The battle for the independence of the American colonies has been attributed to many competing motives and factors. Within the vast array of literature on the subject, there are different schools of interpretation. Progressive-era historians tend to focus upon economic motivations underlying the American Revolution.] Within this school of thought historians actually explored possible class conflict and the social ramifications of the revolution. An opposing school of thought arose out of reaction against the progressive historians. The Neo-Whig school of thought placed a higher value on constitutional principles and ideas during the American Revolution, and discounted other motives driving the revolution (like economical) Bernard Bailyn's Ideological Origins of the American Revolution is a prime example of how Neo-Whigs interpreted history. For them, ideas were of utmost importance. The crux of the conflict was over which was more important: economic motivation or political ideas in guiding the revolution. Inherent in this conflict is also the question of action and ideas. The progressive school of historians tend to pay more attention to actual actions, and the Neo-Whigs are far more concerned with ideas. These two schools of thought helped to shape much of the argument surrounding the American revolution, and can determine how we interpret radicalness during the American Revolution.
Skeggs '04, Angela, "The Translation of Radical Ideas into Radical Action: The American Revolution and Revolutionary Philadelphia" (2004). Honors Projects, History. 3.