Benjamin L. Carp
Biographyby Benjamin Carp
My research is on the history of early America, particularly the American Revolution. I teach classes introducing students to the colonial period, the Revolutionary period, the Early Republic, antebellum America, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. I also teach courses that focus on the history of Revolutionary Massachusetts, on the Revolutionary experience in American cities, and on American military history before 1900.
Beginning with my undergraduate work at Yale University, I've been interested in how political movements developed in the eighteenth-century urban setting. My first book, based on my graduate work at the University of Virginia, is entitled Rebels Rising: Cities and the American Revolution (2007; paperback 2009). In it, I explore five sites where revolutionary political activity took place, focusing on the five largest British American cities as case studies for those sites: the Boston waterfront, New York City taverns, Newport churches and congregations, Charleston households, and the Philadelphia State House (now Independence Hall) and State House Yard. I also look at how the Revolutionary War robbed these cities of their political importance, which is one reason we've forgotten much of their contribution to the revolutionary movement.
I recently completed a second book, Defiance of the Patriots: The Boston Tea Party and the Making of America (2010). This book has several aims, among them to tell a global and local history of the Boston Tea Party. The Tea Party was local in the sense that it was a product of Boston and its people. Yet the Tea Party was also global in that it involved Chinese tea, usually mixed with Caribbean sugar, a shipping company that had just become a territorial power in South Asia, the British government, its colonists, and Native American disguises. This book will also answer complex questions about the causes of the Tea Party and about its uncertain legacy.
I've had a long-time interest in fires and firefighting in the eighteenth century. In a recent article, "The Night the Yankees Burned Broadway: The New York City Fire of 1776," Early American Studies, I began exploring the destructive nature of the Revolutionary War. This will be the focus of my next book project. I'm also interested in questions of national and regional identity. I wrote a piece for the journal Civil War History that compared nationalism among the Revolutionary North Americans and the Confederate Southerners during the Civil War. Finally, I am intrigued by the ways scholars use geography, architecture, material culture, and artworks as historical evidence, which has informed my role as History advisor for the Museum Studies Program at Tufts.