Bailyn study questions: Lisa Clarke (with some supplementary ones from me)


1.            What does Bailyn mean in claiming that the origins of the American Revolution were ideological in nature?

2.      Bailyn suggests that the colonists' fear of power and corruption led them to challenge classical republicanism and defend liberty.  How did their concern for property rights and economic interests also contribute to their challenges of classical republicanism?

3.      Did the revolutionaries differ from the English in their understanding of the proverbial political concepts of representation, sovereignty, rights, and the nature of a constitution?

4.      Bailyn illustrates that the revolutionaries were less interested in creating a new social order and more interested in removing corruption from government.  However, he suggests that their "pragmatic idealism" spread to other issue such as slavery, the questioning of establishment of religion, and democracy as a stable form of government.   Did such development led to an ideological divide between the New and Old Worlds?

5.      How did the founders resolve the self-interest v. virtue debate?  How does that influence our understanding of citizenship?

6.      What are our contemporary understandings of power, liberty, and republicanism?  How do they differ from those of the Revolutionaries?

7.         Do you agree with Bailyn's claim that the Constitution was a fulfillment of the radicalism of the Revolutionaries?


8.         What role does the concept of “conspiracy” play in Bailyn’s argument? Does he overstate the significance of conspiracy among the colonial mindset?


9.                  Analyze Bailyn’s use of sources—do you find him comprehensive enough to get an understanding of how the colonial leaders thought? Does he place too much emphasis on the role of ideology in understanding the Revolution? The role of history for the colonial leaders?


10.       Was the American Revolution “revolutionary”?