Bernard Bailyn (born 1922) is an American historian, author, and Harvard University professor specializing in U.S. Colonial and Revolutionary-era History, who won the Pulitzer Prize for History twice. He has also written books such as The Origins of American Politics, The Great Republic: A History of the American People: 1820 to 1920, The Debate on the Constitution : Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters During the Struggle over Ratification : Part One, September 1787-February 1788 (Library of America), etc. This book was first published in 1967, then enlarged in 1992. (Page numbers below refer to the 396-page 1992 Belknap Press edition.)
He wrote in the original Foreword, "This book has developed from a study ... to prepare a collection of pamphlets of the American Revolution... (they reveal) motive and understanding; the assumptions, beliefs, and ideas---the articulated world view---that lay behind the manifest events of the time... I found myself... (studying) nothing less than the ideological origins of the American Revolution."
He asks, "what were these all-important 'natural rights'? They were defined in a significantly ambiguous way. They were understood to be at one and the same time the inalienable, indefeasible rights inherent in people as such, and the concrete specifications of English law." (Pg. 77) He suggests, "It took no wrench of mind, no daring leap, to accept, by then, the concept of a fixed, written constitution limiting the ordinary actions of government." (Pg. 193) He later observed, "'Republic' and 'democracy' were words closely associated in the colonists' minds; often they were used synonymously." (Pg. 282)
He points out, "No one had set out to question the institution of chattel slavery, but by 1776 it had come under severe attack by writers following the logic of Revolutionary thought." (Pg. 232) He adds that the identification between "the cause of the colonies" and the cause of of African-American slaves "became inescapable." (Pg. 235)
He concludes, "In no obvious sense was the American Revolution undertaken as a social revolution. No one, that is, deliberately worked for the destruction or even the substantial alteration of the order of society as it had been known. Yet it was transformed as a result of the Revolution..." (Pg. 302)
This is a fascinating and illuminating way of studying the history of the American Revolution, and will be of great interest to anyone interested in that era.