I teach and write about 19th-century U.S. history, with a emphasis on slavery, political economy, and the Civil War. I am now working two different projects:
Robert Glenn’s Many Journeys: Slavery, Emancipation, and Memory. In 1937, the 87-year old Robert Glenn gave a remarkable detailed and moving account of how he was sold as an enslaved child and taken hundreds of miles from his parents and family. Connecting his interview to a wide-range of local records and archival sources, I reconstruct the life of Robert Glenn, including the remarkable attempts of his parents to prevent his sale, his coming of age in the chaos of Civil War Kentucky, and his eventual reunion with his family as a young adult.
Inventing the Creative Citizen: Creativity and the U.S. Civil War. The basic argument is that in the 1840s and 1850, northern capitalism increasingly converted creativity into a commodity the could be bought and sold. The growth of widespread economic creativity led many northerners to emphasize values such as education, literacy, and free speech, which increasingly put northern capitalism on a collision course with southern enslavers, who saw widespread creativity as a challenge to their own form of capitalism.
Research and Teaching Interests:
- Nineteenth Century U.S. (especially Early Republic and Civil War)
- Slavery and Emancipation
- Political Economy
- Teaching History
- The Many Journeys of Robert Glenn
- Inventing the Creative Citizen: Creativity and the U.S. Civil War
- Modernizing a Slave Economy: The Economic Vision of the Confederate Nation
UNC Press, 2009
- A House Dividing: Economic Development in Pennsylvania and Virginia before the Civil War
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000.
What do Players Learn from Videogames? Historical Analysis and Sid Meier’s Civilization,” The Public Historian (February 2021), 62-81.
“Why Did Northerners Oppose the Extension of Slavery? Economic Development in the Limestone South,” in Slavery’s Capitalism: A New History of American Economic Development (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016).
“Toward a Social History of the Corporation: Shareholding in Pennsylvania, 1800-1840,”in The Economy of Early America: Historical Perspectives and New Directions edited by Cathy Matson (University of Pennsylvania, 2006).
- Markets and Manufacturing: Industry and Agriculture in the Antebellum South and Midwest” Co-authored with Viken Tchakerian.
in Susana Delfino and Michele Gillespie (eds.), Global Perspectives on Industrial Transformation in the American South (University of Missouri Press, 2005).
- “Imagining ‘A Great Manufacturing Empire’: Virginia and the Possibilities of a Confederate Tariff, Co-authored with Jay Carlander.
Civil War History 49 (December 2003): 334-352.
- History 162B (U. S. Antislavery Movements)
- History 162R (Research Seminar on U. S. Antislavery Movement)
- History 9 (Primary Sources and Historical Methods Used to Understand Slavery)