Bailyn, Bernard 1922-
BAILYN, Bernard 1922-
PERSONAL: Born September 10, 1922, in Hartford, CT; son of Charles Manuel and Esther (Schloss) Bailyn; married Lotte Lazarsfeld, June 18, 1952; children: Charles David, John Frederick. Education: Williams College, A.B., 1945; Harvard University, M.A., 1947, Ph.D., 1953.
ADDRESSES: Home—170 Clifton St., Belmont, MA 02478. Office—Harvard University, 35 Quincy Street, Robinson Hall, Cambridge, MA 02138.
CAREER: Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, joined faculty in 1949, instructor in education, 1953-54, assistant professor, 1954-58, associate professor, 1958-61, professor of history, 1961-66, Winthrop Professor of History, 1966-81, Adams University Professor, 1981-93, James Duncan Phillips Professor of Early American History, 1991-93, professor emeritus, 1993—, director of Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, 1983-94. Colver Lecturer, Brown University, 1965; Phelps Lecturer, New York University, 1969; Trevelyan Lecturer, Cambridge University, 1971; Becker Lecturer, Cornell University, 1975; Walker-Ames Lecturer, University of Washington, 1983; Curti Lecturer, University of Wisconsin, 1984; Lewin Visiting Professor, Washington University (St. Louis, MO), 1985; Pitt Professor of American History, Cambridge University, 1986-87; Thompson Lecturer, Pomona College, 1991; Jefferson Lecturer, National Endowment for the Humanities, 1998; first millennium lecturer, White House, 1998; trustee, Institute of Advanced Study, Princeton, 1984-94. International Seminar on the History of the Atlantic World, director, 1995. Military service: U.S. Army, 1943-46; served in Army Signal Corps and Army Security Agency.
MEMBER: National Academy of Education, American Historical Association (president, 1981), American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Philosophical Society, Royal Historical Society, Mexican Academy of History and Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences, Massachusetts Historical Society, Academia Europaea.
AWARDS, HONORS: Harvard Faculty Prize, 1965, for Volume 1 of Pamphlets of the American Revolution; Pulitzer Prizes in history, 1967, for The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, and 1986, for Voyagers to the West: A Passage in the Peopling of America on the Eve of the Revolution; Bancroft Prize, Columbia University, 1967, for The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution; recipient of first Robert H. Lord Award, Emmanuel College, 1967; L.H.D., Lawrence University, 1967, Bard College, 1968, Clark University, 1975, Yale University, 1976, Grinnell College, 1979, Trinity College, 1984, Manhattanville College, 1991, Dartmouth College, 1991, University of Chicago, 1991, and William and Mary College, 1994; Litt.D., Williams College, 1969, Rutgers University, 1976, Fordham University, 1976, and Washington University (St. Louis, MO), 1988; National Book Award in history, 1975, for The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson; Saloutos Award, Immigration History Society, 1986, Triennial Book Award, and nomination for National Book Critics Circle Award, 1986, all for Voyagers to the West; fellow, British Academy, and Christ's College, Cambridge University, and Montgomery fellow, Dartmouth College, 1991; Thomas Jefferson Medal of the American Philosophical Society, 1993; Henry Allen Moe Prize, American Philosophical Society, 1994; Medal of the Foreign Policy Association, 1998; Catton Prize, Society of American Historians, 2000.
The New England Merchants in the Seventeenth Century, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1955.
(With wife, Lotte Bailyn) Massachusetts Shipping, 1697-1714: A Statistical Study, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1959.
Education in the Forming of American Society: Needs and Opportunities for Study, University of North Carolina Press (Chapel Hill, NC), 1960.
(Editor, with Jane N. Garrett, and author of introduction) Pamphlets of the American Revolution, 1750-1776, Volume 1, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1965.
The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1967, enlarged edition, 1992.
The Origins of American Politics, Knopf (New York, NY), 1968.
(Editor, with Donald Fleming) The Intellectual Migration: Europe and America, 1930-1960, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1969.
(Editor, with Donald Fleming) Law in American History, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1972.
The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1974.
(With others) The Great Republic: A History of the American People, Heath (Lexington, MA), 1977, 4th edition, 1992.
(Editor, with John B. Hench) The Press and the American Revolution, American Antiquarian Society (Worcester, MA), 1980.
History and the Creative Imagination, Washington University (St. Louis, MO), 1985.
The Peopling of British North America: An Introduction, Knopf (New York, NY), 1986.
Voyagers to the West: A Passage in the Peopling of America on the Eve of the Revolution, Knopf (New York, NY), 1986.
From Protestant Peasants to Jewish Intellectuals: The Germans in the Peopling of America (published together with Causes and Consequences of the German Catastrophe, by Heinrich August Winkler), Berg for the German Historical Institute (New York, NY), 1988.
Faces of Revolution: Personalities and Themes in the Struggle for American Independence, Knopf (New York, NY), 1990.
(Editor) The Debate on the Constitution: Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters during the Struggle over Ratification, two volumes, Library of America (New York, NY), 1993.
The Great Republic: Nineteenth and Early Twentieth-Century America, 1820-1920, D. C. Heath (Lexington, MA), 1993.
On the Teaching and Writing of History: Responses to a Series of Questions, edited by Edward Connery Lathem, Montgomery Endowment (Hanover, NH), 1994.
To Begin the World Anew: The Genius and Ambiguities of the American Founders, Knopf (New York, NY), 2003.
Also author of Religion and Revolution: Three Biographical Studies, 1970. Contributor to books including A Lyme Miscellany, 1776-1976, edited by George J. Willauer, Jr., Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT), 1977; and Glimpses of the Harvard Past, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1986.
Editor-in-chief, "John Harvard Library," 1962-70. Editor with Donald Fleming, Perspectives in American History, annual of Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, Harvard University, 1967-77, 1984-86. Contributor to symposia and proceedings of professional organizations. Contributor to professional journals, including American Historical Review and William and Mary Quarterly.
SIDELIGHTS: Historian Bernard Bailyn has earned critical accolades for his writings about and interpretation of American history, particularly involving the American Revolution. The winner of two Pulitzer Prizes and numerous other prestigious awards, Bailyn has been described in the Washington Post Book World as "arguably the pre-eminent historian of the thirteen colonies' break with Britain." Robert V. Remini of Chicago's Tribune Books labeled Bailyn "the foremost historian of the American Revolution," while Stephen Presser, also of Tribune Books, identified him as the "dean of American colonial historians." Another Washington Post Book World critic remarked that "any book by Bailyn . . . is an event."
In the foreword to his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, Bailyn writes that the book attempts to "trace back into the early eighteenth century—and back into the European sources, wherever possible—the specific attitudes, conceptions, formulations, even in certain cases particular phrases, which together form the ideology of the American Revolution." According to a reviewer from the New York Times Book Review, what the author has contributed "is not so much a new viewpoint as a brilliantly persuasive analysis of the current viewpoint, bolstered by a thorough knowledge of the sources and an impressive grasp of the intellectual setting in which they were produced." Book Week reviewer Staughton Lynd noted the value of the book to both historians and casual readers and mentioned that it "avoids the stereotypes and clichés and allows us to see more clearly the real nature of the American Revolution." Lynd also believed that "apart from the fullness of its documentation, the excellence of Bailyn's argument lies in its painstaking effort to grasp eighteenth-century political rhetoric."
Bailyn's The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson, a 1975 National Book Award winner, achieved distinction for the generally charitable portrayal of the Royalist governor of Massachusetts, Thomas Hutchinson (1771-1774), a well-known target of many statesmen of the day, including Samuel Adams, John Adams, and John Quincy Adams. D. B. Little, in a Christian Science Monitor review, explained Bailyn's position: "[Hutchinson] was a loyal British subject devoted to the welfare of the empire and believed firmly that America's well-being depended upon close ties with a strong Great Britain." In the New York Review of Books, E. S. Morgan observed, "In the concluding pages of [the book] Bailyn points out that Hutchinson never understood the forces that destroyed him. . . . And in the opening pages he tells us that his own instinctive sympathies remain with the revolutionists, that he is simply showing us how it was possible for a good man to take the other side. But in between the opening and closing pages he succeeds so well that he leaves the American Revolution looking a pretty shabby affair." New Republic reviewer Steven Kelman pointed out that Bailyn based the book, to a large extent, on Hutchinson's own papers "(which no doubt introduces an inevitable bias), and the author, while aware of the limitations of Hutchinson's political thought, is unsympathetic to most of the imputations of malice his contemporaries made against him." Still, Kelman found that "Bailyn's approach—history written from the viewpoint of the losers—challenges us to imagine ourselves in Hutchinson's position and to ask ourselves how we would have acted in the America of the 1770s."
In Voyagers to the West: A Passage in the Peopling of America on the Eve of the Revolution, the first of a projected multivolume work, Bailyn examines in detail the historical register kept by the customs officials in England and Scotland from 1773-76 which lists particulars about English migrants to the Colonies. The directory indexes the names and addresses of citizens embarking for America, their reasons for departure, their occupations, and their planned destination. "Although Mr. Bailyn makes no claim to have discovered the register," observed John Gross of the New York Times, "he is the first historian to have analyzed it systematically—taking into account its defects, making use of a computer and drawing on a wide range of secondary sources to amplify his findings." Patrick Reardon noted in the Chicago Tribune that Voyagers to the West "is an astonishingly rich book, filled with insights and detail, scholarly yet fascinating in the human dimensions it gives to a broad social movement. In a way, Voyagers to the West is four or five books in one handsomely prepared volume."
In Faces of Revolution: Personalities and Themes in the Struggle for American Independence, a collection of essays on the ideologies and leaders of the American Revolution, Bailyn "has stitched together . . . a series of previously written personality sketches and interpretive essays and added a concluding commentary on the Constitution to provide an extraordinarily lucid and informative representation of the revolutionary age out of which the American nation emerged," claimed Remini in Chicago's Tribune Books. The reviewer added, "In elegant and persuasive language, Bailyn seeks to convey several basic ideas about the age, all of them exciting, important and provocative." Forrest McDonald wrote in the New York Times Book Review, "Rarely has a single book stimulated such a burst of productive scholarship, though the new works often presented alternative formulations of the argument. Mr. Bailyn has little patience with revisionist positions, and while in the present essays he corrects and enlarges his original thesis, he essentially adheres to it."
About The Debate on the Constitution: Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters during the Struggle over Ratification, Theodore Draper commented in the New York Times Book Review, "For anyone, European or American, interested in what the genesis of the Constitution may teach us, help has providentially appeared. It is The Debate on the Constitution, handsomely published in two volumes by the Library of America and masterfully edited by Bernard Bailyn of Harvard University." The book chronicles the procedure whereby the Constitution and its articles were debated and discussed prior to ratification: in speeches, newspaper commentaries, rebuttals, personal correspondence. Draper continued, "A reader of these pages is ennobled and inspired by the dignity and grandeur of this debate. Not all the contributions were on the loftiest level, but so many were that they made reading these volumes a proud and exalting experience." The reviewer mentioned Bailyn's ability to involve and virtually absorb the reader in the ratifying process, so that "with a little effort of imagination we can take part in it as if we were present and engaged." Although Draper would have preferred that Bailyn include an introduction outlining the historical framework of the time, he nevertheless concluded, "The very idea of putting this debate in the Library of America was inspired. Both it and Mr. Bailyn can be proud of how they have carried it out."
Presser admired the scope of The Debate on the Constitution, stating, "Here, after more than 200 years, is an easily accessible set of sacred writings for America's civil religion—the adoration and veneration of the United States Constitution. In these roughly 2,400 pages is to be found virtually every major writing from the pamphlet and newspaper wars over ratification of the Constitution, in addition to a sampling from the private correspondence and the state constitutional convention debates regarding the document." Presser also observed that "there is no helpful introductory essay to ease in the uninitiated," yet appreciated the brief biographies and "astonishingly detailed notes" provided. He further mentioned, "Preparing this set must have been a labor of love for its editor, Bernard Bailyn." In the Washington Post Book World, Gary Jeffrey Jacobsohn praised The Debate on the Constitution, "which, as chronologically arranged by Bernard Bailyn, permits the reader to appreciate that defining historical moment in the illuminating context of an unfolding drama whose lessons speak directly to us today."
In On the Teaching and Writing of History: Responses to a Series of Questions, Bailyn discusses what it's like to be a historian and write about history. According to Edward Shapiro of the World and I, "Bailyn emphasized in the classroom that the true historian is not so much concerned with what the past was like but with why one part of the past had supplanted another." Bailyn teaches "invaluable lessons" as he provides "his own opinions and reflections regarding the meaning of history, how history is taught and how history should be taught, conducting historical research, and writing and communicating historical subject matter," wrote Booklist's Margaret Flanagan. A Publishers Weekly reviewer observed that On the Teaching and Writing of History demonstrates Bailyn's "passion for teaching history" and "his belief that knowledge of the past is crucial to understanding the present."
Focusing once again on the time period after the American Revolution, Bailyn wrote To Begin the World Anew: The Genius and Ambiguities of the American Founders, in which he argues, according to Michael Zuckert in First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, that eighteenth-century Americans and America's founding fathers were "able to question the truisms that dominated British political thought, and thus set out in astonishingly new directions." Five essays comprise this volume that "endeavors to portray the likes of [Thomas] Jefferson, [John] Adams, and [Benjamin] Franklin in all their ambiguities, inconsistencies, and ability to think freely," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor. Bailyn, according to a Publishers Weekly critic, believes that the founding fathers were "idealists as much as realists." The critic remarked that after reading the book "one comes away with a rounded appreciation of the founders' limitations, failures and moral failings as well as their extraordinary achievements."
"Bailyn's distinctive voice, as level-headed and acute as ever, works as both a stimulant and a balm, wrapped in an umbra of intellectual integrity," wrote a Kirkus Reviews critic. The Boston Herald's Rob Mitchell observed that the "brief but discerning" essays capture the "thoughts, struggles, and dilemmas of the Revolutionary generation." Los Angeles Times reviewer Anthony Day called Bailyn's thinking "subtle," his style "forceful," and noted, "he is not afraid to look ambiguities square in the eye." For example, Bailyn points out the inconsistencies in Jefferson's way of thinking. In an essay from To Begin the World Anew titled "Jefferson and the Ambiguities of Freedom," Bailyn wrote that Jefferson was "simultaneously a radical utopian idealist and a hardheaded, adroit, at times cunning politician; a rhetorician, whose elegant phrases had propulsive power, and a no-nonsense administrator. . . . In [his] double role—ideologist and practical politician, theorist and pragmatist—he sought to realize the Revolution's most glittering promise, and as he did so he discovered the inner complexities and ambiguities of those ideals as well as their strengths, and left a legacy of compromise and incompleteness which his critics would forever assail."
According to Zuckert, To Begin the World Anew is benefited not only by "beautifully written" essays, but also by "delicious" pictures of prominent eighteenth-century people and homes. Zuckert dubbed Bailyn "an author who wears his immense learning lightly, and conveys it with grace . . . a master of the essay form and of the period of which he writes." Zuckert concluded, "If he has any shortcoming it is that he leaves us wanting more."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Bailyn, Bernard, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1967.
Bailyn, Bernard, To Begin the World Anew: The Genius and Ambiguities of the American Founders, Knopf (New York, NY), 2003.
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 17: Twentieth-Century American Historians, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1983.
Directory of American Scholars, 10th edition, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.
Global Encyclopedia of Historical Writing, Garland, 1998.
Oxford Companion to American Literature, 6th edition, Oxford Press, 1995.
Biography: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly, fall, 1996, review of On the Teaching and Writing of History: Responses to a Series of Questions, p. 429.
Booklist, May 1, 1995, Margaret Flanagan, review of On the Teaching and Writing of History, p. 1548; December 1, 2002, Gilbert Taylor, review of To Begin the World Anew, p. 643.
Book Week, May 7, 1967.
Boston Herald, January 12, 2003, Rob Mitchell, "New Nonfiction: Founders' Ambiguity Made America Strong," review of To Begin the World Anew, p. 48.
Chicago Tribune, December 1, 1986; July 4, 1993, p. 1.
Christian Science Monitor, April 17, 1974.
Commentary, February, 2003, Adam Schulman, "These Truths," review of To Begin the World Anew, p. 68.
First Things: A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life, June-July, 2003, Michael Zuckert, "Revolutionary Perspectives," review of To Begin the World Anew, p. 36.
Journal of American History, March, 1995, Thomas C. Holt, review of The Great Republic: A History of the American People, p. 1641.
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2002, review of To Begin the World Anew, p. 1581.
Kliatt Young Adult Paperback Book Guide, July, 1996, review of On the Teaching and Writing of History, p. 31.
Library Journal, April 1, 1995, Anthony O. Edmonds, review of On the Teaching and Writing of History, p. 107.
Los Angeles Times, April 17, 1987; January 17, 2003, Anthony Day, review of To Begin the World Anew, p. E-38.
National Review, June 7, 1974.
New Republic, May 4, 1974.
Newsweek, April 27, 1987.
New York Review of Books, March 21, 1974; February 13, 2003, Gordon S. Wood, "Creating the Revolution," review of To Begin the World Anew, p. 38.
New York Times, November 11, 1986; April 17, 1987; January 9, 1988.
New York Times Book Review, June 25, 1967; June 2, 1974; August 17, 1986, p. 6; June 19, 1988, p. 32; September 9, 1990, p. 10; October 10, 1993, p. 3.
Poets & Writers, March-April, 1987.
Publishers Weekly, February 13, 1995, review of On the Teaching and Writing of History, p. 69; November 18, 2002, review of To Begin the World Anew, p. 50.
Times Literary Supplement, October 12, 1967; June 13, 1975; September 4, 1987, p. 959; January 24, 1992, p. 24; September 1, 1995, John Kenyon, review of On the Teaching and Writing of History, p. 28.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), August 19, 1990, p. 1.
Virginia Quarterly Review, summer, 1995, review of On the Teaching and Writing of History, p. 81.
Washington Post, January 13, 1987.
Washington Post Book World, November 30, 1986, p. 6; May 29, 1988, p. 12; September 23, 1990, p. 13; September 5, 1993, p. 6.
William and Mary Quarterly, January, 1995, review of The Debate on the Constitution: Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters during the Struggle over Ratification, p. 209.
World and I, July, 2003, Edward Shapiro, "A Historian's Historian: Bernard Bailyn Demonstrates Once Again Why He Is America's Most Trenchant Historian," review of To Begin the World Anew, p. 224.
Yale Review, October, 1995, On the Teaching and Writing of History, p. 95.
Harvard University Directory Web site,http://www.directory.harvard.edu/ (June 4, 2004), "Bernard Bailyn."
Harvard University Faculty and Staff Web site,http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~atlantic/bailyn.html/ (February 3, 2003), brief biography of Bernard Bailyn.*