Brian Phillips Murphy

Brian Phillips Murphy

Email

brian.phillips.murphy [at] rutgers.edu

Phone

973-353-5860

Office Location

311 Conklin Hall
175 University Avenue
Newark, N.J. 07102

Office Hours

On leave Fall 2022

Research interests: early U.S. history, political economy, history of the corporation, legal history, economic history, political ecology, New York City history, federal and state constitutional history

Brian Phillips Murphy is Associate Professor in the History Department. He is a founding co-director of the Mediterranean Displacements Project and a faculty affiliate of the Rutgers University Center for State Constitutional Studies.

Born in Paterson, N.J., Professor Murphy studied at Haverford College and earned his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. Before joining Rutgers in 2016 he previously taught at Baruch College, where he won a Whiting Fellowship for excellence in teaching and was a member of the faculty of the Macaulay Honors College at the City University of New York.

Professor Murphy is the author of Building the Empire State: Political Economy in Early America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015), which shared the James A. Broussard Best First Book Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic.  The book links the development of the business corporation to state formation in the early American republic by looking at the creation of banks and transportation enterprises by well-connected and financed political entrepreneurs. A portion of the book appeared as an article in the April 2008 William and Mary Quarterly. Titled “‘A very convenient instrument’: The Manhattan Company, Aaron Burr, and the Election of 1800,” the article won the 2009 Richard L. Morton Award from the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.

Prof. Murphy is currently writing a book about the industrial development of the Passaic River in the New York-New Jersey estuarial region.  Titled Great Falls: Water, Power, and Alexander Hamilton’s Vision of an Industrial America, the book examines the political economy and political ecology of industrial and energy policy in U.S. history and the founding of the city of Paterson. This project has been supported by research fellowships at the Fred W. Smith Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon and the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello. In June 2022, Prof. Murphy presented some of his research at the "Climate Crisis: Early Americanists Respond" conference held at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

In 2020 Prof. Murphy became director of a curricular initiative at Rutgers-Newark to create an interdisciplinary program focused on studying the U.S. and state constitutions through the lens of climate change. This “Climate of American Constitutional Democracy” project won a planning grant from the Teagle Foundation in early 2020 and resulted in a new partnership with the Quill Project at Pembroke College, Oxford. In a Spring semester course, Rutgers undergraduates, graduate students, and Rutgers Law School students are documenting the 1947 New Jersey state constitutional convention, an effort that will culminate in the publication of a definitive digital publicly-accessible record of the convention. Prof. Murphy and his collaborator jointly presented this project at the 2022 International Association of Centers for Federalism Studies conference in Bilbao, Spain. To accompany this research project Prof. Murphy created an embedded spring semester study abroad program called "Constitutions and the Founding of the American Republic" that brings students in his course to Pembroke College for a week of seminars on constitutional self-government. This program was the first embedded study abroad program ever launched in the history department at Rutgers University-Newark. To learn more, visit the program website. 

In 2021 Prof. Murphy was the lead writer on a successful grant application to the U.S. Department of State’s IDEAS (Increase and Diversify Education Abroad for U.S. Students) capacity-building program. The award is enabling a number of Rutgers faculty members to create a portfolio of study abroad programs around the Mediterranean region. Prof. Murphy also is the co-director of the Rutgers Global summer study abroad program "Sicily, Malta, and the Mediterranean World" that takes students to Malta and Sicily, Italy for several weeks to study the long history of migration and population displacement in the Mediterranean region.

Prof. Murphy was the guest curator of an exhibition on the history of banking in New York City at the Museum of the City of New York. He worked with the  Organization of American Historians and the National Park Service to help develop the Great Falls National Historic Park in Paterson, N.J. He has been a contributor at MSNBC and a contributing editor at Talking Points Memo. Prof. Murphy has written for the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Politico, and many other publications, and been a frequent guest on television and radio programs to discuss New Jersey and New York City politics, the history of corporations, and political corruption. His work has been cited on the floor of the U.S. Senate and in Supreme Court briefs.


Courses Taught

Undergraduate

Creation of the American Republic (embedded study abroad to Pembroke College, University of Oxford)

U.S. History survey

​Graduate

Waterways in History (graduate)

Research Initiatives

Records of the 1947 New Jersey State Constitutional Convention (in partnership with Dr. Nicholas Cole, founding director of The Quill Project at Pembroke College, University of Oxford)

"The Climate of American Constitutional Democracy" initiative supported by the Teagle Foundation


Awards

Research Fellow, International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello

Research Fellow, Fred W. Smith Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon

James L. Broussard Best First Book Prize, Society for Historians of the Early American Republic

Richard L. Morton Article Prize, William and Mary Quarterly

Fellow, Rutgers Leadership Academy

Whiting Foundation Teaching Award


Education

B.A., Haverford College

M.A., Ph.D., University of Virginia

Publications

Book

Building the Empire State: Political Economy in Early America (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015).

Winner of the 2016 James Broussard Best First Book Prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic.

Book Chapter

​“The Market Revolution,” in A Companion to the Era of Andrew Jackson, Sean Patrick Adams, ed. (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013), pp. 95-110.

Article

“‘A Very Convenient Instrument’: Aaron Burr, the Manhattan Company, and the Election of 1800,” William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Ser., Vol. 66 (April 2008), pp. 233-66.

Winner of the 2009 Richard L. Morton Award from the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.

Peer-Reviewed Publicly-Engaged Scholarship

Guest Curator, “Capital of Capital” Exhibition (peer reviewed), Museum of the City of New York, New York, N.Y., October 2011 – October 2012.

National Park Service, Researcher for “Historic Resource Study of the Paterson (N.J.) Great Falls National Historic Park,” on behalf of the National Park Service and the Organization of American Historians, October 2015 – Spring 2019.

Film Production

​“A Conversation with Lin-Manuel Miranda.” Directed by Christopher Holt, Rock Road Pictures. Executive Producers: Jan Ellen Lewis, Joanne B. Freeman, Brian Phillips Murphy. Co-hosted by Joanne B. Freeman and Brian Phillips Murphy. Edited by Justin Cece. 2016.

Associated Programs

Faculty Affiliate, Rutgers University Center for State Constitutional Studies

Honors College Director, Rutgers University-Newark, 2016-2020