David Waldstreicher

David Waldstreicher headshot - CUNY Graduate Center Distinguished Professor

Research Interests

  • U.S. cultural and political history, colonial and early US, African American history, slavery and antislavery


  • Ph.D., in American Studies, Yale University
  • M.A., in American Studies, Yale University

Office Hours

Wednesday 2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.

(on zoom; please email for a link)

David Waldstreicher is a historian of early and nineteenth-century America with particular interests in political history, cultural history, slavery and antislavery, and print culture.

He is author of Slavery's Constitution: From Revolution to Ratification (2009); Runaway America: Benjamin Franklin, Slavery and the American Revolution (2004); and In the Midst of Perpetual Fetes: The Making of American Nationalism, 1776-1820 (1997). As editor, his books include Revolutions and Reconstructions: Black Politics in the Long Nineteenth Century (2020); the Library of America edition of The Diaries of John Quincy Adams (2017); Beyond the Founders; New Approaches to the Political History of the Early American Republic (2004); and The Struggle Against Slavery: A History in Documents (2001). His scholarly articles and books have won prizes from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, the, Southeastern American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, and the American Jewish Historical Society. He has also written for the Boston Review, Atlantic.com and the New York Times Book Review.

Waldstreicher is an elected member of the American Antiquarian Society and the recipient of awards and fellowships from the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, New York Public Library; the American Philosophical Society; and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, among others.

Before coming to the Graduate Center, he taught at Temple University, University of Notre Dame, Yale University and Bennington College. Waldstreicher is currently writing a biography, The Odyssey of Phillis Wheatley, under contract to Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Courses Taught

  • The Literature of American History I (to 1865)
  • Age of Empires: Colonial Americas, 1492-1750
  • Era of the American Revolution
  • Political Culture, Cultural Politics
  • United States Culture Wars: Readings in U.S. Cultural History
  • Race, Gender, and American Political Development


  • ​“The Hidden Stakes of the 1619 Controversy,” Boston Review, Jan. 24, 2020,
  • “The Fourth of July Has Always Been Political: The Question is Which Vision of America it’s being Used to Advance,” The Atlantic.com, July 4, 2019
  • The Revival of John Quincy Adams,” The Atlantic.com, July 11, 2017
  • “Slavery, Voice and Loyalty: John Quincy Adams as the First Revisionist” in Seth Cotlarand Richard J. Ellis eds., Historian In Chief: How Presidents Interpret the Past to Shape the Future (Charlottesville: UP of Virginia, 2019), 57-79. [with Jeffrey L. Pasley]
  • “Hamilton as Founders Chic: A Neo-Federalist, Antislavery Usable Past?” in Renee C. Romano and Claire Bond Potter eds., Historians on Hamilton: How a Blockbuster Musical is Restaging America’s Past (New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 2018), 137-66.
  • “Ancients, Moderns and Africans: Phillis Wheatley and the Politics of Empire and Slavery in the American Revolution” Journal of the Early Republic 37 (Winter 2017), 701-33. [with Michael McDonnell],
  • “Revolution in the Quarterly? A Historiographical Analysis,” William and Mary Quarterly 74 (October 2017), 633-66.
  • “Minstrelization and Nationhood: ‘Backside Albany,’ Backlash, and the Wartime Origins of Blackface Minstresly” in Nicole Eustace and Fredrika J. Teute eds., Warring for America: Cultural Contests in the Era of 1812 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, for the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, 2017), 29-55. [with Staughton Lynd]
  • “Free Trade, Sovereignty, and Slavery: Toward An Economic Interpretation of American Independence,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Ser. 68 (Oct. 2011), 597-630
  • “The Wheatleyan Moment,” Early American Studies 9: 3 (Fall 2011), 522-51
  • “Phillis Wheatley, the Poet who Challenged the American Revolutionaries” in Alfred F. Young, Gary B. Nash and Ray Raphael eds., Revolutionary Founders: Rebels, Radicals, and Reformers in the Making of the Nation (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2011), 97-113.
  • “The Origins of Antislavery in Pennsylvania: Early Abolitionists and Benjamin Franklin’s Road Not Taken” in Richard Newman and James Mueller eds., Antislavery and Abolition in Philadelphia: Emancipation and the Long Struggle for Racial Justice in the City of Brotherly Love (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2011), 162-73.
David Waldstreicher headshot - CUNY Graduate Center Distinguished Professor

Office Hours

Wednesday 2:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.

(on zoom; please email for a link)