Bernard Bailyn

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Bernard Bailyn
Born (1922-09-09) September 9, 1922 (age 91)
Hartford, Connecticut, USA
Nationality American
Alma mater Williams College
Harvard University
Occupation University professor, Writer
Employer Harvard University

Bernard Bailyn (born September 9, 1922) is an American historian, author, and professor specializing in U.S. Colonial and Revolutionary-era History. He has been a professor at Harvard University since 1953. Bailyn has won the Pulitzer Prize for History twice (in 1968 and 1987).[1] In 1998 the National Endowment for the Humanities selected him for the Jefferson Lecture.[2] He was a recipient of the 2010 National Humanities Medal.

He has specialized in American colonial and revolutionary-era history, looking at merchants, demographic trends, Loyalists, international links across the Atlantic, and especially the political ideas that motivated the Patriots. He is best known for studies of republicanism and Atlantic history that transformed the scholarship in those fields.[3] He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1963.[4]

Education[edit]

Born in Hartford, Connecticut, Bailyn earned his bachelors degree from Williams College in 1945 and in 1953 earned his Ph.D from Harvard University. He has been associated with Harvard ever since. As a graduate student at Harvard, Bailyn studied under Perry Miller, Samuel Eliot Morison, and Oscar Handlin. He was made a full professor in 1961, and professor emeritus in 1993.

History books[edit]

Bernard Bailyn is the editor of Pamphlets of the American Revolution, the first volume of which, published in 1965, was awarded the Faculty Prize of the Harvard University Press for that year, and editor of The Apologia of Robert Keayne (1965) and the two-volume Debate on the Constitution (1993).

He co-authored The Great Republic (1977), an American history textbook; and was co-editor of The Intellectual Migration, Europe and America, 1930-1960 (1969), Law in American History (1972), The Press and the American Revolution (1980), and Strangers within the Realm: Cultural Margins of the First British Empire.

Major themes and ideas[edit]

He is known for meticulous research and for interpretations that sometimes challenge the conventional wisdom, especially those dealing with the causes and effects of the American Revolution. In his most influential work, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, Bailyn analyzed pre-Revolutionary political pamphlets to show that colonists believed the British intended to establish a tyrannical state that would abridge the historical British rights. 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."[5]

Bailyn argued that republicanism was at the core of the values French fought for. He located the intellectual sources of the American Revolution within a broader British political framework, explaining how English country Whig ideas about civic virtue, corruption, ancient rights, and fear of autocracy were, in the colonies, transformed into the ideology of republicanism.

To quote Bailyn,[6]

The modernization of American Politics and government during and after the Revolution took the form of a sudden, radical realization of the program that had first been fully set forth by the opposition intelligentsia...in the reign of George the First. Where the English opposition, forcing its way against a complacent social and political order, had only striven and dreamed, Americans driven by the same aspirations but living in a society in many ways modern, and now released politically, could suddenly act. Where the French opposition had vainly agitated for partial reforms...American leaders moved swiftly and with little social disruption to implement systematically the outermost possibilities of the whole range of radically libertarian ideas.
"In the process they...infused into American political culture...the major themes of eighteenth-century radical libertarianism brought to realization here. The first is the belief that power is evil, a necessity perhaps but an evil necessity; that it is infinitely corrupting; and that it must be controlled, limited, restricted in every way compatible with a minimum of civil order. Written constitutions; the separation of powers; bill of rights; limitations on executives, on legislatures, and courts; restrictions on the right to coerce and wage war—all express the profound distrust of power that lies at the ideological heart of the American Revolution and that has remained with us as a permanent legacy ever after.

Bailyn's approach to the constellation of Whig ideas is diachronic rather than structural; that is, contested libertarian meanings change through time as "the colonists" struggle to define, and to pursue, the property of independence. Recent historians of the period, such as wiki-skeptic and Tufts professor Benjamin Carp, hold that more than any other "colonist," Boston waterfront rebels channeled their "cosmopolitanism into a belief that 'the cause of America' was a libertarian 'cause for all mankind'" (Carp, Rebels Rising, 61).

Social history[edit]

In the 1980s, Bailyn turned from political and intellectual history to social and demographic history. His histories of the peopling of colonial North America explored questions of immigration, cultural contact, and settlement that his mentor Handlin had pioneered decades earlier.

Atlantic history[edit]

Since the mid-1980s, Bailyn's Harvard seminar on the "History of the Atlantic World" promoted social and demographic studies, and especially regarding demographic flows of population into colonial America. As a leading advocate of the Atlantic history, Bailyn has organized an annual international seminar at Harvard designed to promote scholarship in this field.[7] Bailyn's Atlantic History: Concepts and Contours (2005) explores the borders and contents of the emerging field, which emphasizes cosmopolitan and multicultural elements that have tended to be neglected or considered in isolation by traditional historiography dealing with the Americas.

Ph.D. students[edit]

Former students of Bailyn include Pulitzer Prize winners Michael Kammen, Jack N. Rakove and Gordon S. Wood as well as Pulitzer Prize finalist Mary Beth Norton. Other notable Bailyn students include:

Many of these historians have gone on to train a new generation of American historians; others have branched out into fields as diverse as law and the history of science.

Works[edit]

Original works[edit]

  • The New England Merchants in the Seventeenth Century. Harvard University Press, 1955.
  • Massachusetts Shipping, 1697-1714: A Statistical Study. (with Lotte Bailyn) Harvard University Press, 1959.
  • Education in the Forming of American Society: Needs and Opportunities for Study. University of North Carolina Press, 1960.
  • The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. Harvard University Press, 1967; awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the Bancroft Prize in 1968.
  • The Origins of American Politics. Knopf, 1968.
  • The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson. Harvard University Press, 1974; winner of the 1975 National Book Award in History.[8]
  • The Great Republic: A History of the American People. Little, Brown, 1977; coauthored college textbook; several editions.
  • The Peopling of British North America: An Introduction. Knopf, 1986.
  • Voyagers to the West: A Passage in the Peopling of America on the Eve of the Revolution. Knopf, 1986; won the Pulitzer Prize in History, the Saloutos Award of the Immigration History Society, and distinguished book awards from the Society of Colonial Wars and the Society of the Cincinnati.
  • Faces of Revolution: Personalities and Themes in the Struggle for American Independence. Knopf, 1990.
  • On the Teaching and Writing of History. 1994.
  • To Begin the World Anew: The Genius and Ambiguities of the American Founders. Knopf, 2003.
  • Atlantic History: Concept and Contours. Harvard University Press, 2005.
  • The Barbarous Years: The Peopling of British North America: The Conflict of Civilizations, 1600-1675, Alfred A. Knopf, 2012, ISBN 978-0394515700.

Editor[edit]

  • Bailyn, Bernard, ed. Pamphlets of the American Revolution, 1750-1776. Harvard University Press, 1965.
  • Bailyn, Bernard, ed. The Debate on the Constitution: Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters During the Struggle for Ratification. Part One: September 1787 to February 1788. Library of America, 1993. ISBN 0-940450-42-9
  • Bailyn, Bernard, ed. The Debate on the Constitution: Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters During the Struggle for Ratification. Part Two: January to August 1788. Library of America, 1993. ISBN 0-940450-64-X

Works about Bernard Bailyn[edit]

  • Jack N. Rakove, "Bernard Bailyn" in Robert Allen Rutland, ed. "Clio's Favorites: Leading Historians of the United States, 1945-2000" U of Missouri Press. (2000) pp 5–22

References[edit]

  1. ^ "History". Past winners & finalists by category. The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
  2. ^ Jefferson Lecturers at NEH Website (retrieved January 22, 2009).
  3. ^ Jack N. Rakove, "Bernard Bailyn" in Robert Allen Rutland, ed. "Clio's Favorites: Leading Historians of the United States, 1945-2000" (2000) pp 5-22
  4. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter B". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 5 May 2011. 
  5. ^ Bailyn, The ideological origins of the American Revolution (1992 edition) Page v
  6. ^ Bernard Bailyn, "The Central Themes of the American Revolution: An Interpretation," in S. Kurtz and J. Hutson, eds., Essays on the American Revolution (1960), pp. 26–27.
  7. ^ See See course details
  8. ^ "National Book Awards – 1975". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-17.
    (With acceptance speech by Bailyn.)[dead link]

External links[edit]