Graduate Students

Asaf Almog is a doctoral candidate, working with Gary W. Gallagher and Elizabeth R. Varon. Born and raised in Israel, Asaf studies the evolution of liberal and conservative political culture in the Anglo-American world. Asaf is interested in the influence of English natural right theories on the American Enlightenment, as well as the tension in elite and middle class cultures between the reform impulse and the fear of democracy. His M.A. thesis at Tel Aviv University examined Thomas Hobbes’s liberalism and its influence on Revolutionary America. His M.A. thesis at the University of Virginia examined Massachusetts Federalist Timothy Pickering’s views on race and slavery. Asaf’s dissertation, tentatively titled “In Search of an American Consensus: New England Conservative Reformers and American Nationalism, 1789-1860,” examines the political culture of the Federalist and Whig Parties in New England, its generational continuities and its diverging paths between 1845 and 1860. His dissertation focuses on the reactions of “conservative reformers” to the treatment of the Union as a sacred concept, the persistence of slavery in the southern states, the increase in racial exclusion, and the rise of master-race democracy and the egalitarian interpretation of the American Revolution’s legacy.


Clayton Butler is a doctoral candidate who studies southern unionism during the Civil War era under the guidance of Gary Gallagher and Elizabeth Varon. His M.A. thesis focuses on the First Alabama Union Cavalry, a regiment of white southerners recruited from the states of the Deep South to fight against the Confederacy. After graduating from Pomona College in 2010, he worked at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and the Civil War Trust in Washington, DC.


Originally from London, Jack Furniss completed his undergraduate degree and Masters at Oxford University. After a few years working in British politics, he started at the University of Virginia in 2012, studying with Elizabeth R. Varon and Gary W. Gallagher. His dissertation, “States of the Union: The Political Center in the Civil War North,” uses the careers of Northern governors to recapture and reevaluate the role of centrist politics in governance and ideology during the Civil War era. 


Jesse George-Nichol is a PhD candidate advised by Elizabeth Varon and Gary Gallagher.  Her dissertation examines conciliation and compromise in the spring of 1861.  Her research focuses on former Whigs in the Upper South and the Border South and their attempts secure a national adjustment and avoid armed conflict.  She is originally from North Carolina and has a B.A. from Princeton University.


Lauren Haumesser is interested in nineteenth-century politics, political culture, and women’s and gender history. Her dissertation argues that in the 1850s, Democratic Party leaders played on gender conservatism to unite their members at a time when they were profoundly divided. The new Republican Party offered a progressive vision of women’s rights and antislavery. Northern and southern Democrats alike countered by insisting on patriarchy both as an institution and as a symbol of their opposition to antislavery. The strategy ultimately backfired: southerners came to believe they alone supported slavery and patriarchy, and that only secession would protect both. Haumesser received her B.A. from Boston College and her M.A. and M.Phil from the University of Sydney.


Stephanie Lawton earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in history at UCLA, where she studied American and Roman history before graduating summa cum laude in 2013. She joined the graduate program at the Corcoran Department of History in 2014 as a student of Gary Gallagher. Her present research interests are the Greek and Roman Classics in American politics and political culture in the nineteenth century. Her master's essay "Substance or Window-Dressing?: Classical Conceptions of Patriotic Citizenship" (short title) argued that classical references in the eulogies of George Washington and Andrew Jackson were not empty rhetorical flourishes but instead meant to instruct Americans about the character and duties desired in the ideal republican citizen.


Brian Neumann is a doctoral candidate studying the political culture of the antebellum South under Elizabeth Varon and Gary Gallagher. His research examines the social, political, and ideological dynamics of Unionism in South Carolina during the Nullification Crisis. He grew up in Chesnee, South Carolina, and graduated from Furman University in 2013. In 2014, he served as the primary researcher for Furman’s 50th Anniversary Commemoration Committee, uncovering the history of desegregation at the university.


Daniel Sunshine studies nineteenth-century political culture with a focus on Union and race.  He graduated from the University of Virginia in 2014 after completing a Distinguished Majors Thesis under Gary W. Gallagher.  After a two-year stint working at a corporate law firm, he returned to the University to pursue a PhD with Elizabeth Varon.  His master’s research examines the competing interpretations of Union at play in the West Virginia statehood movement.