Donald Ratcliffe

Donald Ratcliffe (MA, MPhil, PhD, FRHistS) taught United States history for many, many years at the University of Durham. Between 2004 and 2007 he held a departmental lectureship at Oxford while attached to the Modern History Research Unit. Now in active retirement, he is Senior Research Fellow at the RAI, Emeritus Reader in History at Durham, and an elected Member of the American Antiquarian Society. For his sins, he is also Chair of the Hook Norton Local History Group (which has extended his writing to new fields like dinosaurs and lunatics: see, and a trustee of the Victoria County History of Oxfordshire Trust.

Dr Ratcliffe's most recent book, The One-Party Presidential Contest: Adams, Jackson, and 1824's Five-Horse Race, was awarded the Sally and Morris Lasky Prize for the best book on American political history published in 2015 and the Richard Neustadt Prize for the best book on U.S. government and politics by a British-based scholar. The book results from his work on grassroots and national politics between 1789 and 1850, much of which previously concentrated on the critical swing state of Ohio. He has also published on slavery, Anglo-American relations, and the history of the book, though currently his main focus is on the interplay between party structures and fluctuating sectional tensions between 1815 and 1854.

Selected publications


  • The One-Party Presidential Contest: Adams, Jackson, and 1824's Five-Horse Race (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2015; paperback reprint, 2021).
  • The Politics of Long Division: The Birth of the Second Party System in Ohio, 1818-1828 (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2000).
  • Party Spirit in a Frontier Republic: Democratic Politics in Ohio, 1793-1821 (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1998).

Recent Articles and Essays

  • "Political Disintegration and Losers' Consent: the U.S. Presidential Election of 1824," in The Oxford Handbook of Revolutionary Elections in the Americas, 1800-1911, edited by Eduardo Posada-Carbó and Andrew Robertson (New York: Oxford University Press, 2021, forthcoming).
  • "The Surprising Politics of the Missouri Compromise: Antislavery Doughfaces, Maine and the Myth of Sectional Balance," in A Fire Bell in the Past: The Missouri Crisis at 200, edited by Jeffrey R. Pasley and John Craig Hammond (Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 2021), vol. 1: Western Slavery, National Impasse, pp. 213-249.
  • "Popular Preferences in the Presidential Election of 1824," Journal of the Early Republic, 34:1 (2014): 45-77.
  • "The Right to Vote and the Rise of Democracy, 1787-1828," Journal of the Early Republic, 33:2 (2013): 219-254.
  • "The Decline of Antislavery Politics, 1815-1840," in Contesting Slavery: The Politics of Bondage and Slavery in the New American Nation, edited by John Craig Hammond and Matthew Mason (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2011), 267-290.
  • "The State of the Union, 1776-1860," in Themes of the American Civil War: The War Between the States, edited by Susan-Mary Grant and Brian Holden Reid (New York: Routledge, 2010): 3-35.