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That Noble Dream Author(s): Charles A. Beard Reviewed work(s): Source: The American Historical Review, Vol.

41, No. 1 (Oct., 1935), pp. 74-87 Published by: Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Historical Association Stable URL: . Accessed: 23/10/2012 08:09
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THAT NOBLE DREAM iN a thought-provoking paperread at thelastmeeting of theAmerican HistoricalAssociationMr. Theodore Clarke Smith laid his colleagues undera deep obligation.' His essayis not only significant for itsintrinsic merits; it indicates an interest in problems of historiography thathavebeenlong neglected.If it had beenmerely expository, it might well be acceptedwithoutfurther analysisas openingthe way for an extension ofthought alongthesamelines. But itis in spirit and declaration challenging as well as descriptive, monitory as well as narrative. Mr. Smith makes a divisionbetweenscholarsaffiliated with the Association. He insiststhat they must be, broadlyspeaking,grouped undertwo banners and thatthere is a gulfbetweenthemwhichcannot be bridged. One group,with which he rangeshimself, had "a noble dream",and producedsound, creditable, and in many cases masterly workson Americanhistory.Althoughhe does not say thattheopposilurks tionis ignoble, unsound, discreditable, and weak,thatimplication in the dichotomy whichhe makes. The issuespresented by Mr. Smithtranscend personalities and call forthe mostthoughtful consideration thatthe intelligence of the Association can bringto bear upon them. Is therein facta deep-seated divisionin the Association? Has a battleline been drawn in such a fashionthat membersmust align themselves on the one side or the other? Is it impossible thatwill reconcile to finda synthesis apparent at leastforthetime or suggest of judgment, contradictions a suspension his thesisso being? Are the factsemployed by Mr. Smithto illustrate accuratein everycase as to be beyondamendment in a quest precisely for"objective truth"? Surelythesequestionsare of morethanpassing of the Association and the youngmembers importance.They concern to for moment invite us to a review fate of the the society.They stop workis to be done in the future; on whichhistorical the assumptions or to themmayrevealsomeoverarching and perhaps answers hypothesis at least. a healingdiffidence, suggest The division whichMr. Smithmakesin theAssociation seemsto be positiveand sharp. On the o,neside are the scholarswho have made
1,Am. Hist. Rev., XL, 439-449.


Beard: That Noble Dream


casesmasterly, andin many creditable, ofsound, output "the impressive [1884review" period under the during history works on American ideal-thatpresented by one clear-cut graphto many-volumed work, everywhere, theideal accepted and later first in Germany to theworld now forobjective of theeffort truth".Theirswas "a nobledream", of members that and thehopeis expressed with extinction, threatened "In that dying". ourflags "with ifnecessary, this maygo down, school to disband, Association Historical for theAmerican itwillbe time case, willhavebeen it is founded on which assumptions fortheintellectual ideal,a noble it." Here thenis a clear-cut beneath taken awayfrom on it. "founded" was Association Historical and theAmerican dream, andAssociation? dream, this ideal, Andwhoarethemenwhothreaten or to be impartial it necessary whodo not"consider Theyare writers are doctrinaire Especially anddoctrinaire. evenfair".Theyarepartial the Among ofhistory. interpretation whoresort to an economic those is James by Mr. Smith, mentioned menaces to theold and truefaith, is called "objective that what declared Robinson whoonceflatly Harvey historical that andproposed an object, history without is simply history" today"ofourlife quandaries light on"the beusedtothrow knowledge parties Herearethecontending tofacilitate andreform". "readjustment oflight and darkness. and ideal,method, seemsto involve The dichotomy so presented of theOld Guard Scholars in thepossibility of achievement. belief Werethemen truth". to search for "objective aboveall things desired totheideal on theother sideofthefence opposed Mr.Smith whom puts useful to knowledge whoseeks ofthesearch fortruth?Is thescholar ofourlife unconwith "the today" quandaries wrestling contemporaries of that knowledge?His end maybe different cerned aboutthetruth orbelieve that false canbe history hedoesnotseekfalsehood butsurely thestudent who Norcanitbe saidthat serviceable tothecauseposited. behind interests totheeconomic topenetrate thepageant ofpolitics tries Contruth. for hostile totheidealofthesearch thescenes is necessarily who as thescholar he might be as muchinterested in truth ceivably far as method of As history. or the economic aspects ignores neglects to thenobledream who are placedin opposition scholars goes,those and criticism intheir andas rigorous intheir inquiries be as patient may as theold masters andleading.In intenoflight useofdocumentation to arise. and methods, appears antagonism tions no necessary therefore, and of finding the possibility Now we cometo achievement-to

monofrom "aredominated, ofscholars ofthis class Theworks


Notes and Suggestions

Here we encounter something stating theobjective truth of history. or methods.We encounter moredifficult to fathom thanintentions of thehuman the questions which rundeeply intothenature mind, ofscholarship to grasp substance ofhistory as actuality, and thepower on ofcompetence canagree history Beyond doubt, scholars objectively. ofestablished facts. Butis it many particular truths andon large bodies of all race,sex,class,political, possible formento divest themselves as itactually the truth ofhistory andregional predilections andtell social, his splendid was? Can Mr. Smithi's nobledream, hope,be realized in fact? Thatis thefundamental issueat stake. Thistheory wascanbe disclosed bycritical that history as itactually andcanbe stated as such, concanbe known as objective study, truth, tains Thefirst is that history (general certain elements andassumptions. orofanyperiod) the orseries ofobjects outside hasexisted as an object himand changing separated from mind ofthehistorian (a Gegenliber in time). The second canface andknowthis object is that thehistorian The third orseries existed.2 ofobjects andcandescribe itas itobjectively and writis that ofresearch thehistorian can,at leastforthepurposes philosophical, divest himself ofalltaint ofreligious, social, political, ings, and viewthisGegenliber sex,economic, and aesthetic moral, interests, reflects anyobject to withstrict somewhat as themirror impartiality, which themultitudinous events ofhisitis heldup. The fourth is that had somestructural organization through inner(pertory as actuality which the historian cangrasp byinquiry haps causal)relations, impartial andaccurately ordescribe in written history. andobservation reproduce in themthesubstances ofthishistory The fifth is that canbe grasped are not rational or intellectual efforts and thatthey selves by purely or permeated byoraccompanied byanything transcendent-God, spirit, is notoften so ofobjective To be surethetheory history materialism. of it.3 and implications butsuchare thenature fully stated, of history and of humanpowers This theory is one of themost of theories.It condemns history sweeping dogmasin the recorded itoutofdoors.As practiced, itignores andthrows problems philosophy andtheologians which havewrestled ofmind with for cenphilosophers settled toeverybody's satisfaction. andhavenotyet As developed turies
2 If thehistorian would be nothcould do this,thenso faras he coversthepast there of countries thehistory to do. The taskof writing and periods could ing leftforposterity To thatextent students wouldhave no workbefore themexcept be definitively discharged. of an age would be as unthinktreatment thatof readingthe masters. A new historical table. able as a new multiplication 3 Karl Heussi,Die Krisisdes Historismus (Tiibingen,1932), pp. 1-21.

Beard: That Noble Dream


it takeson (it maybe well to AnglicizeHistorismtis), intoHistoricism and, if not materialism, positivism, of empiricism, all the implications to its purelyexperiential which limitshistory at least thatrationalism an all-embracing aspects. If sound and appealing,it is nonetheless even thoughit denies philosophy. of historiography, philosophy to the growthof thishispowerfully AlthoughRanke cointributed had been, as it actually history and claimedto be writing torical theory, conto itsempirical he did notin factfollowthelogic of his procedure of Hegel-that powerful methoid clusion. He opposedthe philosophic to grasp the schemeentire-and at the who boldlyattempted thinker as, in some strangemanner,"a same time Ranke conceivedhistory of God". But he did not openlyemploythisbeliefin selectrevelation as it actuallyhad the factsof history "objectively" ing and arranging but he been. He did not thinkthatman could know God as history, and dimly in humanaffairs thatman could see "God's finger" imagined as Ranke conceivedit, in history.In history, graspGod's handiwork an seinemAussersten -Hieroglyphe, God stoodthere, "wie eine heilige und bewahrt".4History was "der Gang Gottesin der Welt". aufgefasst down before Ranke flunghimself In thetruespirit of Lutheranpiety, Einer und Dreiof things:"Allgewaltiger, mystery the impenetrable du hastmichaus dem Nichtsgerufen.Hier liegeich vordeines faltiger, so enclosed in Thrones Stufen." Yet he fain would write history, critical the studyof from as it actuallyhad been,impartially, mystery, history, documents.He rejected positive proclaimed written philosophy, by a kind of Pantheismus. and stillwas controlled with a majesticair of imparcertainly, Ranke could writehistory, had been. For example, as it actually and saythathe had written tiality he could writeof popes in a mannerpleasing to both Catholicsand Protestants of the upper classes. He doubtlessbelievedthat he was had been. Did he realize of thepopes as it actually tellingthishistory in the Jesuit objectionthatRanke his claim? There is starkvalidity of the story:Was the papacyactuallywhat avoided the chiefactuality of theSon of God made man",or itself to be, "an institution it affirmed and man-madepower?5 of false claims,craft, was it a combination How could Ranke avoid thatquestionand yeteven claimto be writing as it actuallywas? history to knowingRanke as he actuallywas or his I make no pretensions
5 Benedetto and Practice itsTheory (New York,I921), p. 300. Croce,History: tiumnondatur."
4 Friedrich Die Idee der Staatsra'son (Munich,3d ed., Meinecke,

pp. 469

ff. "Ter-


Notes and Suggestions

motives in writing thekindofhistory he choseto write.But records areavailable to establish thefact that he did notabstain entirely from those hotpolitical controversies which are supposed to warpthepure thought oftheempirical historian. In directing the Historisch-Politische Zeitschrift he chosea waybetween French constitutionalism and that extreme Prussian conservatism which not to wouldyield a point democratic aspirations. After the July Revolution Ranke favored a confederate lawagainst thepolitical press andpolitical literature-a that proposition must havepleased Metternich andGentz, whoopened their archives to him.6After theMarch upheaval of 1848Rankecamevigorously to the support ofFrederick William IV in resistance to popular demands for a constitution basedon democratic On thisoccasion principles. the "impartial" historian proved to be a bulwark forPrussian authoritarianism-against which so many "impartial" historians in theUnited States wrote vigorously in 1917-i9i8. Rankealsorejoiced in theevents of 1870-I871 "as thevictory of conservative EuropeovertheRevolution", showing that he couldnotcompletely separate hispolitical from hishistorical conceptions. Persistently neglecting socialand economic interests in history, successfully avoiding anyhistorical writing that offended themost conservative interests in theEuropeof hisowntime, Rankemaybe correctly characterized as one of themost "partial" historians produced bythenineteenth century. Whether Rankewas fully conscious ofwhathe was doinghimself, hewasabletoseethat other historians were writing from someangleof vision.He oncesaidto George Bancroft: "I tellmyhearers, that your is thebest history bookever written from thedemocratic point ofview. You arethoroughly consistent; adhere strictly to your method, it carry outinmany directions butin all with fidelity, andarealways true toit."9 In making thisstatement, Rankeexpressed thehopethat it wouldnot makeBancroft angry.7 Bancroft was notcertain thatthiswas "high praise".Shortly afterward he declared: "I deny thecharge; ifthere is democracy in history it is notsubjective, butobjective as they sayhere, and so has necessarily its place in history and givesits colouras it should. .. ." Is itpossible that whowas quickto discover Ranke, subideasin Bancroft's jective was totally ofthefact writings, unaware that hemight be writing from thepoint ofviewoftheconservative reaction in Europe? If he never thecriterion applied to himself, then he was
6 Historische XCIII, 78. Zeitschrift,
I 83.

7 M. A. DeWolfeHowe, Life and Letters of GeorgeBancroft (New York, I908),


Beard: That Noble Dream


doubly "partial" and utterly devoid ofanysense for reality and humor. If,as Mr.Smith says, the"objective" method ofRanke andhisschool was"accepted everywhere", itisduetohistory as itwastorecord that the conception wassubjected all alongtoa running fire ofcriticism byGermanhistorians, even bythose "vonFach". Leaving asidethepenetrating skepticism of Schopenhauer (who certainly was no mean thinker) and thecritiqueof Eugen Diihring,we findsearching of examinations in theearlyisthe theory and logicof Historicism by Germanscholars of Droysen, sues of the HistorischeZeitschrift, and in the writings forinstance.8There were OttokarLorenz, Bernheim, and Lamprecht, notwanting at thattimehistorians Technik "die in naiver, selbstgewisser ihreHistorietrieben, ohne zu ahnen,an welchentheoretischen Abgriunden sie sichbewegten";but manyGermanscholars earlywentbehind its validity.They did thislong before Ranke'sformula and challenged a hostof critical fell upon it duringthe openingyearsof the thinkers twentieth century. And if the Ranke formula or theory of history was acceptedin the UnitedStates oftheAmerican bymembers as Mr. Historical Association, Smithstates, it is notquite in line withthefacts in thecase to saythatit was "everywhere" creed accepted.Was itin reality adoptedas theofficial in thegood old daysbefore of theAssociation ignoble, doctrinaire, and partialstudents appearedupon the scene? Surelythe creedwas never drawn up and signedby all faithful members. Whetherthe majority wereacquaintedwiththe philosophical discussion thathad long raged arounditand threw themselves positively on theRankesideseemsto, be a statistical problem notyetsolved. Hence judgment shouldbe suspended. Pendingthedetermination ofthishistorical fact byresearch, one item in thestory maybe cited-thepresidential addressdelivered at theopenoftheAmerican ingsession Historical Association in I884 byAndrewD. White. Ranke was yetliving. Did Mr. White commithimself or the Association to Historicism or theRanke formula?Emphatically, he did not, as any membercan discoverby reading again that noteworthy address. In factMr. White,withmature wisdom,recognized bothsides of historiography: of theproblem the special,the detailed, the verified, thedocumented-andthephilosophical.He said categorically: "While thegreatvalue of specialinvestigations acknowledging ... to historical
8 Heussi,p. 24. On Ranke's substitution of UniversalHistory forthe Philosophy of Henri S& remarks:"Conception, qui, aujourd'hui, nous paraitde pensee assez History, s'est singulieremnent pauvre, depuisque l'horizonde l'historien elargi." Scieence et phlilosophiede l'histoire (2d ed.,Paris,1933), pp. 20-2i; citing Ernst Troeltsch, De)-Historismlis und seineProbleme (Vol. III, Gesammelte Schriften, Tiubingen, 1922).


Notes and Suggestions

knowledge inindividual nations, itisnot toomuch tosaythat highest the ineffort and thenoblest result toward whichthese special historical in a vestigations leadis thephilosophical synthesis ofall special results large, truth-loving, justice-loving spirit." "Bearing onthis point, Buckle, ina passage wellworthy ofmeditation, hasplaced observation at thefoot oftheladder, discovery next aboveit, and philosophical method at thesummit."In thisspirit Mr. White declared that tobe attheannual meetings oftheAssociation there ought a session or or sessions dealing withspecial studies, and also a session and the sessions "devoted to general history, thehistory ofcivilization, philosophy ofhistory". He recognized thedangers ofthelatter-"looseness andvagueness"-but thought that theconsideration ofboth aspects ofhistory wojuld contribute to a sounder development ofeach. "These as they difficulties", Mr.White warned us,"theAssociation must meet Nor did thefirst President, Andrew D. White, see in theuse of history as an instrument of "socialcontrol" theperils to,scholarship lamented byMr. Smith. On thecontrary, Mr. Whiteclosedwithan exordium in linewiththethought laterexpressed by James Harvey Robinson, whoseidealMr. Smith putson theother sideof thefence hisfrom "a nobledream".Mr.White proposed no neutral, value-free tory."Certainly", he said neartheclosei of his address, "a confederationlikethis-ofhistorical scholars . . ought to elicit mostvaluable work inboith fields andphilosophical], andtocontribute power[special tothehealthful and fully development on theonehandofmanas man, for on theother and social future totheopening up ofa better political thenation atlarge."Thisis asking historians todo whatJames Harvey to bear"on thequanRobinson suggested: bring historical knowledge ofourlifetoday". daries Adamswas also oncePresident Henry of theAmerican Historical Association. He cannot be placedamong inwhohaverecently those thecircle andthreatened vaded ofthepurefaith theAssociato destroy ofa noble Mr.Smith and extinction tion by"thefinal dream", driving ofgoingdown"with toconsider thefrightful alternative hisadherents and thought of Adamslimit thefunction Did Henry ourflags flying". theRankeformula, to Historicism, or neutrality in the thehistorian forces?Members whocareto knowbefore faceoflife's exigent they a of the of discussion read the in must letter takesides theory history as President oftheAssociation, wrote to hiscolwhich Henry Adams,
) American I, 49-72. Papers, Association, Historical


Beard: That Noble Dream


toconsider themembers he invited as longagoas i894.10There leagues challenge wouldlooklikeand thedevastating ofhistory a science what or labor. Mr. property, thestate, it wouldmaketo thechurch, which economy in Western a crisis predicted foresight, amazing with Adams, in "mayat anytime they that hiscolleagues and warned and thought, under or 'No', 'Yes' an answer, tofind be compelled years fifty thenext the worldhas ever organizations of the mostpowerful thepressure to itssafety". hostile of influences forthesuppression known to has referred Mr.Smith maybe mentioned. colleague One more now which oftheschool ideals" to the"high H. L. Osgoodas holding Mr.Osgoodwas,as Mr. writers. bydoctrinaire tobe threatened seems Did impersonal. part themost andfor analytical, expository, says, Smith was? as it actually history to be writing himself Mr.Osgoodimagine as besthe to tellthetruth, He sought limited. wasmore His ambition tostand himself Did he imagine ofhistory. aspects about certain could, Mr.Osgoodhadbeenoneof a moment. Notfor theZeitgeist? outside him witha copyof my I presented after and shortly my masters, it I askedhim whether of the Constitution Economic Interpretation waspositive. vires?His response tobe ultra himorappeared offended ofgreat up in themidst grew "Menofmygeneration He saidineffect: to institurned and ourinterest debates and institutional constitutional and arisen now have questions economic Profound tutional history. themage,willoccupy totheir true generation, oftheyounger students interest this deeming Farfrom ofhistory." aspects with economic selves and proper.Near it as "natural" Mr. Osgoodregarded reprehensible, lies that handof time me of theheavy lifehe spoketo, theendof his, ourlimitations. dating us,revealing uponall ourwork, think oftheolder didin fact members other generation How many in Mr. enclosed and convictions the assumptions their way through The datafor and accept it wholeheartedly? Smith's "nobledream" carefully watched arenotat hand. How many that question answering at in Europe Historicism toward ofthecritical attitude thedevelopment answerfor after II4? Materials andespecially ofthecentury, theturn by thefilesof the either.Judging ing thatqueryare notavailable such meetings andtheprograms ofannual Review Historical American exploration havereceived scant little consideration, issues philosophical ofAmerican historians slight bythewritings andexamination. Judging involved in the to the intellectual problems has beengiven attention
oftheDemo10Ibid., inTheDegradation Reprinted 1894, pp. 17-23. Annual Report, I920), pp. I25 if. Dogma(NewYork, cratic


Notes and Suggestions

of monoand theconstruction offacts, theselection ofsubjects, choice hasbeenanyrealsearching works.If there andmany-volumed graphs and anyfearless in theUnitedStates, mindsand hearts of historical deliberate, or tacit assumptions, intopreliminary inquiry wide-reaching literahistorical convictions, ofingenuous level saveonthe procedure any of skepticism If engines of itsfruits. ture bearsonlya fewevidences forconappliedto whatpasses havebeenmercilessly and verification anddocumentation, eclecticism from as distinguished thought, structive in theAmerican farand wideenough has notspread newsof thefact uponitsproceedimpression tomakea profound Association Historical but the no doubt, maybe cited, evidence ings. Somecountervailing therule. It maybe thatthe to prove wouldseemmerely exceptions that in thegoodold daysimagilned scholars ofAmerican portion major actually it as truth of history objective the andknow coulddiscover they
is not some groundsforholdingthatHistoricism Having indicated creed of the as the official and neverhas been "acceptedeverywhere" American Historical Association,it is now appropriateto inquire whether the Ranke formulais valid in itself. Can the human mind was? as it actually, discoverand statethe "objectivetruth"of history literaof thevoluminous summation Space does not admiteven a brief if not its delusive and demonstrating, turedealingwiththisconception in of high competence by scholarsand thinkers its rejection character, and who careto examinethehistory students Europe. Those American may findguidance natureof the European revoltagainstHistoricism in Heussi, Die Krisis des in Croce,History:its Theoryand Practice, workscitedby Heussi as supporting and in thenumerous Historismus, of historical the development evidence. In thesevolumesis presented and its theory Ranke the of in the rejection thought whichculminated as Historicism. formulation but it is possible, At thispointonlya bare outlineof the argument propositions: following in the maybe given,veryinadequately, outside took place in the past as actuality i. The idea thathistory is acceptedas the commonhistorian the mind of the contemporary senseview. of the past thatlies beyondhis is not an observer 2. The historian sees his testtubes as thechemist own time. He cannotsee it objectively must "see" the actualityof history and compounds. The historian That is his sole recourse. themediumof documentation. through

andpowers. activities their respecting impression that under labor didnot

of them thata largenumber is good reasonforthinking was,but there

Beard: That Noble Dream


3. The documentation (including monuments and otherrelics) withwhich thehistorian mustworkcovers onlya partof theevents andpersonalities that makeup theactuality ofhistory. In other words multitudinous events and personalities escapetherecording of documentation. To realize thesignificance ofthis, as Heussisays, it is only necessary to consider of Leipzigalone, an effort to describe thebattle to say nothing of theRoman of theNapoleonic warsor thehistory Empire. 4. Not only is thedocumentation partial. In very fewcasescanthe historian be reasonably surethathe has assembled all thedocuments ofa given period, region, or segment. In most caseshe makes a partial selection or a partial reading ofthepartial record ofthemultitudinous events withwhichhe is and personalities involved in the actuality dealing. 5. Sincethehistory of anyperiod embraces all theactualities involved, andsince both documentation andresearch arepartial, itfollows that thetotal actuality is notfactually knowable to anyhistorian, however laborious, judicial, orfaithful hemay be in hisprocedures. History as it actually facts of was,as distinguished, of course from particular is pursued history, is notknown orknowable, no matter howzealously "theidealoftheeffort for objective truth". 6. The ideathat there was a complete and actualstructurization of ofthe in thepast, examination events tobe discovered a partial through in his shows as Th. Lessing partial documentation, is purehypothesis, Geschichte als Sinngebung des Sinnlosen. 7. The events andpersonalities nature involve ofhistory intheir very in ethical andaesthetic mere events are considerations. They not physics and chemistry inviting neutrality on thepartof the"observer" 8. Any overarching hypothesis or conception employed to give coherence andstructure topast events inwritten hist-ory is an interpretation ofsomekind, something transcendent. And as Crocesays, "transcendency is always transcendency, whether itbe thought ofas that ofa God or ofreason, ofnature, or ofmatter". The 9. historian seeking toknow thepast, orabout it,doesnotbring tothe partial documentation with which heworks a perfect andpolished neutral mind in which thepast streaming through themedium ofdocuis mirrored mentation as it actually was. Whatever actsofpurification thehistorian mayperform he yetremains a creature human, of time, place,circumstance, interests, predilections, culture. No amountof


Notes and Suggestions

could have made AndrewD. Whiteintoa Frederick renunciation mirror. intoa neutral ofthem or either Turner Jackson of mathechoice and arrangement of topics, IO. Intotheselection witha "me" will enter. It mayenter historian's thespecific terials, and purpose or, as Crocesays, of philosophy clarification conscious or acknowledgment. confession without surreptitiously, as Hisand itselaboration ii. The validity of theRankeformula by conand rejected contradictions by internal toricism is destroyed He maysearch arelimited. powers The historian's thought. temporary or write it,"as ofhistory, truth" the"objective find, buthe cannot for, was". itactually formulaRanke ofthe ofan antithesis tothevalidity Now wecome it that in thesense Is,it partial, ofhistory. interpretation theeconomic nonewill is. Surely It certainly ofhistory? doesnotcover all theevents in itsscope. Is it "the thanpartial it couldbe otherwise that contend is taken If thewordinterpretation of history? interpretation correct" hypothesis historical other any itnor neither then "explanation", tomean of in thenature that on theground canbe regarded as validand final, and thehumanmind-thepastas it actually things-documentation in a manner however, was cannot be known. If thewordbe taken, thewriter's to meansimply usage, linguistic under admissible equally economic an then of his subject, or conception construction, version, nottheabsotobe-a version, whatitprofesses is merely interpretation of history. lutetruth, to fear havelessreason and general in particular after truth Seekers theguiseofthe under comes that anyhistory haveto fear they it than A bookenIt bearsitsownwarning. or Historicism. Panke formula other likeevery oftheConstitution, Interpretation An Economic titled butitserves offacts; organization and-an is a selection bookon history, himwhatto expect.A bookentelling notice on thereader, advance or The MatingoftheConThe Formation oftheConstitution titled hencean interof facts, and organization is also a selection stitution thereader or conception pretation butit doesnotadvise of somekind, tobe expected. theupshot concerning at theoutset the"ideal violate openandavowed, Does, an economic interpretation, who The historian for truth"?Not necessarily. oftheeffort objective and interests events, economic of life, aspects out and orders searches historian for as anyother truth be as zealous in hissearch maypossibly who his facts in his way. Is thestudent out and ordering searching ofpartisanin thesense more partial, an economic interpretation seeks

Beard: That Noble Dream


ship, or moredoctrinaire thanthehistorian, whoassumes that he can knowthepastas it actually hasbeen? Not necessarily. He mayconceivably viewthestructure ofclasses, their ideologies, formulas, projects, andconflicts as coldly andimpartially as anydisciple ofRankethat the American Historical Association has furnished. Did theeconomic interpretation ofhistory, as Mr.Smith alleges, have "itsorigin, of course, in theMarxian speakfor theories"?I cannot others, butso faras I am concerned, myconception of theeconomic interpretation of history restsupon documentation olderthanKarl X oftheFederalist, Marx-Number thewritings oftheFathers ofthe Republic, theworks ofDanielWebster, thetreatises ofLocke, Hobbes, andMachiavelli, andthePolitics ofAristotle-as wellas thewritings of Marxhimself. Yet I freely paytribute to theamazing range of Marx's scholarship and thepenetrating character ofhisthought. It maybe appropriate to remind those whomay be inclined totreat Marxas a mere revolutionary or hotpartisan that he was more thanthat.He was a doctor ofphilosophy from a German university, possessing thehallmark ofthescholar. He wasa student ofGreek and Latinlearning. He read, Gerbesides man,his native tongue, Greek, Latin,French, English, Italian, and Russian. He was widely readin contemporary and economic history thought. Hence, however much Marx's onemaydislike personal views, onecannot deny to himwideand deepknowledge-and a fearless and sacrificial life. He notonlyinterpreted as everyone doeswho history, writes anyhistory, buthe helped tomake he may have history. Possibly known something. At leastthecontemporary to look student, trying andimpartially ofhistoriogcoldly in thefield andthinkers on thought raphy, maylearna little bit,at least, from Karl Marx. Butthat doesnotmeanthat anyeconomic interpretation ofhistory must be usedforthepurposes which Marxsetbefore himself. It may wellbe usedforopposite purposes. It hasbeen. It maybe again. Or it maybe employed as thebasisforimpartiality and inaction on the ground that a conflict ofmere material of cannot be a matter interests concern to virtue itself.In other words there is nothing in thenature ofan economic ofhistory interpretation that compels theinterpreter to takeanypartisan or doctrinaire viewofthestruggle ofinterests. In fact suchan interpretation oftheConstitution is lessliableto invite a surge offeeling Mr.Smith's than that theformation interpretation and adoptionoftheConstitution was "a contest between sections in the ending of straight-thinking victory national-minded menovernarrower and


Notes and Suggestions

iiiore local opponents". An economicinterpretation does not inquire

whether men were straight-thinking or crooked-thinking. It inquires notintotheir powersof mindor virtues, but intothenatureand effects of theirsubstantial possessions. Nor is it necessarily in conflict with Mr. Smith'sconclusions.It pushestheinquiry one stepfurther thanhe and does. It askshow it happenedthatsomemen werenational-minded otherswere local-minded, and perhapst'hrows some light upon the subject. What conclusions, then,may be drawnfromthisexcursion, hurried and cursory, intohistoriography, formembers of theAmericanHistorical Association? In myopinion,theyare as follows: The formula of Ranke and its extension as Historicism do not and have neverformed an official creedfortheAssociation.From AndrewD. White down to the present momenttherehave been members who have believedthat the widerand deeperphilosophic questionsinvolvedin the interpretationof history shouldbe considered as havingan importance equal to, if not greater than,the consideration of documentation, specialstudies, and writings done on the assumption that history "wie es eigentlich gewesenist" can be known and expoundedby historians.The Ranke and formula creedoftheAssociation and Historicism are nottheofficial ought not to be, fortheynow lie amid the ruinsof theirown defeat. to the "noble dream"by Nor are the othercreedsplaced in antithesis Mr. Smithdeemedofficial. They shouldnot be. No schoolthatmakes thatclaimsto or exclusivevirtue, to exclusive omniscience pretensions knowhistory as it actually was can longescapethecorroding skepticism thatsearchand thought bringto it. It is undesirable to invitethe Asforanymember, to splitovertwo abs'olutes. It is notnecessary sociation or group,however fraction, largeor small,to feelthata war to thehiltis or without, one or theother mustgo down with, on and thatt'he "flying colors". The task beforethe AmericanHistoricalAssociationseems to be otherthan that of deepeninga division artificially something made. The collection, and publication of archives mustbe carried preservation, on witheverincreasing zeal. All theengines ofcriticism, authentication, and verification, so vigorously used by theGermanschool, mustbe emall of with thepowers intelligence available. Monographic ployed studies mustbe promoted.But thisis not enough. sideof historiography, T'hephilosophic as AndrewD. Whitewarned theAssociation, mustalso receive theconsideration required forall constructive workin historical writing.The effort to graspat the totality

JohnWhite Adams: Effortto identify


even thoughthedreamof bringof history mustand will be continued, of therange mustbe abandoned. This meansa widening ing1( it to earth hitherto neglected-ecoof searchbeyondpoliticsto include interests nomic,racial,sex, and culturalin the mostgeneralsense of the term. to the process thescholarwill come nearer Certainly by thisbroadening betweenparticular of history as it has been. The distinction actuality and the"objective" method bythescientific facts thatmaybe established are to be dispelled. ifillusions of history mustbe maintained, truth neglected, is thetaskof exbecauseso generally Stillmorepressing, of which selection and the the loring assumptions upon organization theyproceedupon some of things proceed. In thenature historical facts We do not as actuality. of history concerning thesubstance assumptions to do so. our intention neutralmind by declaring acquirethecolorless, and its culturalinterests the mind by admitting Ratherdo we clarify or intrudeupon,the thatwill control, and patterns patterns-interests materials.Under whatformulas of historical selection and organization patterns are of controlling is it possible to conceive history?What types opinwriters, in thediverse of historical to be foundin thedeclarations before already ionsof theworldat large,and in theworksof historians us? Insteadof waging a war, followedby victory we need or defeat, to provideforthe Association's a sectionor sections annual meetings What of historiography. and procedures dealingwiththe assumptions history?What kinds do we thinkwe are doing when we are writing ofphilosophies or interpretations are open to us? Whichinterpretations are actuallychosenand practiced? And why? By what methodsor facts and bewildering processes can we hope to bringthemultitudinous of history intoany coherent and meaningful whole? Throughthe dismaybe of suchquestions thenobledreamof thesearchfortruth cussion butin theend thememnotextinguished; to realization, brought nearer will be humanbeings,not bersof theAmericanHistoricalAssociation immortal gods. CHARLES A. BEARD. Milford. Newv

IN observing thethree hundred and fiftieth anniversary ofthefoundingofthefirst Englishcolony within thelimits ofwhatis now theUnited thequestionof theidentity States, of John Whiteonce morearises. He appears in thepageantofAmericanhistory abouttheyear1584, slipsoff the stagenine yearslater,and apparently vanishes. Whence he came,