I teach and write about early American and Native American history at the University of Georgia.
My first book, A New Order of Things: Property, Power, and the Transformation of the Creek Indians, 1733-1816 (Cambridge University Press, 1999), explores a dramatic transformation that overturned the lives of Creek Indians and remade the Deep South in the 1700s. It vividly describes the changing world of the Creeks, showing how growing divisions between the wealthy and poor, powerful and powerless, ultimately destroyed their communities. This critical but unknown chapter in the creation of the United States cleared the way for the expansion of plantation slavery into the region.
My second book, Black, White, and Indian: Race and the Unmaking of an American Family (Oxford University Press, 2005), tells the story of a Native American family with a long-kept secret: one branch is of African descent. Focusing on five generations from 1780 to 1920, the book illustrates how Indians disowned their black relatives to survive in the shadow of the expanding American republic.
I have also published several articles on race, property, and Native American history in journals such as The William and Mary Quarterly, The Journal of Southern History, and The Journal of American History.
I am especially interested in expanding the traditional boundaries of early America and am currently completing a book-length project, "Beyond the Revolution: 1776 and the Transformation of North America." In 1776, the British pursued the Continental Army through New Jersey, and Washington scored his famous victory at Trenton on Christmas night. That story has been told numerous times. "Beyond the Revolution" is about the rest of the continent. It explores nine American places in the year of our nation's founding, including Unalaska (colonized by the Russians in the 1770s), the Black Hills (first discovered by the Sioux in 1776), and San Diego (where Kumeyaay Indians burned down the Spanish mission and murdered two Franciscan missionaries). By exploring unfamiliar places during a year usually reserved exclusively for dramatic events occurring along the East Coast, "Beyond the Revolution" invites readers to step back and look more broadly at the wider continent.
"Beyond the Revolution" is under contract with W.W. Norton and due to be out in 2013.