The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution: Fiftieth Anniversary Edition

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Harvard University Press, Apr 19, 2017 - History - 432 pages

The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, awarded both the Pulitzer and the Bancroft prizes, has become a classic of American historical literature. Hailed at its first appearance as "the most brilliant study of the meaning of the Revolution to appear in a generation," it was enlarged in a second edition to include the nationwide debate on the ratification of the Constitution, hence exploring not only the Founders' initial hopes and aspirations but also their struggle to implement their ideas in constructing the national government.

Now, in a new preface, Bernard Bailyn reconsiders salient features of the book and isolates the Founders' profound concern with power. In pamphlets, letters, newspapers, and sermons they returned again and again to the problem of the uses and misuses of power--the great benefits of power when gained and used by popular consent and the political and social devastation when acquired by those who seize it by force or other means and use it for their personal benefit.

This fiftieth anniversary edition will be welcomed by readers familiar with Bailyn's book, and it will introduce a new generation to a work that remains required reading for anyone seeking to understand the nation's historical roots.

 

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Contents

I The Literature of Revolution
1
II Sources and Traditions
22
A Theory of Politics
55
IV The Logic of Rebellion
94
V Transformation
160
VI The Contagion of Liberty
230
A Commentary on the Constitution
321
Index
381
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About the author (2017)

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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