University of Richmond History Professor Samantha Seeley Wins Book Prize For 'Best Book on Midwestern History'

July 12, 2022

UNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND — History professor Samantha Seeley has received the 2021 Jon Gjerde Book Award from the Midwestern History Association for her book Race, Removal, and the Right to Remain: Migration and the Making of the United States. The prize recognizes the year’s best book on Midwestern history.

Race and Removal examines how the states and federal government excluded groups of people from the nation after the American Revolution. Her book focuses on how who had the right to live in the new United States of America was purposefully constructed through contentious legal, political, and diplomatic negotiation.

“The book argues that removal, as much as free migration, made the United States by defining who should be part of it,” said Seeley, an expert on early America and race, slavery, and freedom. “Because they were threatened with removal so often after the American Revolution, African Americans and Indigenous communities responded by working to protect their right to remain.”

One main area the book considers is the Ohio Valley, which the Gjerde prize selection committee specifically noted. “In the spirit of Professor Gjerde’s work, Professor Seeley brings a new perspective to our understanding of Midwestern history while integrating the histories of migration and movement into the histories of racism and colonization during America's 19th-century nation-building project,” the committee said.

This award is the second Seeley has won this year for her first book. In April, Seeley received the 2022 Merle Curti Social History Award, given for the best book in American social history, from the Organization of American Historians.