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All Too Firmly Planted

Bernard Bailyn, 10 November 1994

Mobility and Migration: East Anglian Founders of New England, 1629-1640 
by Roger Thompson.
Massachusetts, 305 pp., £39.50, April 1994, 0 87023 893 0
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Adapting to a New World: English Society in the 17th-century Chesapeake 
by James Horn.
North Carolina, 461 pp., $65, September 1994, 0 8078 2137 3
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... It is no new thing for British historians to write knowledgeably about American history. They were at work by the early 18th century, wrote significant histories (mainly Tory) of the American Revolution soon after the event had concluded, and in the 19th century produced, in G.O. Trevelyan’s six volumes on the Revolution, one of the magisterial works of Whig historiography, and in the two American volumes of Lecky’s History of England in the 18th Century a masterpiece of balanced judgment, character analysis and comprehension of complex issues ...

Crop Masters

Daniel Aaron, 19 January 1989

Tobacco Culture: The Mentality of the Great Tidewater Planters on the Eve of the Revolution 
by T.H. Breen.
Princeton, 216 pp., $9.95, February 1988, 0 691 04729 4
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... hundreds of pamphlets on the Anglo-American conflict published in the colonies before 1776, Bernard Bailyn was struck by the excitement with which their authors spoke about what were for him ‘the common-places of liberal thought of their time’. How to explain their apparently inexhaustible appetite for the ideas and rhetoric of late 17th and ...

Somewhere else

Rosalind Mitchison, 19 May 1988

The Peopling of British North America: An Introduction 
by Bernard Bailyn.
Tauris, 177 pp., £12.95, April 1987, 1 85043 037 3
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Voyagers to the West: Emigration from Britain to America on the Eve of the Revolution 
by Bernard Bailyn.
Tauris, 668 pp., £29.50, April 1987, 1 85043 038 1
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Migration and Society in Early Modern England 
edited by Peter Clark and David Souden.
Hutchinson, 355 pp., £25, February 1988, 0 09 173220 4
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Gypsy-Travellers in 19th-Century Society 
by David Mayall.
Cambridge, 261 pp., £25, February 1988, 0 521 32397 5
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... But is the move across the Atlantic merely an enlarged form of this pattern? Is Professor Bailyn right when he speaks of the Atlantic crossing as having drawn ‘thousands of ordinary Britons’ year after year? Or is the migrant a particular type of person, propelled by ambition or failure, discontent or aspiration? Can we speak of ‘the ...

Farewell to the Log Cabin

Colin Kidd: America’s Royalist Revolution, 18 December 2014

The Royalist Revolution 
by Eric Nelson.
Harvard, 390 pp., £22.95, October 2014, 978 0 674 73534 7
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... of republicanism excavated by a distinguished group of historians, including Caroline Robbins, Bernard Bailyn, Gordon Wood and J.G.A. Pocock, offered a compelling account of the reasons British Americans broke with monarchy and then embarked on such a distinctive constitutional experiment, hedged with an idiosyncratic Bill of Rights. For example, the ...

Eden without the Serpent

Eric Foner, 11 December 1997

A History of the American People 
by Paul Johnson.
Weidenfeld, 925 pp., £25, October 1997, 0 297 81569 5
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... from the top down. A ‘tiny élite’ created the nation, and Johnson offers no sense of what Bernard Bailyn calls the ‘contagion of liberty’ – the way small farmers, urban labourers and even slaves seized on the patriotic ideology to advance their own claims. Johnson’s account of the late 19th century offers an excellent description of ...

Drink hard, pray hard and simply vanish

Jack Rakove: The history of the American revolution, 5 April 2001

Becoming America: The Revolution Before 1776 
by Jon Butler.
Harvard, 324 pp., £19.50, May 2000, 0 674 00091 9
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Inheriting the Revolution: The First Generation of Americans 
by Joyce Appleby.
Harvard, 322 pp., £17.95, May 2000, 0 674 00236 9
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... history, including the provincial decades that Butler surveys and the Revolutionary years proper. Bernard Bailyn was making much the same argument about colonial society back in the 1950s and 1960s: in the powerful concluding pages of his landmark study of The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution he evoked the image of ‘a society where ...

Separation Anxiety

Eric Foner, 18 April 1996

A Struggle for Power: The American Revolution 
by Theodore Draper.
Little, Brown, 544 pp., £25, March 1996, 0 316 87802 2
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... more self-government. The most recent generation of scholars, inspired above all by the work of Bernard Bailyn, has moved the ideas of the revolutionaries to centre stage. One can only explain the feverish American resistance to mild British measures like the Sugar and Stamp Acts, they insist, by understanding that they were refracted through an ...

Inky Scraps

Maya Jasanoff: ‘Atlantic Families’, 5 August 2010

Atlantic Families: Lives and Letters in the Later 18th Century 
by Sarah Pearsall.
Oxford, 294 pp., £61, November 2008, 978 0 19 953299 5
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... and separation pulled most insistently across the Atlantic – ‘a world in motion’, as Bernard Bailyn put it, defined by migration and circulation. Sarah Pearsall’s Atlantic Families investigates what she describes as the ‘Shiva-like quality of the Atlantic world, its ability to destroy as well as to build’ human relationships across ...

The Last War of Religion

David Armitage, 9 June 1994

The Language of Liberty, 1660-1832: Political Discourse and Social Dynamics in the Anglo-American World 
by J.C.D. Clark.
Cambridge, 404 pp., £35, October 1993, 0 521 44510 8
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The Debate on the Constitution: Federalist and Anti-Federalist Speeches, Articles and Letters During the Struggle over Ratification. Vol. I 
edited by Bernard Bailyn.
Library of America, 1214 pp., $35, July 1993, 0 940450 42 9
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... equal opportunity for liberty and happiness of the subject’. The arguments collected in Bernard Bailyn’s handsomely edited and enlightening two-volume selection from The Debate on the Constitution in 1787-8 should challenge such complacency. The American Revolution was not the first revolt of colonial nationalism, and the Constitution ...

Damnable Deficient

Colin Kidd: The American Revolution, 17 November 2005

1776: America and Britain at War 
by David McCullough.
Allen Lane, 386 pp., £25, June 2005, 0 7139 9863 6
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... lower class of these people’ which even affected their officers. Since the pioneering work of Bernard Bailyn in the 1960s, American historians have been aware that the dominant political language of Revolutionary America was a strain of classical republicanism which stressed that a population’s enjoyment of liberty depended on its public ...

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