Thomas A. Bailey
Thomas Andrew Bailey

(1902-12-14)December 14, 1902
DiedJuly 26, 1983(1983-07-26) (aged 80)
Scientific career
Doctoral advisorEdgar Eugene Robinson
Other academic advisorsHerbert E. Bolton[1]
Doctoral studentsRaymond G. O'Connor, Betty Miller Unterberger, Alexander DeConde

Thomas Andrew Bailey (December 14, 1902 – July 26, 1983) was a professor of history at his alma mater, Stanford University, and wrote many historical monographs on diplomatic history, as well as the widely used American history textbook, The American Pageant.[2] He was known for his witty style and clever terms he coined, such as "international gangsterism." He popularized diplomatic history with his entertaining textbooks and lectures, the presentation style of which followed Ephraim Douglass Adams.[3] Bailey contended foreign policy was significantly affected by public opinion, and that current policymakers could learn from history.


Bailey received his B.A. (1924), M.A. (1925), and Ph.D (1927) from Stanford University, where he was also elected to Phi Beta Kappa. His doctoral work was in U.S. political history. He switched his emphasis towards diplomatic history while teaching at the University of Hawaii.[4] After three years at Hawaii, he taught American history for nearly 40 years at Stanford and also served as a visiting professor at Harvard, Cornell, the University of Washington, and the National War College in Washington, D.C. He retired in 1968.

Bailey authored a number of articles in the 1930s that indicated the historical techniques he would use throughout his career. While not groundbreaking, they remain noteworthy for the care with which Bailey systematically overturned received myths about U.S. diplomatic history by a careful reexamination of the underlying sources.[5] His first book was a study of the diplomatic crisis over racial issues between the United States and Japan during the Theodore Roosevelt administration.[6] He delivered the Albert Shaw Lectures on Diplomatic History at Johns Hopkins on the Wilson administration's policy towards neutrals in 1917-1918, later published in 1942.[7] While the impact of public opinion on the making of foreign policy was a theme that ran through most of his works, he laid it out most clearly in The Man in the Street, published in 1948.

Perhaps the harshest attack on Wilson's diplomacy came from Bailey in two books that remain widely cited by scholars, Woodrow Wilson and the Lost Peace (1944) and Woodrow Wilson and the Great Betrayal (1945), Bailey:

contended that Wilson's wartime isolationism, as well as his peace proposals at war's end, were seriously flawed. Highlighting the fact that American delegates encountered staunch opposition to Wilson's proposed League of Nations, Bailey concluded that the president and his diplomatic staff essentially sold out, compromising important American ideals to secure mere fragments of Wilson's progressive vision. Hence, while Bailey primarily targeted President Wilson in these critiques, others, including House, did not emerge unscathed.[8]

He trained more than 20 doctoral students in his career.[9][10]

He was married to Sylvia Dean, daughter of a former University of Hawaii president.

Honors and awards

In 1960 he served as president of the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association. In 1968, he was elected to the presidencies of both the Organization of American Historians and the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations. The Commonwealth Club awarded him gold medals in 1940 for his Diplomatic History of the American People and 1944 for his Woodrow Wilson and the Lost Peace.[11]



  1. ^ Lester D. Langley, "The Diplomatic Historians: Bailey and Bemis," The History Teacher, Vol. 6, No. 1 (November 1972): 52.
  2. ^ Archived 2015-06-15 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ DeConde, Alexander, "Thomas A. Bailey: Teacher, Scholar, Popularizer," Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 56, No. 2 (May 1987): 166
  4. ^ DeConde, "Thomas A. Bailey," 174.
  5. ^ Langley, "The Diplomatic Historians," p. 52-54.
  6. ^ Bailey, Theodore Roosevelt and the Japanese-American Crisis: An Account of the International Complications Arising from the Race Problems on the Pacific Coast (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1934).
  7. ^ Bailey, The Policy of the United States Toward the Neutrals, 1917-1918 (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1942)
  8. ^ Scot D. Bruce, "Woodrow Wilson's House: The Hidden Hand of Wilsonian Progressivism" Reviews in American History 45#4 (2017) pp 623-24.
  9. ^ Alexander DeConde, "Thomas A. Bailey: Teacher, Scholar, Popularizer," Pacific Historical Review, Vol. 56, No. 2 (May 1987): 161-193.
  10. ^ "Lee W. Formwalt, "From Scotland to India: A Conversation with American Historian Betty Unterberger." August 2005". Archived from the original on March 6, 2012. Retrieved October 23, 2010.
  11. ^ "California Book Awards - Commonwealth Club".
  12. ^ THE FREE PRESS, New York

Further reading