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Historians are taking an active role in the campaign of 2008

More than fifty historians have now signed a statement in support of the candidacy of Barack Obama, which was posted at HNN on Monday. But they aren't the only historians to have come out early in support of a presidential candidate. Two weeks ago Princeton historian Sean Wilentz announced in an interview with a blogger that he's backing Hillary Clinton. (Why? Because "she's in the best position to be a president.")

Several historians have gone beyond mere statements of support. Earlier this year Middle East historian Daniel Pipes was named an advisor to the campaign of Rudolph Giuliani. Harvard historian Niall Ferguson appears to be playing a role in the campaign of John McCain, according to several reports. Harvard's Samantha Power has been providing advice to the Obama campaign. Two weeks ago law professor and blogger Eugene Volokh, who often weighs in on historical issues (like gun control), joined Lawyers for Fred Coalition, a group supporting Fred Thompson.

The Obama statement has drawn the attention of both bloggers and news sites. Both Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education have run stories about "Historians for Obama," as have two prominent bloggers: MyDD, one of the original liberal blogs on the Internet, and Andrew Sullivan at his blog at the Atlantic Monthly (Sullivan's cover story in the Atlantic this month celebrates Obama's candidacy as "a potentially transformational one").

Meanwhile, historians with a libertarian bent have come out in favor of Ron Paul at HNN's Liberty and Power blog.

While all this has been happening the New York Public Library announced that it has purchased the papers of the late Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., whose backing of President John F. Kennedy turned him into a Camelot celebrity.

Related Links

  • Jeremy Cameron Young: A Historian Against Obama