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Department of History
Tufts University
East Hall, room 002
Medford, MA 02155

Email Prof. Carp
Benjamin L. Carp
Associate Professor of History
Colonial, Revolutionary, and Early America


My research is on the history of early America and the Atlantic World, particularly during the era of the American Revolution. I teach classes introducing students to the colonial period and the Atlantic World, the Revolutionary period, the Early Republic, antebellum America, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. I also teach courses that focus on the history of Revolutionary Massachusetts, on early American cities, and on American military history before 1900.  I have taught graduate courses on American history to 1865 and on cultures of violence in the Western world.

Beginning with my undergraduate work at Yale University, I've been interested in how political movements developed in the eighteenth-century urban setting. My first book, based on my graduate work at the University of Virginia, is entitled Rebels Rising: Cities and the American Revolution (2007; paperback 2009). In it, I explore five sites where revolutionary political activity took place, focusing on the five largest British American cities as case studies for those sites: the Boston waterfront, New York City taverns, Newport churches and congregations, Charleston households, and the Philadelphia State House (now Independence Hall) and State House Yard. I also look at how the Revolutionary War robbed these cities of their political importance, which is one reason we've forgotten much of their contribution to the revolutionary movement.

My second book, Defiance of the Patriots: The Boston Tea Party and the Making of America (2010; paperback 2011) has several aims, among them to tell a global and local history of the Boston Tea Party. The Tea Party was local in the sense that it was a product of Boston and its people. Yet the Tea Party was also global in that it involved Chinese tea, usually mixed with Caribbean sugar, a shipping company that had just become a territorial power in South Asia, the British government, its colonists, and Native American disguises. This book will also answer complex questions about the causes of the Tea Party and about its uncertain legacy.

I've had a long-time interest in fires and firefighting in the eighteenth century. In "The Night the Yankees Burned Broadway: The New York City Fire of 1776," Early American Studies (2006), I began exploring the destructive nature of the Revolutionary War. I'm also interested in fear and conflict, cosmopolitanism and localism, as well as questions of national and regional identity. I wrote a piece for the journal Civil War History that compared nationalism among the Revolutionary North Americans and the Confederate Southerners during the Civil War. Finally, I am intrigued by the ways scholars use geography, architecture, material culture, and artworks as historical evidence, which has informed my role as History advisor for the Museum Studies Program at Tufts.


  • Ph.D. University of Virginia, 2004
  • M.A. University of Virginia, 1999
  • B.A. Yale University, 1998


  • Leverhulme Research Fellowship, 2005-2006
  • Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship, 2003-2004
  • Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in Humanistic Studies, 1998-1999

Selected Publications

  • Defiance of the Patriots: The Boston Tea Party and the Making of America, Yale University Press, 2010
  • Rebels Rising: Cities and the American Revolution, Oxford University Press, 2007
  • "The Night the Yankees Burned Broadway: The New York City Fire of 1776," Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 4:2 (fall 2006), 471-511
  • "Nations of American Rebels: Understanding Nationalism in Revolutionary North America and the Civil War South," Civil War History 48:1 (March 2002), 5-33
  • "Fire of Liberty: Firefighters, Urban Voluntary Culture, and the Revolutionary Movement," William and Mary Quarterly 58:4 (October 2001), 781-818


  • History 23: Colonial North America & the Atlantic World to 1763
  • History 24: Revolutionary America, 1763-1815
  • History 25: Antebellum & Civil War America, 1815-1877
  • History 120: American Military History to 1900
  • History 173: Boston's American Revolution
  • History 193: Massachusetts and the American Revolution
  • History 204: Graduate Colloquium in Early American History


Photo of Professor Carp by Meredith M. Carlson