Dr. Amanda Kleintop

Amanda Kleintop


Ph.D., Northwestern University, 2018

M.A., Northwestern University, 2013

B.A., University of Richmond, 2011

Courses Taught

HIST 113 U.S. History to 1877

HIST 250 Museums, Monuments and Memory

HIST 320 Legacies of Slavery and Freedom

HIST 320 The Civil War and Reconstruction

HIST 320 Women and Gender in the US

HIST 401 Age of American Revolutions

About Me

Dr. Kleintop is a historian of the US Civil War and Reconstruction, and slavery and emancipation in the Atlantic World. Her manuscript project, The Balance of Freedom: Abolishing Property Rights in Slaves after Emancipation, tells a novel story of the Civil War and emancipation by examining post-war debates about property rights in slaves. Even in defeat, white southerners fought to retain the financial value of enslaved people by demanding federal compensation for emancipation. Other Americans, both white and black, demanded that former slaveholders bear the financial burden of emancipation to dissolve an immoral institution that had started a bloody civil war. In section four of the Fourteenth Amendment, Congress guaranteed that no slaveowner or slave state would receive reimbursements for freed people. After losing this battle, too, white southerners obscured the history of their claims and convinced most white Americans that they had never asked for such compensation. To do so would have suggested that they had fought the Civil War to protect their ability from profit from slavery, a suggestion they had come to vigorously deny. Instead, they downplayed their compensation claims and crafted a new historical narrative that absolved themselves of four years of bloodshed and generations of enslavement.

The Balance of Freedom has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Historical Association, the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University, the American Bar Foundation (Chicago, IL), and the American Society for Legal History, among others.

Special Projects/Activities

Kleintop coordinates the Public History minor and MCLA digital history projects. Along with Professor Ely Janis and Historic North Adams, Kleintop planned the first History Harvest in North Adams in November 2018. She and students in her Spring 2019 Introduction to Public History course created the North Adams Archives site, which houses digital reproductions of historical items donated by North Adams community members, the North Adams Historical Society, and the North Adams Public Library.

Through her work in public history and teaching, Kleintop strives to connect the history of emancipation in the U.S. to campus and community engagement. Kleintop has led community service and advocacy initiatives with Northwestern University’s Brady Scholars Program and Northwestern’s LQBTQ Advisory Board. She has worked with Art Works Projects (Chicago, IL) on their exhibit, “Transitions” (2016), the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab, and the Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission in Richmond, Virginia. There, she participated in a number of digital history projects (2008-2011) and Virginia’s traveling exhibit on the Civil War, the HistoryMobile (2011).


Amanda Laury Kleintop, “Life, Liberty, and Property in Slaves: White Mississippians Seek ‘Just Compensation’ for their Freed Slaves in 1865.” Slavery & Abolition, 39, no. 2 (June 2018).

Horton, James Oliver and Amanda Kleintop, eds. Race, Slavery, and the Civil War: The Tough Stuff of American History and Memory. Richmond, VA: The Virginia Sesquicentennial of the American Civil War Commission, 2011.


“The Balance of Freedom,” Gilder Lehrman Center for Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition, Yale University, New Haven, CT, February 12, 2020.

“Starting from Scratch: When Students and Communities Create Digital Archives,” American Historical Association Annual Meeting, New York, NY, January 3-6, 2020.

“‘Clinging to a Discredited Institution’: White Kentuckians, Civil War Loyalties, and Compensated Emancipation,” Ohio Valley History Conference, Frankfort, KY, October 3-5, 2019.

“They are the conquered, we the conquerors”: The Origins of Uncompensated Emancipation in the Fourteenth Amendment, Law in Motion: New Perspectives on the Fourteenth Amendment, Department of Legal Studies, Northwestern University, May 11, 2018.

“The Next Generation of Justice,” Panelist, Transitions and NextGen Panel, ART WORKS Projects, Chicago, IL, December 15, 2016.

Office hours
Spring 2022

Tuesday, Thursday 4-5pm
Friday 1-2:30pm Sign up for meeting