All Commentary
Saturday, May 1, 1965

8. The Deactivation of History

To-day… one rarely finds a historical student who would venture to recom­mend statesmen, warriors, and moralists to place any confidence whatsoever in historical analogies and warnings, for the supposed analogies usually prove illusive on inspection, and the warnings, impertinent…. Our situation is so novel that it would seem as if political and military precedents of even a cen­tury ago could have no possible value. 

James Harvey Robinson, 1912

The newer history… holds that few situations in a very remote past will allow of being used as data to test the validity or desirability of measures pro­posed for present or future application. It regards civilization as a great or­ganic complex and contends that, as the general cultural setting of events in the past was so vastly different from the present situation, past events can furnish only a very doubtful and unreliable criterion for judging of the wis­dom of present policies.

Harry Elmer Barnes, 1925

Many obstacles barred the way of those who were attempting to institute melioristic reforms. The most formidable obstacle was re­ality itself. As a matter of fact, since reality has not demonstrably changed, it still is an insurmount­able obstacle to the success of many kinds of reforms. However, reformers have been able to at­tempt many of their innovations.

Dr. Carson is Professor of American History at Grove City College, Pennsylvania. Among his earlier writings in THE FREEMAN were his series on The Fateful Turn and The American Tradition, both of which are now available as books.

This means that they have been able to alter generally held concep­tions of reality. This was accom­plished by embarking upon an ex­tended flight from reality.

Thus far, the story of the ad­vance of reformist ideas has been told within a framework of an en­during reality, and the departure of reformist conceptions from it. In order for large-scale attempts to make over man and society to appear feasible, men had to cease to believe in an underlying struc­tured and ordered reality. Many intellectuals made this step in their thought. It does not follow, of course, that the reason why they ceased to believe in an or­dered reality was so that reforms could be instituted. On the con­trary, many who contributed to this development in thought were not apparently interested in ex­tensive reforms. Many nineteenth century thinkers who had ceased to believe in a metaphysical reality which endures did not, on the other hand, believe consciously directed reform to be possible.

Nonetheless, by dispensing with the metaphysical framework, they set the stage for reform. If man has a nature, if all things have a nature, if there is an underlying order which endures, it follows that there are great limits to the kinds of change that can be made. These conceptions are, however, metaphysical in character regard­less of how obvious and demon­strable they may appear to some people who have not been trained in metaphysics. The metaphysical underpinnings of these concep­tions were swept away by David Hume and Immanuel Kant, or, to be more precise, these philos­ophers held that they could not be directly validated by reason and sensual evidence. The house of philosophy collapsed in the early nineteenth century, and thinkers went off in every direction, erect­ing ideologies out of the bits and pieces that remained from the wreckage of philosophy.

Reason cut loose from reality, and the imagination freed from the discipline of philosophy were used to draw up plans for new heavens on new earths. Even Americans began to feel the at­traction of utopia by the latter part of the nineteenth century. When the enduring was cut away, time and change were all that was left. New pseudo philosophies—Hegelianism, Marxism, Darwin­ism—arose to offer accounts for changes in time. These were or­iented, however, to the discovery and exposition of the laws of change and were not favorable to consciously initiated reforms. Pragmatists offered a way out of this dilemma by setting forth a radical new freedom, freedom from any underlying laws. John Dewey readily wrenched this pseudo philosophy into the orbit of reformism, calling his variant of the philosophy Instrumental­ism.

An Obstacle to Reform

Some of the ground must be re-traveled at this point, however. By moving all of reality into time, thinkers did not remove the con­ceptual obstacles to the triumph of reformism. They only succeeded in making reality the subject matter of history. The traditional role of history was inspirational and cautionary. Men studied history to be inspired by examples of noble actions, to enrich their limited experience by that of others, to draw sustenance for their lives from the lives of others. There was a negative side to this study of history, too: one could find there indications of the limits of what should be attempted, be re­minded of the consequences of pre­cipitate action, discover anew what was beyond his power to alter, be chastened by the records of the failure of others. In short, history has usually played a conservative role in society. It was a major obstacle to reform, as men cus­tomarily thought of it and util­ized it.

Some reformists, who were also historians, realized this. James Harvey Robinson, writing in the early twentieth century, declared: “History has been regularly in­voked, to substantiate the claims of the conservative, but has hitherto usually been neglected by the radical…. It is his weapon by right, and he should wrest it from the hand of the conserva­tive.”¹ In short, Robinson, as a would-be reformer, perceived that history must be reconstructed in order to make it an instrument of reform. The older history must be deactivated; it must be replaced by a “new history.”

Traditional Use of History

Before describing how this de­activation and “instrumentation” of history took place, however, some examples of the traditional use of history are in order. In an earlier America, history was con­ceived of as a depository of experi­ence which might be examined for guidance in the affairs of men. Nowhere is this usage better ex­emplified than in the debates over the adoption of the Constitution. In some of the state conventions there were veritable outpourings of historical erudition to buttress one position or another.

Americans were fearful at this time of entrusting overmuch power to governments. They found numerous instances in history of the working out of the dangers that they feared. For example, those attending the Massachusetts convention were treated to the fol­lowing discourse on the matter:

Dr. Willard entered largely into the field of ancient history, and deduced therefrom arguments to prove that where power has been trusted to men, whether in great or small bodies, they had always abused it, and that thus republics had soon degenerated into aristocracies. He instanced Sparta, Athens, and Rome. The Amphictyonic league, he said, resembled the Confederation of the United States; while thus united, they defeated Xer­xes, but were subdued by the gold of Philip….²

A Mr. Nason in the same con­vention points out the dangers of a standing army:

A standing army! Was it not with this that Caesar passed the Rubicon, and laid prostrate the liberties of his country? By this have seven-eighths of the once free nations of the globe been brought into bondage! Time would fail me, were 1 to attempt to recapitulate the havoc made in the world by standing armies.3

A Major Kingsley cites even more specific historical references, as he argues for better control by the people over their government:

Let us look into ancient history. The Romans, after a war, thought themselves safe in a government of ten men, called the decemviri; these ten men were invested with all power, and were chosen for three years. By their arts and designs, they secured their second election; but, finding, from the manner in which they had exercised their power, they were not able to secure their third election, they declared themselves masters of Rome, impoverished the city, and de­prived the people of their rights.4

The Virginia convention was the scene of even more vigorous debate founded in historical al­lusions than was that of Massa­chusetts. James Madison was one of the most learned of these de­baters. In the following citations, he is arguing from history that loose confederations are not ade­quate to the exigencies of govern­ment:

The Amphictyonic league resem­bled our Confederation in its nominal powers…. But, though its powers were more considerable in many re­spects than those of our present sys­tem, yet it had the same radical de­fect….

The Achaean league, though better constructed than the Amphictyonic,… was continually agitated with do­mestic dissensions, and driven to the necessity of calling in foreign aid; this, also, eventuated in the demoli­tion of their confederacy….

The Germanic system is neither adequate to the external defence nor internal felicity of the people….5

By historical references, Edmund Randolph argues for the desira­bility of union:

If you wish to know the extent of such a scene, look at the history of England and Scotland before the un­ion; you will see their borderers con­tinually committing depredations and cruelties of the most calamitous and deplorable nature, on one another….6

The manner in which they were employing history was not left in doubt. They were reaching back into history for lessons ap­propriate to actions they were considering. John Marshall makes this clear in the following pas­sage:

We may derive from Holland lessons very beneficial to ourselves. Happy that country which can avail itself of the misfortunes of others—which can gain knowledge from that source without fatal experience! 7

James Madison adds: “We may be warned by their example, and shun their fate, by removing the causes which produced their mis­fortunes.”

Common Sense and Philosophy

The didactic use of history rests upon both a common sense and a philosophical foundation. At the common sense level, it is only an extension of everyday practice. If we slip and fall on an icy street, we proceed with cau­tion on icy streets thereafter, realizing that the same thing can happen again. By analogy, we reason that a street is not even necessary to recurrence, that it can happen anywhere on ice. Written history—that is, what is ordinarily thought of as history—is the formalized memory of a people, the record of their experi­ence. History is the public mem­ory of a people, and may serve in more general affairs in much the way that an individual’s memor­ies of experience serve him—i. e., as a compendium of dangers to be avoided, a depository of success­ful methods, a storehouse of what the world is like and how one may operate within it.

At the philosophical level, the didactic use of history was based upon the existence of an under­lying order. It assumes that events, in essence, can recur and that the reason for this is an order in which a given cause will produce a given effect. To return to the example used above, a man walking requires traction to pro­ceed. When he loses traction, his forward motion will continue him downward to the earth, and since he will usually try to brake him­self, he will usually fall backward. The occurrence of such events can be stated as laws; they recur and are even predictable.

In the same fashion, there are larger developments that can be expected to recur under certain circumstances. For example, if political power is concentrated, and not strictly limited, tyranny may be expected to result. The explanation is to be found in the nature of man. The didactic use of history rests, then, upon the view that beneath the surface upon which changes occur there is a substratum which endures. This enduring substratum—this meta­physical realm—makes it possible for men to discover from the study of history what is apt to happen when a particular course is fol­lowed.

In everyday affairs, men have continued to recur to and use their experience very much as they al­ways have. One suspects that even the most determined reformist in­tellectual wears his rubbers, or puts snow tires on his automobile, when he ventures out upon icy streets. He knows, as do we all, that “history” repeats itself many times over. But at the level of large and complex matters, his­tory has been deactivated, the past has been cut off, and men have been disjoined from the com­mon fund of experience. A new history has emerged which is not a useful record of experience but a herald of the future and an in­strument for rebuilding society.

Defaming the Past

One of the culminating steps in the deactivation of history was the defamation of the older his­tory. Just as the older philosophy had been defamed, just as the older education, religion, and eco­nomics would be defamed, just so history would be denigrated. The work of undermining the older history was mainly the work of historians. Many contributed, but three men who mounted the as­sault in the first half of the twentieth century will provide us with sufficient illustrative mater­ial. These men were: James Har­vey Robinson, Harry Elmer Barnes, and Charles A. Beard.

Robinson launched the attack upon the older history first. His position is made clear in the fol­lowing:

It is true that it has long been held that certain lessons could be derived from the past…. But there is a grow­ing suspicion… that this type of use­fulness is purely illusory. The present writer is anxious to avoid any risk of being regarded as an advocate of these supposed advantages of histori­cal study. Their value rests on the as­sumption that conditions remain suf­ficiently uniform to give precedents a perpetual value, while, as a matter of fact, conditions… are so rapidly al­tering that for the most part it would be dangerous indeed to attempt to ap­ply past experience to the solution of current problems.9

Writing some years later, Barnes much more vehemently denounced the reliance upon past experience. He declared that “the past has no direct lesson for the present in the way of analogies and forecasts.” He goes on to cast doubt upon the “wisdom of the Fathers,” that is, the wisdom of leaders in past times. “The fact that every civilization prior to our own has ended up in a hope­less wreck should be fairly proof of the frailty of patristic wisdom in all ages of men.” In short, “we are grotesquely wrong in assum­ing that there has been any great amount of true wisdom in the past….”¹ºBut even if there had been wisdom in the past, he pointed out, it would not be rele­vant to contemporary problems. Conditions have changed.

Therefore, in our efforts to solve contemporary problems on the basis of the “wisdom of the past,” we are somewhat more absurd in our atti­tude and conduct than the animal trainer who would strap his pet an­thropoid in the seat of an aeroplane on the ground of his prior mastery of the technique of the tricycle. Not even a Texas Methodist Kleagle would think of taking his car to Moses, Joshua, Luther or George Washing­ton to have the carburetor adjusted or the valves ground, yet we assure ourselves and our fellowmen that we ought to continue to attempt to solve our contemporary problems of soci­ety, economics, politics and conduct on the basis of methods, attitudes and information which in many cases far antedates Moses.¹¹

It is not necessary to disentangle all the ideas which Barnes mis­takenly or dubiously associated and confused. The point is that he denied the relevance of historical lessons to the present, and, in the same passages, rejected all that may have been learned in the past.

Charles A. Beard, a somewhat more disciplined thinker than Barnes, denied that cause and ef­fect can be isolated in history. He maintained that no group of com­plications can “be isolated from surrounding and preceding com­plications. Even ‘simple’ events are complex when examined close­ly. ‘George Washington accepted the command of the American troops.’ What ’caused’ that ac­tion?”¹² He goes on to conclude that it is impossible to draw a conclusion with certainty about the answer to the question he poses. In so complex a matter as the American Revolution, he con­tinues, the attempt to assign causes is futile.

To apply the physical analogy of “cause and effect” we should be com­pelled to think of the American Revo­lution as an entity, like a ball, set in motion by impact of other entities. The latter are the “causes” and the motion of the ball is the “effect.” The impossibility of making such analogy conform to the recorded facts of the Revolution is apparent to anybody who employs historical knowledge in the effort. We know that thousands of events took place in time, and that thousands of personalities were en­gaged in them, but we cannot find chains of causes and effects in them.¹³

Questions Without Answers

However obtusely he had done so, Beard had put his finger on the nerve that goes to the center of the didactic use of history. If it is impossible to discover cause and effect, it is not possible to know what action produced what results. Without this information there is little to be learned from the past. Beard’s examples do not prove his case; instead, they show that it is possible to pose ques­tions in such a way that no an­swers can be found for them. In the first example, he asked what George Washington’s motives were. He was quite right in point­ing out that we cannot discover the answer to this question with any certainty. He was wrong, how­ever, if he supposed that the an­swer to the question would matter if it could be known. The effects of actions, once they have taken place, are not altered by motives. Suppose he had asked another sort of question, a “simple” one involv­ing George Washington. For ex­ample, Continental troops were so disposed on Long Island that they could have been cut off by General Howe. Why did this occur? Wash­ington had issued an order that they be situated in this manner. He had caused them to be so dis­posed. If the army had been cap­tured, Washington could have been held responsible. If this had happened, there would have been instruction in it for future mili­tary commanders.

The case of the “cause (s)” of the “American Revolution,” as Beard poses the problem, is even more instructive. It leads us to­ward an understanding of the po­sition from which historians de­nied the relevance of the past for the present. Beard started with a dubious assumption, i. e., that there was some occurrence which could properly be called the “American Revolution.” This is highly doubtful. At best, this phrase is a convenient designation for a considerable number of events and developments—e.g., the break from England, the war, the drawing of constitutions, the making of reforms, and so forth. Moreover, the question as posed may embrace motives, purposes, incentives, desires, accidents, in­fluences, decisions, reasons, as well as cause and effect relation­ships, in its answer. “American Revolution,” when used as a phrase to designate a large number of developments, is a fictional device, not a reality. The real question in­volving causation concerning a convenient designation should con­cern who invented it. To treat it as something that actually oc­curred, to ask what caused it to oc­cur, is bound to lead to confusion. To fail to distinguish among all that an historian might offer as explanation—to lump everything together as “causes”—compounds the confusion. The question of causation is important for the didactic use of history as it con­cerns the results of human action. Beard had posed no question that brought the problem into focus.

Actually, then, the arguments were irrelevant to the positions taken. Beard had not disproved the existence of cause and effect relationships. Barnes had not shown that there was nothing to be learned from the past, nor that men in the past had no wisdom. Robinson had not shown that past experience is irrelevant in present circumstances. They, along with others, did succeed in discrediting didactic history, but what did the work was not the validity of their direct arguments against it but their assumptions. These men were historicists, and if one ac­cepts the historicist position, he must, logically, reject the rele­vance of the past to action in the future.

A Hodgepodge of Details

In essence, historicism has been defined—or described—in the fol­lowing way by one historian: “The subject matter of history is human life in its totality and multiplicity. It is the historian’s aim to portray the bewildering, unsystematic variety of historical forms… in their unique, living expressions and in the process of continuous growth and transfor­mation.” In brief, “the special quality of history does not con­sist in the statement of general laws or principles, but in the grasp, so far as possible, of the infinite variety of particular his­torical forms immersed in the passage of time.” ¹4

Historicism was developed by German historians in the nine­teenth century; it stemmed from Herder and was shaped by von Ranke, Dilthey, and Meinecke. It arose as a protest against the sci­entific emphasis of eighteenth century thought and partook of the romantic concentration upon the concrete and the unique.¹5 It was, in its inception, a definition of the limits and extent of their craft by historians. They were saying something such as this: Each event when viewed as a whole is unique. That is how we propose to view every happening, occurrence, and development. Per­chance, there may be common fea­tures to them, there may be laws and principles, but this is not our concern as historians.

Well and good, one might say, let other disciplines explore re­ality from their vantage points and discover such laws and princi­ples as there are. But there was a catch. In the course of the nine­teenth century, all of reality was being thrust into the domain of history by thinkers, by Hegel, by Marx, by the Darwinians. Every­thing was conceived of as chang­ing, and the historicists them­selves were among the first to claim every aspect of life as grist for their mills. This brought them into conflict with the various “sci­entific” schools (Hegelian, Marx­ian, Darwinian), for these sought for and expounded “laws” of his­torical change. On the whole, in the West, the historicists appear to have won.

In the main, however, it was an empty victory. Most of the ideas that were denied entrance at the front door by historicists came in at the back by way of assump­tions. Thus, scientism, progres­sivism, determinism, and a host of other isms have pervaded his­torical work in the twentieth century. Historicism is particu­larly vulnerable to determinism, and the historicist has no vantage point from which to resist the in­tellectual currents of his day. This is so because historicism is in­eluctably relativistic. Each event is unique; each happening must be understood in terms of the con­text within which it occurs. To put it another way, everything is rel­ative to its context. Rigorous his­toricists (some of whom were romantic individualists) have tried to avoid the implicit deter­minism in this view by insisting upon the uniqueness and individ­uality of each thing. But most historians are not troubled by such philosophical scruples; thus, they allow the implicit assump­tion of determinism free play in their work.

No Guide for the Future

The main point, however, is that historicism makes history useless so far as instruction for future action is concerned. Regardless of how luxurious the detail with which events are described—or because of it in part—these events contain no lessons. They are unique, self-contained, or, in the case of the way in which most practition­ers handle them, prelude to the future. Future happenings will be unique also, perhaps shaped, even determined, by the past, but un­like anything in it. The relativism in historicism can be utilized to reach yet another conclusion—that the past is unknowable. This is roughly the conclusion which Charles A. Beard had reached by the mid-1930′s.¹6 The reasoning follows this line. Both men and events are conditioned by the con­text within which they occur, are relative to their “times.” If this is so, it follows that the historian writes from his own unique posi­tion and can never be certain that he is making truthful statements about the past. It is much more likely that he is revealing much more about himself and his times than he is about the past. The idea was already current that each generation rewrites history in its own image, and Beard’s position reinforced it.

The thought may well arise at this point, why bother with his­tory, anyhow? It appears to be useless, meaningless, and in any case, probably unknowable. Some historians have indeed drawn such a conclusion. But the most vigor­ous defamers of the older history quite often had new uses in mind. They were what may be called historicist-progressives. From his­toricism they took the idea that history does not repeat itself, that16 ideas and events are relative to the context within which they oc­cur, and that it is the business of the historian to reconstruct the whole of the past, in all its luxurious detail. From progres­sivism came their idea that all of later history is a product of ear­lier history—that the past is pro­logue. If one could delineate all the trends at any present moment, they thought, he could discern the shape of the future. This was a watered down version of the vari­ous historical determinisms of the nineteenth century.

Changing the Past

Historicist-progressives turned to the conscious use of history to reform man and society. This was the purpose of James Harvey Rob­inson’s New History. He declared, “We must develop historical-mindedness upon a far more gen­erous scale than hitherto, for this will add a still-deficient element in our intellectual equipment and will promote rational progress as nothing else can do. The present has hitherto been the willing vic­tim of the past; the time has come when it should turn on the past and exploit it in the interests of advance.”¹7 The historian should come forward and direct the re­forms, it appears:

As for accomplishing the great re­forms that demand our united efforts—the abolition of poverty and disease and war, and the promotion of happy and rational lives—the task would seem hopeless enough were it not for the considerations which have been recalled above…. The reformer who appeals to the future is a recent up­start…. But it is clear enough to­day that the conscious reformer who appeals to the future is the final prod­uct of a progressive order of things….We are only just coming to realize that we can cooperate with and direct this innate force of change….18

Even as long ago as 1913 the vil­lain of the piece—conservatism—had been identified. “At last, per­haps, the long-disputed sin against the Holy Ghost has been found; it may be the refusal to cooperate with the vital principle of better­ment. History would seem, in short, to condemn the principle of conservatism as a hopeless and wicked anachronism.”’

Harry Elmer Barnes accepted the “value of historical knowledge as an aid in improving the present and in planning for the future….” He declared that the “chief way in which history can be an aid to the future is by revealing those elements in our civilization which are unquestionably primitive, an­achronistic and obstructive and by making clear those forces and factors in our culture which have been most potent… in removing these primitive barriers to more rapid progress.”²º The ubiquitous John Dewey can be quoted to the same effect: “Intelligent under­standing of past history is to some extent a lever for moving the present into a certain kind of fu­ture.”²¹

The Projection of Historical Trends

History was not only deacti­vated, then, but also reactivated. The older history was defamed and cast aside, but a New History was conceived to take its place. History ceased to be a record of man’s experience from the past, rooted in an enduring reality, and was given a new role of being an instrument of reform in the pres­ent and for the future. This New History was (and is) presentistic and futuristic. The past is con­sciously and intentionally viewed from the present perspective and in terms of future goals. The emphasis is upon trends and forces at work in history, and upon the changing cultural setting within which men live and events take place.

History was rewritten to the above formulas. The modus oper­andus was something such as this. The historian combed whatever history he happened to be study­ing for currents and trends lead­ing up to the present situation or which could be expected to culmi­nate in the not too distant future. Quite often, such history was written with a particular idea, goal, or ideal in mind. A favorite goal for American history has been democracy. A historian writ­ing from this angle is apt to dis­cover “seeds of democracy” in Puritan New England, “limited democracy” in the constitutional period, “Jeffersonian democracy” in the time of the badly misunder­stood Jefferson, and “Jacksonian democracy” a little later.

Of course, the Jacksonians only witnessed the Advent of Democ­racy, as any reader of such his­tories knows. A great struggle had yet to take place. Children and women labored long hours in inhospitable factories. The enfran­chisement of the adult population was only well underway. In the latter part of the nineteenth cen­tury, the “plutocrats” almost suc­ceeded in wrenching the control of the government out of the hands of “the people.” But, in the early twentieth century, “the people” wrested control away from the usurpers, and turned it over to progressive reformers. From that time on, with some set-backs, the advance of “democracy” has been upward and onward. The work is not finished, of course, as one historian points out in the perora­tion to his text:

High though our standard of living is, it reveals glaring inequalities. Vigorous efforts should be made to narrow the gap between the rich few and the poor many. A better life must be assured our millions of sub-stand­ard tenant farmers, sharecroppers, migratory fruit-and-vegetable work­ers, and day laborers, both Negro and white. Millions of our people enjoy less than a decent standard of living, and consequently fall victim to ill­ness, crime, and other misfortunes re­sulting from a low income. A high standard of democracy and a high standard of decency go hand in hand.²²

He has, of course, already de­scribed trends which, when they culminate, should deal rather ef­fectively with these problems.

The Subtle Path to Reform

It should be noted that the historicist-progressive historian need not come out in the open as an advocate of reforms, as the above quoted historian does. He can, and usually does, accomplish his advocacy in more subtle ways. The story that he tells is usually oriented toward reforms. The trends he discovers make the re­forms virtually inevitable. He can describe the surrounding circum­stances in such a way (the hand­ling of the Great Depression is a good example) that the reforms are made to appear unavoidable and entirely desirable. All of this he can do while maintaining a stance of “objectivity.” All that he has been doing, he may protest, is to describe what happened, to show the context within which it happened, and to sort out the trends which led up to the happen­ing. Actually, many historians of this stripe take no particular pains to hide their melioristic bias. The ones quoted above were hardly doing so. It is a handy stance to have around, however, when some historian arises to oppose reform.

It should be noted, too, that “lessons” have crept back into the New History. They usually have to do with the temporary triumph of the “forces of reac­tion.” Perhaps the most commonly repeated “lesson” is the one to be learned from the failure of the United States to join the League of Nations. Many historians at­tribute failure of the League to the absence of American support. If America had joined, they say, things would have been different. Look at all the horrors that en­sued. The hardly concealed “les­son” was that the United States should join the United Nations and should stay with it and sup­port it at all cost. Notice that this is not a lesson to be learned from history at all. It is a preachment written into history. No one knows what might have happened had the United States joined the League of Nations. It is pure sup­position that the course of events would have been much altered. It is not a lesson drawn from what men did and what the conse­quences were; it is a lesson drawn from what men might have done and what might have been the result had they done so.

As the above indicates, history has been cut loose from reality. The only reality with which his­tory can properly deal is in the past. When, and to the extent that they did, historians cut loose from reality, they cut all of us off from much of our experience. They opened the way to reform efforts unchastened by experience. They turned history into an instrument for remaking man and society. They wrenched history out of its path of reliance on the concrete experience of the past and at­tempted to root it in their own subjective longings.

The next article in this series will treat of “The New ‘Reality.’”

Foot Notes

1 James H. Robinson, The New History (New York: Macmillan, 1912), p. 252.

2 Elliot’s Debates, Bk. I, vol. 2, p. 68.

3 Ibid., p. 136.

4 I bid., p. 62.

5 Ibid., vol. 3, pp. 129-31.

Ibid., p. 75.

7 Ibid., p. 225.

8 Ibid., p. 311.

9 Robinson, op. cit., pp. 17-18.

10 Harry E. Barnes, The New History and the Social Studies (New York: The Century Co., 1925), p. 588.

11 Ibid., p. 589.

12 Charles A. Beard, The Discussion of Human Affairs (New York: Macmillan, 1936), p. 90.

Ibid., p. 91.

14 Hans Meyerhoff, ed., The Philosophy of History in Our Time (Garden City: Doubleday, an Anchor book, 1959), p. 10.

15 See ibid., pp. 9-18.

His most famous statement of it is in “Written History as an Act of Faith,” American Historical Review, XXXIX (January, 1934) 219-29.

17 Robinson, op. cit., p. 24. Emphasis added.

18 Ibid., pp. 263-65.

Ibid., p. 265.

2° Barnes, op. cit., p. 16.

21 John Dewey,”Historical Judgments,” in Meyerhoff, op. cit., p. 172.

22 Barnes, op. cit., p. 16.

23 John Dewey,”Historical Judgments,” in Meyerhoff, op. cit., p. 172.

224Thomas A. Bailey, The American Pageant (Boston: Heath, 1961, 2nd edi­tion), p. 970.

  • Clarence Carson (1926-2003) was a historian who taught at Eaton College, Grove City College, and Hillsdale College. His primary publication venue was the Foundation for Economic Education. Among his many works is the six-volume A Basic History of the United States.