Bryan LaPointe

Doctoral Candidate
Department of African American Studies & Department of History

I study political and social history of the 19th century United States, as well as slavery, abolitionism, and emancipation across the Atlantic world. My dissertation, "A Right to Speak: American Slaves and Antislavery Politics in the 19th Century," explores the relationship between fugitive slave activism and the evolution of formal political abolitionism from the beginning of the century through the Civil War. Examining the experiences of both prominent and obscure enslaved persons who became involved in the campaigning of antislavery political parties, the project traces their antislavery political world and how they related to those coalitions. Their political histories reveal the deeply personal side of the rise of those formal parties, their involvement making them pivotal figures in the political quest to destroy American slavery through the ballot box. 

I hold an M.A. in history from Princeton after passing general examinations in the fields of U.S. History 1787-1877, Colonial North America and the Caribbean, and Intellectual History of 19th Century Reform. I have worked on the Princeton and Slavery Project and served as a coordinator of the Department of History's Modern America Workshop. Before coming to Princeton, I received a B.A. in history with high honors, along with a minor in French, from the University of Michigan. My undergraduate honors thesis, focusing on prominent Michigan newspapers' coverage of the evolution of antislavery policy during the American Civil War, was awarded the History Department's James A. Knight Scholarship in History Award.