Swett, Brooks

Field: United States; Advisor: McCurry; Year: 2015

Brooks Tucker Swett is a lecturer in Contemporary Civilization in the West in the Core Curriculum. She is a historian of the nineteenth-century United States, with a specialty in law and foreign relations. She received her Ph.D. in History from Columbia in May 2022. 

Brooks’s work traces connections between domestic legal history and changes in the United States’ international position and foreign policy during the American Civil War and Reconstruction. She has a particular interest in relations between the United States and the British Empire. Her article “The Reconstruction of Federalism: Foreign Submarine Telegraph Cables and American Law, 1868-78” appeared in Law and History Review in August 2022.   

Brooks’s book manuscript presents the international ramifications and context of debates during the Civil War and Reconstruction. Her work reveals the foreign precedents and far-reaching concerns that informed American responses to key questions of governance, such as emancipation, land reform, the expansion of the franchise, martial law, and the revision of federalism. Reconstituting the nation’s legal underpinnings required attention to developments beyond the nation’s borders and the assertion of federal sovereignty among world powers.

Brooks received a completion fellowship from the Doris G. Quinn Foundation and travel funding from the Columbia University War & Peace Initiative. Before beginning her doctoral studies, she earned a B.A. in history, summa cum laude, from Yale in 2009. As a Henry Fellow in 2009-2010, Brooks completed a Master of Studies in U.S. History at Balliol College, University of Oxford.