The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution

The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution In This Th Anniversary Edition, Bailyn Has Added A Substantial Essay, Fulfillment, As A Postscript To The Original Text In It He Discusses The Intense, Nation Wide Debate On The Ratification Of The Constitution, Stressing The Continuities Between That Struggle Over The Foundations Of The National Government And The Original Principles Of The Revolution This Study Of The Persistence Of The Nation S Ideological Origins Adds A New Dimension To The Book And Projects Its Meaning Forward Into Vital Present Concerns

Bernard Bailyn is an American historian, author, and professor specializing in U.S Colonial and Revolutionary era History He has been a professor at Harvard since 1953 Bailyn has won the Pulitzer Prize for History twice in 1968 and 1987 In 1998 the National Endowment for the Humanities selected him for the Jefferson Lecture, the U.S federal government s highest honor for achievement in the

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  • Paperback
  • 416 pages
  • The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution
  • Bernard Bailyn
  • English
  • 18 August 2018
  • 9780674443020

15 thoughts on “The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution

  1. says:

    The road to the writing of this Pulitzer Prize winning book began when Bailyn was asked to prepare a collection of pamphlets of the American Revolutionary War era In doing so he began to see connections, common sources, and particularly how the American colonial experience transformed a strand of British libertarian opposition thought into a uniquely American ideology that caused an intellectual revolution as to the basis for sovereignty, rights and representation and consent that led not only to the colonies declaring independence but shaped our constitution and led to the undermining of slavery, the disestablishment of religion and an entirely new and radical social relationship I have my doubts that a general readership would find this book interesting although I sure did But for someone who has enough interest in American political thought this is illuminating I have to concur with the New York Times reviewer who said that one cannot claim to understand the American Revolution without reading this book Or at least, it would be much harder you d have to undertake the same study Bailyn did and read thousands of 18th century pamphlets which would be formidable enough The book is logically organized and lucidly written and I found that even for someone like myself who thought I knew a lot about the founding, who has read Thomas Paine s Common Sense and Thomas Jefferson s Declaration of Independence and Hamilton, Madison and Jay s Federalist Papers there are some surprises I took for granted the influence of Enlightenment thinkers such as Locke, it s not really surprising to learn that a tradition of covenant theology was one strand of thinking nor classical Latin works of or about the Roman republic such as by Cicero, Livy and Tacitus It was a bit surprising to learn the British common law tradition had a large part in this political thinking but particularly surprising was learning the role of relatively obscure opposition Whig writers And Bailyn also examines how the practical experience of colonial government, from charters to town halls to provincial legislatures shaped the way the founders saw and used this legacy to create a new kind of government If you want to go deeper into the foundation of American political thought, I d say this book is invaluable.

  2. says:

    This text is simply one of the greatest accomplishments of Bernard Bailyn s career Bailyn has been synonymous with editing primary source documents from the American Revolution, but Ideological Origins, marks one time where he takes his expertise on the subject of the Revolution and applies it to a narrative text Keep in mind, being a historical text, this is not a narrative in the typical sense, but it does take historical events, which in many cases are uninteresting, and meshes them together to form a coherent, interesting, and factually correct story As a writer, and especially one who writes about historical events, I am always looking for new ways to deliver my writing While McCullough was truly groundbreaking, Bernard Bailyn s brilliance in drawing connections between seemingly unrelated categories women, slavery, economics , shows readers a side of the American Revolution they had not previously known When the studies for my Honors in the Major course began, I was nervous and scared to connect two seemingly unrelated events After reading Ideological Origins, however, I found myself comfortable drawing some conclusions I would have previously thought to be sweeping In his writing, Bailyn stresses the academic dimension of history McCullough stresses the narrative being told throughout his texts Ellis reflects facts in a way that demands the reader s undivided attention The difference between Bailyn, McCullough, and Ellis is the way Bailyn is able to explicitly note assumptions he carries throughout his texts As a Harvard Professor, Bailyn has great leverage in making assumptions With this leverage, we see great deference shown by both McCullough and Ellis to Bailyn, citing his works frequently, while also adopting many of his beliefs.

  3. says:

    A thoughtful and insightful review of pre and post revolution literature to discern the ideologies underlying the revolution The book started with a cataloging of pamphlets, broadsides and newspapers of the era This major effort is a very well documented explanation of the arguments pro and con of an almost exhaustible list of topics Much of the book is from quotations of the sources examined and the footnotes are voluminous and detailed He examines the theories of governance, religion, economics, trade, and topics like slavery, royalty and the duty of man to God as it relates to living in a commonly governed community For anyone who has studied American history there is not much new here in terms of the substantive arguments however, the close and tight analysis of the extant literature was a phenomenal effort, deserving of respect, admiration and utmost credibility of its intellectual and actual honesty.This book is still very relevant as it touches on topics of governance which will always be pertinent Many of the ideas and topics deserve study and discussion now Ideas such as term limits, responsiveness to the common good, preference to those with great wealth, and the privileges of the nobility are all relevant today as they were in the 1700 s and indeed in ancient times.Many references to early writers on government are mostly lost on us except for the pure academics of today A reminder that we need to hear from upper level professors and heed them than have in recent generations IMHO.

  4. says:

    One of the few best books I have ever read, and one of the few most influential in my life That s hardly a reason for anyone else to read it I can only say that everything I ever wanted to believe about the development of the Founders political philosophy about the nature of liberty, sovereignty and consent is all supported in this book The book can t and isn t meant to adequately grapple with the stain of slavery and its shocking existence side by side with high minded declarations of liberty For what the book does intend to grapple with, it s simply the best.

  5. says:

    Great research meticulous, cautious, and very transnational in scope Having dredged through over 400 revolutionary era documents diaries, correspondences, poetry, etc Bailyn found that the richest source of explanatory material as in that material which explains the mindset of colonists just before the war resided in the pamphlets of that period What Bailyn finds is a people steeped in the classical jeremiads of the late Roman republic those writers who condemned the manifold corruptions in which they lived and soliloquized over bygone golden ages Of course, the parallels are obvious In eighteenth century England, politicos knew and used these writers John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon were two the London libertarian intelligentsia most revered and utilized by the colonial effort namely, their weekly Independent Whig and Cato s Letters From these models, colonists pamphleted their struggle, organized their cause, and revised their ideas regarding government for a population highly suspect of power Bailyn goes on to scour the origins of constitutional traditions in England as well as traditions of representation, not forgetting one of the greatest dilemmas, the issue of sovereignty There s also a good bit on postwar problems such as how to square slavery with a declaration that made such a big to do about liberty Likewise, how were they to address the demands of a highly diverse religious constituency Not everything you need to know about Revolutionary thinking is here Check out Pualine Maier s American Scripture for a good infusion of much needed narrative and close reading of the document behind Bailyn s latter ideological explorations I don t mean that Bailyn should have done with The Declaration, that wasn t his project But Maier s and Bailyn s books read together give a complete picture, I think, than what either sketch out alone.

  6. says:

    The corpus of the book is set on informing the reader that there were plenty of other writers who were active during the revolutionary period 1760 1774 Most know the influence of Jefferson, Madison, Adams, Franklin, Hamilton, Paine, etc however, others published their sermons, rants, commentaries, and analyses that continued the revolutionary theme that many of the known writers were artfully addressing Bailyn notes that these writers, while prolific, lacked tact and artful argumentation, therefore, their writings were relegated to the unforgotten stacks of revolutionary literature Unfortunately, as Bailyn attempts to shine the light on these crude, yet insightful writers, he continues to trumpet the major thinkers of the day seeing to it that the heralded writers of the Revolution remain so Nonetheless, the work is a valued addition to gaining a full understanding of the issues behind the American Revolution.

  7. says:

    I m mostly interested into what extent are these ideologies are replicated in today s political spectrum, all in my quest to understand those strange people on the other side of the political divide and the even stranger things that they think I heard about this book via the JuntoCast podcast The JuntoCast, Episode 12 iTunes.

  8. says:

    It is the book that made me love history I return to it every year or two to remind myself that not all history must be badly written and that there exist beautiful and big things in one digestable package.

  9. says:

    The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution gives a unique, and innovative for its time perspective on the causes and ideology of the patriots before the American Revolution Published in 1967, Bernard Bailyn makes a significant contribution to the study of the Revolution as an intellectual historian The thesis for the book in his own words is, that the American Revolution was above all else an ideological, constitutional, political struggle and not primarily a controversy between social groups undertaken to force changes in the organization of the society or the economy vi In order to prove his thesis, Bailyn organizes the book into six topically organized chapters.In The Literature of Revolution Bailyn explains the basis for his research by introducing the pamphlets that were passed through society to argue ideas Some sparks for the use of those pamphlets included the Stamp Act, the Townsend Duties There were three types of pamphlets those in response to public events, individual exchanges or arguments, and orations that spoke of the remembrance of events such as the Stamp Act and the Boston Massacre Bailyn explains that colonists identified mostly with ideological writers of the early eighteenth century Chapter II, Sources and Traditions deals with some of the same but adds the point that the origins of the Revolution were derivatives of, inconclusive ideas about the world and America s place in it were fused in a comprehensive view, unique in its moral and intellectual appeal 22 In essence, the colonists revolted for these reasons and not just those traditional grievances Power and Liberty A Theory of Politics deals with the distribution of power and the eighteenth century belief about it and its relationship of those who have it to others He writes that power meant the dominion of some men over other and the control of human life 56 Those in power were supposed to look out for their people and liberty was based on the ability of the people to check power Of course, this is completely opposite from living in a monarchy In essence, they wanted a three branch system with checks and balances In The Logic of Rebellion, Bailyn explains that the patriots started the Revolution on the basis that they they were faced with conspirators against liberty determined at all costs to gain ends which their words dissembled 95 In other words, the patriots did not agree that those in power were standing in the interests of liberty in the American colonies.Chapter V, Transformation details the three goals of the patriots First, they wanted local representation, second, a constitution that protected rights to liberty and finally, sovereignty The Contagion of Liberty ends the book by explaining the issues that they newly liberated people had to deal with including slavery, religion, and respect of supposed superiors.Bailyn s book is known as a classical study of the American Revolution and he does an excellent job of proving his thesis with the use of pamphlets extensively as primary sources The book is organized sufficiently into different topics where he develops his evidence for his thesis throughout the book It is not an overly easy read due to its wordiness but does a good job of explaining the details of his evidence this could be seen as being oversimplified All of his resources are cited with footnotes, and there are many on each page but the book does not contain a bibliography, perhaps because of the large number of resources that he used There are no charts or maps for clarification, but because of the content and style they are not needed The book is obviously a significant contribution because it has been around for so long and because of its perspective of the Revolution.

  10. says:

    The Power Of Ideas In Forming America Why did the American colonies declare their Independence from Great Britain Bernard Baylin s classic study, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution argues that American Independence had its roots in the power of ideas of a rethinking of the proper role of government and a willingness to put thought into action with what became the uniquely American combination of idealism and realism Bailyn s approach rejects certain types of other plausible explanations of the Revolution such as economic rivalry with the mother country or personal ambition on the part of colonial leaders to tell his story of the origins of American ideas Bailyn finds the ideas that shaped the Revolution stated and debated in the ubiquitous pamphlets that appeared in the colonies between, about, 1760 1776 But the source of the ideas are much deeper Bailyn traces these ideas to the ancient Roman orators, through philosophical figures such as Locke and Vattel The immediate source of the ideas which became America was in dissenting political thought in Great Britain in the later Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Century following the Glorious Revolution The concern was political corruption in the Britain of the time and the fear that the monarchy would reassert its dominance over British life Early in the 18th century, well before the French Indian War, these concerns found their way to the American colonies and prepared the intellectual groundwork for independence The colonists had a real fear that what they perceived as arbitrary British actions would reduce them to slavery or vassalage Bailyn discusses in detail how the colonists took English political thought and applied it to the nature of representative government, constitutional thought, and the nature of divided sovereignty He then explains how the manner in which the colonists transformed thinking about the nature of government had ramifications in the colonists view of slavery, the disestablishment of religion, a classless society, and the nature of democracy The intellectual transformation required for an independent United States thus occurred well before the Declaration of Independence and the Federalist Papers Bailyn s book is a work of detailed scholarship and not easy to read It is a major achievement of intellectual history and will than repay the effort John Adams is among the major heroes of this book Readers that want to follow up McCollough s popular biography and learn about the ideas of the time might well explore this book Bailyn s study affirms the power of thought and of the American experiment In our troubled times, it may help take us back to the origins of our country to learn where we have been so that we may intelligently decide where we are going Robin Friedman

  11. says:

    Interesting Quote By July of 1776 much had already been done to extend the reign of liberty to the enslaved Negroes In Massachusetts, efforts had been made as early as 1767 to abolish the slave trade, and in 1771 and 1774 the legislature voted conclusively to do so but was rebuffed by the governor s veto In the same year the Continental Congress pledged itself to discontinue the slave trade everywhere, while Rhode Island, acknowledging that those who are desirous of enjoying all the advantages of liberty themselves should be willing to extend personal liberty to others, ruled that slaves imported into the colony would thereafter automatically become free Connecticut did the same Delaware prohibited importation and Pennsylvania taxed the trade out of existence There, too, in 1775, the Quakers, long the most outspoken advocates of emancipation through not leaders in the Revolutionary movement, formed the first antislavery society in the Western world In the South there was at least a general acquiescence in the Congress inclusion of the slave trade in the nonimportation program and satisfaction on the part of many when in April 1776 Congress fulfilled its earlier pledge and voted that no slaves be imported into any of the thirteen colonies The institution of chattel slavery was not dead, even in the North, nor would it be for many years to come critics of the Declaration of Independence would continue to join with Thomas Hutchinson in condemning the apparent hypocrisy of a people who declared that all men were created equal, endowed with inalienable rights, and yet deprived than an hundred thousand Africans of their rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and in some degree to their lives But it had been subjected to severe pressure as a result of the extension of Revolutionary ideas, and it bore the marks ever after As long as the institution of slavery lasted, the burden of proof would lie with its advocates to show why the statement all men are created equal did not mean precisely what it said all men, white or black Bernard Bailyn, the Ideological Origins of the American Revolution

  12. says:

    Bernard Bailyn breaks from the Charles and Mary Beard economic interpretation of the Revolution and instead claims, The American Revolution was above all else an ideological, constitutional, political struggle and not primarily a controversy between social groups undertaken to force changes in the organization of the society or the economy vi This is the Neo Whig approach to the Revolution Patriots really cared about political ideas of liberty, and were not acting simply to defend their own economic self interests as wealthy planters and merchants Bailyn believes in the exceptional qualities of the Revolution, but the pamphlets revealed overlooked information Yes, Revolutionary supporters drew on Enlightenment ideas and religious rhetoric, especially in pro rebellion sermons, and they cared about English common law, but they also drew on English libertarian radicals of the early eighteenth century A healthy dose of anti clericalism and conspiracy theories about a secret, anti liberty cabal in the British government contributed further to the Revolutionary ethos Colonists interpreted the Crown s harsh response to the Boston Tea Party as the public revelation of a conspiracy against liberty In their assemblies and town meetings, Americans resurrected the medieval tradition of representatives of the commons bringing specific constituencies concerns before the government After 1776, they conceived of a constitution as a legal guideline determining the boundaries of governmental powers Already inclined to see Parliament as separate from colonial legislatures, patriots made the next step and argued that the people themselves were sovereign Kings and nobles weren t needed to provide social stability Side effects of the Revolutionary ideology included the expansion of America s early abolitionist literature and progress toward the disestablishment of state churches Bailyn contrasts early republicans who feared that the first American Revolution would inspire endless revolutions with republicans who believed America would achieve a shining future Clearly Bailyn is inclined toward the latter view.So what do I think of this old chestnut from a 2018 standpoint It s a given that the colonies diverged from English culture and thought see Jack Greene and T.H Breen, in addition to Bailyn , and cultural hybridity and invention were everywhere in the Americas see James Merrell Joanne Rappaport and Tom Cummins s Beyond the Lettered City etc Reading Bailyn s detailed description of a colonial culture of liberty reminds me that there is much to admire in the Revolutionary movement I am not persuaded, however, that the American revolutionary identity evolved slowly and inevitably Consider the sudden collapse of support among many colonists for King George III in 1773 76, detailed in Brendan McConville s The King s Three Faces 2006 Edward Countryman s The American Revolution 1985 2007 documented how the Green Mountain Boys rebelled against New York landlords and created Vermont during the Revolution Bailyn was wrong to say no rebels sought to reorganize the economy Even David Ramsay, an early historian of the Revolution and a big believer in a Whiggish, divinely ordained history for America, acknowledged a variety of reasons for why the Revolution happened More was afoot in the Thirteen Colonies than simply the creation of a rustic tradition of liberty.

  13. says:

    Excellent for understanding the political background of the American Revolution What influences shaped the American colonists rebellion and formation of new governments are clearly explained A classic in American revolutionary studies

  14. says:

    If you re a true history buff, you have read this book Not exactly an easy read, but well worth it in the end I would not recommend it if you aren t truly very interested in the early history of the USA.

  15. says:

    Honestly, I love love love history, but history textbooks are painful.

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