It replaced the view held by Progressives and Imperialists alike that the revolution was a minority action imposed on a reluctant public.
And since both ideology and economic interests can cause conflicts, both were discarded as causal factors in the American past.
Instead, the Consensus school saw American history as guided not by "doctrinaire" ideas nor by economic interests but rather by a flexible, pragmatic, ad hoc approach to problem-solving.
He pointed to its decisive inspirational effect on the succeeding European revolutions of the late eighteenth century, as well as to the similarity of goals and ideologies.
Palmer thereby restored the older tradition of linking these revolutions on both sides of the Atlantic, as did Jacques Godechot in radical than the French, since proportionately far more Tories were driven out of America than aristocrats were to be exiled from France.
But the Consensus historians did make one important contribution.
They restored the older idea of the American Revolution as a movement of the great of the American people.
Neither the Constitutionalists, stressing the legal and philosophic, nor the Progressives, stressing the economic grievances, saw the nature of the integrated whole of American revolutionary ideology.
Neither did the "Consensus" school of historians, who became ascendant in the 1940s and 1950s.
To explain this, the Progressives fell back on the theory of "propaganda" popular in the 1920s and 1930s: that the ideology propounded by the leaders was mere windy rhetoric which they never believed.
The "propaganda," they claimed, was used to dupe the masses into going along with the revolutionary agitation.