Lewis C. Perry

John Francis Bannon, S.J., Professor, Emeritus

Education: Ph.D., Cornell University, 1967; M.S., New York State School of Industrial and Labor Relations, 1964; B.A., Oberlin College, 1960.

I was trained in American intellectual history, wrote a dissertation on radical antislavery movements, and have continuing interests in religion and reform, theatre and popular culture, and democracy and citizenship. Through the years I have resisted a narrow period specialty, even as my teaching became ever more focused on the early republic, the rise of Jacksonian democracy, and the antislavery struggle. My most recent book examines the history of civil disobedience in American life from the Revolution to the present. After that, I'm thinking of a book on pacifism during World War II.

Honors and Fellowships:

  • OAH Distinguished Lecturer, 1987-present
  • Research Grant, Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, 1991-92
  • Visiting Raoul Wallenberg Fellow, Rutgers University, 1991-92
  • Visiting Fellow, New York Institute for the Humanities, 1991-92
  • Ampart lectureships, United States Information Service: India and Nepal, 1986, France 1989
  • Fellowship, National Endowment for the Humanities, 1987-88
  • Lectureship on the Bicentennial of the Constitution, Poynter Center, Ball Brothers Foundation, 1985
  • Editor, Journal of American History, 1978-84
  • Director, Summer Seminar for College Teachers ("Democratic Culture in America, 1770-1870"), National Endowment for the Humanities, 1983
  • Fellowship, John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, 1982
  • Demonstration Grant for a new course entitled "Theatrical America," National Endowment for the Humanities, 1976-78
  • Fellowship, National Humanities Institute, Yale University, 1975-76
  • Fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies, 1972-73

Scholarly Publications



  • Civil Disobedience, An American Tradition (Yale University Press, 2013).
  • Boats Against the Current: American Culture Between Revolution and Modernity, 1820-1860 (Oxford University Press, 1993; Rowman & Littlefield, 2002).
  • Intellectual Life in America: A History (Franklin Watts, 1984; University of Chicago Press, 1989; Indian edition, New Delhi, Asian Books, 1988).
  • Childhood, Marriage, and Reform: Henry Clarke Wright, 1797-1870 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980).
  • Radical Abolitionism: Anarchy and the Government of God in Antislavery Thought (Cornell University Press, 1973; University of Tennessee Press, 1995).

Recent Articles

  • "Scripture and Slaughter: The American Civil War as a Theological and Moral Crisis," Modern Intellectual History (Cambridge Univ. Press), vol. 6, no. 1 (2009).
  • "Harriet Jacobs on the 'Dear Old Flag,'" African American Review (Fall 2008).
  • "'What Disturbed the Unitarian Church in This Very City': Alton, the Slavery Conflict, and Western Unitarianism," co-authored with Matthew C. Sherman, Civil War History, 54 (March 2008): 5-34.
  • "Baptism on the Universalist Frontier," Journal of Unitarian Universalist History 29 (2003): 3-18.

Essays in Edited Volumes

  •  "Religion and Reform," A Companion to American Cultural History, ed. Karen Halttunen, (Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2008), 79-94.
  •  "Abolitionism," Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History, ed. Robert O'Meally and Jack Salzman (Gale, 2005).
  •  "Black Abolitionists and the Origins of Civil Disobedience," Moral Problems in American Life: New Perspectives on Cultural History (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998): 102-121.

Edited Volumes

  • Moral Problems in American Life: New Perspectives on Cultural History (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998). (Co-editor)
  • Antislavery Reconsidered: New Perspectives on the Abolitionists (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1979). (Co-editor)
  • Patterns of Anarchy: A Collection of Writings on the Anarchist Tradition (Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1966). (Co-editor)
  • American Thought and Culture Series, 11 volumes, 1989-1998. (Editor, and co-editor of forthcoming volumes).

Higher purpose. Greater good.
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