Research & Publications

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Before the United States was a continental empire with defined regions—a North, South, and a West—it was a chain of former colonies along the Atlantic seaboard with a fragmented frontier, distended and dribbling down the river-valleys of the Appalachian Mountains. I research the lower half of that ragged edge, the south before it was “The South,” the south when it was Cherokee, Chickasaw, Shawnee, Creek and Choctaw country, when it was a dream written in account books and land grants, and when it was in the process of becoming the land of enslaved peoples’ second exile, their overland Middle Passage. Out of the conflicting visions for this land expressed in the speeches and actions of Native people; the finances of speculators, politicians, and the nation they made; and in the narratives of enslaved people, my research charts the rise of what journalist John O’Sullivan, in 1839, would call “The Great Nation of Futurity.”



“Unsettling the South: War, Expansion, and Slavery in the Southern United States, 1780-1840” Ph.D. Dissertation, Harvard University 2014

Harvard and Slavery: Seeking a Forgotten History


Research Fields

Nineteenth-Century U.S. History

African American History

Native America History

Environmental History

History of the Early Republic


Places I love to do research:

DocSouthNational Archives and Records Administration, Territorial Papers of the United States, BLM-GLO Plat maps, American Memory from the Library of Congress, NC State Archives, GA State Archives, AL Department of Archives and History, Special Collections at Emory University, Southern Historical Collection UNC-Chapel Hill, The Historic New Orleans Collection, Lower Mississippi Valley Collection LSU, Special Collections at LSU Shreveport