Bernard Bailyn

Bernard Bailyn

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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 University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

 since 1953. Bailyn has won the Pulitzer Prize for History
Pulitzer Prize for History
The Pulitzer Prize for History has been awarded since 1917 for a distinguished book upon the history of the United States. Many history books have also been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction and Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography...

 twice (in 1968 and 1987). In 1998 the National Endowment for the Humanities
National Endowment for the Humanities
The National Endowment for the Humanities is an independent federal agency of the United States established by the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965 dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities. The NEH is located at...

 selected him for the Jefferson Lecture
Jefferson Lecture
The Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities is an honorary lecture series established in 1972 by the National Endowment for the Humanities . According to the NEH, the Lecture is "the highest honor the federal government confers for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities."-History of...

. He was a recipient of the 2010 National Humanities Medal
National Humanities Medal
The National Humanities Medal honors individuals or groups whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the humanities, broadened citizens’ engagement with the humanities, or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to important resources in the humanities.The award, given by the...

.

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
Republicanism in the United States
Republicanism is the political value system that has been a major part of American civic thought since the American Revolution. It stresses liberty and inalienable rights as central values, makes the people as a whole sovereign, supports activist government to promote the common good, rejects...

 and Atlantic history
Atlantic history
Atlantic history is a specialty field in history that studies of the Atlantic World in the early modern period. It is premised on the idea that, following the rise of sustained European contact with the New World in the 16th century, the continents that bordered the Atlantic Ocean—the...

 that transformed the scholarship in those fields. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. The Academy’s elected members are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs.James Bowdoin, John Adams, and...

 in 1963.

Education


Born in Hartford, Connecticut
Hartford, Connecticut
Hartford is the capital of the U.S. state of Connecticut. The seat of Hartford County until Connecticut disbanded county government in 1960, it is the second most populous city on New England's largest river, the Connecticut River. As of the 2010 Census, Hartford's population was 124,775, making...

, Bailyn earned his bachelors degree from Williams College
Williams College
Williams College is a private liberal arts college located in Williamstown, Massachusetts, United States. It was established in 1793 with funds from the estate of Ephraim Williams. Originally a men's college, Williams became co-educational in 1970. Fraternities were also phased out during this...

 in 1945 and in 1953 earned his Ph.D from Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

. He has been associated with Harvard ever since. As a graduate student at Harvard, Bailyn studied under Perry Miller
Perry Miller
Perry G. Miller was an American intellectual historian and Harvard University professor. He was an authority on American Puritanism, and a founder of the field of American Studies. Alfred Kazin referred to him as "the master of American intellectual history"...

, Samuel Eliot Morison
Samuel Eliot Morison
Samuel Eliot Morison, Rear Admiral, United States Naval Reserve was an American historian noted for his works of maritime history that were both authoritative and highly readable. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1912, and taught history at the university for 40 years...

, and Oscar Handlin
Oscar Handlin
Oscar Handlin was an American historian. As a professor of history at Harvard University for over 50 years, he directed 80 PhD dissertations and helped promote social and ethnic history...

. He was made a full professor in 1961, and professor emeritus in 1993.

History books


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
Harvard University Press
Harvard University Press is a publishing house established on January 13, 1913, as a division of Harvard University, and focused on academic publishing. In 2005, it published 220 new titles. It is a member of the Association of American University Presses. Its current director is William P...

 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


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
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

. 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
Charles A. Beard
Charles Austin Beard was, with Frederick Jackson Turner, one of the most influential American historians of the first half of the 20th century. He published hundreds of monographs, textbooks and interpretive studies in both history and political science...

'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."

Bailyn argued that republicanism
Republicanism in the United States
Republicanism is the political value system that has been a major part of American civic thought since the American Revolution. It stresses liberty and inalienable rights as central values, makes the people as a whole sovereign, supports activist government to promote the common good, rejects...

 was at the core of the values Americans fought for. He located the intellectual sources of the American Revolution
American Revolution
The American Revolution was the political upheaval during the last half of the 18th century in which thirteen colonies in North America joined together to break free from the British Empire, combining to become the United States of America...

 within a broader British political framework, explaining how English country Whig
British Whig Party
The Whigs were a party in the Parliament of England, Parliament of Great Britain, and Parliament of the United Kingdom, who contested power with the rival Tories from the 1680s to the 1850s. The Whigs' origin lay in constitutional monarchism and opposition to absolute rule...

 ideas about civic virtue
Civic virtue
Civic virtue is the cultivation of habits of personal living that are claimed to be important for the success of the community. The identification of the character traits that constitute civic virtue have been a major concern of political philosophy...

, corruption, ancient rights, and fear of autocracy were, in the colonies, transformed into the ideology of republicanism.

To quote Bailyn,
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
George I of Great Britain
George I was King of Great Britain and Ireland from 1 August 1714 until his death, and ruler of the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg in the Holy Roman Empire from 1698....

. 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 English 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
Necessary Evil
Necessary Evil sometimes referred to as Plane # 91 was the name of a B-29 Superfortress participating in the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945....

 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


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


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
Atlantic history
Atlantic history is a specialty field in history that studies of the Atlantic World in the early modern period. It is premised on the idea that, following the rise of sustained European contact with the New World in the 16th century, the continents that bordered the Atlantic Ocean—the...

, Bailyn has organized an annual international seminar at Harvard designed to promote scholarship in this field. 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


Former students of Bailyn include Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

 winners Michael Kammen
Michael Kammen
Michael Kammen is a professor of American cultural history in the Department of History at Cornell University. He was born in 1936 in Rochester, New York, grew up in the Washington, DC area, and was educated at the George Washington University and Harvard University . He has taught at Cornell...

, Jack N. Rakove
Jack N. Rakove
Jack Norman Rakove is an American historian, author, professor at Stanford University, and Pulitzer Prize winner.-Biography:...

 and Gordon S. Wood
Gordon S. Wood
Gordon S. Wood is Alva O. Way University Professor and Professor of History Emeritus at Brown University and the recipient of the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for History for The Radicalism of the American Revolution. His book The Creation of the American Republic, 1776–1787 won a 1970 Bancroft Prize...

 as well as Pulitzer Prize finalist Mary Beth Norton
Mary Beth Norton
Mary Beth Norton is an American historian. She is the Mary Donlon Alger Professor of American History Department of History at Cornell University. Norton was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan and her Master of Arts and Ph.D. ...

. Other notable Bailyn students include:
  • Peter H. Wood
    Peter H. Wood
    Peter H. Wood is an American historian and author of Black Majority: Negroes in Colonial South Carolina from 1670 through the Stono Rebellion . It has been described as one of the most influential books on the history of the American South of the past 50 years. He is a professor at Duke...

     (Black Majority);
  • Michael Zuckerman (Peaceable Kingdoms);
  • Pauline Maier
    Pauline Maier
    Pauline Maier is a popular scholar of the American Revolution, the preceding era and post-revolutionary United States. She is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of American History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ....

     (American Scripture on the Declaration and Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788, winner of the 2011 George Washington Book Prize
    George Washington Book Prize
    The George Washington Book Prize was instituted in 2005 and is awarded annually to the best book on America's founding era, especially those that have the potential to advance broad public understanding of American history. It is administered by Washington College’s C.V...

     and the Fraunces Tavern Book Prize);
  • James Henretta (Families and farms: Mentalite in Pre-Industrial America);
  • Stanley N. Katz (Newcastle's New York);
  • prolific legal historian Peter Charles Hoffer (Law and People in Colonial America, among others);
  • William E. Nelson, legal and constitutional historian and Edward Weinfeld Professor of Law at New York University School of Law
    New York University School of Law
    The New York University School of Law is the law school of New York University. Established in 1835, the school offers the J.D., LL.M., and J.S.D. degrees in law, and is located in Greenwich Village, in the New York City borough of Manhattan....

    , author of The Fourteenth Amendment: From Political Principle to Judicial Doctrine (1988), winner of the Littleton-Griswold Prize of the American Historical Association
    American Historical Association
    The American Historical Association is the oldest and largest society of historians and professors of history in the United States. Founded in 1884, the association promotes historical studies, the teaching of history, and the preservation of and access to historical materials...

    , and many other books];
  • Fred Anderson
    Fred Anderson (historian)
    Fred Anderson is an American historian of early North American history.Anderson received his B.A. from Colorado State University in 1971 and his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1981. He has taught at Harvard and at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he is currently Professor of History...

     (Crucible of War and A People's Army);
  • Virginia DeJohn Anderson (Creatures of Empire);
  • Bancroft Prize
    Bancroft Prize
    The Bancroft Prize is awarded each year by the trustees of Columbia University for books about diplomacy or the history of the Americas. It was established in 1948 by a bequest from Frederic Bancroft...

     winner Richard L. Bushman
    Richard Bushman
    Richard Lyman Bushman is an American historian and Gouverneur Morris Professor of History emeritus at Columbia University. He is currently the Howard W. Hunter Visiting Professor in Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University...

     (From Puritan to Yankee).
  • Sally E. Hadden (Slave Patrols)


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

  • 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
  • Atlantic History: Concept and Contours. Harvard University Press, 2005.
  • Education in the Forming of American Society: Needs and Opportunities for Study. University of North Carolina Press, 1960.
  • Faces of Revolution: Personalities and Themes in the Struggle for American Independence. Knopf, 1990.
  • The Great Republic: A History of the American People. Little, Brown, 1977; coauthored college textbook; several editions.
  • The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution
    The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution
    The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution is a Pulitzer Prize-winning book of history by Bernard Bailyn. It is considered one of the most influential studies of the American Revolution published during the 20th century....

    . Harvard University Press, 1967; awarded the Pulitzer Prize
    Pulitzer Prize
    The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

     and the Bancroft Prize
    Bancroft Prize
    The Bancroft Prize is awarded each year by the trustees of Columbia University for books about diplomacy or the history of the Americas. It was established in 1948 by a bequest from Frederic Bancroft...

     in 1968.
  • Massachusetts Shipping, 1697-1714: A Statistical Study. (with Lotte Bailyn) Harvard University Press, 1959.
  • The New England Merchants in the Seventeenth Century. Harvard University Press, 1955.
  • On the Teaching and Writing of History. 1994.
  • The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson. Harvard University Press, 1974; awarded the National Book Award
    National Book Award
    The National Book Awards are a set of American literary awards. Started in 1950, the Awards are presented annually to American authors for literature published in the current year. In 1989 the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization which now oversees and manages the National Book...

     in History in 1975.
  • The Origins of American Politics. Knopf, 1968.
  • Bailyn, Bernard, ed. Pamphlets of the American Revolution, 1750-1776. Harvard University Press, 1965.
  • The Peopling of British North America: An Introduction. Knopf, 1986.
  • To Begin the World Anew: The Genius and Ambiguities of the American Founders. Knopf, 2003.
  • 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
    Society of the Cincinnati
    The Society of the Cincinnati is a historical organization with branches in the United States and France founded in 1783 to preserve the ideals and fellowship of the American Revolutionary War officers and to pressure the government to honor pledges it had made to officers who fought for American...

    .

Works about Bernard Bailyn

  • 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

External links