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Gautham Rao Assoc Professor Department of History

Gautham Rao
(202) 885-6745
CAS - History
Battelle Tompkins - 157
Monday 8-9 pm; Tuesday 12:45-1:45 pm; and by appointment
Additional Positions at AU
Graduate Director, History
Deputy Department Chairperson
Ph.D., 2008, University of Chicago
M.A., 2002, University of Chicago
A.B., 2000, University of Chicago

Gautham Rao is a legal historian of early America and the United States. He completed his undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Chicago. He has been a postdoctoral fellow at the Library Company of Philadelphia, Samuel I. Golieb Fellow of Legal History at the New York University School of Law, and has served as a visiting professor at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris, France. He is the author of National Duties: Custom Houses and the Making of the American State (University of Chicago Press, 2016), and numerous articles and book chapters, including the award-winning "The Federal Posse Comitatus Doctrine: Slavery, Compulsion, and Statecraft in Mid-Nineteenth Century America." He is currently working on a book about the role of slavery in American law.  He is also working on a book about the television show The West Wing.  He has contributed to historians' amicus briefs for cases before the Supreme Court of the United States, including the Emoluments Clause cases concerning former President Donald J. Trump.  He is Editor-in-Chief of Law & History Review, the leading scholarly journal of legal history.

At American University, Rao teaches a wide range of courses, including General Education courses "Why Big Government?", "Hannah Arendt, Ethics, and Citizenship," "Law and America's Racial Crisis," "American Encounters" and "Social Forces that Shaped America," as well as graduate offerings such as Colloquium in U.S. History 1, Research Seminar, and The Historian's Craft.
For the Media
To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.


Spring 2023

  • HIST-899 Doctoral Dissertation

Summer 2023

  • HIST-751 Graduate Research Seminar

Fall 2023

  • HIST-099 Maintain Matriculation

  • HIST-215 Soc Forces Shaped Amer

  • HIST-446 Arendt, Ethics and Citizenship

  • HIST-898 Doctoral Continuing Enrollment

  • HIST-899 Doctoral Dissertation

AU Experts

Area of Expertise

early American history; early American legal history; legal history concerning U.S. slavery.

Additional Information

Prof. Gautham Rao's opinion articles have appeared in Slate, and he has been quoted on issues in contemporary politics in CQ Roll Call, WRC-NBC4 and Salon.

For the Media

To request an interview for a news story, call AU Communications at 202-885-5950 or submit a request.

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