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“For 2026: Contested Freedoms”

Preliminary Program


We hope you join us for “For 2026: Contested Freedoms” on October 26-28, 2023, in Williamsburg, Virginia at the W&M School of Education. This is the second conference in the five-year series. The preliminary program is below. We expect the final program to be in place by the end of September.

Read about the Saturday plenary with author Ned Blackhawk.


We have hotel blocks at the Woodlands in Colonial Williamsburg and the Westgate Resort on Richmond Road. Both groups have stopped taking reservations at this point. Williamsburg is a tourist town though and we are confident there are rooms for all.

As last year, we are excited to welcome participants to the two-day conference organized by the Omohundro Institute, Colonial Williamsburg, and W&M, and to two specialized conference tracks also focused on the American Revolutionary era, RevEd (a series of workshops and panels of special interest to K-12 and museum educators) and the Slate Seminar (a series of sessions organized by the W&M Bray School Lab). Both RevEd and the Slate Seminar are pleased to announce that funding from the W&M Learning & Design Lab and the Mellon Foundation, respectively, will subvent participants’ registration fees.

“For 2026: Contested Freedoms”

Preliminary Program

W&M School of Education
301 Monticello Avenue
Williamsburg, Virginia

Thursday, October 26
3:00-5:00 pm
(Optional) Early Registration

Pick up your program before the Friday morning rush.



Friday, October 27
9:00-10:30 am

Session 1
Room 1056

“Compromised Freedoms: Political Compromise and the Limits of Liberty from the Founding to the Sectional Crisis”

Chair and Comment: Sandra Moats, University of Wisconsin-Parkside

  • Nathaniel Green, Northern Virginia Community College, “‘Are They Not Persons, Too?’: The Personhood of the Enslaved in the Debate over the Three-Fifths Clause”
  • Amanda Klug, University of Tennessee, “The Madison Papers and Political Compromise: Antislavery Reformers’ Conflicting Memories of the 1787 Constitutional Convention” 

Session 2
Dogwood Room

“Geographies of Freedom: Abolition, Captivity, and Mobility in the Wake of Revolution”

Chair and Comment: Samantha Seeley, University of Richmond

  • Michael Blaakman, Princeton University,”Peter Martin’s Odyssey: A Black Loyalist and the Many Authors of Upper Canadian Abolition”
  • Scott Heerman, University of Miami, “The Limits of Free Soil: International Captivity in an Era of Revolution”
  • Christine Mertens, Roosevelt Institute for American Studies, Leiden, “Black Mobility Laws, Freedom, and Illegality in the Early Antebellum Upper South, 1790-1830s”

Session 3
Holly Room

“Contested Freedom, Contested Sovereignty in the Haitian Revolutionary Atlantic”

Chair and Comment: Julia Gaffield, William & Mary

  • Frances Bell, William & Mary, “‘At the Time of her Capture’: Black Passengers and the Legalities of Privateering in the Haitian Revolutionary Atlantic”
  • Dante Barksdale, University of California, Davis, “Unwelcome Ignorance and Invited Educators: Civilization, religion, and education in Haiti, 1807-1825”
  • Leslie Alexander, Rutgers University, “‘Haiti Must Be Acknowledged’: The Fight for Haitian Recognition in the United States”
  • Taneil Ruffin, Princeton University, “‘Of virtue becoming their situation’: Black Catholic Women’s Labors in Early Republican Baltimore”

Session 4
Room 2030

Roundtable discussion: “Contested Freedoms and the Public University Classroom”

Moderator: James Risk, University of South Carolina

  • Christy Friend, University of South Carolina
  • James Jeffries, Clemson University
  • Jordan Ragusa, College of Charleston


10:30-11:00 am

11:00 am – 12:30 pm

Session 5
Room 1056

“Freedom and Restriction at the Public Hospital of 1773”
Public History Perspectives session

Chair: Ted Green, Colonial Williamsburg and Webster University

  • Kelly Brennan, Colonial Williamsburg
  • Margaret Perry, Colonial Williamsburg
  • Christina Westenberger, Colonial Williamsburg

Comment: The Audience

Session 6
Dogwood Room

Roundtable Discussion: “City Space: Reckoning with Unfreedom and Place in Early America”

Chair and Comment: Zachary Dorner, University of Maryland

  • Sarah Pearlman Shapiro, Brown University—single mothers of color in Providence
  • Elizabeth Schmidt, University of California, Santa Barbara—culinary culture of (unfree) Philadelphia
  • Meg Roberts, University of Cambridge—caregiving labor of Moravian women and men
  • Molly Nebiolo, Butler University—Charleston waterways and the concept of “disgust”

Session 7
Holly Room

Roundtable Discussion: “Digitizing Revolution”

Organized and Moderated by Paul Erickson (William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan) for the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR)

  • Alexandra Montgomery, The George Washington Presidential Library at Mount Vernon on the ARGO Project
  • Sabrina Bocanegra, American Philosophical Society on the “Revolutionary City” project
  • Cheney Schopieray, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan on the digitization of the papers of Thomas Gage

12:30-2:00 pm

2:00-4:00 pm

Session 8
Room 1056

“Slavery, Freedom, and Memory in Eighteenth-Century New England”

Chair & Comment: Terri Snyder, California State University, Fullerton

  • Anna Suranyi, Endicott College, “The Limits of Freedom Suits: Enslavement and Emancipation in Revolutionary Massachusetts”
  • Gloria Whiting, University of Wisconsin-Madison, “Race and Policing in Eighteenth-Century New England”
  • Nicole Maskiell, University of South Carolina, “‘The Hidden Ones’: Uncovering the Histories of New England’s Female Enslavers”
  • Elizabeth Matelski, Endicott College, “Finding Mingo: a Man, a Myth, and a Beach”

 Session 9
Dogwood Room

Roundtable Discussion: “Intersections: Indigenous and Religious Histories”

Organized and Moderated by Mark Valeri for the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis

  • Ana Schwartz, University of Texas at Austin
  • Joseph Zordan, Harvard University
  • Rachel Wheeler, Indiana University Indianapolis
  • T. Wyatt Reynolds, Columbia University

 Session 10
Holly Room

“Gender and the Disruptive Politics of Care in the Black and Indigenous Early Modern Caribbean”

Chair: Michael Becker (William & Mary)

  • Lila O’Leary Chambers, University of Cambridge, ““Obbah her self featched Dirt from her Sisters Grave”: Alcohol, Gender, and the Politics of Loss in the Early Modern Leeward Islands”
  • Shavagne Scott, The Ohio State University, “Tending to the Body: Maroon Women and the Maroon Landscape in Colonial Jamaica, 1700-1740”
  • Halle-Mackenzie Ashby, Johns Hopkins University, “Going off the Island”: Litigious Mothers, Black Children and Labor Emigration from Barbados to Guyana, 1834 – 1875”
  • Thabisile Griffin, SCI-Arc (Southern California Institute of Architecture) and Columbia University, “Abolition(s), Autonomy, and Property: Black Carib Women in St. Vincent, 1780-1796”

Session 11
Room 2030

Roundtable Discussion: “Gender and Sexual Freedoms: LGBTQ+ people in Revolutionary America”

Moderated by Leisa Meyer (William & Mary) and including

  • John McCurdy, Eastern Michigan University—representations of male-male intimacy in Revolutionary America
  • Scott Larson, University of Michigan—gender variance practices in Early America
  • Candice Lyons, University of California, Santa Barbara—the letters of Phillis Wheatley and Obour Tanner
  • Sandra Slater, College of Charleston—situating “deviancy” within the politics of the colonial world
  • Gregory Smithers, Virginia Commonwealth University—the impact of the American Revolution on gender-fluid people in Native American communities

4:00-5:00 pm
SHUTTLE available to take guests to the plenary session

5:00-6:30 pm

Hennage Auditorium, Colonial Williamsburg Art Museums, 301 South Nassau Street

We thank the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation for giving each registered attendee at the “For 2026” conference series (including RevEd and the Slate Seminar specialized conference tracks) a complimentary 7-day pass to Colonial Williamsburg and all regularly scheduled programming there. Attendees will receive a voucher when they pick up their conference registration packet. The vouchers can be redeemed at any Colonial Williamsburg ticketing site. A valid Colonial Williamsburg pass is required to enter the Hennage Auditorium and to attend the Friday evening plenary session (session 12).

Session 12
“Restoring the Indigenous voice in museums of early America”

Public History Perspectives session

An exploration of how we interpret the archaeological and historical evidence of the Indigenous peoples of early America,
and what approaches we take to provide them a voice.

Introduction by Cliff Fleet, CEO of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation

A panel moderated by Dr. Mariruth Leftwich, Senior Director, Museum Operations & Education,
Jamestown Yorktown Foundation, and including the following guests:

  • Fallon Burner, Indigenous Historian & Program Design Manager, Colonial Williamsburg
  • Sean Devlin, Curator of Archaeology, Colonial Williamsburg
  • Russell Reed, Paspahegh Town Acting Site Supervisor, JYF
  • Dave Givens, Directory of Archaeology, Jamestown Rediscovery
  • Darius Coombs, Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe

6:30-7:15 pm

Please join us upstairs in the Art Museums Café for a light reception.


Saturday, October 28

9:00-10:30 am

Session 13
Room 1056

“Word Gets Around: The Circulation of Knowledge in Vast Early America”

Chair: Robyn Lily Davis, Millersville University

  • Helena Yoo Roth, City University of New York, “Rethinking the Royal Proclamation of 1763: Who Knew What When, and Why That Matters”
  • E. Bennett Jones, California Institute of Technology, “‘Affirmed by the Indians’: Rattlesnake Fascination, William Henry Killbuck, and Indigenous Expertise”

Comment: Paul Mapp, William & Mary

Session 14
Dogwood Room

“Indigenous Politics and Polities”

Chair: Joshua Piker (Omohundro Institute and William & Mary)

  • Keely Smith, Princeton University, “‘Acknowledge one to the face of the other’: Muscogee Sovereignty and the Power of Ete-Relationships, 1763-1783”
  • Austin Stewart, University of Missouri, “Cherokee Country or Native Country?: Cherokee Modes of Territoriality and Ideas of Independence in Revolutionary America”
  • Andrew Sturtevant, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, “‘Out of Captivity like’: Contesting ‘Freedom’ and Autonomy in Pontiac’s War”
  • Eric Toups, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, “Bvlbancha: Place and Freedom in the Early Mississippi River Delta”

Session 15
Holly Room

Roundtable Discussion: “”What Scholars Would Like the Public to Know About the American Revolution”

Organized and Moderated by Andrew Schocket (Bowling Green State University) for the Society of Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR)

  • Leslie M. Alexander, Rutgers University
  • David Waldstreicher, The Graduate Center, City University of New York (CUNY)
  • Michael Witgen, Columbia University
  • Serena Zabin, Carleton College
  • Rosemarie Zagarri, George Mason University

Session 16
Room 2030

Roundtable discussion: “‘She had on when she went away…’: Using Material Culture to Free Self-Liberating Enslaved Women from the Silences of the Archive”
Public History Perspectives session

This workshop will include performances by professional interpreters.

  • Rebecca Godzik, Colonial Williamsburg
  • Emily Doherty, Pennsylvania Military Museum
  • Hope Wright, Colonial Williamsburg



10:30-11:00 am

11:00 am – 12:30 pm

Session 17
Room 1056

“Imagining Legitimate State Power: Perspectives from Britain, Pennsylvania, and Haiti”

Chair: Catherine E. Kelly (Omohundro Institute and William & Mary)

  • Angel-Luke O’Donnell, King’s College London, “For the More Perfect Satisfaction of the Public: Scrutinising the State in the 1776 Pennsylvania State Constitution”
  • Jesus Ruiz, Vanderbilt University, “Haitian Royalism: Emancipatory Thought in the Age of Slavery”
  • Robert Paulett, Southern Illinois University, “To Fetter and Enslave the King: Ideas of Freedom and Constitutional Reform in the Early Reign of George III”

Comment: Frank Cogliano (International Center for Jefferson Studies, Monticello)

Session 18
Dogwood Room

Workshop:Storytelling as meaning making and history”
Public History Perspectives session

Introduction by Peter Inker and Andre Taylor, Colonial Williamsburg

Kathaleen Getward, Colonial Williamsburg

In this audience-interactive workshop, Kathaleen Getward works with the oral traditions of storytelling developed by Griots in West Africa to examine the role of storytelling in passing on meaning and history.

Session 19
Holly Room

“Amplifying Indigenous History: Reaching Audiences and Institutions”

Sponsored by the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics at Washington University in St. Louis

With Danielle Moretti-Langholtz (William & Mary), Kelly Berry (Kansas State University), and Lawrence Dunmore, an oral and Tribal historian and folklorist for the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation of North Carolina

 Session 20
Room 2030

“Slavery and the Law in the Long Eighteenth Century: Contested freedoms in Florida, Georgia, and the Early National U.S.”

  • Andrew Miller, Tulane University, “The Trial of Mary Glass: Freedom, Slavery, and Murder in the Revolutionary Gulf South”
  • J.E. Morgan, Emory University, “Uncertain Status: Slavery, Marriage, and Property in Pre-Revolutionary Georgia”
  • Evan Turiano, Yale University, “Somerset and Subjecthood, Allegiance and Protection: Rereading Black Legal Rights in the Revolutionary Era”


12:30-2:00 pm 

2:00-4:00 pm

Session 21
Room 1056

Roundtable Discussion: “Beyond an Age of Revolutions”

Organized by Emma Hart (McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania) and Jessica Roney (Temple University)

  • Tim Grieve-Carlson, Westminster College
  • Casey Schmitt, Cornell University
  • Douglas Winiarski, University of Richmond
  • Shavagne Scott, The Ohio State University

Session 22
Dogwood Room

Roundtable on The Odyssey of Phillis Wheatley: A Poet’s Journey Through American Slavery and Independence (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2023) by David Waldstreicher

  • Mary Kelley, University of Michigan
  • Carolyn Eastman, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Jennifer Rae Greeson, University of Virginia
  • Cassandra Newby-Alexander, Norfolk State University
  • Tara Bynum, University of Iowa

Response: David Waldstreicher (City University of New York)

Session 23
Holly Room

Roundtable discussion: “‘Indigenous America 250th’: Restorying Indigeneity during Commemorations of the American Revolution”

Chair: Shaun Eyring, National Park Service

  • Amanda Casper, National Park Service
  • Eric Chiasson, National Park Service
  • David Goldstein, National Park Service
  • Brigid Hogan, National Park Service
  • William Kelly, National Park Service
  • Alyssa Mt. Pleasant, ATW Research

Session 24
Room 2030

Roundtable discussion: “Freedom Across the Atlantic”

Moderator: Virginie Adane, Nantes Université

  • Annika Bärwald, Uni Bremen
  • Matthieu Ferradou, Université Paris-Nanterre
  • Megan Maruschke, Uni Leipzig
  • Christine Mertens, Roosevelt Institute for American Studies, Leiden

4:00-5:00 pm
SHUTTLE available to take guests to the plenary session


Session 25

 5:00-6:30 pm

“The Indigenous origins of the American revolution: historiography and American colonialism”

Integrated Science Center (ISC), Room 1221
540 Landrum Drive

A reading and discussion with author Ned Blackhawk, Yale University

Introduction by Katherine Rowe, President of William & Mary

Ned Blackhawk is the Howard R. Lamar Professor of History and American Studies at Yale University and the faculty coordinator for the Yale Group for the Study of Native America. An enrolled member of the Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians of Nevada, he is the author or co-editor of four books in Native American and Indigenous history, most recently The Rediscovery of America: Native Peoples and the Unmaking of U.S. History (Yale Univeristy Press, 2023)

Professor Blackhawk will sign copies of his book after the talk.

Look for the guides in Omohundro Institute baseball hats to lead you to the lecture hall.

*Note: Cars can drop off passengers at the ISC on Landrum Drive and then park in any available Faculty/Staff spot on Landrum Drive or in the parking lot behind Swem Library (also on Landrum Drive) or near the new W&M arts complex (on Jamestown Road). W&M Parking does not monitor parking passes on the weekend and all spaces are available for visitors and pass-holders alike.

6:30-8:00 pm

Closing reception at Wren for all conference attendees

Please be advised that photographs may be taken of speakers and attendees at all “For 2026” events. These images may be used in promotional materials and on websites controlled by the organizers. By attending the event, you are giving permission for the organizers to use your image and likeness.

Blackhawk jacket

Ned Blackhawk Delivers Saturday Keynote

"For 2026: Contested Freedoms"

Preliminary Program

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