Scott Heerman

Associate Professor

(305) 284-2747
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Scott Heerman is a scholar of eighteenth and nineteenth century U.S. history. His research focuses on slavery and emancipation in the U.S. and Atlantic World. He also teaches about western expansion and empire in U.S history and legal history in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In 2013, Professor Heerman earned his Ph.D. from the University of Maryland. Before coming to our department, he was the Patrick Henry Postdoctoral Fellow in the history department at Johns Hopkins University.

Professor Heerman's first book, The Alchemy of Slavery: Human Bondage and Emancipation in the Illinois Country, was published in 2018 by the University of Pennsylvania Press. It traces long and violent processes of emancipation in the Illinois Country that spanned the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He argues that slavery in French, Spanish, and Native North America shaped the legal processes of emancipation in the nineteenth century United States. Historians have long written about slavery’s expansion from the eastern seaboard into the heart of North America. The Alchemy of Slavery turns that analysis inside out. It establishes slavery’s deep roots in the Upper Mississippi Valley and traces its connections out to shape the contours of slavery and freedom in U.S. history. Professor Heerman is also in the preliminary stages of a second book project, provisionally entitled Carried Back: Black Kidnapping in the Age of Atlantic Emancipation, which looks at black kidnapping in the hemispheric Caribbean from the Age of Revolutions through the era of emancipation.

Professor Heerman has received grants and fellowships from the Library Company of Philadelphia (NEH Fellow, Fall 2018), the Huntington Library, (Barbara Thom Fellow for 2016-17), the William Clements Library (Jacob M. Price Fellow), the Newberry Library (Shorterm Fellow), the Abraham Lincoln Library (King V. Hostick Grant), the Filson Historical Society, the Council on Library and Information Resources, and the American Historical Association (J. Franklin Jameson Fellow).  His articles have appeared or are forthcoming in Slavery and Abolition, Early American Studies, the Journal of the Early Republic, and the Journal of Illinois History.



2013-2015Post Doctoral Patrick Henry Postdoctoral Fellow, Johns Hopkins University
2013Ph.D. , University of Maryland

LIST OF SPECIALTIES: Atlantic History; Slavery and Emancipation; Legal History


M. Scott Heerman "“More than Maroons: Black Migration and Freedom Villages in Antebellum Illinois”" Emancipations, Reconstructions, Revolutions: African American Politics and U.S. History from the First to the Second Civil War (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press. 2019).

M. Scott Heerman The Alchemy of Slavery: Human Bondage and Emancipation in the Illinois Country (University of Pennsylvania Press. 2018 ).

M. Scott Heerman "'Reducing Freedmen to Slavery': Black Kidnapping and the Politics of Abolition in Antebellum Illinois" Journal of the Early Republic 489-50938 no. 3 (2017).

M. Scott Heerman "Beyond Plantations: Indian and African Slavery in the Illinois Country, 1720-1780" Slavery and Abolition 489-509 (2017). [Link]

M. Scott Heerman "In A State of Slavery: Black Servitude and the Limits of Legal Emancipation" Early American Studies 114-3914 no.1 (2016).

M. Scott Heerman "That A’Cursed Illinois Venture: Slavery and Revolution in Atlantic Illinois" Journal of Illinois History 107-2813 no. 2 (2010).