Chancellor and Distinguished Professor – Gratz College
American Legal Historian
Paul Finkelman is the Chancellor and Distinguished Professor of History at Gratz College in Greater Philadelphia. From 2017 to 2021 he served as President of Gratz College. Before coming to Gratz, he held the Fulbright Research Chair in Human Rights and Social Justice at the University of Ottawa. He received his BA in American studies from Syracuse University, his MA and PhD in U.S. history from the University of Chicago, and was later a fellow in law and humanities at Harvard Law School.
The Supreme Court of the United States has cited him five times in cases involving religious liberty, affirmative action, and the origins of the Second Amendment. In 2019 Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg quoted him in her opinion for a unanimous court on the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment.
His most recent major book Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court (Harvard University Press, 2018), explores how the 19th century Supreme Court dealt with slavery. His book Slavery and the Founders: Race and Liberty in the Age of Jefferson (3rd ed. Routledge, 2014) examines how slavery affected the writing of the Constitution and the politics of the early national period.
He is the author of about two hundred scholarly articles and the author or editor of more than fifty books. His work has appeared in many scholarly journals including the Journal of American History, the Journal of Southern History, Civil War History, Harvard Law Review, Stanford Law Review, University of Chicago Law Review, and Supreme Court Review. His op-eds have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, Newsday, and other papers, as well as on a number web-based services such as Huffington Post, the New YorkTimes.Com, the LA Review of Books, and TheRoot.com. He has appeared on numerous programs on PBS, C-Span, the History Channel, CBS, NBC, and Canadian TV.
He was the John Hope Franklin Visiting Professor of American Legal History at Duke Law School, held the Ariel F. Sallows Chair in Human Rights at the University of Saskatchewan, and was the Justice Pike Hall, Jr. Visiting Professor at LSU Law School. He has taught history at Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Texas, the University of Miami, and Virginia Tech and law at the University of Pittsburgh, Albany Law School, the University of Tulsa and the University of Akron. He has taught and lectured in many countries including Canada, China, Colombia, France, Ireland, Italy, Israel, Japan, Poland, and the United Kingdom. In 2008 he gave the Nathan I. Huggins Lectures at the W.E.B. DuBois Center for African American Studies at Harvard University. In 2014 he spoke at the United Nations on issues of human trafficking.
He is an expert in American and world slavery, constitutional law, civil liberties, religious liberty, African American history, American Jewish history, and legal issues surrounding baseball. Professor Finkelman was the chief expert witness in the Alabama Ten Commandments monument case and in the lawsuit over who owned Barry Bonds 73rd home run ball.