I teach and write about early American and Native American history at the University of Georgia.
My most recent book, West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776 (W.W. Norton, forthcoming, spring 2014), invites readers to extend their bounds and discover the continent beyond the British colonies. It explores nine American places in 1776. The settings are diverse, stretching from the Aleutian Islands to San Diego, and from the Florida Gulf Coast to the Saskatchewan River. Yet, there are surprising connections between them, sometimes through trade networks that intersected in distant warehouses, at other times through imperial administrators who plotted far-flung colonies on maps that contained more fiction than fact. As West of the Revolution illustrates, Americans across the continent faced revolutionary changes that were diffuse but powerful, unmanageable and often beyond the comprehension of participants.
I have published two other books. 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.
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.