John C. Rodrigue Wins 2024 John Nau Book Prize

Friday, March 29, 2024

We are delighted to announce that John C. Rodrigue, the Lawrence and Theresa Salameno Professor of History at Stonehill College, has won the 2024 John L. Nau III Book Prize in American Civil War Era History for his new book, Freedom's Crescent: The Civil War and the Destruction of Slavery in the Lower Mississippi Valley (Cambridge University Press, 2023)! 

The 2024 Nau Book Prize committee, comprised of Elizabeth D. Leonard, Megan Bever, and Paul Quigley, wrote in its report that:

"John C. Rodrigue's Freedom's Crescent: The Civil War and the Destruction of Slavery in the Lower Mississippi Valley represents a sweeping, beautifully written, meticulously researched accomplishment by a fine scholar, providing an essential contribution to the field of Civil War history. Treating the Lower Mississippi Valley as 'a distinct geopolitical entity' where particular local circumstances also mattered a great deal, Rodrigue underscores the region's profound and complex influence on both the war's progress and slavery's ultimate dismantling. Throughout the book, he draws on a rich source base and treats all actors in the unfolding drama with uncommon dignity.

"Perhaps most importantly, as he systematically demonstrates the problem of 'translating military emancipation' into true state-by-state abolition, Rodrigue reminds us that slavery's end--given the slaveholders' intransigence even in the face of military defeat, and even after the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment--was by no means inevitable. As one member of the jury put it, Rodrigue 'combines many (many!) insightful nuances with a Big Picture message that has considerable historiographical heft. . . . This is the kind of book that will have many of us adjusting our lectures on the wartime ending of slavery--why it happened, how it happened, and how it might easily have turned out differently.'"

In addition to winning the Nau Book Prize, Freedom's Crescent was also a finalist for the 2024 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize! 

Thank you to Elizabeth D. Leonard, Megan Bever, and Paul Quigley for serving on our Book Prize committee, and congratulations to John Rodrigue!