The classics appear conspicuously in the pamphlet wars of the American Revolution, though in the opinion of Bernard Bailyn (written many years ago), their presence is window-dressing and their influence superficial. They are everywhere illustrative, not determinative, of thought (my italics). Up the scale in influence comes Enlightenment rationalism, also superficial but only at times-that removes the foreigners, ancient and modern. Then, further up the scale are English common-law writers, powerfully influential though still insufficiently determinative; above them, a major source, New England Puritan thought and culture; and finally, at the top, seventeenth-century British heroes of liberty and the early eighteenth-century transmitters of this tradition, e.g. Commonwealth men, Bishop Hoadly. Who would have thought that the bishop of Winchester weighed in the balance more heavily than Plato and Aristotle? Only once in passing does Bailyn even mention Machiavelli, to whom J. G. A. Pocock, Quentin Skinner, and Harvey C. Mansfield would grant large prominence in the development of Revolutionary thought.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies
- Sociology and Political Science