Faculty & Staff

Matthew Mitchell

Assistant Professor of History
B.A., University of Washington; M.Litt, University of St Andrews; Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

mdmitche@sewanee.edu

Matthew David Mitchell teaches courses on all eras of the history of Britain and Ireland, with a particular focus on the early modern period (circa 1500 to 1850) and British commercial and colonial contacts with the Atlantic World. 

Before pursuing an academic career Mitchell earned an undergraduate degree in business concurrently with his bachelor’s in history, followed by employment in the auto-insurance industry.  While Mitchell loves the discipline of history for its own sake, he is also convinced that serious study in the liberal arts develops skills valuable in the post-college world of work, such as critical thinking, strategic analysis and planning, and persuasive speaking and writing.

Mitchell is working on a book manuscript on the transformation of British trade with Africa after 1712, when Parliament removed the Royal African Company’s previous monopoly over the trade.  The book will survey the success and failure experienced by the more than one thousand British individuals that invested in the transatlantic slave trade over the following two decades, in particular scrutinizing a handful of well-documented slave traders to understand the business practices they employed in their attempts to profit from the immense human suffering of the Middle Passage.  As a counterpoint the book also examines the Royal African Company’s purchase in 1720 by a group of aristocrats led by the wealthy and unscrupulous James Brydges, First Duke of Chandos.  Brydges and his friends responded to the Company’s inability to compete with the new competitors in the slave trade with an ambitious but ultimately unprofitable strategy to search for new African mineral and botanical resources that would find a market in Europe.  Mitchell has recently held a fellowship from the Huntington Library in California in support of this work and has also conducted research at the (UK) National Archives in Kew and the British Library.

Office location: Walsh-Ellett 307

 [Planned] course offerings at the University of the South

  • HIST 127: Atlantic Britons
  • HIST 205: History of England [Britain] I
  • HIST 206: History of England [Britain] II
  • [Seminar: Four hundred years of Atlantic Slavery]
  • [The Ages of London]
  • [Global Economic History]
  • [Humanities: What is “Value?”]

Selected Publications

  • “Joint-Stock Companies and Atlantic Trading” in D’Maris Coffman, Adrian Leonard, & William O’Reilly, eds., The Atlantic World (London: Routledge, forthcoming).
  • “Three English cloth towns and the Royal African Company,” Journal of the Historical Society 13, No. 4 (December 2013), pp. 421-447.
  • “Legitimate commerce” in the eighteenth century: the Royal African Company of England under the Duke of Chandos, 1720-1726,” Enterprise and Society 14, No. 3 (September 2013), pp. 544-578.
  • “The fetish and intercultural commerce in seventeenth-century West Africa,” Itinerario 36, No. 1 (2012), pp. 7-21.

Selected Professional Activities

  • Reader for Advanced Placement Examination in World History, 2012 & 2014.
  • Organizer and Master of Ceremonies, North Carolina History Education Workshop, Chapel Hill, NC, April 12, 2014.
  • Where Was Political Thought in England, c. 1600-1642?” Folger Shakespeare Library Fall Symposium, September 20-21, 2013.
  • “The History of Political Economy,” National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute for College and University Teachers, Duke University Center for the History of Political Economy, June 2-21, 2013.
  • Presentations at Economic and Business Historical Society (2010, 2012, 2013); Business History Conference (2010 & 2012); Pacific Conference on British Studies (2011); and Mid-Atlantic Conference on British Studies (2009)