Thinking the Revolution: American Political Thought, 1763–1789 (seminar)

For more past programming from the Folger Institute, please see the article Folger Institute scholarly programs archive.

This was a late-spring 2012 seminar led by Eric Nelson.

This seminar examined the development of American political thought from the beginning of the Atlantic imperial crisis in the 1760s until the ratification of the Federal Constitution. Famous works of the period, such as Paine’s Common Sense and The Federalist, were placed in the wider context of American political writing from 1763 to 1789. Particular attention was paid to the North American reception of various, competing traditions within early-modern republican thought (derived from Roman, Greek, and Hebraic sources), and to the manner in which shifting understandings of England’s great seventeenth-century constitutional crisis came to structure American political discourse during the Revolutionary period. This seminar was one of the Center for the History of British Political Thought programs at the Folger Institute.

Director: Eric Nelson is Professor of Government at Harvard University. He is the author of The Hebrew Republic: Jewish Sources and the Transformation of European Political Thought (2010) and The Greek Tradition in Republican Thought (2004), and editor of Hobbes’s translations of the Iliad and Odyssey for the Works of Thomas Hobbes (2008).