The study of history can be divided into at least two areas, known as the historical narrative and historiography. The historical narrative describes the events of history themselves, whereas historiography is the study of why the events of the past occurred. Historiographers, or historians, have many different views of what caused past events, however they can be organized into schools of thought that have many similarities. These schools tend to evolve over time, and are often influenced by the experience of the historians themselves. When studying the causes of the American Revolution, many schools of thought come into play. The earliest school recorded their observations during the revolution itself.
[...] Imperialists reasoned that the American Revolution couldn't be viewed in the confines of American History, as it was a part of the British Empire as a whole. When they are looked at in this context, the policies of the British to rule their empire don't seem so bad. Further, it can even be said that America prospered under England's liberal, enlightened system with beneficial navigation laws, among other things. So if the colonies were benefiting from English colonial policies, why did they revolt? [...]
[...] Today, historians have once again changed their focus, and many are now focusing on race, class, and gender, which is indeed a reflection of the current push in our society to foster multiculturalism and understanding between different groups. Also, many of the historical opinions have evolved so much that they no longer fit into the provided categories that are discussed here. When studying the causes of the American Revolution between 1763 and 1777, the historical schools of thought described above [...]
[...] Idealist historian Bernard Bailyn suggests that ideas caused the American Revolution, and he lists Republicanism as the most important of these ideas. Bailyn argues that ideas are the main drive for change throughout history, as ideas change attitudes and beliefs. For Bailyn, the American Revolution was an ideological transformation that caused the colonists to radically change how they saw themselves and their relationship with England and the rest of the world. A criticism of the idealist historian school is that it rested too heavily on the influence of ideas, ignoring the fact that many behaviors and changes are influenced by concrete forces. [...]
[...] George Bancroft, a historian of the nationalist or whig school, described the Revolution as the final event in the American progress toward liberty. For him, the Revolution represented a giant step in God's master plan for a march to the golden age of greater human freedom. By the mid 1800's the study of history had gone through many changes. Historical societies began to collect more documents, and history became more of an occupation as opposed to a hobby. Despite these changes there are only 11 historians in America in the early 1800's, and they created the American Historical Society in 1884. [...]
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