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Mark Schmeller

Mark Schmeller

Contact Information:


509 Eggers Hall

Mark Schmeller

Associate Professor, History Department

Senior Research Associate, Campbell Public Affairs Institute


American History to 1865

The Age of Jefferson and Jackson

Atlantic Revolutions

Conspiracy Theories in U.S. History

The World of Alexander Hamilton

Foundations of American Political Thought

The Civil War and Reconstruction

Communications in U.S. History

U.S. Legal History

Highest degree earned

Ph.D., University of Chicago, 2001


Mark Schmeller is a historian of early American and United States political thought and culture with particular interests in law, communications and political economy. He is the author of "Invisible Sovereign: Imagining Public Opinion from the Revolution to Reconstruction." Published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 2016, "Invisible Sovereign" locates the origins of the concept of public opinion in the 18th-century rejection of fear as a legitimate instrument of government, and traces its development through debates over public credit, partisanship, honor and dueling, moral and religious psychology, and slavery.

Schmeller has received fellowships from the Mellon Foundation, the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University. He is currently at work on a history of the 1826 kidnapping and murder of William Morgan, a Freemason who had threatened to reveal the secrets of the fraternal order.

Areas of Expertise

United States political and intellectual history, 18th and 19th centuries, communications history, legal history, political thought, Atlantic World

Research Grant Awards and Projects

Visiting Scholar, American Antiquarian Society, 2017

Frank and Helen Pellicone Faculty Scholar Award, Syracuse University, 2016

Charles Warren Center Fellow, Harvard University, 2005-2006

National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar for College Teachers, July 2005

Research Fellow in the Program in Early American Medicine, Science and Society, Library Company of Philadelphia, 2001

Von Holst Prize Lectureship in History, 1998

Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities, 1991-1997

Jacob K. Javits Graduate Fellowship, 1991 (awarded but declined)


The Book of Morgan: A Story of Power, Conspiracy, and Democracy in America. (Book in progress.)

Invisible Sovereign: Imagining Public Opinion from the Revolution to Reconstruction (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016)

"Freedom of the Press in the Nineteenth Century: From Republicanism to Mass Politics," in Freedom of the Press: Constitutional Protections, "Fake News," and Where do we Go From Here? (Virginia Law Foundation, 2017)

"Twelve Hungry Men: The Reform of Juries – and Jurors – in the Early American Republic," article revised and resubmitted to the Law and History Review.

 “The Political Economy of Opinion: Public Credit and Concepts of Public Opinion in the Age of Federalism” TheJournal of the Early Republic 29:1 (Spring 2009), 35-62.  Reprinted as “Arguments over Public Credit Spawned New Ideas About Politics,” in Major Problems in the Era of the American Revolution, 3rd ed., Richard Brown and Benjamin Carp, eds. (Cengage, 2013)

Review of Perl-Rosenthal, Citizen Sailors: Becoming American in the Age of Revolution, in The Historian 79:4 (Winter 2017)

Review of Dubber, The Police Power: Patriarchy and the Foundations of American Government, in The Law and History Review 25:2 (2008)

"Killing King Caucus." Article for Johns Hopkins University Press Blog.

"Newspapers and the Cant of Civility." Common-place 9.5 (2009).

Presentations and Events

"Popular Excitements and the Paranoid Style: Anti-Masonry Reconsidered." Paper presented to the Social Science Research Council on Media, Technology, and Democracy in Historical Context. Brooklyn, NY, May 2019.

"The Book of Morgan." Book proposal presented to Second Book Workshop, Conference of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, July 2018. 

"Murder, Conspiracy, and Freemasonry in the Early Canal Era." Talk delivered to the Erie Canal Museum, March 2018

"Freedom of the Press in the Nineteenth Century: From Republicanism to Mass Politics." Talk delivered to the Virginia Continuing Legal Education Seminar at Mount Vernon, September 2017.

"The Book of Morgan: Anti-Masonry, Public Opinion, and American Political Thought." Paper presented to the Newberry Seminar on American Political Thought, Newberry Library, December 2015

"The Civil War and 19th Century Political Rhetoric." Talk delivered to the William Seward House Lecture Series, August 2015

Panelist on "Lincoln, The Constitution, and the Civil War," a symposium sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Constitution Center, and the American Library Association, held at Onondaga Community College, November 2014

"Putting the Founding Fathers in their Place," Newberry Teacher's Consortium Seminar, Chicago, IL, October 2014

"William Seward and John Quincy Adams." Talk delivered to the William Seward House Lecture Series, June 2014

“Filling the Box: Jury Selection and the Politics of Jeffersonian Judicial Reform.” Paper presented to conference on Jeffersonian Democracy From Theory to Practice, Princeton University, June 2012

 “Twelve Hungry Men: The Reform of Juries – and Jurors – in the Early Republic.” Paper presented to Ab Initio: Law in Early America Conference, University of Pennsylvania, 2010

“Corn Pone Opinions: Transatlantic Liberalism, Political Economy, and the Higher Journalism in the Late Nineteenth Century” Paper presented to annual conference of the U.S. Intellectual History Association, New York City, 2010

"Paper Pence and Public Faith: Credit, Currency, and Political Economies of Opinion." Paper presented to Symposium on Public Opinion, the Press, and Journalism in the Eighteenth Century, University of Paris-Diderot, 2008.