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Biography

I am a Professor of History at Saint Xavier University in Chicago, specializing in antebellum American political history.  My scholarship has focused on antebellum Illinois, and particularly on the careers of Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas.  I have published three articles on Lincoln and Douglas in the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, an article on the early Illinois Republican Party in the Journal of Illinois History, and a chapter on the antebellum party system in Practicing Democracy (2015).  My bookMaking an Antislavery Nation:  Lincoln, Douglas, and the Battle over Freedom, published by the University of Illinois Press in the fall of 2017, was a finalist for the 2018 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize.
 
I have also written, directed, and produced Stephen A. Douglas and the Fate of American Democracy, a feature-length biographic film of Douglas that is installed as a permanent exhibit at the Douglas Tomb State Historic Site in Chicago, and in 2016 was broadcast by WTTW, Chicago's leading PBS station.  The film features performances by nationally distinguished Douglas and Lincoln reenactors, interviews with five historians of the Civil War, and hundreds of nineteenth-century images, including photographs of rare, archival documents from the Douglas Papers at the University of Chicago Special Collections Research Center and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum.

I am a Californian by birth, and a first-generation American, raised by parents who immigrated from England in the early 1960s.  I received my B.A. in History from California State University, Hayward before journeying to the land of Lincoln, where I earned my M.A. and Ph.D. in American History from Northwestern University.  I spent a year as a Visiting Professor of History at Rhodes College in Memphis before coming to Saint Xavier University in 2002.  My faculty webpage can be accessed here.  I serve as Secretary of the Stephen A. Douglas Association in Chicago, and live in Oak Lawn, Illinois, in Chicago’s near southwest suburbs, with my wife, two daughters, and constant new streams of migrants to Chicago's south side from around the world.  The imprint of American history is everywhere present.

Don't hesitate to contact me!  I can be reached via email at gpeck@sxu.edu.