Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Gordon Wood vs. Woody Holton on the U.S. Constitution

Gordon Wood of Brown is the author of the The Creation of the American Republic.  Woody Holton of the University of South Carolina is the author of Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution.

Frankly, I never thought these two historians were that far apart on the origins of the Constitution. Both see the Constitution as an anti-democratic document.  (This is how I have always taught it).

Having said that, there are some differences in their interpretations.  Holton accuses Wood of understanding the economic history of the 1780s through the grid of the early republic.  There is an interesting discussion about who, in the 1780s, qualifies as a merchant, a businessman, and an aristocrat.  I also like the discussion about historical thinking that pops up every now and then during the conversation.  Both historians really hold their own.  This is a treat.