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Ideas Behind the American Revolution

Bailyn bases his research on "a collection of pamphlets of the American Revolution" (Bailyn ix), culling some 400 documents down to the 72 he considers the most significant. He writes that these pamphlets

reveal no merely positions taken but the reasons why positions were taken; 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 (Bailyn x).

Of course, one could just as easily argue that these pamphlets were merely advertisements for the coming revolution, and, in that regard, were propaganda. In other words, these documents present the arguments for the revolution in their most ideal form. An advertisement for an automobile appeals to the psychological and emotional needs of potential buyers; it does not examine the nuts and bolts of the car or consider design flaws or possible problems with the vehicle. The same can be said of original documents upon which Bailyn bases his study.

To some extent, Bailyn acknowledges the idealized picture presented by these documents. He places at the center of his argument the conclusion that the fathers of the revolution were sincere in their writings and impassioned by the sense that they were indeed faced with a consp


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Ideas Behind the American Revolution. (2000, January 01). In Retrieved 03:02, October 25, 2014, from
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