If I remember properly, Dr.
Basic Causes of the Revolution The historian must be more than a chronicler, a mere lister of events. For his real task is discovering and setting forth the causal connections between events in human history, the complex chain of human purposes, choices, and consequences over time that have shaped the fate of mankind.
Investigating the causes of such a portentous event as the American Revolution is more, then, than a mere listing of preceding occurrences; for the historian must weigh the causal significance of these factors, and select those of overriding importance.
Constitutional Conflict Historians What, then, were the basic and overarching causes of the American Revolution?
The older view, dominant in the first two or three decades of the twentieth century, laid greatest emphasis on Bernard bailyn thesis conflict of constitutional ideas, on the fact that the American colonists saw the actions of Great Britain after as interfering with their constitutional rights as Englishmen.
Typical of these works were Charles H. McIlwain, The American Revolution: Adams, Political Ideas of the American Revolution: While constitutional interpretations and conflicts played a role, the entire emphasis came to seem to historians — and properly so — to be stodgy and unsatisfactory; for what event as wrenching and even cataclysmic as a revolution is ever launched on the basis of mere legalisms, and legalisms that were often dubious at that?
The "Constitutionalists" and other early writers, were closer to the mark in noting the influence of John Locke's libertarian natural rights philosophy.
Locke's influence was particularly stressed in Carl L. Becker's The Declaration of Independence: A Study in the History of Political Ideas and at least mentioned by the other writers. But while the assertion of the natural rights of man could far better stir the passions than mere legal and constitutional differences, there was still a vital missing link: The Progressive Historians and the Economic Dimension The "Progressive" historians, dominant in the later s and the s, added another, and exciting dimension to the analysis of the causes of the American Revolution.
For they added the important economic dimension — the struggles over the British attempt to impose taxes, mercantile restrictions, and a monopoly over the importation of tea into the colonies.
But the Progressive historians did more. Inspired by the overall work on American history of Charles A. Beard, the Progressives also posed a contrast to the constitutional or philosophic American motivations asserted by the older historians: In short, the American leaders, in particular the wealthy merchants, struggled on behalf of their economic interests, against British restrictions and tax levies.
Believing in the inevitability of class conflict, and seeing only the merchants as driven by their economic interests toward rebellion, the Progressives then had to explain two things: To explain this, the Progressives fell back on the theory of "propaganda" popular in the s and s: The "propaganda," they claimed, was used to dupe the masses into going along with the revolutionary agitation.
The result was a curious "left-right" agreement between the Progressives and the minority of American historians of the "Imperial" school. The latter maintained that the American Revolution was the result of the unwarranted propaganda of sinister agitators who succeeded in duping the masses to break their beneficent ties with the British Empire.
The major works of the "Imperial" school are Lawrence H.
Beer, British Colonial Policy, — The writings of the Progressive historians are legion, ranging from such popular but poorly researched books as John C.
Davidson, Propaganda and the American Revolution, —, to the thorough and scholarly work by Arthur M.
A History of the American Revolution, — But ideas do count in human motivation. It is impossible to read the letters, or the published writings of the leaders, as well as of the American public, and doubt the passionate sincerity with which they held their revolutionary ideas.
Furthermore, the Progressives overlooked several other important points. First, while the economic interpretation is often insightful in gauging the motivations for State action, particularly by small groups of pullers of the levers of State power, it is highly inadequate in explaining the motives of mass actions, especially revolutionary actions, against the State — whether by leaders or by the public.
For a revolution is a passionate and radical, indeed a revolutionary act. It is difficult to believe that a people will wrench themselves out of their habitual lives to risk at a blow "their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor," from a mere chafing at a tax or at mercantile restrictions.
There must be more to it than that. And secondly, the economic interpretation overlooked the very nature of the libertarian ideology that moved the revolutionaries.
This ideology integrated moral, political, and economic liberty. Therefore it integrated all of these revulsions against what these libertarians saw as British invasions of their rights. Neither the Constitutionalists, stressing the legal and philosophic, nor the Progressives, stressing the economic grievances, saw the nature of the integrated whole of American revolutionary ideology.
The Consensus Interpretation Neither did the "Consensus" school of historians, who became ascendant in the s and s.I do not know how anyone who has read Bailyn’s book, and it is to the historiography of the American Revolution what Bach’s b minor Mass is to music, could seriously sustain the thesis that.
Thus, Bernard Bailyn established the American Revolution as at one and the same time genuinely radical and revolutionary. He showed that it was motivated largely by firmly and passionately held libertarian ideology, summed up in the phrase "the transforming libertarian radicalism" of the American Revolution.
Erich Herschthal talks with Bernard Bailyn about his recent essay collection, "Sometimes an Art.". How Ghastly Were the Beginnings of European America? The Savage New World or as consistent as Bernard Bailyn, the Adams University professor emeritus at Harvard University and a two-time.
As is the case with Bailyn's many other books, Atlantic History is written in a clear and concise fashion Regardless of the reader's level of experience, it will be an enjoyable and fascinating exploration of a global perspective on the Atlantic world.
Like so much of his scholarship, Bernard Bailyn's most recent book is certain to find a /5(6). Weaving elements of early modern European, African, and American history, Atlantic history embraces essentials of Western civilization, from the first contacts of Europe with the Western Hemisphere to independence movements and the industrial revolution.
Bailyn explores the subject's origins, rapid development, and impact on historical study.