Jack Phillip Greene


Honorary Degree (1977)
Doctor of Laws
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: John William Ryan


Jack Phillip Greene is an historian whose brilliant accomplishment keeps his discipline in the service of a literary muse. He is young for the distinction of his accomplishments. But this native son of Lafayette has won respect and honor from his peers for the quality of his scholarship in the origins of our nation. He is without peer as an historian of our colonial and revolutionary years.

He lived his boyhood years as a neighbor to our Big Ten sister institution, then left Indiana to begin his career as a scholar. He received his bachelor of arts degree from the University of North Carolina, returned to earn a master of arts degree from Indiana University, studied as a post-graduate at the University of Nebraska and the Bristol University in Great Britain, and was awarded his doctor of philosophy degree from Duke University.

His scholarship has brought him distinguished fellowships. He has been a Fulbright Fellow, a Lilly Foundation Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, a John Carter Brown Library Fellow, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a Fellow of the Huntington Library, and a Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He is a young man, but he has already earned a distinguished reputation as a teacher of history at Michigan State University (1956-59), Case Western Reserve University (1959-65), the University of Michigan (1965-66), and Johns Hopkins University (since 1966). He brings honor to Johns Hopkins now as professor of history, and he has served his institution as chairman of history (1970-72) and director of its Program in Atlantic History and Culture (1971-74). He interrupted his service at Johns Hopkins for a year (1975-76) to accept appointment as Harmsworth Professor of American History at Oxford University.

His books and articles analyze the colonial and revolutionary periods in both detail and concept. A sampling of the titles illustrates the breadth and depth of his knowledge: The Quest For Power: The Lower House of Assembly in the Southern Royal Colonies, 1689-1776; London Carter: An Inquiry into the Personal Values and Social Imperatives of the Eighteenth Century Virginia Gentry; Settlements to Society, 1584-1763; and Colonies to Nation, 1763-1789 (the first two volumes in the series, A Documentary History of American Life), The Reappraisal of the American Revolution in Recent Historical Literature; The Ambiguity of the American Revolution; The Reinterpretation of the American Revolution, 1763-1789; The American Colonies in the Eighteenth Century, 1689-1783; Great Britain and the American Colonies, 1606-1763; The Nature of Colony Constitutions; Preconditions of Revolution in Early Modern Europe (with Robert Forster) ; and Neither Slave, Nor Free: The Freedmen of African Descent in the Slave Societies of the New World (with David W. Cohen).

His numerous articles further exhibit his grasp of the era's political, social, and economic life: "Foundations of Political Power in the Virginia House of Burgesses," "Martin Bladen's Blueprint for a Colonial Union," "The Currency Act of 1764 in Imperial-Colonial Relations," "The Role of the Lower Houses of Assembly in Eighteenth Century Politics," "The Flight from Determinism: A Review of Recent Literature on the Coming of the American Revolution," "Bridge to Revolution: The Wilkes Fund Controversy in South Carolina," "Ideas and the American Revolution," "The Plunge of Lemmings: A Consideration of Recent Writings on British Politics and the American Revolution," "Search for Identity: An Interpretation of the Meaning of Selected Patterns of Social Response in Eighteenth Century America," "The Social Origins of the American Revolution," "The American Colonies During the First Half of the Eighteenth Century," and "The Development of Early American Culture."

Jack Phillip Greene's scholarship has shown us those years as they were seen by the men and women who lived them. And with these insights, he has explained to us what our founders had in mind when they created the intellectual, social, and political institutions which endure to serve us today.