Sean Wilentz

Sean Wilentz

Sean Wilentz (IPAEng|ˈʃɔːn wɨˈlɛnts) is the Sidney and Ruth Lapidus Professor of History at Princeton University, where he has taught since 1979.

Born in 1951 in New York City, where his father ran a used bookstore, Wilentz earned one B.A. at Columbia University in 1972, before earning another at Oxford University on a Kellett Fellowship, and his Ph.D. at Yale University in 1980. His historical scholarship has focused on the early years of the American republic. His major study, "The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln", received the Bancroft Prize in 2006 and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His first book, "Chants Democratic: New York City and the Rise of the American Working Class, 1788-1850" (1984, reprinted 2004) argued that class and class relations have played a significant role in 19th century history; it won several awards, including the Beveridge Award from the American Historical Association. He has more recently turned his scholarship to recent U.S. history.

A contributing editor at "The New Republic", Wilentz writes widely on music and the arts as well as history and politics, and has received a Grammy nomination, and a Deems Taylor Award for musical commentary from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

Wilentz has also intervened in contemporary politics as a staunch defender of Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton. He appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on December 8 1998 to argue against the Clinton impeachment. His testimony — he told the House members that, if they voted for impeachment but were not convinced Clinton's offenses were impeachable, "history will track you down and condemn you for your cravenness" — cheered Democratic partisans but was criticized by the "New York Times", which lamented his "gratuitously patronizing presentation" in an editorial. [ [ "Immobilizing Lies"] , "The New York Times", 1998-09-12]

Wilentz has prominently criticized the George W. Bush administration. In 2006 he wrote an article about the George W. Bush presidency, titled "The Worst President in History?" [ [ "The Worst President in History? One of America's leading historians assesses George W. Bush"] , "Rolling Stone", 2006-04-21] which appeared in "Rolling Stone" magazine.

In 2008 Wilentz was an outspoken supporter of the of Sen. Hillary Clinton. [ [ "Making the Case... for Hillary Clinton"] , by Sean Wilentz,, 2007-11-16] He wrote numerous essays analyzing Sen. Barack Obama's campaign, charging Obama with creating "manipulative illusion [s] " and "distortions," and having "purposefully polluted the [primary electoral] contest" with "the most outrageous deployment of racial politics since the Willie Horton ad campaign in 1988." [ [ "Race Man"] , by Sean Wilentz, "The New Republic," 2008-02-27] During the Democratic national convention, Wilentz charged in "Newsweek" that "liberal intellectuals have largely abdicated their responsibility to provide unblinking and rigorous analysis" of Obama. "Hardly any prominent liberal thinkers" have questioned his "rationalizations" about his relationship to his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr., or "his patently evasive accounts" of his "ties" to the "unrepentant terrorist William Ayers." For Wilentz, Obama is untested, cloudy, problematic — and liberal intellectuals have given him a free ride. [ Sean Wilentz, "A Liberal's Lament," "Newsweek" [ issue of Sept. 1, 2008, online] ] Wilentz came under heavy attacks from the intellectual stance for his criticism of Obama. [ Russell Jacoby, "Sean Wilentz, Out on a Partisan Limb," "Chronicle of Higher Education" [ issue dated September 19, 2008 online] ]

His latest book is "The Age of Reagan: A History, 1974-2008", published in May 2008 [" [ "Robert Wilentz"] [sic] , History Department, Princeton University] .

Wilentz lives in Princeton, New Jersey and is married to University of Chicago historian Christine Stansell.

By Wilentz

* Wilentz, Sean. "On Class and Politics in Jacksonian America," "Reviews in American History", Vol. 10, No. 4, The Promise of American History: Progress and Prospects (Dec., 1982), pp. 45-63 [ in JSTOR]
* Wilentz, Sean. "Against Exceptionalism: Class Consciousness and the American Labor Movement, 1790-1920," "International Labor and Working Class History," 26 (Fall 1984): 1-24,
* Wilentz, Sean. "Chants Democratic: New York City and the Rise of the American Working Class, 1788-1850" (1984)
* Merrill, Michael, and Sean Wilentz, eds. "The Key of Liberty: The Life and Democratic Writings of William Manning, "A Laborer," 1747-1814" (1993)
* Johnson, Paul E., and Sean Wilentz. "The Kingdom of Matthias." (1994) [ excerpt and text search]
* Wilentz, Sean. "Andrew Jackson" (2005) [ excerpt and text search]
* Wilentz, Sean. "The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln" (2005) [ excerpt and text search]
* Wilentz, Sean, and Jonathan Earle, eds. "Major Problems in the Early Republic" (1992; 2nd ed. 2007)
* Wilentz, Sean. "The Age of Reagan: A History, 1974-2008" (2008) [ excerpt and text search]

About Wilentz

* Altschuler, Glenn C. "Democracy as a Work in Progress," "Reviews in American History," Volume 34, Number 2, June 2006, pp. 169-175 [ in Project Muse] , review of "The Rise of American Democracy: Jefferson to Lincoln"


External links

* [ Princeton bio]
* [ Wilentz interview]
* [ "There He Goes Again: A review of The Age of Reagan: A History, 1974-2008, Sean Wilentz" by John Ehrman] , negative review by conservative scholar

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