Dr. Phillip W. Magness is an economic historian specializing in the “long” 19th century United States, as well as general macroeconomic trends. He is a leading expert on black colonization during the Civil War era, and its sometimes-strained relationship with the African-American emigrationist movement of the same period. He studies the political economy of slavery in the Atlantic world, and particularly its relationship to public policy. His broader research extends to the economic history of the United States and includes historical tariff policy, the federal income tax, and the relationship between taxation and wealth inequality. He also researches the economic dimensions of higher education, and the history of economic thought.

Magness’ research has appeared in multiple scholarly venues, including the Economic Journal, the Journal of Political Economy, the Journal of Business Ethics, the Southern Economic Journal, Social Science Quarterly, Public Choice, the Journal of the Early Republic, the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, Slavery & Abolition, Constitutional Political Economy, the International Trade Journal, the Journal of Supreme Court History, and Liberal Education.

His popular press writings have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek,, Politico, the Chronicle of Higher Education, the History News Network, and the New York Times. He has fact-checked Politifact, discussed the economics of higher education on NPR’s Marketplace, and presented on Black Abolitionism for C-Span’s American History TV.

Magness holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas. He obtained his MPP and Ph.D. from George Mason University’s School of Public Policy in Fairfax, Virginia, specializing in economic history and international trade. He has taught at Berry College, George Mason University, and American University in the Washington, D.C. region. He is currently the David J. Theroux Chair at the Independent Institute.

Link to Curriculum Vitae


The Career of Abolitionist John Willis Menard, C-Span American History Television, February 15, 2012