Peter C. Messer

Peter C. Messer

Peter C. Messer

Associate Professor

227 Allen Hall


Early American, Early Modern European


662-325-3604

pcm39@history.msstate.edu

Bio

Peter Messer is a historian of Early American/Early Modern European society. His main interest lies in the theory and practice of politics in eighteenth-century America.
He published "Writing Women in History: Defining Gender and Citizenship in Post-Revolutionary America," in Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture, and "From a Revolutionary History to a History of Revolution: David Ramsay and the American Revolution," in the Journal of the Early Republic. 
Messer's next major project explores the relationship between committees and crowds in Revolutionary America. It focuses on the ways in which Patriot leaders organized opposition to Great Britain and coerced and cajoled a reluctant population to embrace a cause to which many of them felt only tangentially connected or concerned.

Education

  • Ph.D. Rutgers University, 1997

Research Interests

His current project, "Revolution By Committee: Religion, the Law, and Public Ceremony in the Birth of American Politics," uses the Revolutionary Committees that flourished between the 1765 and 1776, to explore the origins of American politics. It argues that in the power vacuum that emerged following the collapse of imperial government in 1760s and before the Declaration of Independence in 1776 elites and non-elites created a functioning political system by merging distinct ideas about the means and ends of politics. The goal of the project is to view the formation of politics from untenuous and uncertain perspective of the time through the lens of the prinicpal means of organizing eighteenth century society--the law and religion--in an arena--public ceremonies--in which elites and non-elites both participated and saw as important elements of any healthy community.

Research Fellowships

  • Research Fellowship, the David Library of the American Revolution, 2007-2008. 
  • Research Fellowship, New England Regional Fellowship Consortium, 2007-2008. 
  • Society of the Cincinnati Fellowship, Massachusetts Historical Society, 2007-2008. 
  • Research Fellowship, American Philosophical Society, 2007-2008. 

Publications

  • Stories of Independence: Identity, Ideology, and History in Eighteenth-Century America (Northern Illinois University Press, 2005) 
  • Synods and Slavery: Presbyterians, Slavery, and Abolitionism in the Anglo-American World, 1700-1906, edited with Harrison Taylor, is under review at Lehigh University Press; the collection includes my essay ""A Blessing or a Curse, Depending on How it is Used": David Ramsay's Presbyterian Abolitionist's Journey," and my "Introduction."
  • "Fear the Terror: Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France,  in Isaac Land, ed. Enemies of Humanity: The Nineteenth-Century War on Terrorism, from Palgrave Macmillan (Spring, 2008).

Articles & Book Reviews 

  • "'A Most Insulting Violation': The Burning of the H.M.S. Gaspee and the Delaying of the American Revolution," has been accepted for publication in The New England Quarterly
  • "Writing Women in History: Defining Gender and Citizenship in Post-Revolutionary America," Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 
  • "From a Revolutionary History to a History of Revolution: David Ramsay and the American Revolution," Journal of the Early Republic
  • Published Review of Patrick N. Griffin, _American Leviathan: Empire, Nation, and Revolutionary Frontier (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007), H-Law.
  • Forthcoming Review of Catharine O Donnell Kaplan, Men of Letters in the Early Republic for American Antiquarian Society Book Notes.

Papers Presented

  • "Jeremy Belknap's Picturesque Science of Natural History," 43rd Annual Meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies, March 22;25, 2012. San Antonio Texas
  • "What Went You Into the Wilderness to Know? Science, Politics, and Nature in the Early American Republic," 42 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies, March 16-19. 2011, Vancouver BC
  • "Remembering and Forgetting the American Revolution," Plenary Session at "Jornada Internacional: El Bicentenario en América: Un viaje por la Memoria," October 13-5, 2010, Universidad Nacional Del Noreste—Facultad de Humanidades, Resistencia, Argentina.
  • "Jonathan Greenough's Tea: Free Bodies and Unfree Souls in the Era of the American Revolution," 41st Annual Meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, March 18-21, 2010 Albuquerque, NM
  • "Myths of America s Revolutionary Origins,"  Plenary Session: Untangling the Myths of the American Revolution, 30th Annual Meeting of the Society of Historians of the Early Republic, July 17-20, 2008. 
  • "I Would Burn the Tories: The Relationship of Fear to Politics in the American Revolution," 12th biennial Maple Leaf and Eagle Conference on North American Studies, University of Helsinki Renvall Institute, May 5-8 2008. 
  • "Republican Animals: Politics, Science, and the Birth of Ecology," 39th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies,  March 27-30, 2008. 
  • "Apparitions of Power: Popular Politics and Culture on the Eve of the English Civil War," Athens Institute for Education and Research Conference on World History, (December 2003) 
  • "The Image of the Indian in the Imagination of the Early Republic," The Ninth Annual Maple Leaf and Eagle Conference on North American Studies, (hosted by the University of Helsinki in September 2002). 
 

Honors & Awards

  • Named Research Associate at McNeil Center for Early American History at the University of Pennsylvania for 2008-9 
  • Invited to submit an essay for a special issue of Early American Studies entitled "Representing Animals.  

Courses Taught

  • Colonial America
  • Revolutionary America

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