Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Robert Roswell Palmer

Robert Roswell Palmer

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Robert Roswell Palmer'
Start a new discussion about 'Robert Roswell Palmer'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Robert Roswell Palmer commonly known as R. R. Palmer, was a distinguished American historian
Historian
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is...

 at Princeton
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

 and Yale
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

 universities, who specialized in eighteenth-century France. His most influential work of scholarship, The Age of the Democratic Revolution: A Political History of Europe and America, 1760-1800 (1959 and 1964), examined an age of democratic revolution that swept the Atlantic civilization between 1760 and 1800. He was awarded 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 History for the first volume. Palmer also achieved distinction as a history text writer.

Life


Born in Chicago, Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

, Palmer accelerated through the public schools; by winning a citywide contest for a play written in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, he earned a full scholarship to the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

. He studied with Louis Gottschalk
Louis Gottschalk
Louis Gottschalk may refer to:*Louis Moreau Gottschalk , American composer*Louis F. Gottschalk , American composer *Louis A. Gottschalk, American psychiatrist*Louis R. Gottschalk, American historian...

 and earned his Ph. B.
Bachelor of Philosophy
Bachelor of Philosophy is the title of an academic degree. The degree usually involves considerable research, either through a thesis or supervised research projects...

 in 1931. He received his PhD
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

 from Cornell University
Cornell University
Cornell University is an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, United States. It is a private land-grant university, receiving annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions...

 three years later, studying with Carl L. Becker
Carl L. Becker
Carl Lotus Becker was an American historian.-Life:He was born in Waterloo, Iowa. He studied at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Frederick Jackson Turner was his doctoral advisor there. Becker got his Ph.D. in 1907. He was John Wendell Anderson Professor of History in the Department of History...

. His dissertation was The French Idea of American Independence on the Eve of the French Revolution.

In 1936 Palmer began teaching as an instructor at Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

, and worked there for nearly three decades, becoming a full professor. He was dean of arts and sciences (1963-1966) at Washington University in St. Louis
Washington University in St. Louis
Washington University in St. Louis is a private research university located in suburban St. Louis, Missouri. Founded in 1853, and named for George Washington, the university has students and faculty from all fifty U.S. states and more than 110 nations...

, then returned to teaching and writing at Yale University
Yale University
Yale University is a private, Ivy League university located in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. Founded in 1701 in the Colony of Connecticut, the university is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States...

, where he retired as professor emeritus. Palmer had visiting professorships at numerous universities, including Berkeley, Chicago, Colorado
University of Colorado
The University of Colorado system is a system of public universities in Colorado consisting of three universities in four campuses: University of Colorado Boulder, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, and University of Colorado Denver in downtown Denver and at the Anschutz Medical Campus in...

 and Michigan
University of Michigan
The University of Michigan is a public research university located in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the United States. It is the state's oldest university and the flagship campus of the University of Michigan...

. After retiring in 1977, he returned to Princeton as a guest scholar at its Institute for Advanced Study
Institute for Advanced Study
The Institute for Advanced Study, located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States, is an independent postgraduate center for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry. It was founded in 1930 by Abraham Flexner...

.

Palmer married Esther Howard in 1942, and they had three children and four grandchildren. His son, the historian Stanley Palmer
Stanley Palmer
Stanley H. Palmer is a professor of history at the University of Texas at Arlington specializing in Modern British and Irish history, the history of the British Empire, and comparative police history....

, is a professor of history at the University of Texas at Arlington
University of Texas at Arlington
The University of Texas at Arlington is a public research university located in Arlington, Texas, United States. The campus is situated southwest of downtown Arlington, and is located in the Dallas–Fort Worth metropolitan area. The university was founded in 1895 and served primarily a military...

. After R.R. Palmer's death in 2002 at Newtown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania
Newtown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania
Newtown is a borough in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, United States. The population was 2,248 at the 2010 census. It is located just west of the Trenton, New Jersey metropolitan area, and is part of the larger Philadelphia metropolitan area. It is entirely surrounded by Newtown Township, from which...

, a memorial service was held at Princeton Chapel.

Works


In 1950 Palmer published A History of the Modern World, which is in its tenth edition as of April 2006. He prepared the later versions with the assistance of Joel Colton and Lloyd Kramer. The text has been translated into six languages and is used in more than 1,000 colleges, and many Advanced Placement History high school classes. It is notable for its clear, essay-like writing style.Palmer's introduction covers the period from the earliest signs of human civilization to 1300 CE. The main body of the text covers events from the Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

 to the Fall of the Soviet Union in European history. The book is grouped into categories based on ideas, i.e. the effect of the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

 on modern and ancient thought may be mentioned before the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

.

Palmer's most important work of historical scholarship is The Age of the Democratic Revolution: A Political History of Europe and America, 1760-1800. It was published in two volumes: The Challenge (1959), which won 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 American History, and The Struggle (1964). Palmer's masterwork traced the growth of two competing forces -- ideas of democracy and equality, on the one hand, and the growing power of aristocracies in society, on the other -- and the results of the collision between these forces, including both 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...

 and the French Revolution
French Revolution
The French Revolution , sometimes distinguished as the 'Great French Revolution' , was a period of radical social and political upheaval in France and Europe. The absolute monarchy that had ruled France for centuries collapsed in three years...

. The book foreshadowed the development in the 1990s and early 2000s of ideas of Atlantic history and global history. It remains to this day a valuable resource for scholars. In 1971 Palmer published a slightly revised and condensed version of his second volume as The World of the French Revolution.

Also notable is Palmer's 1941 monograph
Monograph
A monograph is a work of writing upon a single subject, usually by a single author.It is often a scholarly essay or learned treatise, and may be released in the manner of a book or journal article. It is by definition a single document that forms a complete text in itself...

, Twelve Who Ruled. The book has been in print since its first edition, and Princeton University Press reissued it as a Princeton Classic in 2006 as part of its celebration of its hundredth anniversary. Twelve Who Ruled is a fusion of history and collective biography, focusing on the members of the Committee of Public Safety
Committee of Public Safety
The Committee of Public Safety , created in April 1793 by the National Convention and then restructured in July 1793, formed the de facto executive government in France during the Reign of Terror , a stage of the French Revolution...

 and their efforts to guide France during the Terror
Terror
Terror may refer to:*Fear, an emotional response to threats and danger*Terror, a political strategy of the asymmetrical use of threats and violence against enemies using means that fall outside the routine forms of political struggle operating within some current regime*Terrorism, the fact of...

 following their Revolution. Isser Woloch, a history professor at Columbia, described this as possibly "the best book on the French Revolution written by an American."

Other works

  • Catholics and Unbelievers in 18th Century France (1939),
  • The Improvement of Humanity: Education and the French Revolution (1985),
  • Two Tocquevilles: Father and Son (1987), and
  • From Jacobin to Liberal: Marc-Antoine Jullien, 1775-1848 (1993).
  • The School of the French Revolution: A Documentary History of The College of Louis-le-Grand and Its Director, Jean-François Champagne (1975).

Translations

  • Georges Lefebvre
    Georges Lefebvre
    Georges Lefebvre was a French historian, best known for his work on the French Revolution and peasant life. He coined the term "history from below", which was later popularised by the British Marxist Historians...

    , The Coming of the French Revolution,
  • Louis Bergeron, France Under Napoleon, and
  • Jean-Paul Bertaud, The Army of the French Revolution.
  • Editor and translator of the autobiography
    Autobiography
    An autobiography is a book about the life of a person, written by that person.-Origin of the term:...

    , From Jacobin to Liberal: Marc-Antoine Jullien, 1775-1848.

Honors and awards

  • 1960, Bancroft Award in History, American Council of Learned Societies
    American Council of Learned Societies
    The American Council of Learned Societies , founded in 1919, is a private nonprofit federation of seventy scholarly organizations.ACLS is best known as a funder of humanities research through fellowships and grants awards. ACLS Fellowships are designed to permit scholars holding the Ph.D...

     Special Prize
  • 1961, served as president of the Society for French Historical Studies
    Society for French Historical Studies
    The Society for French Historical Studies is, along with the Western Society for French History , one of the two primary historical societies devoted to the study of French history headquartered in the United States....

  • 1970, president 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...

    .
  • 1990, Antonio Feltrinelli International Prize for History in Rome
  • Honorary degrees awarded by the universities of Uppsala
    Uppsala
    - Economy :Today Uppsala is well established in medical research and recognized for its leading position in biotechnology.*Abbott Medical Optics *GE Healthcare*Pfizer *Phadia, an offshoot of Pharmacia*Fresenius*Q-Med...

     and Toulouse
    Toulouse
    Toulouse is a city in the Haute-Garonne department in southwestern FranceIt lies on the banks of the River Garonne, 590 km away from Paris and half-way between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea...

    .

Works

  • Palmer, Robert R. The age of the democratic revolution: a political history of Europe and America, 1760-1800 (Princeton UP, 1959) online edition volume 1
  • Palmer, Robert R. The age of the democratic revolution: a political history of Europe and America, 1760-1800 (1964) online edition volume 2