Press Release

September 7, 2018 | By Cole Hatcher

‘The Transformative 14th Amendment’

Michael Les Benedict, Ph.D., to Deliver Smith Lecture in Civil War History on Sept. 20

Michael Les Benedict

DELAWARE, Ohio – Michael Les Benedict, Ph.D., an expert on U.S. Legal and Constitutional History and the Civil War and Reconstruction, will present “The Transformative 14th Amendment: The Constitutional Amendment that Reshaped America” at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 20 at Ohio Wesleyan University.

A retired professor from The Ohio State University, Benedict will speak in Benes Rooms A and B of Hamilton-Williams Campus Center, 40 Rowland Ave., Delaware. His free presentation is the 2018 Richard W. Smith Lecture in Civil War History sponsored by the Ohio Wesleyan Department of History.

Of the 14th Amendment’s ratification in 1868, Benedict has written: “It was a momentous event, a change to our constitutional system so fundamental that historians have put it on a par with the ratification of the original Constitution itself. In many ways, it gave Americans a new constitution. On the most basic level, the Fourteenth Amendment set the terms for the restoration of the Union of the states after the Civil War.”

Benedict has published numerous books on legal developments that occurred during and after the Civil War, including “The Blessings of Liberty: A Concise History of the Constitution of the United States,” “Sources in American Constitutional History,” and the forthcoming “Salmon P. Chase and the Constitutional Politics of the Civil War Era.”

He is a fellow of the Society of American Historians, served for many years as the parliamentarian of the American Historical Association, and is a past president of the Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.

Benedict earned his bachelor and master’s degrees from the University of Illinois, attended the University of Illinois Law School for one year, and earned his doctoral degree from Rice University. He taught at Ohio State from 1970 to 2005.

Ohio Wesleyan’s annual Richard W. Smith Lecture is named in honor of Smith, Ph.D., a retired history professor who taught at the university between 1950 and 1986. Past speakers in the series, which began in 2002, have included Pulitzer Prize-winners James M. McPherson, author of “Battle Cry Freedom: The Civil War Era,” and Eric Foner, author of “The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery.” Learn more about the OWU Department of History and the annual Smith Lecture at

Founded in 1842, Ohio Wesleyan University is one of the nation’s premier liberal arts universities. Located in Delaware, Ohio, the private university offers more than 90 undergraduate majors and competes in 25 NCAA Division III varsity sports. Through Ohio Wesleyan’s signature OWU Connection program, students integrate knowledge across disciplines, build a diverse and global perspective, and apply their knowledge in real-world settings. Ohio Wesleyan is featured in the book “Colleges That Change Lives,” listed on the latest President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction, and included in the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review “best colleges” lists. Learn more at