Distinguished Lecturers
Daniel Feller

Daniel Feller

Daniel Feller is Distinguished Professor of History Emeritus and Editor/Director Emeritus of the Papers of Andrew Jackson at the University of Tennessee. His books include The Public Lands in Jacksonian Politics (1984), The Jacksonian Promise: America, 1815-1840 (1995), and an annotated abridgement of Harriet Martineau's Retrospect of Western Travel (2000). He was the lead scholar for the PBS biography "Andrew Jackson: Good, Evil, and the Presidency" and has been featured on television series "History Detectives," "Ten Things You Don't Know About," "Who Do You Think You Are?," and CNN's "Race for the White House." Since 2004 Feller and his team have published six volumes of the Jackson Papers, covering the presidential years 1829 through 1834. The 1832 volume won the Society for History in the Federal Government's Thomas Jefferson Prize. Feller is also the recipient of the Distinguished Service Award of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic.

OAH Lectures by Daniel Feller

The nullification crisis of 1832-33 foretold the secession crisis of 1860-61 that produced the Civil War. This presentation dissects nullification in all its aspects -- constitutional, political, and military -- and shows how the response of President Andrew Jackson to nullification presaged that of Abraham Lincoln to secession.

Americans in the Jacksonian era aspired to lead the world in the practice of democracy and also in the pursuit of scientific knowledge. The attempt to merge these two missions into one produced political clashes between the Whig and Democratic parties, inspired the creation of the Smithsonian Institution, and defined a dilemma that still persists today.

Andrew Jackson's campaign to destroy the Bank of the United States reordered the American political landscape. It introduced a new and enduring populist strain into political rhetoric, prompted the formation of national political parties, and culminated in Jackson's formal censure by the United States Senate, the only time that has ever occurred. This talk explains what happened and why it still matters.

Both President Donald Trump and his severest critics touted his resemblance to President Andrew Jackson, although for nearly opposite reasons. While the president and his acolytes celebrated Jackson’s swaggering nationalism and insurgent populism, opponents condemned his chauvinism, xenophobia, bigotry, and racism. Thus Jackson became the vehicle to propagate dueling images of America’s historical legacy and national character. Yet neither portrait bore much resemblance to the real Jackson. Looking at Jackson’s actual record can restore some balance to our understanding and some humility to our judgments. Further, pondering how and why our recent debate distorted Jackson for contemporary ends can provide some cautionary lessons about the uses and misuses of history.

The causes of the Civil War are still hotly debated, and often deliberately concealed or misrepresented. This talk goes back to the primary sources to explain definitively, in their own words, why southern states seceded from the Union and formed a new Confederacy in 1860-61.

The election of 1824, ending in the famous "corrupt bargain" between Henry Clay and John Quincy Adams that denied the presidency to Andrew Jackson, is one of the most pivotal elections in American history, and perhaps the most misunderstood. This talk strips away the legend and mythology to reveal what really happened.

Few episodes in American history inspire more bitterness and misgiving today than Indian removal and the Cherokee Trail of Tears. This talk explains what happened and why, and offers a reassessment of Andrew Jackson's personal role and responsibility.

This talk confronts an old conundrum about Jackson: the relationship between his will, his temper, and his intellect. Some historians have seen his actions, particularly as president, driven by high principle and considerations of policy; others by uncontrollable personal passions. This presentation evaluates both possibilities with special attention to events of Jackson's first presidential term, including the Eaton affair, the Bank War, the nullification crisis, and the Seminole War controversy.

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