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Millinneum Evening with Historian Bernard Bailyn

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February 11, 1998, 7:00pm, East Room
with Historian Bernard Bailyn

Bernard Bailyn is the Adams University Professor, Emeritus at Harvard University. He alsoserves as a Senior Fellow in Harvard's Society of Fellows and is the Director of the InternationalSeminar on the History of the Atlantic World. In his remarks, Professor Bailyn will addresssome of the core American ideas that crystallized during the Revolutionary Era, that have shapedour history thereafter, and that must be preserved as we move into a new millennium. On March23, 1998, he will also deliver the National Endowment for the Humanities' Jefferson Lecture, thehighest honor in the humanities bestowed by the federal government.

Professor Bailyn won the Pulitzer and Bancroft prizes (1968) for Ideological Origins oftheAmerican Revolution (1967), the National Book Award in History in 1975 for TheOrdeal ofThomas Hutchinson (1974), and the Pulitzer Prize in History, for Voyagers to theWest (1986).Voyagers to the West also won the Saloutos Award of the Immigration History Societyanddistinguished book awards from the Society of Colonial Wars and the Society of the Cincinnati. Books by Dr. Bailyn are listed below.

Professor Bailyn was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and received the A.B. degree fromWilliamsCollege in 1945, and the A.M. (1947) and Ph.D. (1953) degrees from Harvard. During WorldWar II he served in the Army Signal Corps and in the Army Security Agency. He has taught atHarvard since 1949, becoming Professor in 1961 and Winthrop Professor of History in 1966, aposition he held until 1981, when he became the Adams University Professor, one of Harvard'shighest academic honors. He served as editor-in-chief of the John Harvard Library from 1962 to1970, as co-editor of the journal Perspectives in American History, 1967-77, 1984-86,and asDirector of the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History, 1983-1994. The formerpresident of the American Historical Association, he is a foreign member of the British Academyand the Mexican Academy of History and Geography; in 1994 he was elected to the RussianAcademy of Sciences, the first American historian to be elected to that body since GeorgeBancroft in 1867. He and his wife, Lotte Bailyn, professor of management at MIT, live inBelmont, Massachusetts.

Professor Bailyn has written comprehensively on American history, covering social,economic,political, and intellectual topics. "I'm trying to give an account in various ways of the emergenceof modern America out of a very different past, and there's no single approach to that." He wonspecial acclaim for tracing the origins and development of American ideas about government andits relationship to the governed. He sees the influence of the American Revolution extendingbeyond the political realm of its time, into the present. "Whether we recognize it or not, thesense we make of the history of our national origins helps to define for us...the values, purposes,and acceptable characteristics of our public insititutions."

Books by Bernard Bailyn:

The New England Merchants in the Seventeenth Century (1955)
Massachusetts Shipping, 1697-1714 (with Lotte Bailyn, 1959)
Education in the Forming of American Society (1960)
The Apologia of Robert Keayne, editor (1965)
Pamphlets of the American Revolution, editor (1965, Harvard Faculty Prize)
The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (1967; Pulitzer and Bancroft prizes)
The Origins of American Politics (1968)
The Intellectual Migration: Europe and America, 1930-1960, co-editor (1969)
Law in American History, co-editor (1972)
The Ordeal of Thomas Hutchinson (1974; National Book Award)
The Great Republic, co-author (1977)
The Press and the American Revolution, co-editor (1980)
The Peopling of British North America: An Introduction (1986)
Voyagers to the West (1986; Pulitzer Prize)
Faces of Revolution (1990)
Strangers within the Realm: Cultural Margins of the First British Empire, co-editor (1991)
Debate on the Constitution, editor (Library of America, 2 vols, 1993)
On the Teaching and Writing of History (1994)

Professor Bailyn studied the political discourse of the decade or two leading up to therevolutionof 1776 and chronicled the formulation of ideas such as the need for a written constitution, thepeople as sovereign beneath only a heavenly sovereign, the constitution as the representation ofthe sovereignty of the people, a legislative body subordinate to the sovereignty of thepeople/constitution, the division of sovereignty among different governmental bodies, the needfor enumeration of governmental powers, the need for enumeration of peoples' rights, and theidea that a constitution should be developed directly by the people. These innovations weredeveloped over time by the colonials to protect the self-rule and ideas of liberty they felt wereunder attack by the assertion of British authority in the American colonies in the 1760's and1770's. Professor Bailyn found the colonials' new comprehensive view of the world andAmerica's place in it, "unique in its moral and intellectual appeal" and that it was this newperspective which wielded more influence in prompting revolution than, "an accumulation ofgrievances."

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First Millennium Evening with Professor Bernard Bailyn

Millinneum Evening with Historian Bernard Bailyn