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Review: The Ideological Origins Of The American Revolution

718 words - 3 pages

First published in 1967, this book was itself the offshoot of Bailyn's celebrated work, Pamphlets of the American Revolution, 1750-1776, which was published in 1965. This work is in fact an edited and expanded version of the introduction to that first volume. In the ensuing decades the work has become the acclaimed centerpiece of intellectual historical thought on the American Revolution; the stalwart of Neo-Progressive historiography on the topic. Bailyn effectively rejected earlier progressive theories regarding the causation of the revolution, presented most notably by Charles Beard, based upon his exhaustive research into the favored medium for exchange of ideas in colonial America, the ...view middle of the document...

At its very crux this was based on the continuous struggle for power by the governing versus liberty for the governed which had existed since immemorial. Bailyn concludes this was the context, against which American colonists increasingly conceived their quarrels with English rule in the mid-1700's, seeing themselves as really the last great outpost of freedom and liberty that must be defended in order to preserve the English tradition of liberty for free men.
The author argues that this imbedded idealism, of the liberty of the population contrasted against the power of government, was the basis for how the patriots interpreted British actions. They viewed the deployment of a standing army in their midst and especially the debilitating closure of its harbor in the wake of the infamous tea party, along with the issuance of the Intolerable Acts of 1774, as a similar pattern of encroachment on their natural and inalienable rights as free citizens. In their eyes all of the actions, taken in combination, clearly showed a diabolical conspiratorial plot to permanently enslave the colonials as second-class citizens of the British Empire for which the only logical remedy was the separation of the...

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