James G. Basker is President of the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and Oxbridge Academic Programs, and Richard Gilder Professor of Literary History at Barnard College, Columbia University. Educated at Harvard College, Cambridge University, and (as a Rhodes Scholar) at Oxford University, Basker taught at Harvard for seven years before coming to Barnard in 1987. His scholarly work spans the fields of history and literature, focusing especially on the 18th century and the history of slavery and abolition. He has published several books, the most recent of which are Amazing Grace: An Anthology of Poems about Slavery 1660-1810 (2002), Early American Abolitionists: A Collection of Anti-Slavery Writings 1760-1820 (2005), and Slavery in the Founding Era: Literary Contexts (2005).
As President of the Gilder Lehrman Institute, Basker has overseen the development of history education initiatives nationwide, including history high schools, teacher seminars, traveling exhibitions, publication series, scholarly fellowships, research centers, and national history teacher of the year awards. In 2004, he was Project Director for "Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America" at the New-York Historical Society, the largest exhibition on Hamilton ever mounted. A former fellowship holder at the American Antiquarian Society, Yale University, and Cambridge University, Basker is an elected member of the Society of American Historians, and a trustee of both the Lincoln and Soldiers Institute at Gettysburg College and the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale.