Jay Sexton is the Rich and Nancy Kinder Chair of Constitutional Democracy and Professor of History. A native of Salina, Kansas, he returned to the Midwest to the University of Missouri in 2016 after spending the better part of two decades at Oxford University in England. Sexton started in Oxford as a grad student Marshall Scholar and worked his way up to being Director of the Rothermere American Institute (RAI) and, upon his departure, being elected a Distinguished Fellow of the RAI and an Emeritus Fellow of Corpus Christi College.
Sexton specializes in the political and economic history of the nineteenth century. His research situates the United States in its international context, particularly as it related to the dominant global structure of the era, the British Empire. His most recent book, A Nation Forged by Crisis: A New American History (Basic Books, 2018), argues that international forces have shaped the course of U.S. history during its greatest moments of transformative change.
His other books include Debtor Diplomacy: Finance and American Foreign Relations in the Civil War Era, 1837-1873 (Oxford, 2005; 2nd ed. 2014) and The Monroe Doctrine: Empire and Nation in Nineteenth-Century America (Hill and Wang, 2011). He also has published three major collaborative projects: The Global Lincoln (co-edited with Richard Carwardine, Oxford, 2011); Empire’s Twin: U.S. Anti-Imperialism from the Founding to the Age of Terrorism (co-edited with Ian Tyrrell, Cornell, 2015); and Crossing Empires: Taking U.S. History into Transimperial Terrain (co-edited with Kristin Hoganson, Duke, 2020).
Currently, Sexton is at work on a book that explores how steam infrastructure conditioned the connections and relations between the United States and the wider world in the second half of the nineteenth century. He also is working with Kristin Hoganson of Illinois on the nineteenth century volume of the Cambridge History of America in the World.
Sexton enjoys working with enterprising students, undergrad or grad, who set their own intellectual agenda. When he is not reading or talking history, he is cheering for KC sports teams and following British politics.