William Thomas is a historian, author, and digital media producer. A native of Alexandria, Virginia, he writes about American legal history, slavery, the South, and the Civil War. He is a 2016 Guggenheim Fellow.Thomas is currently working on a book called Ordeal of Freedom: Slavery and American Law, 1789-1860 (under contract with Yale University Press), about enslaved families in Maryland who sued for their freedom in the decades after the American Revolution.
He is also co-producing a series of animated historical films. The first of these features the story of Anna, Ann Williams, and her successful petition for freedom in the D.C. Circuit Court. These stories burrow into the historical record to explore how we know what we know about family histories and why we need moral imagination to confront what we find in the past.