Photo by Amanda Rose, amandarosephoto@gmail.com
Photo by Amanda Rose, 2021 (amandarosephoto@gmail.com)

Dael A. Norwood (Ph.D., Princeton University, 2012) is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Delaware.

Norwood teaches courses on the history of America in the world, capitalism, U.S. foreign relations, and American political economy. He has taught at Princeton, the New School, Yale, Binghamton University, and the University of Delaware.

His research focuses on the global dimensions of American politics and economics during the nineteenth century. Norwood’s first book, Trading Freedom: How Trade with China Defined Early America (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2022) examines how the flourishing commerce between the United States and China intertwined with the struggles over sovereignty, citizenship and race that defined the first century of the American state. Trading Freedom proceeds chronologically, ranging from opening of a free passage of goods and people between the American republic and the Qing empire in the 1780s, to the closing of this free-flowing traffic in the Gilded Age a century later. As this periodization suggests, Americans’ trade with China was about more much than filling up tea cups. The demands of China’s markets took Americans around the world in search of silver specie and rare commodities, involving them in the international circulation of capital, goods, and human labor that flowed in complex circuits running from Boston to Batavia, London to Lima, Shanghai to San Francisco, and near everywhere in between. The profits of Americans’ China trade depended as much on the navigation of credit networks and diplomatic protocols as they did on the management of ships and sails. Americans’ commerce with China thus required – and produced – a global perspective on political economy, one that deeply shaped the political and economic development of the United States.

Norwood is also working on a new project that seeks to engage a related question: how did “the chief business of the American people” become “business”? Tentatively titled The Beginnings of the “Businessman,” this book will investigate how the discourses, institutions, and legal concepts created by international trade enabled “the businessman” to emerge as a powerful political identity in modern America.