Summer Faculty Fellow: Sean Harvey


Harvey’s project examines Albert Gallatin and Political Economy

For many scholars, finding solid blocks of time to focus on their research and writing is not an easy task. To make this easier, the McNeil Center for Early American Studies Consortium sponsors a faculty fellowship each summer. The fellowship provides a stipend, office space, and access to the University of Pennsylvania’s robust resources in early American studies.

This past summer’s faculty fellow was Sean P. Harvey, Associate Professor of History at Seton Hall University. Harvey devoted his time during the fellowship to researching his book manuscript in progress, “Colonialism and Capital: Albert Gallatin and Political Economy from Atlantic Revolutions to Manifest Destiny.”

Harvey explains that Gallatin was “a man best known for his criticisms of Alexander Hamilton and his subsequent role under Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, as the longest serving Treasury Secretary in U.S. history.” Harvey’s new project examines Gallatin’s role in devising, implementing, and defending a political economy premised on dispossessing Natives to increase the nation’s capital, heedless of the resulting wealth distribution, within transatlantic currents of investment, trade, conflict, and negotiation.

The summer stipend allowed Harvey to avoid summer teaching and find the time he needed to delve into writing one of his chapters. “The fellowship came at an important time in my project. I was able to complete the writing of a chapter that focuses on Gallatin’s time in Paris as U.S. Minister to France,” Harvey said. “His commercial negotiations aimed at freer trade while confronting the continuing strength of European nations’ restrictive commercial systems that slowed the flow of U.S. cotton to French markets, which is an under-studied aspect of brutal expansion of U.S. enslavement.”

During the fellowship, Harvey also had the opportunity to conduct research on another chapter of his project. He used both the resources at the University of Pennsylvania as well as the New-York Historical Society, which houses the largest collection of Gallatin’s papers and a microfilm set, the Papers of Albert Gallatin, edited by Carl E. Prince and Helene H. Fineman.

“Through studying Gallatin’s papers, I was able to look at his tenure as president of the National Bank of the City of New-York, digging into the operations of the bank to examine its involvement in financing New York’s canal system and, through the expanding cotton frontier, the expansion of dispossession and enslavement.”

While the summer months went by quickly, Harvey was appreciative of the opportunity to advance his project. “There is never enough time to do everything you want, but the summer fellowship sponsored by the Consortium allowed me to make a great deal of progress on this project that otherwise would have taken me much longer,” Harvey said.

Harvey earned his master’s and his Ph.D. from the College of William & Mary. His first book, Native Tongues: Colonialism and Race from Encounter to the Reservation (Harvard University Press, 2015), examined intercultural communication between Natives and Euro-Americans, the functions linguistic knowledge played in colonialist administration, and how it gave rise to theories about Native languages, ancestry, and social development.

For more information on the McNeil Center Consortium’s fellowships, benefits, and programs, visit our Consortium page.