October 19 - November 5, 2017

Concord, Massachusetts

Two weeks of talks, readings, and discussions celebrating the written and the spoken word.
  • Colman Andrews
    Colman Andrews
  • Alice Hoffman
    Alice Hoffman
  • Gordon Wood
    Gordon Wood
  • Gish Jen
    Gish Jen

Gordon S. Wood

Events: The 2017 Ruth Ratner Miller Award (Tickets: Adults $15, Students $5)

Book: Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

Visit Author's Website

Gordon S. Wood 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. His book The Creation of the American Republic, 1776–1787 won a 1970 Bancroft Prize. In 2010 he was awarded the National Humanities Medal.

Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson is a majestic dual biography of two of America’s most enduringly fascinating figures, whose partnership helped birth a nation, and whose subsequent falling out did much to fix its course.

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams could scarcely have come from more different worlds, or been more different in temperament. Jefferson, the optimist with enough faith in the innate goodness of his fellow man to be democracy’s champion, was an aristocratic Southern slaveowner, while Adams, the overachiever from New England’s rising middling classes, painfully aware he was no aristocrat, was a skeptic about popular rule and a defender of a more elitist view of government. They worked closely in the crucible of revolution, crafting the Declaration of Independence and leading, with Franklin, the diplomatic effort that brought France into the fight. But ultimately, their profound differences would lead to a fundamental crisis, in their friendship and in the nation writ large, as they became the figureheads of two entirely new forces, the first American political parties. It was a bitter breach, lasting through the presidential administrations of both men, and beyond.

But late in life these two men were nudged into reconciliation. What started as a grudging trickle of correspondence became a great flood, and a friendship was rekindled, over the course of hundreds of letters. In their final years they were the last surviving founding fathers and cherished their role in this mighty young republic as it approached the half century mark in 1826.