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Jeffrey A. Denman

Official Website of Author & Historian Jeffrey A. Denman, including his Books:

John Quincy Adams, Reluctant Abolitionist

Greene and Cornwallis in the Carolinas
The Pivotal Struggle in the American Revolution, 1780-1781



Just Released!

John Quincy Adams, Reluctant Abolitionist

Author:  Jeffrey A. Denman

JQA cover.jpeg

“Others have written about John Quincy Adams and slavery, but none have gone as deeply, or more expertly, than Denman....John Quincy Adams does not lack for biographers...Denman, however, looking through the lens of slavery, provides us with a fresh and nuanced view of this politician and statesman.... Diaries and letters abound and Denman has probed and utilized these sources with extraordinary care.”

— Dr. William H. Fowler

Distinguished Historian Emeritus, Northeastern University, Boston, Massachusetts, author of Empires at War: The French and Indian War and the Struggle for North America, 1754-1763 

As a Harvard student and later as a diplomat, US President, member of Congress, and attorney before the Supreme Court, John Quincy Adams had a unique relationship with slavery. He danced with abolitionists. But he never became one.

In this sweeping narrative centered around the thread of slavery and abolition, historian Jeff Denman reveals how one of America’s most underrated statesmen viewed and challenged the “peculiar institution” through his decades-long, remarkable, and often controversial public life.

The prickly and curmudgeonly Adams, Denman reveals, found himself squarely in the middle of America’s greatest struggle. Although he despised slavery and the southern slaveholders who defended it, Adams never fully supported abolition. To do so was to hasten the coming of a Civil War, Adams believed.

Yet, after his presidency, when he returned to Washington as a member of Congress, Adams became increasingly strident in his dramatic attempts to outsmart Southern politicians and to keep slavery in the forefront of Congressional activities and even argued the case of the Amistad Africans, while continuing his awkward dance with abolitionists and obsessing over his legacy and the future of the country he held dear.

Informed by Adams’s revealing and often tormented private musings from his vast diary, rich historical context, appearances from the movers and shakers of the day, and dramatic showdowns on the floor of the House of Representatives and even in the US Supreme Court, historian Jeff Denman offers a unique and gripping account of John Quincy Adams’s battle with slavery while exploring the many fault lines in American society that led to the Civil War.

Available Now!

Greene and Cornwallis in the Carolinas

Authors:  Jeffrey A. Denman & John F. Walsh


The story of the Revolutionary War in the Northern colonies is well known but the war that raged across the South in 1780-1781--considered by some the "unknown Revolution"--included some of the most important yet least studied engagements. Drawing extensively on their letters, this book follows the campaigns of General Nathanael Greene and Lord Charles Cornwallis as they fought across the Carolinas, and offers a compelling look at their leadership. The theater of war in which the two commanders operated was populated by various ethnic and religious groups and separated geographically, economically and politically into the low country and the simmering backcountry, setting the stage for what was to come.

Co-author John F. Walsh is a middle school Latin teach in Burlington, Massachusetts. His past research has focused on British history in the seventeenth century.


“Denman and Walsh provide a painstaking reconstruction of the movements and actions of the rival forces, present the rationales that underpinned the decisions of their respective commanders, and thoroughly analyze the factors which contributed to Greene’s success and Cornwallis’s failure.... There is much to commend here, especially the rich biographical sketches of the combatants and the detailed accounts of the engagements.” ―H-Net 




I am a retired American history and geography teacher from the Brookline Public Schools in Brookline, Massachusetts. I've written seven articles dealing with the American Revolution, the Civil War, World War II and other topics in American history. 

I'm married with nine children, and twenty-one grandchildren as of this writing. I enjoy snowshoeing and cross country skiing in the winter and mountain biking the rest of the year. I have climbed several 14,000-foot peaks in Colorado and Mt. St. Helens in Washington, and have enjoyed canoeing on the Upper Missouri River in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark.

In The Press



“What Really Happened on Little Round Top?” 

Civil War Times, Vol. XLIV, No.3, August, 2005

“Profile in Courage: The 15th Alabama Infantry at Gettysburg,”

The Gettysburg Magazine, Issue 36, January, 2007

“Hallowed Ground: Morristown, New Jersey,” 

Military History Magazine, Vol. 28, No. 1, April/May, 2011

“One Magnificent Gesture,” 

World War II History Magazine, Vol. 10, No. 8, December, 2011

“Henry Knox: The Savior of Dorchester Heights,” 

The Sons of the American Revolution Magazine, Volume 107, No. 2, Fall 2012

“Fighting For Forage.”

The Quarterly Journal of Military History, Vol. 26, No. 3, Spring 2014

“The Emanuel Harman Farm: Gettysburg’s Unknown Battlefield,” 

Gettysburg Magazine, Issue No. 54, January, 2016

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