Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
Penn State University
Website URL
political history, U.S. Supreme Court, constitutional history, legal history, Jacksonian Era, U.S. Civil War era, antebellum, Reconstruction,
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

I am an associate professor at Penn State University and the Director of the George and Ann Richards Civil War Era Center. My work centers on the long U.S. Civil War era with a focus on politics, slavery, and law. My current book project, entitled The Politics of Judging, examines the political culture of the U.S. Supreme Court from the 1830s to the 1890s. I teach courses on the Civil War era, political and constitutional history, the history of U.S. slavery, and the memory and culture of the mid-nineteenth century.

As the director of the Richards Center, I oversee several important projects on Civil War-era America, including the Society of Civil War Historians biennial meeting, the flagship journal of the period The Journal of the Civil War Era, the annual Brose Lecture and Book Series, and several others.

Recent Publications

Recent articles in the Washington Post:

“Americans worry about 2020 being another 2000, but the real worry is another 1876,” with Erik Alexander (Made by History, Outlook Section, October 20, 2020)

“The Supreme Court Used to be Openly Political: It Traded Partisanship for Power” (front page, Outlook Section, September 25, 2020)



Rachel A. Shelden, Washington Brotherhood: Politics, Social Life, and the Coming of the Civil War (UNC Press, 2013).

Gary W. Gallagher and Rachel A. Shelden, eds., A Political Nation: New Directions in Mid-Nineteenth Century American Political History (UVA Press, 2012):

Media Coverage
Country Focus
United States
Expertise by Geography
United States
Expertise by Chronology
19th century
Expertise by Topic
American Civil War, American Presidents, Emancipation, Government, Law, Politics, Race, Slavery