Associate Professor of History
My teaching, thinking, and writing center on U.S. political history and on the history of capitalism. In the latter interest, I teach and write in both US and global/comparative history. I teach several courses in these fields: a two-semester survey of U.S. political history, the History of Capitalism in the United States, a gateway seminar called Capitalism and its Critics, and courses in the global and transnational history of capitalism. My undergraduate courses are all more or less “flipped”: discussion occupies the vast majority of class energy, with brief lectures making an occasional appearance. Course readings are a mix of documents and historians’ interpretations.
I am currently writing a book called Reforging American Democracy: Political Practices in the United States, 1812-1840. This period witnessed the simultaneous appearance of several kinds of democratic movements: Jacksonian and anti-Jacksonian parties, evangelical reform (temperance, abolitionism, etc.), a new African American radicalism in the North, Antimasonry, the Workingmen’s party, and numerous movements for autonomy among Native Americans. Each of these movements sought to educated and mobilize mass constituencies, and all claimed to be trying to enforce the will of “the people” in public affairs. But they all used dramatically different practices in doing so, and each condemned the methods of its competitors. Reforging American Democracy explains why and how these competing democratic practices and ideals emerged at the same time and examines what was at stake in these conflicts. In the process, it seeks to rethink a critical period in American political development by tracing how electoral democracy interacted with alternate political repertoires.
I have also written about conflicts over the distribution of land in the nineteenth century US, an interest I plan to pursue on a global scale in the future.
Huston, R. The Early American Republic: A History in Documents. Oxford University Press, 2010.
Huston, R. Land and Freedom: Rural Society, Popular Protest, and Party Politics in Antebellum New York. Oxford University Press, 2000.
Huston, R. “Land Conflict and Land Policy in the United States, 1785-1841.” In The World of the American Revolutionary Republic: Land, Labor, and the Conflict for a Continent, edited by Andrew Shankman. Routledge, 2014.
Huston, R. “Rethinking the Origins of Partisan Democracy in the United States, 1795-1840.” In Practicing Democracy: Popular Politics in the United States from the Constitution to the Civil War, edited by Adam I. P. Smith and Daniel Peart. forthcoming, University Press of Virginia, 2014.
Huston, R. “Rethinking 1828: The Emergence of Competing Democracies in the United States.” In Contested Democracy: Participation and Contestation in the English-Speaking World, edited by Emmanuelle Avril and Johann Neem. Routledge, 2014.
Huston, R. “Multiple Crossings: Thomas Devyr and the American Fate of British Agrarianism.” In Transatlantic Rebels: Agrarian Radicalism in Comparative Context, edited by James C. Scott and Thomas Summerhill. Michigan State University Press, 2004.
Huston, R. “Popular Movements and Party Politics: The Case of the New York Anti-Rent Wars.” In Beyond the Founders: Explorations in the Politics of the Early American Republic, edited by Jeffrey Pasley, Andrew Robertson, and David Waldstreicher. University of North Carolina Press, 2004.
Huston, R. “That’s No Guppy, That’s Leviathan: Rethinking the Nineteenth-Century American State.” Reviews in American History 39 (Sept. 2011) (2011).
Huston, R. “What We Talk About When We Talk About Democracy: Reengaging the American Democratic Tradition.” Common Place: The Interactive Journal of Early American Life, October 2008.
Huston, R. “The "Little Magician" after the show: Martin Van Buren, country gentleman and progressive farmer, 1841-1862.” New York History 85, no. 2 (December 1, 2004): 93–121.
Huston, R. “The Little Magician After the Show: Martin Van Buren, Gentleman Farmer and Agricultural Reformer.” New York History 85 (2004): 92–121.
Huston, R. “review of Joanne Freeman, Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic.” American Nineteenth Century History 3 (2002): 98–100.
Huston, R. “Battling over the Boundaries of the American Electorate.” Reviews in American History 29 (2001): 628–34.
Huston, R. “The Parties and ’the People’: The New York Anti-Rent Wars and the Contours of Jacksonian Politics.” Journal of the Early Republic 20 (2000): 241–71.