Historian offers his take on roots of the Civil War

Pulitzer-prize winning historian Gordon Wood speaks at the Graham Center on Wednesday, March 20, 2013 in Gainesville, Fla. Gainesville Sun Executive Editor Doug Ray moderated the lecture titled “The Revolutionary Origins of the Civil War."

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 10:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 10:44 p.m.

About 100 people attended a talk given by Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Gordon Wood at the University of Florida on Wednesday night.

Wood discussed his conclusions on the origins of the American Civil War, explaining that the desire of Northern states to preserve the union had its roots in the spirit of unity born out of the American Revolution.

"The cost of the revolution united all Americans," he said, adding that opinions on slavery marked a difference between northerners and southerners even in the early years of the U.S.

Wood proposed that the Founding Fathers believed slavery was on its last legs in the decades following the revolution.

He later stated his disagreement with historians who believe political leaders in the antebellum period had bungled the chance to prevent the Civil War. Rather, Wood said he believes the conflict was inevitable.

Remington East, a UF history senior, said afterward that he didn't agree with Wood's view that the revolution inspired just the North during the Civil War.

"The South looked back to the revolution as well," East said, noting the parallel between the 13 colonies that fought for independence and the Southern states that seceded in order to preserve their independence.

Jessica Taylor, a UF third-year Ph.D. student in history, said discussions like this will always be important to the field of history.

"The debate that happens between multiple generations of historians is crucial to the life of the field," she said.

Wood's appearance was sponsored by the John Locke Initiative, the UF history department and the UF Humanities Center. Doug Ray, executive editor of The Sun, moderated the event.

Contact Joey Flechas at 338-3166 or joey.flechas@gvillesun.com.

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