The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution

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The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution

Author: Bernard Bailyn
Publisher: Belknap Press
Copyright: 1992
Pages: 416
Cover Price: $ 28.00

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The leaders of the American Revolution, writes the distinguished historian Bernard Bailyn, were radicals. But their concern was not to correct inequalities of class or income, not to remake the social order, but to "purify a corrupt Constitution and fight off the apparent growth of prerogative power." They wished, in other words, to mend a broken system and improve upon it. In doing so they drew on many traditions of political and social thought, ranging from English conservative philosophers to exponents of the continental Enlightenment, from backward-looking interpretations of ancient Roman civilization to forward-looking views of a new American people. Bailyn carefully examines these sources of sometimes conflicting ideas and considers how the framers of the Constitution resolved them in their inventive doctrine of federalism.

Background Information

The American Revolution started earlier than the War of Independence and last until peace was signed in 1783. The United States Constitution is the written document by which both the federal government was instituted. The Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia in 1787 to produce a successor to the inadequate Articles of Confederation.