Michael A. Blaakman

Assistant Professor of History; David L. Rike University Preceptor
Office Phone
102 Dickinson Hall

Michael Blaakman is a historian of revolutionary and early national America. His scholarship focuses on politics, empires, and North American borderlands, and his interests extend to include gender history, the history of capitalism, and microhistory.

Blaakman’s first book, Speculation Nation: Land Mania in the Revolutionary American Republic (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2023), investigates a frenzied land rush that swept the United States during its first quarter-century. Chronicling white Americans’ attempts to make the seizure and public sale of Native American land a basis for republican statecraft, the book uncovers the revolutionary origins of a real-estate bonanza that stretched across millions of acres from Maine to the Mississippi and Georgia to the Great Lakes. Through their visionary schemes and corrupt machinations, the book argues, land speculators and statesmen rooted the U.S. "empire of liberty" in speculative capitalism and made Native dispossession a founding premise of the new republic. Speculation Nation received the Frederick Jackson Turner Award for best first book in American history from the Organization of American Historians.

Blaakman’s essays have appeared in the Journal of American History, the Journal of the Early Republic, Early American Studies, and the William & Mary Quarterly. With Emily Conroy-Krutz and Noelani Arista, he is an editor of The Early Imperial Republic: From the American Revolution to the U.S.–Mexican War (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2023), a collection of essays that explores the origins of U.S. imperialism and uses the lens of empire to integrate Atlantic, continental, and global perspectives on the early republic. His next book project, tentatively titled The Simcoes and the Enemies of the American Revolution, traces the extraordinary lives of a globe-trotting British power couple, weaving their story with those of the white, Black, and Native people they encountered in a world remade by revolutionary tumult to explore the many reasons and ways people resisted the American Revolution.

Blaakman completed his undergraduate studies at the College of William & Mary, and he earned a Ph.D. in history from Yale University in 2016. His dissertation was awarded the 2017 Manuscript Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Library Company of Philadelphia and an assistant professor of history at the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minn., before joining the Princeton faculty in 2018.

Area of Interest
(In alphabetical order)
Constitutional History
Cultural History
Economic History
Imperial History
Legal History
Native American
Political History
Home Department & Other Affiliations
17th & 18th Centuries
19th Century
American West
North America
United States