Paul Finkelman

Paul Finkelman

Paul Finkelman (PhD, University of Chicago) is the President William McKinley Distinguished Professor of Law and Public Policy and Senior Fellow in the Government Law Center at Albany Law School. His many books include Landmark Decisions of the United States Supreme Court (2008) and A March of Liberty: A Constitutional History of the United States (2002), which he coauthored; The Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties (2006) and The Encyclopedia of the New American Nation (2006), which he edited; and Slavery and the Founders:  Race and Liberty in the Age of Jefferson (2001). For the Bedford Series in History and Culture he edited Dred Scott v. Sandford: A Brief History with Documents (1997) and Defending Slavery: Proslavery Thought in the Old South: A Brief History with Documents (2003). Finkelman has also published numerous scholarly articles on American legal history and civil rights, and he lectures frequently on these subjects

Q & A

Where are you from?
Grew up in Watertown, NY; I now live in Albany, NY.

Who are your favorite writers?
Lawrence Block
Robertson Davies
David Lodge

Which book/books have had the biggest influence on your writing?
John Hope Franklin, The Militant South
John Hope Franklin, From Slavery to Freedom
David Brion Davis, The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture
Eric Foner, Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men
David Potter, The Impending Crisis

What are your hobbies and outside interests?
Baseball, wine, food.

What is the single best piece of advice anyone ever gave you?
Save frequently, back everything up.

What is your favorite quote?
"That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

What is the question most commonly asked by your readers? What is the answer?
Question: What is your favorite baseball team?
Answer: The Brooklyn Dodgers, who have not lost a game in more than half a century. But, I also follow the Yankees.

What inspired you to write your first book?
It was in response to a question in graduate school. A professor doubted Lincoln could have been serious when he said in his House Divided Speech that "we shall awake to the reality instead, that the Supreme Court has made Illinois a slave State." I believed these was a real possibility and studied the problem of slave transit in free states. The result was my dissertation and my first book An Imperfect Union: Slavery, Federalism, and Comity.

Where do you write?
At home, on planes, on trains, in my office.



Millard Fillmore

The American Presidents

Paul Finkelman; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and Sean Wilentz, General Editors

The oddly named president whose shortsightedness and stubbornness fractured the nation and sowed the seeds of civil warIn the summer of 1850, America was at a terrible crossroads. Congress...