John M. Murrin, Scholar of Early American History, Dies at 84
John M. Murrin, Princeton professor of history, emeritus, a scholar of American colonial and revolutionary history and the early republic, died May 2 at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Hamilton, New Jersey, of complications from COVID-19. He was 84.
Over his career, Murrin published more than 50 essays that ranged widely across the Atlantic and Anglophone early modern world from the 17th through the 19th centuries, examining social, religious, political and legal history.
“John Murrin was the most ingenious early American historian of his time, or any other time,” said Sean Wilentz, the George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History and professor of history. “His preferred form was the essay, pieces which he rendered as intellectual inventions, taking big conventional ideas — about colonial society before the Revolution, say, or about the framing of the Constitution — and forcing you to think about them as you never had before.”
Murrin is co-author of the textbook Liberty, Equality and Power: A History of the American People (1980) and author of an essay collection, Rethinking America: From Empire to Republic (2018). He edited and co-edited several books including Colonial America: Essays in Politics and Social Development (1983) and Saints and Revolutionaries (1984).
Photo by Amy Baxter-Bellamy