THIS BOOK IS RECOMMENDED BY FPSC FOR OPTIONAL SUBJECT HISTORY OF USA
In this 25th anniversary edition, Bailyn has added a substantial essay, “Fulfillment”, as a Postscript to the original text. In it he discusses the intense, nation-wide debate on the ratification of the constitution, stressing the continuities between that struggle over the foundations of the national government and the original principles of the Revolution. This study of the persistence of the nation’s ideological origins adds a new dimension to the book and projects its meaning forward into vital present concerns. Bailyn is author of “The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson” which won the National Book Award and “Voyagers to the West” which won the Pulitzer Prize for History. Bernard Bailyn traces an intellectual history of the ideology that led up to the American Revolution (rather than a social or economic history) primarily through an examination of political pamphlets. He points to various strands of intellectual legacies (classical antiquity, Enlightenment rationalism, English common law, New England Puritans), but for him the most important was a strain of anti-authoritarian, Whig opposition political thought that originally stemmed from the period of the English Civil War and resulting Commonwealth in the 1640s-1650s. This “country” ideology was taken up two generations later in the 1720s and 1730s by opposition politicians, exemplified by John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon, who resisted what they saw as the encroachment on Parliamentary authority by royal ministers embodied by Sir Robert Walpole. Some dominant themes of this ideology included the corruption of politics that led to a conspiracy against the balance of government.