Dr. William Bergmann who received his Ph.D in History from UC in 2005, and currently teaches at Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania, has just published his first book, The American National State and the Early West (Cambridge University Press, 2012). Dr. Bergmann’s research examines the influence of the Ohio Valley and the early West on the development of American nationalism during the early republic. His dissertation, “Commerce and Arms: The Federal Government, Native Americans, and the Economy of the Old Northwest, 1783-1807,” won the Allan Nevins Prize from the Economic History Association in 2005. He has taught courses on Colonial North America, the American Revolution and the Age of Jackson, American Manhood, and Native American History.
His new book challenges the widely held myth that the American national state was weak in the early days of the republic. Bergmann reveals how the federal government used its fiscal and military powers, as well as bureaucratic authority, to enhance land acquisitions, promote infrastructure development, and facilitate commerce and communication in the early trans-Appalachian West. Energetic federal state-building efforts prior to 1815 grew from national security interests as Native Americans and British imperial designs threatened to unravel the republic. White westerners and western state governments partnered with the federal government to encourage commercial growth and emigration and to transform the borderland into a bordered land. Taking a regional approach, Bergmann’s book contributes to social history, political science, and economic history while providing a new narrative of American expansionism, one that takes into account the unique historical circumstances of the Ohio Valley and the southern Great Lakes.
The book is already receiving excellent reviews and promises to make a lasting impact on the field.