This week The Junto is co-sponsoring a weeklong roundtable on Bernard Bailyn’s The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution with the Society for U.S. Intellectual History (S-USIH) blog. Each of the five posts will appear on both blogs concurrently. The goal of this first-ever joint roundtable is to generate as much discussion as possible from its readers. By cross-posting the roundtable, we hope to maximize its potential audience, and we will be copying substantive comments made on one blog to the other to foster as much discussion as possible and to share the viewpoints and ideas of early Americanists with American intellectual historians and vice versa. For readers unfamiliar with the book (or looking for a refresher), please see Episode 12 of The JuntoCast.
Today’s post is from Michael D. Hattem, who earned his Ph.D. from Yale in 2017. He is a Contributing Editor at The Junto, and a 2017-18 Schwartz Postdoctoral Fellow at The New-York Historical Society and The New School.
Throughout the winter of 2016-17, I helped organize “Ideological Origins at 50,” a conference jointly sponsored by the USC-EMSI and Yale’s CHESS to honor the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Bernard Bailyn’s seminal work, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. The conference papers, presentations, and discussion were quite lively, as was Bailyn himself who delivered a 75-minute talk on the opening evening. Since then, other tributes to the book and its long-term influence and impact have appeared online. However, all of these have had one thing in common; they have been almost solely the product of senior historians who perceptively discussed the book’s long-term impact and the debates that surrounded it, both around its publication and in the immediate decades afterward. This Junto roundtable, “The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution at 50″ (#IOTAR50), aims to offer junior scholars a chance to reflect on this book’s impact on them and, by extension, its continuing significance and influence on the newest generation of early American historians. After all, perhaps the most impressive achievement of Ideological Origins is that fifty years after its publication it is still being read, assigned, and reckoned with by a new generation of scholars. Therefore, rather than rehashing what the book meant when it was published or what it has meant to historians living with it for decades, this roundtable is dedicated to exploring what the book means now. Continue reading