Reply To: Greeks & Romans Bearing Gifts: How the Ancients Inspired the Founding Fathers?


In the ’70s and ’80s, this debate flared across the historiographical landscape. Some said “republicanism.” Others countered “liberalism.” Still others tried to push the influence of republicanism and liberalism into later and later periods of American history.

In the end, former proponents of the “republicanism” argument, such as Lance Banning, conceded that both liberal and republican ideas influenced the Revolution and the Founding, with virtually every serious thinker and nearly all notable politicians drawing from one and the other of the two threads at different times.

I have myself profited from works produced by both camps, which is why a few days back I responded to a query about my favorite American historians by offering a list of historians including prominent advocates of the Republican Thesis (Wood, Banning, McCoy) and the leading advocate of the Liberalism Counter-Thesis (Appleby).