Dr. Aaron J. Palmer (2005)
Associate Professor of History


  • B.A., University of Wisconsin Oshkosh - History and English
  • M.A., Marquette University - History
  • M.A., Ph.D., Georgetown University - History


I have been teaching at WLC since 2005. Previously, I lived in Washington, D.C., for five years while attending graduate school at Georgetown and working at the American Studies Association. I am originally from Appleton, Wis., where I attended St. Matthew Lutheran School, Fox Valley Lutheran High School, and Appleton West High School. I currently reside in New Berlin and am a member of Nain Evangelical Lutheran Church in West Allis. In my free time, I enjoy golfing, computers, movies, collecting books, reading, hiking, and travel.

Research Interests

My research interests involve the early modern Atlantic world, particularly the political history of the eighteenth-century British Empire, especially the southern colonies.

My first book, A Rule of Law: Elite Political Authority and the Coming of the Revolution in the South Carolina Lowcountry, 1763-1776 (Brill, 2014), offers a fresh examination of how South Carolina planters and merchants - the wealthiest in the thirteen colonies - held an iron grip on political power in the province. Their authority, rooted in control of the colonial legislature's power to make law, extended into local government, courts, plantations, and the Church of England, areas that previous political studies have not thoroughly considered. These elite planters and merchants, who were conservative by nature and fiercely guarded their control of provincial government, led the province into the American Revolution in defense of the order they had established in the colonial period.

Future projects include a new study of Charleston, South Carolina, during the British occupation of 1780-1782; a study of the royal governors in the southern colonies; and further development of the Lutheran philosophy of history.

Courses I Teach

  • HIS 101 American History 1, 1492 – 1865
  • HIS 102 American History 2, 1866-1945
  • HIS 211 Modern Europe, 1850 - Present
  • HIS 322 French Revolution and Napoleon, 1789 - 1815
  • HIS 333 England: Reformation, Renaissance, and the Tudors, 1485-1603
  • HIS 334 Germany: Rise, Fall, and Reunification, 1850-Present
  • HIS 335 England: Wars, Revolution and Reform, 1603-1815
  • HIS 342 Colonial Latin America
  • HIS 355 Witchcraft and Culture in the Atlantic World
  • HIS 380 Colonial America, 1480-1763
  • HIS 381 American Revolution and Early Republic, 1763-1815
  • HON 203 Reason and Revolution

Membership in Professional Societies

  • American Historical Association
  • South Carolina Historical Society
  • Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture


  • A Rule of Law: Elite Political Authority and the Coming of the Revolution in the South Carolina Lowcountry, 1763-1776. Leiden: Brill, 2014. (Volume 3 in the Brill Early American History Series:
  • "An Extension of Power: Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement, and Elite Rule in South Carolina on the Eve of the American Revolution," in The Journal of Early American History, vol. 1, no. 3 (December 2011).
  • "Plymouth Colony," in The Dictionary of American History ed. Stanley I. Kutler, 10 vols. New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 2002.
  • "The Dominion of New England," in Ibid.
  • "Mayflower Compact," in Ibid.
  • "The United Colonies of New England," in Ibid.
  • "Suffolk Resolves," in Ibid.
  • "Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death," in Ibid.
  • "Taxation Without Representation," in Ibid.
  • "Our Federal Union! It Must Be Preserved," in Ibid.
  • "Dorchester Company," in Ibid.
  • "Committees of Correspondence" in Britain and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History, ed. William Kaufman. Oxford: ABC Clio, 2005.
  • "Quebec Act" in Ibid.
  • "Treaty of Versailles, 1783" in Ibid.
  • "Boston Port Act," in The Encyclopedia of the American Revolutionary War: A Political, Social, and Military History, ed. Gregory Fremont-Barnes and Richard Alan Ryerson. Oxford: ABC-Clio, 2006.
  • "Massachusetts Government Act," in Ibid.

Conference Papers

  • "An Extension of Power: Criminal Justice, Law Enforcement, and Elite Rule in South Carolina on the Eve of the American Revolution." International Seminar on the History of the Atlantic World, Harvard University, August 2010.
  • "Our Lives, Our Fortunes, Our Sacred Honor: Imperialist and Colonial Identity Among Governing Elites in South Carolina, Maryland, Barbados and Jamaica, 1763-1783," American Studies Association Annual Meeting, November 14-17, 2002, Houston, Texas.
  • "I Have Done More than You Deserved: The 1775 Duel Between Henry Laurens and John Faucheraud Grimke." Missouri Valley History Conference, March 2008, Omaha, Nebraska.
  • "Crimes of the Most Heinous Nature:  Crime and Punishment in South Carolina, 1763-1776." Missouri Valley History Conference, March 2010, Omaha, Nebraska.
  • "The Man Unmasked: Henry Laurens, Egerton Leigh, and the Making of a South Carolina Revolutionary." Northern Great Plains History Conference, September 2013, Hudson, Wisconsin.