University of South Carolina

Top American Revolution scholar named McCausland Professor of History

By Peggy Binette,, 803-777-5400

One of the nation’s top experts on the American Revolution will join the University of South Carolina’s faculty this fall.

Abner Linwood “Woody” Holton III has been named the Peter and Bonnie McCausland Professor of History. He is recognized by historians as one of the leading scholars on the American Revolution.

“Woody Holton is one of the nation’s most creative historians. He has a knack for finding new approaches to retell and reframe stories that we all thought we knew,” said Lawrence Glickman, chairman of the history department in the College of Arts and Sciences. “South Carolina played a crucial role in the Revolutionary War and USC has always taken advantage of the excellent archival holdings in the state by having top-notch faculty members in this area. With the addition of Woody Holton, along with Carolina Trustee Professor Daniel Littlefield, we expect to build an even stronger foothold in this area.”

Holton has won the trifecta of major prizes for his contributions in history. His first book, “Forced Founders,” earned him the Merle Curti Award for the best work in American Social History by the Organization of American Historians. In it he argued that Jefferson, Washington and Virginia gentlemen rebelled against Britain, in part, to regain control of Native Americans, slaves and owners of small farms.

In 2010, Holton’s biography of Abigail Adams won the Bancroft Prize, considered among the top awards in the field of American history writing. He also was awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in 2008. He has been named a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow for 2012 – 2013. His article, ‘Divide et Impera’: The Tenth Federalist in a Wider Sphere’ was selected by a panel of distinguished scholars for publication in “The Best American History Essays 2006.”

“The history department is one of the jewels in the College of Arts and Sciences,” said Dean Mary Anne Fitzpatrick. “And the hiring of Woody Holton only will bring more recognition to the department, college and university. We are very grateful to Bonnie and Peter McCausland for enabling us to provide additional research funds to Dr. Holton, something which clearly made a difference in our ability to recruit him.”

Peter McCausland, a 1971 history graduate from USC, is a benefactor of the college, having established an endowed chair in history in 2002 and the McCausland Center for Brain Imaging in 2006. The McCausland Center is part of the Research Center of Economic Excellence in Brain Imaging, a statewide health collaborative that includes USC.

Holton will become the second McCausland Professor of History at USC, joining Don H. Doyle, a leading scholar in Southern history. Holton brings with him deep roots in the Commonwealth of Virginia, where his father served as governor in the early 1970s. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Virginia and his doctorate in history from Duke University. He has taught on the faculty at the University of Richmond since 2000.

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Posted: 05/10/12 @ 2:00 PM | Updated: 05/11/12 @ 2:36 PM | Permalink