Fordham Student Presents at History Honors Conference

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Megan McLaughlin stands next to the statue of Roger Williams after the conference

Earlier this semester, Fordham senior Megan McLaughlin presented her first conference paper at the Phi Alpha Theta Northeastern Regional Conference at Roger Williams University. The paper that she presented was written for Professor Elaine Crane’s class “The American Revolution.” Read on for Megan’s account of her paper and the conference. 

I attended the Phi Alpha Theta Northeastern Regional Conference at Roger Williams University to present a history paper that I wrote for Dr. Elaine Crane’s class, American Revolution. Dr. Crane spent the semester challenging most, if not all, of what students had learned about revolutionary history in elementary and high school, including whether or not “revolution” is an accurate term for our war of independence.

Although it was not my first conference, it was my first time presenting. My paper, Molasses: An Ingredient for the American Revolution, focuses on the development of intercolonial unity and the idea that at least some colonists understood themselves to be British-Americans rather than British as early as 1764. Through an examination of contemporary newspaper articles and pamphlets, I found that the legislation now known as the Revenue Act or Sugar Act of 1764 would be more properly called the Molasses Act for the product’s far-reaching influence in early America’s society, economy, and even politics. The paper will join a collection at the Salem Maritime National Historical Site to supplement their information on the molasses trade in early America.

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Megan McLaughlin stands with (from left) graduate presenters Michelle Smith (NYU) and Aleesha Griffin (Saint Anselm), and undergraduate presenter Peter Schirripa (Saint Anselm)

The interdisciplinary conference was very enjoyable, and I would encourage all students (or professors to tell their students) to enter their papers to conferences. Though presenting a paper was at first intimidating (and having to trim 5 minutes from the paper about 5 minutes before my presentation was certainly nerve-wracking), the sense of camaraderie and shared interest embodies the academic community in a way that seminars and office hours can’t.

Many congrats on your first conference paper, Megan! Fordham students who are interested in joining Phi Alpha Theta should contact Dr. Christopher Dietrich ( A copy of the application form can be found here.

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