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. May 1997, Rutgers University.  Dissertation title, “Stories of Independence: Eighteenth-Century Narratives.”

B.A., June 1990, magna cum laude, University of Oregon.  Major in history.  Honors Thesis, "A Comparison of the American and Nicaraguan Revolutions," Robert D. Clark Honors College, Thesis advisor, Matthew Dennis.

Academic Career

Associate Professor of History and former Dean’s Eminent Scholar (2008-2009), Mississippi State University, 2002-present; tenured and promoted in 2007.

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

  • American Philosophical Society-Jack Miller Center Fellow, American Philosophical Society, 2018.
  • Society of Historians of the Early American Republic Fellow, Library Company of Pennsylvania and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 2017.
  • College of Arts & Sciences Humanities and Arts Research Program (HARP) 2017, Mississippi State University.
  • 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 Book CoverStories of Independence: Identity, Ideology, and History in Eighteenth-Century America (Northern Illinois University Press, 2005) 
  • “Revolution by Committee: Law, Language and Ritual in Revolutionary America,” book manuscript in progress with invitations to submit the completed manuscript to Cornell University Press, Oxford University Press and Northern Illinois University Press.
  • “Dictated by Nature: Science, Aesthetics and Natural History in the Early American Republic,” book manuscript in progress.

Edited Volumes

  • 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 

  • “Benjamin Smith Barton’s Natural History Network: Local Knowledge, and Atlantic Community,” accepted for inclusion in special issue of Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society.
  • “Old Light Republicanism: Samuel Williams’s Political Theology of Temptation,” in Revolution as Reformation: Protestant Faith in the Age of Revolutions under preliminary contract with University of Alabama Press.
  • “The Perils of Politics: Mobilization and Marginalization of Women in the Imperial Crisis, 1765-1776,” article manuscript being revised for submission to William and Mary Quarterly
  • “The Nature of William Bartram’s Travels” in Atlantic Environments and the American South, Andrew Johnson and Blake Earle, ed. forthcoming from the University of Georgia Press.
  • “‘A scene of Villainy acted by a dirty Banditti, as must astonish the Public’: The Creation of the Boston Massacre,” New England Quarterly, vol. 90 no. 4 (December 2017): 502-39.
  • “Stamps and Popes: Rethinking the Role of Violence in the Coming of the American Revolution,” in  . Edited by Patrick Griffin, Robert Ingram, Peter Onuf, and Brian Schoen (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2015), 114-138.
  • “Republican Animals: Politics, Science, and the Birth of Ecology,” Journal for Eighteenth Century Studies, vol. 33 no. 4 (December, 2010), 599-613.
  • "'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

Papers Presented

  • “Benjamin Smith Barton’s Natural History Network: Local Knowledge, and Atlantic Community,” Networks: The Creation and Circulation of Knowledge from Franklin to Facebook, American Philosophical Society, June 6-7, 2019.
  • “Old Light Republicanism: Samuel Williams’s Political Theology of Temptation,”  Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, 49th Annual Conference, February 28-March 2, 2019, Atlanta Georgia
  • "“The Perils of Politics: Mobilization and Marginalization of Women in the Imperial Crisis, 1765-1776,” Conference concluding address, Primeras Jornadas Internacioinales de Estudios de Género del Nordeste Argentino y Países Limítrofes, Universidad Nacional Del Nordeste, Resistencia, Argentina, August 9-10, 2018.
  • “Ceremonies and Regime Change in the Revolutionary Period,” Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, 48th Annual Conference, February 22-24, 2018 Philadelphia, PA.
  • “William Bartram’s Uneasy Sublime: An Experiment in Early National Natural History,” McNeil Center for Early American Studies, Feb. 16, 2018.
  • “Disciplined Places and Violent Spaces: The Liberty Riot and Shaping of an American Politics,” 2017 Consortium on the Revolutionary Era annual meeting, February 23-26, 2017, Charleston SC.
  • “Jeremy Belknap’s Picturesque Republic,” Annual Meeting of the American Soceity for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Pittsburgh, PA March 31-April 3, 2016.

Comments/Discussions/Panel Organizer

Comment: “On the Teeth of the Wing: Atmospheric Knowledge and American Expansion in the Southeastern Borderlands,” paper give by Elain La Fey, Sensing the South Workshop, Center for the History of Agriculture, Science, and the Environment in the South, [CHASES] and the Mississippi State University History Department, April 6, 2019.

Comment: “British Identity and the Origins of the American Revolution” Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, 48th Annual Conference, February 28-March 2, 2019, Atlanta Georgia.

Comment: “Producing and Defining Identities in Colonial and Revolutionary North America,” Part I, Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, 48th Annual Conference, February 22-24, 2018 Philadelphia, PA.

Chair and Comment, “Local Perspectives on Nation Formation in the American Revolution,” Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, 47th Annual Conference February 23-26, 2017Charleston, S.C.

Comment, “Dissembling Rebellion and Contesting the Memory of the American Revolution,” Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, 1750-1850, 44th Annual Conference, February 20-22, 2014, University of Mississippi, Oxford.

Chair, “Liberty and the Memory of the American Revolution,” Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, 1750-1850, 44th Annual Conference, February 20-22, 2014, University of Mississippi, Oxford.

Chair, “The Political and Cultural Parameters of Legitimate Government during the Long Eighteenth Century,” 2013 annual meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies, April 4-7 Cleveland, Ohio.

Comment, “Autonomy and Authority,” panel at the Sixteenth Annual Conference of the Omohundro Institute of early American History and Culture, University of Mississippi, Oxford MS, June 10-13, 2010.

Comment, “Early Modern Britain,” panel at the 40th annual Northern Great Plains History Conference, University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, Sept. 29-Oct. 1, 2005.

Comment, “The War of 1812: Race, Gender, and Popular Sovereignty,” annual meeting of the Society for Historians of the Early Republic, Philadelphia, PA, July 21-24, 2005.

Organizer, “Revolution as Reformation,” panel at the 49th Annual Meeting of the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, February 28-March 2, 2019, Atlanta, Georgia. 

Organizer, “Presbyterians and Slavery,” 45th Annual Meeting of the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, February 19-21, 2015 High Point University, High Point, North Carolina.

Organizer, “Science of Aesthetics and Aesthetics of Science,” and Comment for Session I, 2012 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, March 22-24, San Antonio Texas.


Round Tables and Informal Scholarly Presentations

“Benjamin Smith Barton’s Natural History Network: Local Knowledge, and Atlantic Community” American Philosophical Society Brown Bag, invited informal presentation, May 22, 2018.

Roundtable Participant, “Strategies of Scholarly Collaboration,” Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, 1750-1850, 44th Annual Conference, February 20-22, 2014, University of Mississippi, Oxford.

Round-table participant in “Preparing for the Campus Interview: The Candidate, the Position, and the Institution,” Meeting of the American Historical Association, 2007.


Scholarly Seminars

Participant, “Success and Failure in American History,” Liberty Fund Seminar, July 29-August 1, 2010, Essex Vermont.

Participant, “Europeans and Indians in Early America,” NEH Summer Institute, Brown University, July-August 2004.

Reviews

Review of Daniel S. Dupre, Alabama's Frontiers and the Rise of the Old South. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2018), Journal of American History 105:4 (March 2019), pp. 996–997.

Review of Stephen Brumwell, Turncoat: Benedict Arnold and the Crisis of American Liberty (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2018), forthcoming The Historian.

Review of Ricardo A. Herrera, For Liberty and the Republic: The American Citizen as Soldier, 1775-1861 (New York: New York University Press, 2015), War in History 24:2 (April 2017).

“The Antislavery Origins of the Fugitive Slave Clause” review of Emily Blanck, Tyrannicide: Forging an American Law of Slavery in Revolutionary South Carolina and Massachusetts.
(Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2014) for H-Law: https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showpdf.php?id=42846

Review of Marla Miller, Rebecca Dickinson: Independence for a New England Woman. (Westview Press, 2013) for The Historian, 77:3 (Fall 2015): 568-69.

Review of Michael Scott Van Wagenen, Remembering the Forgotten War: The Enduring Legacies of the U.S.-Mexican War (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2012) for the American Historical Review 118:3 (June 2013): 819-820.

Review of Jenifer Mercieca, Founding Fictions (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2010) for Journal American History, 98: 3 (December 2011): 824-825.

Review of Carolyn Eastman, A Nation of Speechifiers: Making an American Public After the Revolution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009), American Historical Review, February 2011, 173.

Review of Kevin Kenny, Peaceable Kingdom Lost: The Paxton Boys and the Destruction of William Penn’s Holy Experiment (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press), H-Law.

Review of James Madison: Philosopher, Founder, and Statesman edited by John R. Vile, William D. Pederson, and Frank J. Williams (Athens: Ohio University Press, 2008), Presidential Studies Quarterly 40:3 (September 2010): 582–583.

Review of Douglas Norton, Rebellious Younger Brother: Oneida Leadership and Diplomacy, 1750—1800, (Dekalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2009) Western Historical Quarterly, 41:4 (Winter 2010).

Review of Peter C. Hoffer, The Treason Trials of Aaron Burr (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2008) Journal of American History, 96:2 (September 2009): 529-30.

Review of Catherine O’Donnell Kaplan, Men of Letters in the Early Republic: Cultivating Forums of Citizenship (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007), American Antiquarian Society Book Notes, 76 (November 2008): 7.

“America’s Hobbesian Revolution,” review of Patrick N. Griffin, American Leviathan: Empire, Nation, and Revolutionary Frontier (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007), for H-Law: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showpdf.php?id=13579

Review of John Resch and Walter Sargent, ed. War and Society in the American Revolution: Mobilization and Home Fronts (Dekalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2007) in The Journal of the Military History of the West 37 (2007): 94-5.

Review of Brian F. Carson, Whom Can We Trust Now: The Meaning of Treason in the United States, from the Revolution through the Civil War (New York: Lexington Books, 2006) Journal of American History 94:1 (June 2007): 261-2

Review of Darren Staloff, Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson: The Politics of American Enlightenment and the American Founding, (New York: Hill and Wang, 2005) in Reviews in American History, 34 (2006): 307-314.

Review of Don Higgenbotham, Revolution in America: Considerations and Comparisons (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia) Journal of Southern History 73:2 (May 2007): 428-30.

Review of Sarah J. Purcell, Sealed With Blood: War, Sacrifice, and Memory in Revolutionary America (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002) in Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 127:2 (April, 2003).

Review of Robbie Ethridge and Charles Hudson, ed., The Transformation of the Southeastern Indians, 1540-1760 in Journal of Mississippi History (Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2002) 65:3 (Fall, 2003).

Encyclopedia Entries

“History and Biography” entry in Encyclopedia of the New American Nation, ed. Paul Finkelman. (Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2006). 3 vols. 2:159-161.

“David Ramsay,” and “Historical Thought” entries for the Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of the American Enlightenment, Mark Spencer, ed. (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014).

Honors & Awards

APS-Jack Miller Center Fellow, American Philosophical Society, 2018.

Society of Historians of the Early American Republic Fellow, Library Company of Pennsylvania and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 2017.

College of Arts & Sciences Humanities and Arts Research Program (HARP) 2017, Mississippi State University.

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.

American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Fellowship, American Antiquarian Society, 2007-2008.

Research Fellowship, American Philosophical Society, 2007-2008.

Humanities and Arts Research Program Research Fellow, Mississippi State University, 2005-2006.

Society for Historians of the Early Republic Fellowship at the Library Company of Philadelphia, July-August 2006.

William E. Parish Outstanding Faculty Teacher, Mississippi State University, 2005.

National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute, “British and Indigenous Cultural Encounters in Native North America: 1580-1785,” July-August, 2005.

Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellowship, The Johns Hopkins University Seminar on National Culture and the Construction of the Modern World, 1997-1998.

Research grant from the Graduate School at Texas A&M University–Commerce, 1999-2000 academic year for project tentatively titled “The Heart and Mind Divided: The Rhetoric of Politics and the Politics of Rhetoric in Revolutionary America.”

Research Fellow, The David Library of the American Revolution, May/June, 1995.

Tri-State Area Fellowship for the Study of the American Revolution, National Society of Colonial Dames, 1994.

Marion Johnson University Fellowship, Rutgers University, 1991-1994.

Phi Beta Kappa, 1990, University of Oregon.

Courses Taught

At Mississippi State, 2002-present: (2/2: 2002-2003, 2005-present) (2/3: 2002-2005)

HI 8933 Graduate Colloquium in U.S. History: Colonial and Revolutionary America
HI 8923 Historiography and Historical Method
HI 8813 Graduate Seminar in U.S. History before 1877
HI 8803 Graduate Colloquium: Science and Nature in the Long Eighteenth Century.
HI 4990/6990 Special Topics: The Frontier in American History, 1607-1890.
HI 4990/6990 Special Topics: European and Indian Encounters in North America, 1500-1783.
HI 4333 Native American History to 1830
HI 4323 History of the American West.
HI 4143/6143 Revolutionary America
HI 4103/6103 Colonial America
HI 3903 Historiography and Historical Method
HI 1063 United States History to 1877

At Texas A&M—Commerce, 1998-2002 (4/4)

HI 521 Readings in Latin American History
HI 550 Topics in American History
HI 551 Readings in United States History to 1775
HI 552 Readings in United States History 1775-
HI 402 Colonial and Revolutionary America
HI 404 Age of Jeffersonian and Jacksonian Democracy
HI 385 History of South America
HI 397 Special Topics in Non-U.S. History: History of Latin America to 1820.
HI 121 American Heritage

Graduate Program Coordinator, Mississippi State University, 2002-present

Courses proposed and adopted
  HI 8933 Graduate Colloquium in Colonial and Revolutionary America (author)
  HI 8943 Graduate Colloquium in U.S. History, 1787-1877 (co-author)
  HI 8953 Graduate Colloquium in U.S. History, 1877-1945 (co-author)
  HI 8963 Graduate Colloquium in U.S. History, 1945-present (co- author)
  HI 8873 Seminar in International Security and Internal Safety (co-author)
  HI 8883 Seminar in History of Science Technology (co-author)

Curriculum and program changes proposed and adopted
  World History field (with graduate committee)

Curriculum for nodes of excellence in History of Science and Technology, Agricultural, Rural, and Environmental Studies, History of International Security and Internal Safety
 
Written Comprehensive exams for M.A. students

Non-thesis M.A. students required to complete a field outside of their geographic area of concentration

Required research seminar for M.A. students

Required research seminars for Ph.D. students (2)

Required core curriculum for M.A. students (two colloquia)

Required core curriculum for Ph.D. students (four colloquia)

Dissertation Directed

William Harrison Taylor, “‘One Body and One Spirit’: Presbyterians, Interdenominationalism, and the American Revolution.” Mississippi State University, 2009.

Theses Directed

Gary Cole Cheek, Jr., “Cultural Flexibility: Assimilation, Education, and the Evolution of Choctaw Identity in the Age of Transformation, 1800-1830.”  Mississippi State, 2005.  Winner of the Mississippi Historical Association’s 2006 Glover Moore Award for best Master’s thesis on a Mississippi topic.

William Harrison Taylor, “The Road To Democratic Transformation: Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and the Legacy of the American Revolution, 1763-1801.”  Mississippi State, 2005.

Robert Butts, “John Adams and the Boston Massacre,” Texas A&M University–Commerce, 2001.

Dr. Richard Procter, “Stephen A. Marcy: Jeffersonian Explorer,” Texas A&M University–Commerce, 2001.

Professional Associations

Associate of the Omohumndro Institute for Early American History and Culture
Member of the Society for Historians of the Early Republic.
Member of the Organization of American Historians
Member of the American Historical Association

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