David Carlson is a PhD candidate with the History Department at the University of Notre Dame. He is an historian of colonial British North America, the early United States, and the Atlantic World. His dissertation examines the transformation of the slave trade in Virginia from a transatlantic to transcontinental industry in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. The project presents the transcontinental slave trade of the antebellum United States as the result not of careful planning by wealthy elites, but the consequence of free individuals in a slave society capitalizing on opportunities arising out of their pursuit of self-interest. David is interested in individual agency in historical circumstances and its collective influence on shaping the trajectory of history, both consciously and unconsciously. His next project will examine the role of overseas capital in the development of the United States and the interactions between capital and democracy.

Before coming to Notre Dame, David worked in manufacturing in a variety of roles and industries. He also earned an MA in History from Northern Illinois University, a BA in History from Carthage College, and an AAS in Manufacturing Engineering Technology from Rock Valley College.