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Joshua P. Canale


Ph.D, Binghamton University (2014)

MA, Binghamton University (2009)

BA, Lemoyne College (2007)


Current Position

Visiting Assistant Professor, Lemoyne College


Area of Concentration

Colonial and Revolutionary America



"American Dictators: Executive Bodies in the American Revolution, 1774-1784"

Adviser: Douglas Bradburn

My research examines executive bodies and their role in the American Revolution. When royal government collapsed, these institutions filled the noticeable vacuum of executive power. While legislatures were unquestionably important to the revolution by democratizing large numbers of people, this is only half of the narrative. Laws meant little if unenforced, leaving executive bodies responsible for establishing the nascent state governments' legitimacy and order.

My dissertation examines executive bodies in New Jersey, New York, and Virginia in the period before and after independence. Historians have long overlooked these bodies despite their role: administering the war effort, providing inhabitants with the necessary functions of government, policing the population, as well as acting as a civil bulwark against a military dictatorship. Although executive bodies such as the committees and councils of safety employed coercive powers, these short-term emergency institutions were seen as necessary during the chaotic years of the American Revolution. By monitoring inhabitants' movements, extending oaths of allegiance, interrogating the suspicious, apprehending the accused, executive bodies curbed individual rights in hopes of establishing a common good. By examining these institutions, historians can gain a better understanding of the process of the revolution, which at times placed public rights over those of the individual.


Grants, Fellowships & Awards

Robert M. & Annetta J. Coffelt and Robert M. Coffelt, Jr. Fellowship, The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 2012

Rosa Colecchio Travel Award for Dissertation Research Enhancement, Binghamton University, 2012

Virginia Historical Society 2012 Mellon Research Fellowship, Virginia Historical Society, 2012

New Jersey Historical Commission Mini-Grant, New Jersey Department of State, 2012

Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies Fellowship, Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc., 2011

Research Associate of the David Library, The David Library of the American Revolution, 2011

Dissertation Year Fellowship, Binghamton University, 2011

Teaching Assistantship, Binghamton University, 2007-2012

Elizabeth Schlaerth Memorial Medal in History, Le Moyne College, 2007



"Strike a Terror into the disaffected": Executive Power, Coercion, and the Common Good in Revolutionary New Jersey, 1776-1778" New Jersey Historical Commission Forum, New Jersey Historical Commission, Fall 2012

"American Dictators: Executive Bodies during the American Revolution, 1774-1785" Virginia Historical Society Fellows Colloquium, Virginia Historical Society, Summer 2012

"'Make strict enquiry into the temper and former conduct of the inhabitants': The Virginia Committee of Safety and Executive Police Powers during the American Revolution" Exchanges and Returns: The Crossroads of Interaction, Syracuse University, Spring 2012

"'Disaffected and dangerous persons...will greatly endanger the peace, quiet, and safety of the inhabitants': The New York Committee of Safety, 1775-1776" City University of New York Early American Republic Seminar, City University of New York, Winter 2012

"American Dictators: Executive Bodies and Coercion during the American Revolution, 1774-1785" International Center for Jefferson Studies Fellows Forum, Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies, Fall 2011

"Establishing 'public order' or a Surveillance Society?: The American Revolution in New York State, 1775-1778" Tioga County Historical Society Lecture Series, Tioga County Historical Society, Fall 2011

"Establishing Legitimacy and Order: Executive Councils during the American Revolution, 1774-1785" The Colonial Society of Massachusetts Graduate Student Forum in Early American History, The Colonial Society of Massachusetts, Summer 2011

"Disaffected Americans in Albany, New York: Reinvestigating Loyalism in a Revolutionary Surveillance Society" Upstate Early American Workshop, Binghamton University, Fall 2009

Last Updated: 8/12/16