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John Suval

Research Assistant Professor


John Suval is a historian of the nineteenth-century United States, specializing in Jacksonian political culture, public lands, the American West, and borderlands. His current book project—Dangerous Ground: Squatters, Statesmen, and the Rupture of American Democracy, 1830-1860—explores how white squatters on western lands came to occupy a central and destabilizing position in U.S. political culture in the decades culminating in the Civil War. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and held a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Missouri’s Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy. His research has received support from the Bancroft Library, University of Chicago Library Special Collections Research Center, Kansas State Historical Society, Library Company of Philadelphia, Oregon Historical Society, and other institutions.


Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison

M.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison

B.A., State University of New York at Binghamton


Selected Publications

“‘The Nomadic Race to Which I Belong’: Squatter Democracy and the Claiming of Oregon,” Oregon Historical Quarterly 118: 3 (Fall 2017): 306-37.


“The Surveyor’s Stone: Unearthing Hidden Markers of the American Landscape,” Edge Effects, February 7, 2017.


Review of An Agrarian Republic: Farming, Antislavery Politics, and Nature Parks in the Civil War Era, by Adam Wesley Dean, Civil War Book Review, Fall 2015.


“Clarence Rivers King,” in The Oxford Encyclopedia of the History of American Science,    Medicine, and Technology, ed. Hugh Slotten (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014).


“(Not) Like Butter: W. D. Hoard and the Crusade against the ‘Oleo Fraud,’” Wisconsin Magazine of History 96: 1 (Autumn 2012): 16-27.