The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution: Enlarged Edition

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In his most influential work, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, Bailyn exhibits through a thorough analysis of pre-Revolutionary political pamphlets that the colonists believed that the British intended to establish a tyrannical state that would abridge the historical rights of the colonists. He thus argued that the Revolutionary rhetoric of liberty and freedom was not simply propagandistic but rather central to their understanding of the situation. This evidence was used to displace Charles A. Beard's theory, then the dominant understanding of the American Revolution, that the American Revolution was primarily a matter of class warfare and that the rhetoric of liberty was meaningless. Bailyn maintained that ideology was ingrained in the revolutionaries, an attitude he said exemplified the "transforming radicalism of the American Revolution"

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About the author (1992)

Bernard Bailyn is Adams University Professor, Emeritus, and James Duncan Phillips Professor of Early American History, Emeritus, at Harvard University.

Bernard Bailyn was born in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1922, and did his undergraduate work at Williams College. He began his teaching career at Harvard University immediately after the university granted him a Ph.D. in 1953, and he remained there until he retired in 1991. During his tenure at Harvard, he was Winthrop Professor, Adams University Professor, and James Duncan Phillips Professor of Early American History. For years Bailyn was editor in chief of the Harvard Library and director of the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History. An innovative and influential historian of early America, Bernard Bailyn has written quantitative studies of the colonial New England economy, probing examinations of the ideological origins of the American Revolution, and penetrating studies of the social and cultural foundations of American education. Bailyn is particularly adept at interweaving social, intellectual, economic, and political factors into coherent narrative history. A pioneer in adapting the new tools of social science to the writing of history, he is also a fine literary stylist. Bailyn has been Pitt Professor at Cambridge University and president of the American Historical Association. He holds membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and in the British Academy. His writings have earned him the Bancroft Prize and the National Book Award. Bailyn received two Pulitzers-one in 1968 for The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (1967), which challenges traditional interpretations of the causes of the American Revolution, and the other in 1987 for Voyagers to the West (1986), which explores reasons for migration to America just prior to the Revolution. His other work includes The Barbarous Years (2013) and Illuminating History: A Retrospective of Seven Decades (2020). Bernard Bailyn, author of over 20 books, died on August 7, 2020 at the age of 97.

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