Gordon S. Wood Quotes

Gordon Stewart Wood (born November 27, 1933 in Concord, Massachusetts) is Alva O. Way University Professor and Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University, and the recipient of the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for History for The Radicalism of the American Revolution (1992). His book The Creation of the American Republic, 1776–1787 (1969) won a 1970 Bancroft Prize. In 2010 he was awarded the National Humanities Medal.

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Gordon S. Wood


[John] Adams never hid his jealousy and resentment of the other Founders, especially Benjamin Franklin.

Gordon S. Wood


[John] Adams identified himself with the political theories of [James] Harrington, [John] Locke, and [Charles-Louis] Montesquieu, whose ideas of constitutionalism, he believed, were applicable to all peoples everywhere; they were his contribution to what he called "the divine science of politics."

Gordon S. Wood


[Benjamin] Franklin may be a great philosopher, [John Adams] told his diary in 1779, but "as a Legislator in America he has done very little."

Gordon S. Wood


[ Massachusetts constitution] was [John Adams] attempt to justify that structure by the traditional notion of social estates - that the executive represented the monarchical estate, the senate the aristocratic estate, and the house of representatives the estate of the people.

Gordon S. Wood


[John Adams] diary, of course, is even more revealing of his feelings. Both his letters to [his wife] Abigail and his diary tell us what he really thinks about people and events.

Gordon S. Wood


Academics have given up trying to recover an honest picture of the past and have decided that their history-writing should be simply an instrument of moral hand-wringing.

Gordon S. Wood


Americans, [John Adams] wrote in 1780, believed that their "revolution is as much for the benefit of the generality of Mankind in Europe, as for their own."

Gordon S. Wood


[John Adams's] vividly descriptive prose is supremely quotable. Adams wears his heart on his sleeve and reveals all of his ambitions, doubts, and insecurities, especially in his diary, which is one of the greatest and most readable in all of American literature.

Gordon S. Wood


[John] Adams's letters to [his wife] Abigail are wonderful. In his letters, he is loving, humorous, preachy, learned, and saucy. He speaks to her with almost complete abandon, revealing all of his sensuous and vulnerable nature.

Gordon S. Wood


[John Adams and Tomas Jefferson] shared experience in 1775 - 1776 in bringing about the separation from Britain and their service in Europe cemented a friendship that in the end withstood the most serious political and religious differences that one could imagine, especially their differences over the French Revolution. It was probably Jefferson's obsession with politeness and civility that kept the relationship from becoming irreparably broken.

Gordon S. Wood


[John Adams] letters courting Abigail Smith are especially priceless. In one of 1764 he addresses her as "Miss Adorable" and says that "By the same Token that the Bearer hereof satt up with you last night I hereby order you to give him, as many Kisses, and as many Hours of your Company after 9 O'Clock as he shall please to Demand and charge them to my Account."

Gordon S. Wood


Virtue became less the harsh and martial self-sacrifice of antiquity and more the modern willingness to get along with others for the sake of peace and prosperity.

Gordon S. Wood


In monarchies, each man's desire to do what was right in his own eyes could be restrained by beer, or force, by patronage, or by honor, and by professional standing armies. By contrast, republics had to hold themselves together from the bottom up, ultimately.

Gordon S. Wood


[The Massachusetts constitution] resembles the federal Constitution of 1787 more closely than any of the other revolutionary state constitutions. It was also drawn up by a special convention, and it provided for popular ratification - practices that were followed by the drafters of the federal Constitution of 1787 and subsequent state constitution-makers.

Gordon S. Wood


As early as 1776, [John Adams] expressed his doubts about America's capacity for virtue. "I have seen all along my Life, Such Selfishness, and Littleness even in New England, that I sometimes tremble to think that, altho We are engaged in the best Cause that ever employed the Human Heart, yet the Prospect of success is doubtfull not for Want of Power or of Wisdom, but of Virtue."

Gordon S. Wood