About Me

I am an associate professor at Penn State University and the Director of the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center. My work centers on the long U.S. Civil War era with a focus on politics, culture, slavery, constitutionalism, and law.

My first book, Washington Brotherhood: Politics, Social Life, and the Coming of the Civil War, examines how the social lives of federal politicians in Washington created a political fraternity that left them unprepared for and surprised by the secession crisis.

My current book project, entitled The Political Supreme Court, examines the political world of U.S. Supreme Court justices from the early nineteenth century to the 1890s. You can learn more about this project from some of my public writing and speaking.

I teach courses on the Civil War era, the history of U.S. slavery, constitutional history, and the memory and culture of the mid-nineteenth century.

As the director of the Richards Center, I oversee several important projects including the flagship journal of the period The Journal of the Civil War Era, the annual Brose Lecture Series, and a prominent post-doctoral fellowship program. I am also the Series Editor for the Brose Book Series at the University of North Carolina Press.

Before coming to Penn State, I was an associate professor at the University of Oklahoma and an affiliated faculty member at the Institute for the American Constitutional Heritage at OU.