Gordon Stewart Wood (born November 27, 1933) is the 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.

Gordon S. Wood
Gordon Wood historian 2006.jpg
Wood in 2006
Gordon Stewart Wood[1]

(1933-11-27) November 27, 1933 (age 85)
Alma materHarvard University (A.M., PhD)
Tufts University (B.A.)
ChildrenChristopher Wood, Elizabeth, Amy
AwardsPulitzer Prize (1993)
Bancroft Prize (1970)
National Humanities Medal (2010)
Scientific career
InstitutionsCollege of William and Mary
Harvard University
University of Michigan
Brown University
Cambridge University
Northwestern University School of Law
Doctoral advisorBernard Bailyn


Early life and educationEdit

Wood was born in Concord, Massachusetts, and grew up in Worcester and Waltham. He graduated summa cum laude from Tufts University in 1955 and has served as a trustee there. After serving in the U.S. Air Force in Japan, during which time he earned an A.M. at Harvard University, he entered the Ph.D. program in history at Harvard, where he studied under Bernard Bailyn, receiving his Ph.D. in 1964.


Wood has taught at Harvard, the College of William and Mary, the University of Michigan, Brown University, and in 1982–83 was Pitt Professor at Cambridge University.

In addition to his books (listed below), Wood has written numerous influential articles, notably "Rhetoric and Reality in the American Revolution" (1966), "Conspiracy and the Paranoid Style: Causality and Deceit in the Eighteenth century" (1982), and "Interests and Disinterestedness in the Making of the Constitution" (1987). He is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books and The New Republic.

A recent project was the third volume of the Oxford History of the United StatesEmpire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789–1815 (2009) – a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

In popular cultureEdit

Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich publicly and effusively praised Wood's The Radicalism of the American Revolution (1992), erroneously calling it The Founding of America. Wood, who met Gingrich once in 1994, surmised that Gingrich may have approved because the book "had a kind of Toquevillian touch to it, I guess, maybe suggesting American exceptionalism, that he liked". He jokingly described Gingrich's praise in an interview on C-SPAN in 2002 as "the kiss of death for me among a lot of academics, who are not right-wing Republicans."[2]

In one of the celebrated scenes of the 1997 movie Good Will Hunting, Matt Damon's title character gets into a battle of wits with a student from Harvard University, whom he accuses of uncritically parroting the views of the authors on his reading list as a first-year graduate student. He goes on to predict that a little later in his curriculum, he would simply be "regurgitating Gordon Wood." The student begins to respond with a critique of Wood, which Hunting interrupts, completes, and incorrectly claims to be a passage plagiarized from page 98 of Daniel Vickers' Work in Essex County.[3][4]

In "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" S5 E12, Charlie (the janitor of Paddy's Pub owned by him and his friends) references Gordon Wood at a college party, trying to replicate the success of Matt Damon's character in "Good Will Hunting". He has little success since he has no idea who or what Gordon Wood or his work is - embarrassingly assuming he will be able to pull off the same argument as he is a janitor like Matt Damon's character.

Personal lifeEdit

Wood married the former Louise Goss on April 30, 1956. They have three children: Christopher, Elizabeth and Amy.[1] Their son, Christopher Wood, is a professor of German at New York University and their daughter, Amy, is a professor of history at Illinois State University, and Elizabeth is an administrator at Milton Academy.



  1. ^ a b c Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2010. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2010. http://galenet.galegroup.com/servlet/BioRC. Document Number: H1000107915. Retrieved 2010-06-22
  2. ^ National Cable Satellite Corporation (April 21, 2002). "Booknotes". Transcript of an interview with Wood by Brian Lamb on C-SPAN's Booknotes. Retrieved September 29, 2009.
  3. ^ Vickers, Daniel (1994). Farmers and Fishermen: Two Centuries of Work in Essex County, Massachusetts, 1630-1850. Williamsburg, Virginia: Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture; University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 978-0807844588.
  4. ^ "Good Will Hunting Script at IMSDb". The Internet Movie Script Database. The Internet Movie Script Database. Retrieved 8 January 2019.

External linksEdit