For the Western world, the period from 1760 to 1800 was the great revolutionary era in which the outlines of the modern democratic state came into being. R.R. Palmer argues that the American, French, and Polish revolutions―and the movements for political change in Britain, Ireland, Holland, and elsewhere―were manifestations of similar political ideas, needs, and conflicts. Palmer traces the clash between an older form of society, marked by legalized social rank and hereditary or self-perpetuating elites, and a new form of society that placed a greater value on social mobility and legal equality.
Joining me to discuss R. R. Palmer’s The Age of the Democratic Revolution: A Political History of Europe and America, 1760-1800, is Steven Pincus.
Steven Pincus received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1990. At Yale, he teaches 17th and 18th century British, Atlantic and European history, the history of the early British Empire, and Directed Studies. In addition to research seminars in History, he regularly co-teaches cross-disciplinary seminars with faculty in other departments. Recent topics have included the Divergence of Britain, Comparative Revolutions, and Early Modern Empires in Theory and Practice. He is the author of Protestantism and Patriotism: Ideologies and the Making of English Foreign Policy, 1650-1668 and 1688: The First Modern Revolution, and most recently The Heart of the Declaration: The Founders’ Case for Activist Government.