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Jared Hardesty

ph.d. candidate

Jared Hardesty


Office: Stokes Hall, Room S354

Faculty Advisor: Cynthia Lyerly


MA, History, Boston College, 2010
BA, History, Ohio Northern University, summa cum laude, 2008

Research Interests:

I am a historian of the early modern Atlantic World, especially the British North American colonies, with a focus on slavery. My dissertation, tentatively entitled “Slavery, Freedom, and Dependence in Pre-Revolutionary Boston,” uses slavery in eighteenth-century Boston as a case study to argue for a reconceptualization of Atlantic World slavery. Rather than the traditional dichotomous conception of slavery and freedom, I argue that colonial-era slavery should be understood as part of a continuum of unfreedom. In Boston, African slavery existed alongside such forms of oppression as Indian slavery, indentured servitude, pauper apprenticeship, and apprenticeship. By drawing heavily on legal records, I show how African slavery functioned within this complex world of dependency and focus on how enslaved Africans acclimated and resisted this oppression which consigned them to the bottom of an ostensibly natural, divine hierarchy based on their slave status and the color of their skin. In this complex, hierarchal, and inherently unfree world, enslaved Bostonians were more concerned with their everyday treatment and honor than emancipation. I argue historians need to reassess their teleological assumptions of freedom and put slavery in the context of an Atlantic World characterized by a culture of dependence where the ideas of freedom and unfreedom are not hard and fast categories, and even "free" persons owed duties to their "betters" on whom they relied. In this way, I am able to show how enslaved persons could redefine the terms of their bondage and had some success fighting for material gains, rather than abstract categorizations or the end of slavery as an institution.

Academic Honors, Fellowships, and Grants:

  • Travel Grant: Clough Center for the Study of Consitutional Democracy, April 2013
  • Dissertation Fellowship: Boston College Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Academic Year 2012-2013
  • New England Regional Fellowship: New England Regional Fellowship Consortium, Academic Year 2012-2013
  • Isaiah Thomas Stipend: American Antiquarian Society, Summer 2012
  • Summer Research Grant: Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy, Boston College, Summer 2012
  • Summer Research Fellowship: Boston College Department of History, Summer 2011


  • “An Ambiguous Institution: Slavery, Law, and the State in Colonial Massachusetts,” under review at The Journal of Early American History
  • “An Angry God in the Hands of Sinners: Enslaved Africans and the Uses of Protestant Christianity in Colonial Boston,” published in Slavery & Abolition (Forthcoming)
  • “The Demerara Slave Rebellion of 1823,” “Suriname,” and “Tobacco,” published in the Encyclopedia of Slavery in the Americas, edited by Edward Baptist (Forthcoming)
  • Review of The Clamorgans: One Family’s History of Race in America, published at, May 2013 (Forthcoming) 
  • “The Demerara Slave Rebellion of 1823,” “Suriname,” and “Tobacco,” published in the Encyclopedia of Slavery in the Americas, edited by Edward Baptist (Forthcoming)
  • Review of Black Patriots and Loyalists: Fighting for Emancipation in the American Revolution, published in the New England Quarterly, December 2012
  • Review of Paths to Freedom: Manumission in the Atlantic World, published in Southern Historian, April 2010

Conference Presentations:

  • “Quaco’s Quandary: The Violent Tribulations of an Enslaved Surinamese Poisoner in Eighteenth-Century Boston,” presented at the Conference on Free and Forced Migration, Diaspora and Identity Formation—the Legacy of Slavery and Indentured Labor in Historical and Contemporary Context, Anton de Kom University of Suriname, Paramaribo, Suriname 9 June 2013
  • “Ties of Enslavement: Latent Slave Networks between Boston and the Caribbean, 1700-1775,” presented at the Mid-Atlantic Conference of British Studies, Lehman College, New York, NY 23 March 2013
  • “A World of Deference and Dependence: Slavery and Unfreedom in Eighteenth-Century Boston,” presented at the MHS Early American History Seminar, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, MA 5 February 2013
  • “‘Taught My Benighted Soul to Understand’: Slavery, Protestant Christianity, and Resistance in Colonial Boston,” presented at the Biennial Conference on the History of Religion, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA 30 March 2012
  • “The Origins of Black Boston, 1723-1773” presented at the Colonial Society of Massachusetts’s Graduate Student Forum, Boston, MA 17 June 2011
  • “An Ambiguous Institution: Slavery, Law, and the State in Colonial Massachusetts” presented at the Fall 2010 Meeting of the New England Historical Association at the University of New England, Biddeford, ME 16 October 2010
  • "The Lingering Problem of Tio Sam: Castroist Perspectives on U.S.-Cuban Relations" presented at the Annual Conference of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR) at the University of Wisconsin—Madison, Madison, WI 26 June 2010
  • “The First Rafter Crisis: San Domingue Refugees, Cuba, and Immigration Policy in the Early Republic” presented at the Annual Conference of SHAFR at George Mason University, Fairfax, VA 26 June 2009