Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



In this dissertation, I argue that the formation of the first political class in the United States after the American Revolution was due to shared educational experiences and friendships made at the colonial colleges. Each chapter centers on one of the colleges and, for illustrative purposes, pairings are featured to highlight those themes that reveal mechanisms of political activism. Bu examining in depth these relationships established in college and continued into adulthood, I establish the role that the college played in breeding familiarity and cultivating shared political and social identities. While the men who attended college in this era were all to some degree privileged, I argue that class divided who could lead and who had to follow. Those elites who had the same pedigree to immediately lead recruited other college men to their political side by exploiting their shared education and the familiarity that comes with spending years together in intimate settings. Ultimately, this hierarchical political structure established in post-Revolutionary America is an interconnected web of relationships that owe its origins to the time spent together learning and socializing in college.



Committee Chair

Burstein, Andrew



Available for download on Monday, July 09, 2029