What Is History? Part 4B

Clyde N. WilsonAmerican Views: The North

The Lord made use of my Pen to write many Books for the advancement of His Kingdome; Yea, and had strangely encouraged and fortified my Serviceableness, by such Marks of Respect from other Parts of the World, as no Person in America has ever yett received before me. —Cotton Mather, first New England historian

. . . thro’ the Energy, and Subtilty of Satan, Prejudices were like to prevail against me . . . People were now prejudiced against me for printing so many Books. —Cotton Mather

Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. –Abe Lincoln Duh?

The supreme purpose of history is a better world. —Herbert Hoover (Duh!)

History is more or less bunk . . . . We want to live in the present, and the only history that is worth a tinker’s damn is the history we make today. —Henry Ford

Governor James Hamilton of South Carolina describing George Bancroft, the Massachusetts scribbler who claimed to be the greatest American historian of the 19th century: I know this man thoroughly. He is the very living Presentment of that Class of Metaphysicians which Burke describes so admirably in his work on the French Revolution. He is . . . faithless and as sycophantic as faithless. . . . His conduct to his Coadjutor Mr. Cogswell was compounded of all that was odious in ingratitude and bad faith, whilst for mere purposes of popularity, he has pushed the doctrines of Agrarianism & Dorrism to the most disgusting & licentious extent. Have a care.

The cause of America is the cause of virtue and mankind. —Alexander Hamilton

The settlement of America was the opening of a grand scheme and design in Providence for the illumination of the ignorant, and the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind over the earth. —John Adams

As history stands, it is a sort of Chinese play, without end and without lesson. —Henry Adams

History is the most aristocratic of all literary pursuits, because it obliges the historian to be rich as well as educated. —Henry Adams

History will die unless irritated. The only contribution I can make to my profession is to serve as a flea. —Henry Adams

I don’t believe the truth will ever be known, and I have a great contempt for history. —Gen. George G. Meade

Whatever is old corrupts, and the past turns to snakes. —Waldo Emerson

In analysing history do not be too profound, for often the causes are quite superficial. —Emerson

Men’s lives are chains of chances and history their sum. —Bayard Taylor

Years should not be devoted to the acquisition of dead languages or to the study of history which, for the most part, is a detailed account of things that never occurred. —Robert G. Ingersoll

Events, which are the arguments of God, are stronger than words, which are the arguments of men. —Albert J. Beveridge

It is everlastingly true that on the whole the best guide to the future is to be found in a proper understanding of the lessons of the past. —Warren G. Harding (Wow! George Bush look to your laurels as philosopher.)

History repeats itself. That’s one of the things wrong with history. —Clarence Darrow

One curious thing about history . . . is that it really happened. —Allan Nevins (Duh!)

History does not usually make sense until long afterward. —Bruce Catton (Huh?)

A wise man does not try to hurry history? —Adlai Stevenson (Huh?)

When we wanted sandwiches, we had to use a knife the slice the bread; sliced bread was still in the future. . . . In September 1931 I traveled forty miles north from Cambridge to boarding school. . . . Boredom arose in my third undergraduate year. . . . The war was everywhere [1939] . . . The war rumbled on [while he labored on his first book and interesting papers came across his desk in Washington] —From the memoirs of Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., a Massachusetts scribbler claimed to be the greatest American historian of the 20th century.

History, history! We fools, what do we know or care. —William Carlos Williams

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