(b. 1922, Hartford, Connecticut
) is an American historian, author, and professor specializing in U.S. Colonial and Revolutionary-era History. He has been a professor at Harvard
since 1953, and has won the Pulitzer Prize for History
twice (in 1968 and 1987).
In 1945 he earned his bachelors degree from Williams College
,in 1953 Bernard Bailyn earned his Ph.D
from Harvard University
, and has been associated with the University 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
Bernard Bailyn is the author of:
He is also 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 (1991; see ).
Major themes and new 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
. 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 were intending on establishing a tyrannical state in the colonies 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 their situation. This evidence was used to displace Charles 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 argued that republicanism was at the core of the values Americans 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, rights and fear of autocracy were, in the colonies, transformed into the ideology of republicanism.
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. More recently, Bailyn has explored the history of the Atlantic world. Since 1995, Bailyn has organized an annual international seminar at Harvard designed to promote scholarship in this emerging field ().
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 Professor Retha Warnicke
(The Rise and Fall of Anne Boleyn
) foremost authority on Tudor and Stuart England, Peter H. Wood
), Michael Zuckerman
), Pauline Maier
), James Henretta
(Families and farms: Mentalite in Pre-Industrial America
), David Gollaher
(Voice for the Mad
) which won the Organization of American Historians
Avery O. Craven Prize; prolific legal historian Peter Charles Hoffer
(Law and People in Colonial America
, among others), Fred Anderson
(Crucible of War
and A People's Army
), Virginia DeJohn Anderson
(Creatures of Empire
), and Bancroft Prize
winners Robert Gross
, Edward Countryman
, and Richard L. Bushman
. 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.
- 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
Additional books by Bailyn
- 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 (The 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 (The 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 Published for the Institute of Early American History and Culture by the 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. Harvard University Press, 1967.
- Massachusetts shipping, 1697-1714; a statistical study, Harvard University Press, 1959.
- The New England Merchants in the Seventeenth Century. Harvard University Press, 1955.
- The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson. Harvard University Press, 1974.
- The origins of American politics. Knopf, 1968.
- Pamphlets of the American Revolution, 1750-1776, edited by Bernard Bailyn, 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.