About Me

book cover

I write about the political economy of colonial North America, the early American republic, and the Atlantic World. I am particularly interested in how the rules and systems of commercial activity interact with the rules and systems of the state. I like to think about the ways in which things become real because people believe in them. I write about complicated systems and the humans who understand and execute them imperfectly.

My first book, Underwriters of the United States: How Insurance Shaped the American Founding, will be published by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture in November 2021. It explains how the transnational system of marine insurance, by governing the behavior of American merchants, influenced the establishment and early development of the American republic.

I am also interested in early modern globalization. I have written about the visual and material culture of ocean commerce: most recently, about the bill of lading, and about commercial property marks as forms of communication with visual, material, and legal aspects. I am in the early stages of a project exploring the cultural history of interest rates.

As of summer 2021, I am a series editor for American Beginnings, 1500-1900, at the University of Chicago Press.

During 2020-2021, I held a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship at the New-York Historical Society.

I am a co-organizer of the Columbia University Seminar on Early American History and Culture.

Current CV


Ph.D. – University of California, Berkeley, 2014
M.A. – University of California, Berkeley, 2010
B.A. – Yale University, 2005

Selected Publications

Forthcoming, November 2021: Underwriters of the United States: How Insurance Shaped the American Founding, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture/UNC Press

"The Political Economy of Marine Insurance and the Making of the United States," The William and Mary Quarterly, Vol. 77, No. 4 (Oct. 2020): 581-612

“Practical Americans” (review essay), The William & Mary Quarterly, Vol. 78, No. 2 (Apr. 2021): 339-357.

"Caught Between Pedagogy and Politics: The Challenges of Teaching Globalization in the Twenty-First Century," The History Teacher, Vol. 53, No. 3 (May 2020): 441-469

"'Hamilton:' Who Tells Your Story?" Public Books, co-author Derek Miller, Feb. 13. 2019.

"Sailing on Paper: The Embellished Bill of Lading in the Material Atlantic, 1720-1864," Early American Studies, Vol. 17, No. 1 (Winter 2019). Recipient of EAS's John M. Murrin Prize for best article published in 2019.

"Unrevolutionary Bastardy," review of The Low Road by Bruce Norris, The Junto: A Group Blog on Early American History, May 16, 2018.

"State-Building After War's End: A Government Financier Adjusts his Portfolio for Peace," Taking Stock of the State in Nineteenth-Century America, Journal of the Early Republic, Vol. 38, No. 1 (Spring 2018): 67-76.

"Millions for Credit: Peace with Algiers and the Establishment of America's Commercial Reputation Overseas, 1795-96," Journal of the Early Republic, Vol. 34, No. 2 (Summer 2014), 187-217.

"Nobody Panic: The Emerging Worlds of Economics and History in America," book review of Jessica Lepler, The Many Panics of 1837: People, Politics, and the Creation of a Transatlantic Financial Crisis (Cambridge, 2013), and Jonathan Levy, Freaks of Fortune: The Emerging World of Capitalism and Risk in America (Harvard, 2012), Enterprise and Society, Fall 2015.

"The Rise and Fall of the Province of Lygonia, 1643–1658," New England Quarterly 82 (September 2009), 490–513.




Last updated June 2021

Photo credit: Henry Vega Ortiz