find widespread applicability in libraries of any size."
One of the major figures of the Reconstruction period, the U.S. representative who led the impeachment proceedings against President Johnson, became the focus of Trefousse's next title, Thaddeus Stevens: Nineteenth-Century Egalitarian. For generations, Stevens has been frowned upon, remembered more for his vengeance on the defeated Confederacy than for his humanitarianism, which is brought to light in this biography. "Hans L. Trefousse has written an outstanding political biography of Thaddeus Stevens that is rich in detail and based on an impressive array of original and secondary sources. Moreover, he advances a compelling interpretation of Stevens' long life and career that is fully resonant with the revisionists' (of which Trefousse is a leading member) view of Reconstruction," wrote Joan Waugh in Labor History.
Perhaps as a capstone to his works on the Reconstruction, Trefousse next produced a biography of the president who ended the movement. Rutherford B. Hayes is a short but substantive portrait of a president almost as controversial as Johnson. In 1876, Hayes lost the popular vote but was ushered into office by a contested Electoral College vote. "Historians have argued that Hayes received the presidency as part of a corrupt deal involving Reconstruction, but Trefousse argues that Hayes was never a part of any such deal, and that his actions regarding Reconstruction were inevitable because the country was no longer willing to support a military presence in the South…. Trefousse presents Hayes as an honest and fair man who was as successful as any president could have hoped to be at a very contentious period in American history," wrote John Lyons in the Post and Courier. Brad Hooper concluded in Booklist that Rutherford B. Hayes "rescues from relative obscurity a man who, in the eyes of the author … should be remembered…. [The book is a] fluid and valuable overview."
In First among Equals: Abraham Lincoln's Reputation during His Administration, Trefousse takes a fresh look at Lincoln, both his early career and his presidency, in an attempt to counter the traditional opinion that prior to becoming president of the United States, Lincoln was actually a fairly obscure individual and little-known politician, and that after his election he was decidedly unpopular for a host of reasons. According to Trefousse, these concepts are erroneous. He maintains that Lincoln was in actuality a well-liked and popular politician at the time that he was initially suggested as a candidate for president, and that his popularity only increased during his time in office. He suggests that Lincoln's presidency was of a great deal of interest and that many Americans were not only in favor of the job he did with its difficult choices and extreme circumstances, but found him a thoughtful president with many good qualities that made him a successful and appropriate leader. Donald Rakestraw, in a review for the Historian, dubbed Trefousse's effort "a thoroughly researched and finely crafted corrective that establishes Lincoln's generally favorable image with his contemporaries during his presidency." Michael Green, writing for the Journal of Southern History, commented that "Trefousse could have offered his own judgments more frequently in addition to those of Lincoln's contemporaries." Green went on to conclude, however, that "anyone interested in Lincoln, the Civil War, or politics will find this book not only a must but a delight."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
AB Bookman's Weekly, August 31, 1998, review of Carl Schurz: A Biography, p. 370.
American Heritage, July, 1989, review of Andrew Johnson: A Biography, p. 110.
American Historical Review, February, 1992, review of Andrew Johnson, p. 285; April, 1998, review of Thaddeus Stevens: Nineteenth-Century Egalitarian, p. 598.
American Reference Books Annual, 1992, review of Historical Dictionary of Reconstruction, p. 181.
American Spectator, December, 1991, review of Andrew Johnson, p. 16.
Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, January, 1991, review of Andrew Johnson, p. 188.
Atlantic, August, 1989, James M. McPherson, review of Andrew Johnson, p. 84.
Booklist, December 1, 1991, review of Historical Dictionary of Reconstruction, p. 721; October 15, 2002, Brad Hooper, review of Rutherford B. Hayes, p. 384.
Bookwatch, April, 1999, review of Reconstruction: America's First Effort at Racial Democracy, p. 2; May, 1999, review of Impeachment of a President: Andrew Johnson, the Blacks, and Reconstruction, p. 6.
Book World, January 12, 1969; July 16, 1989, review of Andrew Johnson, p. 13.
Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, January, 1990, review of Andrew Johnson, p. 864; January, 1992, review of Historical Dictionary of Reconstruction, p. 728; November, 1997, review of Thaddeus Stevens, p. 551.
Civil War History, June, 1998, Louis S. Gerteis, review of Thaddeus Stevens, pp. 145-146.
Historian, autumn, 1991, review of Andrew Johnson, p. 180; September 22, 2007, Donald Rakestraw, review of First among Equals: Abraham Lincoln's Reputation during His Administration, p. 564.
History: Reviews of New Books, summer, 1999, Brooks D. Simpson, review of Impeachment of a President, p. 152.
Journal of American History, December, 1990, review of Andrew Johnson, p. 1038; March, 1994, review of Historical Dictionary of Reconstruction, p. 1591.
Journal of Southern History, February, 1991, review of Andrew Johnson, p. 110; May, 1993, review of Historical Dictionary of Reconstruction, p. 391; November, 1998, review of Thaddeus Stevens, p. 762; August 1, 2006, Michael Green, review of First among Equals, p. 672.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2002, review of Rutherford B. Hayes, p. 1292.
Labor History, February, 1999, Joan Waugh, review of Thaddeus Stevens, p. 88.
Library Journal, August, 1989, review of Andrew Johnson, p. 138; September 1, 1991, review of Historical Dictionary of Reconstruction, p. 186; June 1, 1997, Boyd Childress, review of Thaddeus Stevens, p. 108.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, July 30, 1989, review of Andrew Johnson, p. 1.
Mississippi Quarterly, spring, 1998, Richard H. Abbott, review of Thaddeus Stevens, pp. 371-373.
New York Review of Books, May 17, 1990, review of Andrew Johnson, p. 8.
New York Times, July 29, 1989, review of Andrew Johnson, p. 15.
Observer, December 3, 1989, review of Andrew Johnson, p. 46.
Post and Courier, January 5, 2003, John Lyons, "U.S. Presidential Biography Series Portrays Hayes as Honest, Fair Man," p. E4.
Reference & Research Book News, February, 1990, review of Andrew Johnson, p. 9; February, 1992, review of Historical Dictionary of Reconstruction, p. 9; August, 1998, review of Carl Schurz, p. 45; August, 1999, review of Impeachment of a President, p. 43.
Reference Book Review, February, 1993, review of Historical Dictionary of Reconstruction, p. 18.
Reviews in American History, September, 1998, review of Thaddeus Stevens, 546.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), July 9, 1989, review of Andrew Johnson, p. 7.
Virginia Quarterly Review, winter, 1990, review of Andrew Johnson, p. 18.
Wilson Library Bulletin, January, 1992, review of Historical Dictionary of Reconstruction, p. 129.
History Cooperative Web site,http://www.historycooperative.org/ (January 16, 2003), Paul Horton, review of Impeachment of a President.