Early America draws Jake Ruddiman as a teacher and historian because it stands as a hinge between eras. It mixes the familiar and foreign, mythic and controversial, foundational and revolutionary. The era’s actors point us towards questions of human experience: how did people build lives, communities, and meaning? And the American Revolution – boldly begun but never quite finished – pushes us to engage with its triumphs and failures, demanding we challenge ourselves to seek what still remains to be done.
His 2014 book, Becoming Men of Some Consequence: Youth and Military Service in the Revolutionary War, explores the lives and choices of young men in the military maelstrom of the American Revolution. His current research explores the Revolutionary era in the Southeast. One project examines the place of slavery and enslaved people in soldiers' travel writing during the War of American Independence.
B.A. Princeton University 2000
M.A., M.Phil. Yale University 2004
Ph.D. Yale University 2010
Wake Forest University. Associate Professor (2016-present)
Assistant Professor (2010-2016)
Click here for the complete CV.
- HST 108 Americas and the World
America - the nickname of a nation-state, a label for two continents, an idea, and a space where human history careened in a new direction. This course explores how the history of the Americas has been marked by the movement of people and the creation of new communities, cultures, and identities. We examine the catastrophically disruptive Columbian exchange, colonization and the first globalization, the explosion of slavery and the rise of abolition, the age of revolutions, the rise of new empires, and the contested ideas of citizenship and liberty up to our own generation.
- HST 258 Colonial America
Columbus’s discovery of "another world" reconnected human communities that had been divided for millennia. In this course, North America provides a historical laboratory in which we compare the mixing of peoples, the creation of new societies, and the collision of empires. Most importantly, we explore the ways in which Indian peoples, West Africans, and Europeans created new worlds for all.
- HST 259 Revolutionary America
The American Revolution was a social and political process that converted British colonists into insurgents and then into revolutionaries. It united a cluster of disparate colonies into a confederation with a common cause. This course will examine the mentalities and actions of both rebellious and loyal colonial men and women, the experiences among the elite, middling, and lower ranks of society, and the choices made by Native American nations and enslaved African-Americans. Examining the political, economic, social, cultural, and military developments of the Revolutionary period reveals the complicated nature of this nation’s founding, as well as what that generation achieved and failed to complete.
- HST 353 War and Society in Early America
This course examines the evolution of warfare among the indigenous and colonial societies of North America between 1500 and 1800. We weigh how perceptions of atrocity and restraint evolved as peoples collided and communicated. The course begins with the transformation of “mourning wars” in Iroquoia, moves to consider exterminatory violence practiced by French, Dutch, and English colonists along the seaboard, then addresses how Spanish, French, and British empires competed for control of Indian allies and possession of the Continent. It concludes with the American War for Independence and the dueling ideologies of American exceptionalism and pan-Indianism. Students explore how these experiences of violence shaped race, religion, and identity in America.
- HST 354 The Early American Republic
This course on the formative generation of the United States examines the transformation of its politics, society, and culture between the 1780s and early 1800s. After the Revolution, Americans embarked on a purposeful and anxious journey of self-creation. The challenges of new republican constitutions and governments loomed large, but this process also touched religious beliefs, gender and the family, race and slavery, and their economies and international affairs. In addition to the new constitutions and governments, we consider how duels, newspapers, wars, slavery, and frontier conflicts shaped new expectations for politics, national identity, and culture.
Monographs and Edited Collections
- Becoming Men of Some Consequence: Youth and Military Service in the Revolutionary War (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2014).
For a complete list of publications, click CV.
Articles and Essays
- "A Record in the Hands of Thousands: Power and Persuasion in the Orderly Books of the Continental Army,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd series, 67:4 (October 2010).
For a complete list of publications, click CV.