Consuls are essential to American foreign relations. Although they may not be as flashy or as powerful as an Ambassador like Thomas Jefferson or John Quincy Adams, they’re often the goto people when an American gets in trouble abroad or when a trade deal needs to get done.
Consuls operate in cities and towns throughout the world, helping to advance American interests and maintain good relations with their host countries, all while helping you replace your lost passport.
Much has changed about the consular service since the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when a consul could earn fees for his services, such as getting you out of a scrape with the local authorities
But as today’s guests demonstrates, consuls were and are the backbone of American diplomacy.
Dr. Abby Mullen joins Jim Ambuske to discuss her work on American consuls in the early Republic and her podcast, Consolation Prize, a show dedicated to telling the stories of these consuls, and the wider world in which they lived.
Mullen is Term Assistant Professor of History at George Mason University where she is also one of the key members of the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media.
About Our Guest:
Abby Mullen holds a PhD in history from Northeastern University (2017). Her dissertation, "Good Neighbourhood with All: Conflict and Cooperation in the First Barbary War, 1801-1805," investigates how the U.S. Navy forged international connections in the Mediterranean during the First Barbary War.Mullen is the PI on Tropy, a Mellon Foundation-funded software development project. She is also technical lead on All the Appalachian Trails, a project to create an interactive map of the history of the Appalachian Trail over the last 100 years. Mullen teaches digital history courses at George Mason University
About Our Host:
Jim Ambuske, Ph.D. leads the Center for Digital History at the Washington Library. A historian of the American Revolution, Scotland, and the British Atlantic World, Ambuske graduated from the University of Virginia in 2016. He is a former Farmer Postdoctoral Fellow in Digital Humanities at the University of Virginia Law Library. At UVA Law, Ambuske co-directed the 1828 Catalogue Project and the Scottish Court of Session Project. He is currently at work on a book about emigration from Scotland in the era of the American Revolution as well as a chapter on Scottish loyalism during the American Revolution for a volume to be published by the University of Edinburgh Press.
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Term assistant professor, Department of History and Art History, George Mason University
I am a term assistant professor at George Mason University. I teach digital history and military history courses. I also work on Tropy, a research tool created by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media. I’m the host and executive producer for Consolation Prize, a podcast about U.S. diplomacy on the ground through the eyes of American consuls.
I earned a PhD in history from Northeastern University in 2017. My book (forthcoming from Johns Hopkins University Press), A Difficult Undertaking: Conflict and Cooperation in the First Barbary War, 1801-1805, looks at how the United States attempted to integrate into the Mediterranean community while fighting against Tripoli. I also work on the Viral Texts project, where I do a variety of writing about historical topics related to newspapers.
In my spare time, I produce Big If True, a podcast for kids where my nine-year-old and I talk to experts as we explore the truth about big things.
I’m on Twitter at @abbymullen.