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January 7, 2011

Colonial Williamsburg, the Chautauqua Institution and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture Partner to Host “Storm on the Horizon: Slavery, Disunion and the Roots of the Civil War” Feb. 18-19

The Chautauqua Institution, Colonial Williamsburg and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture present Storm on the Horizon: Slavery, Disunion and the Roots of the Civil War Feb. 18-19 at the Williamsburg Lodge.

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Gordon S. Wood, the Alva O. Way University Professor and Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University, opens the weekend Friday evening and Alan Brinkley, the Allan Nevins Professor of American History at Columbia University, is the featured luncheon speaker on Saturday.

The weekend’s events and programs focus on the Civil War’s roots in the American Revolution. On Feb. 18, Wood opens the conference with “The Revolutionary Origins of the Civil War.” Wood examines the emerging sectional split from the Revolution to about 1820 which for much of that period was hidden from view.

During his talk “How Do Presidents Succeed—and Fail?” on Feb. 19 at the Williamsburg Lodge, Brinkley speaks about presidential power; how presidents use it; and how much they rely on principles and how much they rely on contingencies.

Also on Feb. 19, “Promises of Freedom: From Dunmore’s Proclamation to the Emancipation Proclamation” will be held at Colonial Williamsburg’s Kimball Theatre. From the Revolutionary period through the Civil War, enslaved Americans grasped desperately at any opportunity that offered the hope of ending their bondage. In each of these convulsive eras, those in bondage bitterly noted the ironies of slaveholders using the rhetoric of slavery to characterize their oppression by the dominant state.

During the afternoon of Feb. 19, three of the early presidents, portrayed by Colonial Williamsburg actor interpreters, reflect on the future of the Republic, the blessings of union and threats of disunion during “Storm on the Horizon: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison and the Question of the Union.” The program will be held at the Williamsburg Lodge. A question-and-answer session will follow.

At 5 p.m., Gowan Pamphlet, an enslaved Baptist preacher portrayed by a Colonial Williamsburg actor interpreter, talks about his faith in the face of war and world-changing events during “The Promised Land” at the Capitol.

Included in the registration for the weekend is a walking tour, “The Civil War in Williamsburg.”

The Chautauqua Institution and Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture have partnered with Colonial Williamsburg to host this conference.

Cost for the program is $150, which includes a Historic Area admission ticket. Preregistration and payment in full are required. Payment can be made in the form of check, or charged to American Express, Discover, Visa or MasterCard. There are four easy ways to register:
1. Online:
2. Phone: 1-800-603-0948, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. (EST)
3. Fax: (757) 565-8921
4. Mail: The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Conferences, Forums and Workshops, P.O. Box 1776, Williamsburg, VA 23187-1776.

Special hotel rates are available at Colonial Williamsburg Hotels for “Storm on the Horizon” registrants. For room reservations call 1-800-261-9530, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m.

Gordon S. Wood

Wood taught at Harvard University and the University of Michigan before joining the faculty at Brown in 1969. He is the author of many works, including “The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787” (1969), which won the Bancroft Prize and the John H. Dunning Prize in 1970, and “The Radicalism of the American Revolution” (1992), which won the Pulitzer Prize for History and the Ralph Waldo Emerson Prize in 1993. “The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin” (2004) was awarded the Julia Ward Howe Prize by the Boston Authors Club in 2005. His book, “Revolutionary Characters: What Made the Founders Different,” was published in 2006, and “The Purpose of the Past: Reflections on the Uses of History” was published in 2008.

His volume in the Oxford History of the United States entitled “Empire of Liberty: A History of the Early Republic, 1789-1815” (2009) was given the Association of American Publishers Award for History and Biography in 2009, the American History Book Prize by the New-York Historical Society Prize for 2010, and the Society of the Cincinnati History Prize in 2010. It was also a 2010 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History and for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in History. Wood is senior trustee of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Board of Trustees. He received his bachelor’s degree from Tufts University and his doctorate from Harvard University.

Alan Brinkley

Brinkley was university provost from 2003 to 2009 and before that chair of the Department of History. In 1998-99, he was the Harmsworth Professor of American History at Oxford University. His published works include “Voices of Protest: Huey Long, Father Coughlin, and the Great Depression” (1982), which won the 1983 National Book Award. He also has authored “The Unfinished Nation: A Concise History of the American People” (1992); “The End of Reform: New Deal Liberalism in Recession and War” (1995); “Liberalism and Its Discontents” (1998); “Franklin Delano Roosevelt” (2009); and “The Publisher: Henry Luce and His American Century” (2010).

Brinkley was the recipient of the Joseph R. Levenson Memorial Teaching Prize at Harvard and the Great Teacher Award at Columbia. He is chairman of the board of trustees of the Century Foundation, a trustee of Oxford University Press, a trustee of the National Humanities Center, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He taught previously at M.I.T., Harvard, Princeton and the City University of New York Graduate School. He received his bachelor’s degree from Princeton and his doctorate from Harvard.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational and cultural organization dedicated to the preservation, interpretation and presentation of the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia. This town-sized living history museum tells the inspirational stories of our journey to become Americans through programs in the Historic Area and through the award-winning Revolutionary City program. Explore The Art Museums of Colonial Williamsburg and discover the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum featuring the best in British and American decorative arts from 1670 – 1830 and the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum home to the nation’s premier collection of American folk art, comprising more than 5,000 folk art objects made during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. Colonial Williamsburg Hotels feature conference spaces and recreation activities from spa and fine dining to world-class golf. Colonial Williamsburg is committed to expanding its thought-provoking programming through education outreach on-site and online. Purchase of Colonial Williamsburg products and services supports the preservation, research and educational programs of the Foundation. Philanthropic support by individuals, corporations, and foundations benefits the educational mission of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.

Williamsburg is located in Virginia’s Tidewater region, 20 minutes from Newport News, within an hour’s drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s website at

Media Contact:
Penna Rogers
(757) 220-7121