Simon Gilhooley is assistant professor of political studies and American studies at Bard College. He holds M.A. degrees from Edinburgh University, the University of London, and a Ph.D. from Cornell University and was previously a lecturer at Ithaca College. His research builds upon insights from American politics and political theory in order to address issues of constitutionality and authority within the American polity. His current manuscript The Compact: The Pro-Slavery Origins of the Modern U.S. Constitution traces the manner in which slavery in the United States gave rise to a constitutional interpretation that emphasized "spirit" over "text." The manuscript shows that early Americans moved between constitutional text and spirit with relative ease until the Abolitionist movement of the 1830s forced a decisive appeal on the part of slaveholders. Focusing particularly on the debates surrounding the 1836 election and the issue of slavery in the District of Columbia, the manuscript shows the manner in which a "spirit of compact" was mobilized within pro-slavery constitutional interpretation in order to address abolitionist pressure.
He has received various grants and fellowships, including a Barra Dissertation fellowship from the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation fellowship from the Library Company of Philadelphia, a Gilder Lehrman fellowship, and the Thomas H. Critchlow Award from the Institute for Political History. His work has been published in American Political Thought: A Journal of Ideas, Institutions, and Culture.