T.H. Breen

T.H. Breen is the William Smith Mason Professor of American History at Northwestern University and is currently the Fowler Hamilton Visiting Fellow at Christ Church, Oxford.


T.H. Breen, 10 May 1990

‘Revolutions,’ Barbara Tuchman writes, ‘produce other men, not new men. Half-way “between truth and endless error” the mould of the species is permanent. That is the earth’s burden.’ Edmund Morgan and Patrice Higonnet are less pessimistic. They see the great ideological transformations of the 18th century as a continuing challenge. To be sure, those who dreamed of creating a genuine liberal democracy may have failed to achieve their immediate goals, but they issued a powerful invitation to establish the sovereignty of the people. This dynamic concept, Morgan writes, ‘has continually challenged the governing few to reform the facts of political and social existence to fit the aspirations it fosters. The presumption that social rank should convey a title to political authority was only the first casualty in its reformations, and we have not yet seen the last.’

Make me work if you can

T.H. Breen, 18 February 1988

Not until the 18th century did ordinary Europeans discover America. New World staples flooded into their homes, fibres, sugar, tobacco, affordable consumer items that made their lives a little more pleasant. Production of these goods, of course, required huge numbers of labourers, most of whom had travelled to America as bondsmen, as servants and slaves. About the African migrants, we now know a good deal. But curiously, until quite recently no one paid much attention to the hundreds of thousands of European migrants who crossed the Atlantic as indentured servants.

Crop Masters

Daniel Aaron, 19 January 1989

Some thirty years ago, as he ploughed through hundreds of pamphlets on the Anglo-American conflict published in the colonies before 1776, Bernard Bailyn was struck by the excitement with which...

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Good History

Christopher Hill, 5 March 1981

Professor Hexter made his mark in the learned world over forty years ago with an article in the American Historical Review called ‘The Problem of the Presbyterian Independents’. He...

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