The Scorpion's Sting: Antislavery and the Coming of the Civil War
Bernard and Irene Schwartz Distinguished Speakers Series
James Oakes, Edna Greene Medford
Thu, June 5th, 2014 | 6:30 pm
(Members $18)

Please note: Due to unforeseen circumstances, Harold Holzer is no longer able to participate in this program.



Many pre-Civil War antislavery proponents advocated for peaceful abolition: if slave states were surrounded by free states, mass numbers of slaves would be compelled to escape, the Southern economy would be undermined, and voluntary state abolition would be imminent. Experts offer a fresh account of slavery and the Civil War, exploring the idea that a peaceful path to abolition could have been taken.


James Oakes, Graduate School Humanities Professor and Distinguished Professor of History at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, is the author of The Scorpion's Sting: Antislavery and the Coming of the Civil War. Edna Greene Medford is Professor and Chairperson of the Department of History at Howard University and the former director of history for New York’s African Burial Ground Project.


The Robert H. Smith Auditorium at the New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024


By phone*: Please contact New-York Historical’s in-house call center at (212) 485-9268. Call center is open 9 am–5 pm daily.
Online*: Click on the orange “Buy Tickets” button at the top of this page.
In person: Advance tickets may be purchased on site at New-York Historical’s Admissions desk during museum hours.

*Service fee of $2.75 applies per online or over-the-phone order. (Fee waived for New-York Historical Society members.) Advance purchase is required to guarantee seating. All sales are final and payments cannot be refunded. Programs and dates may be subject to change. Management reserves the right to refuse admission to latecomers.


Pre-order your ticket for this public program and for an extra $10 enjoy a glass of wine at Caffè Storico while a priority seat is reserved for you in the auditorium. Select the “package ticket” option online and stop by Caffè Storico prior to the event.

Note: Ticket order must be made at least one day prior to event. Pre-ordered drink must be redeemed before program begins. Priority seats will open to general public ten minutes before program start time. A full bar selection is also available; beverages exceeding $10 will be charged the a la carte menu price difference at time of redemption. Limited availability.

Creative: Tronvig Group