Bio of Dr. Sam

Samuel Biagetti holds a doctorate in early American history. He uses his knowledge in his antique dealership, in producing Historiansplaining, in his writings, and in giving college-level lectures in the non-pandemic times.

It’s clear to his friends and to his listeners that Sam loves to tell great stories – ones that need no hyperbole or fantasy. He likes to take the familiar cliff-notes of history that so many of us are taught in school and turn them into living, breathing narratives, and to find their forgotten contexts – including those that are obscured by present-day myths and orthodoxies. His research includes:

  • His undergraduate thesis in history at Brown University: “The Red Wine Rebellion: Louisiana, 1768” (2006), which examined the causes and meanings of the uprising that led to the creation of a de-facto independent state in the colony of Louisiana eight years before the more famous Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia. This thesis was also adapted into the article, “Enlightenment and Revolution: The Case of Louisiana, 1768,” which won the Louisiana Historical Association’s biennial Glenn Conrad Prize for the best article on Louisiana.
  • His doctoral thesis in early American history at Columbia University: “The Only Universal Monarchy: Freemasonry, Ritual, and Gender in Revolutionary Rhode Island, 1749-1803.” This dissertation examines how Freemasonry served as a source of stability and social belonging to men in the tumultuous Atlantic and colonial worlds, while investing sacred significance into new institutions such as banks, libraries, professional associations, and the federal Constitution.

Sam originally hails from Maryland, and today has made a home in a small town in central Massachusetts. You may see him scouring the country side for antiques or selling them in Brooklyn, NY, and Barre, Mass.

Selected publications:

Things You Don’t Know

Did Columbus really think that he was going to reach Asia?
What little do we actually know about Shakespeare, the person?
Why is it misleading to apply the word “religion” to Judaism and Hinduism?
Are people really becoming less religious than they used to be?
How did Tisquantum (popularly known as Squanto) already know how to speak English before the Pilgrims had ever arrived?
What did Netflix’s “The Dig” miss about the most dramatic part of the whole Sutton Hoo discovery?
What does the English Civil War of the 1640s tell us about the American Civil War, and about the present?
What can we know about enslaved Africans who were held in a specific New England house, even without written records?
Who were the Freemasons of the 1700s? How did they grow from a local Scottish fraternity to a global network?
Could all of British history have turned out differently if the winds on the English channel had shifted direction on just one day in 1066?
What did followers of the ancient and secretive branch of Christianity, Gnosticism, actually believe?
Why can no one agree on what “capitalism” actually is? And why does a lack of clear definition call into question so many other myths of the modern world?
How – and why – did universities begin in the Middle Ages, long before the scientific revolution and the “Enlightenment”?
Was there really an Exodus from Egypt like the one described in the Bible?
How did changes in the climate in the 1600s lead people to think they were living in the Apocalypse? How did this help spur the creation of institutions and forces that still shape the world today?
How did accusing people of witchcraft further several political agendas of the time?
Why did every Renaissance-era ruler in Europe have a court astrologer?
Does a single coin prove that Vikings came all the way to what’s now the United States?
Why is the dramatic 2019 fire at Paris’ Notre Dame actually a common occurrence for cathedrals around Europe?
Why don’t US citizens directly elect their President? Or have a more proportional Senate?