The Historian Who Won’t Be Bullied

Americans should applaud Dr. Gordon S. Wood, perhaps the leading scholar of the founding of America.

Dr. Wood is one of a few historians who had the courage in 2019 to stand up and object when the NYT’s 1619 Project hijacked American history by claiming “nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional” flows from “slavery and the anti-black racism it required.”

Dr. Wood recently received the Philip Merrill Award for Outstanding Contributions to Liberal Arts Education from The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion of academic excellence, academic freedom and accountability at America’s colleges and universities.

Dr. Wood argues that slavery was not a cause of the American Revolution, which was fought to advance principles like liberty, equality and the well-being of ordinary people. These principles, he adds, are “really the only things that hold us Americans together and make us a single people.”

ACTA lauded Dr. Wood’s six decades of scholarship on America’s founding that is “renowned for its meticulous accuracy and groundbreaking insight.”

Historically Inaccurate

In remarks accepting the ACTA award, Dr. Wood rejects the 1619 Project’s premise that colonists fought the American Revolution because Britain was threatening to abolish slavery.

Dr. Wood states there is no evidence that any colonist fought to protect slavery.

“It was the American colonists who were interested in abolitionism in 1776. … Not only were the northern states the first slaveholding governments in the world to abolish slavery, but the United States became the first nation in the world to begin actively suppressing the despicable international slave trade. The New York Times has the history completely backwards,” states Wood.

The 1619 Project initially claimed:

“Conveniently left out of our founding mythology is the fact that one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery.” After an outcry from Dr. Wood and others, the NYT was forced to “clarify” this statement to “some colonists decided.” (Two, three… The New York Times doesn’t say.)

Nicole Hannah-Jones, the editor of the 1619 Project who received a Pulitzer Prize for the flawed introductory essay that required the clarification, didn’t consult Dr. Wood and other eminent historians of the era, whom she referred to as “old white men.”

Dr. Wood also rejects the 1619 Project’s assertion that America began in 1619 – not 1776 – when the first Africans were brought here. He said they “were probably bonded servants, not slaves, since English law had not yet worked out the concept of slavery.”

The NYT and Columbia University’s Pulitzer Prize organization are effectively marketing The 1619 Project as an “educational” curriculum to schools around the nation. Meanwhile, Hannah-Jones recently published a best selling book that continues to distort American history.

Dr. Wood, also a Pulitzer Prize winner, previously served on the faculty of Brown University, Harvard University, the University of Michigan, William & Mary, and Cambridge University. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama in 2010.

George Will recently opined in The Washington Post that The 1619 Project “reeks of political purpose” and represents “maliciousness in the service of progressivism’s agenda, which is to construct a thoroughly different nation on the deconstructed rubble of what progressives hope will be the nation’s thoroughly discredited past.”

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