Summary: What perhaps more than anything else distinguished the Revolution and Founding from European experience was the American transformation of the idea of a social contract from theory to practice. By focusing on the role of the social contract we can shed new light on the old question, “Was the American Revolution a revolution?” The enormous importance of the idea of a social contract in America after the revolutionary era can be tracked by studying, among other developments, the land reform movement or the uses of the Declaration of Independence, down to Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech of 1963.
Mark Hulliung holds a professorship at Brandeis University. His research and teaching interests are in European and American history, cultural, intellectual, and political. He is a political theorist as well as an historian.
His major publications are Montesquieu and the Old Regime (University of California Press, 1976), Citizen Machiavelli (Princeton University Press, 1983), The Autocritique of Enlightenment: Rousseau and the Philosophes (Harvard University Press, 1994), co-author of Contemporary Political Ideologies (HarperCollins, 1996), Citizens and Citoyens: Republicans and Liberals in America and France (Harvard University Press, 2002), and The Social Contract in America: From the Revolution to the Present Age (University Press of Kansas, 2007).
At present he is working as co-author and co-editor of a volume tentatively titled Revisiting The Liberal Tradition in America: What is Living and What is Dead in the Work of Louis Hartz.