History 231 Reading Guide

The English Empire and the Colonies in the Late Seventeenth Century:  The Glorious Revolution in America

  • Bernard Bailyn, “Politics and Social Structure in Virginia,” in J.M. Smith, ed., Seventeenth-Century America (1959, 1987): or in Katz, Colonial America, 4th ed. (1993).  e-reserve

Further reading:

  • John M. Murrin, “The Menacing Shadow of Louis XIV and the Rage of Jacob Leisler:  The Constitutional Ordeal of Seventeenth-Century New York,” in Stephen L. Schechter and Richard B. Bernstein, eds., New York and the Union: Contributions to the American Constitutional Experience (1990), 29-71.  e-reserve

Encyclopædia Britannica Online links:


According to Bailyn, outbursts and insurrections against constituted authority were both “symptomatic of a profound disorganization of European society in its American setting” and indicative of alterations in the “social foundations of political power” (90).

  • How were traditionally held assumptions about social structure and political authority altered in the colonies during the early and mid-seventeenth century?
  • What were the consequences of these changes for leadership?
  • What upset the precarious balance of leadership by mid-century?
  • How was a new equilibrium established in the 1670s? Who did it serve—and disserve?
  • From where did the challenge to authority in Virginia emerge?
  • What was the nature of the eventual “equilibrium”?