Director, Center for Texas Studies at TCU
Specialization: Early American, Maritime, & American
The Study of History renders "the people the safe, as they are the ultimate, guardians of their own liberty. History by apprising them of the past will enable them to judge of the future;" (274) Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-82.
Born and raised in North Alabama, Gene grew up on a small farm that raised cattle, and grew corn and soybeans. With such a background it was no surprise that he wanted to be a veterinarian. Fortunately a college course in chemistry put him on the path to becoming a historian. Gene completed both his undergraduate (BA 1984) and graduate training (MA 1987, PhD 1991) in history at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama. Studying early American history, he wrote a dissertation on the politics of the Jeffersonian gunboat program and then spent three years teaching at Montana State University-Billings. Since arriving at TCU during the fall of 1994, Gene has been teaching U.S. survey history and undergraduate and graduate level courses on early American history. He is currently serving as the Director of the Center for Texas Studies at TCU.
Gene's major publications include the following books: The Slaves’ Gamble: Choosing Sides in the War of 1812 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013); Nexus of Empire: Negotiating Loyalty and Identity in the Revolutionary Borderlands, 1760s-1820s (University Press of Florida, 2010); A British Eyewitness at the Battle of New Orleans: The Memoir of Royal Navy Admiral Robert Aitchison, 1808-1827 (Historic New Orleans Collection, 2004); Thomas ap Catesby Jones: Commodore of Manifest Destiny (Naval Institute Press, 2000); a revised and updated edition of Arsène Lacarrière Latour's, Historical Memoir of the War in West Florida and Louisiana, 1814-15: With an Atlas (The Historic New Orleans Collection and the University Press of Florida, 1999); Filibusters and Expansionists: Jeffersonian Manifest Destiny, 1800-1821, with Frank L. Owsley, Jr., (University of Alabama Press, 1997); Iron and Heavy Guns: Duel Between the "Monitor" and "Merrimac", (McWhiney Foundation Press, 1996); and, "For the Purpose of Defense": The Politics of the Jeffersonian Gunboat Program (University of Delaware Press, 1995). He is presently working on several projects, including an American military history textbook. Additionally, Gene served as the 2013-14 “Class of 1957 Distinguished Chair of Naval Heritage” at the United States Naval Academy, and has also received internal research awards from Montana State University-Billings and TCU, as well as fellowships from the Henry E. Huntington Library, the Virginia Historical Society, the U.S. Department of the Navy, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Gene is an active member of several organizations, most notably the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic-currently acting as the organization's Treasurer-and the North American Society for Oceanic History. He is also the co-editor of the Naval Institute Press’s book series “New Perspective on Maritime History and Nautical Archaeology,” and editor of the University Press of Florida book series “Contested Boundaries.” Gene's hobbies include watching sports (since I am no longer able to participate competitively), cooking (as I still like to eat), traveling, and gardening.