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Starr Center for the


Study of the American Experience

In the Kingdom of Devils: The Harpe Murders and the Legacies of the American Revolution


Date: 5:00pm EDT March 21

The Washington College Department of History presents the Guy F. Goodfellow Memorial Lecture with Katherine Grandjean, Associate Professor of History, Wellesley College

On paper, the American Revolution ended in 1783. But for some, it continued. This talk investigates the violent legacies of the revolution, especially in the southern borderlands of the early republic. It follows the lives of two brothers from North Carolina, who experienced some of the worst violence of the war as boys and, later in life, became killers. Micajah and Wiley Harpe committed dozens of murders across Appalachia in the 1790s. Grandjean will revisit the Harpes’ story in order to explore how the United States’s founding moment left behind so many violent, alienated men. 

Katherine Grandjean is a historian of early American and Native American history, English colonialism and cultural encounters, environmental history, and violence in American history. She holds a B.A. in History from Yale University and a Ph.D. in History from Harvard University. Her work has been supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the American Philosophical Society, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the American Historical Association, and the Charles Warren Center for American History, and has appeared in such journals as the William and Mary QuarterlyAmerican Quarterly, and Early American Studies. A recent essay, “New World Tempests: Environment, Scarcity, and the Coming of the Pequot War,” won the American Society for Environmental History’s 2012 Alice Hamilton Prize for Best Article and the William and Mary Quarterly’s 2014 Douglass Adair Memorial Award.