Michael A. Blaakman
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, forthcoming 2023), investigates the political and financial culture of a frenzied land rush that swept the new republic in its first quarter-century. Exploring the relationships between revolutionary politics, finance, settler colonialism, and evolving notions of property, this study chronicles white Americans’ attempts to make the seizure and public sale of Native American land a basis of revolutionary statebuilding. Speculation Nation reveals how that connection fueled a land market so unprecedented in intensity and scale that contemporaries and historians alike have dubbed it a “mania,” producing a republican “empire of liberty” with financial speculation at its core.
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, forthcoming 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: 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.