Archive for August, 2006

Samuel Sewall through Vernon Parrington (1)

August 30, 2006

Excerpts of Vernon L. Parrington on Samuel Sewall in Main Currents in American Thought (1927):

“He was at home in the narrow round of routine, but for bold speculation he reveals the incapacity of the practical soul. His interests were few; his ready curiosity was that of the uncreative mind, concerning itself with persons and happenings rather than with ideas…The views which he upheld vigorously were little more than prejudices. Of the several economic questions which engaged the attention of the Council during his years of service, the most insistent was the question of issuing bills of credit to supplement the scanty currency…He vigorously opposed every issue, from the conviction that the honest money was hard money, even going so far as to prefer barter to bills.  Nowhere does he reveal any intelligenct grasp of economics of the problem, nor was he aware that his judgement might have been influenced by his private interests as a money lender…

“A man so cautious by nature, and with so large a stake in the existing order, could not fail to be a conservative, content with a world that justified itself by the propensity which it brought him…

“Sewall enjoyed in his lifetime the repute of a scholar. He was Latinist enough to justify his Harvard degree of Master of Arts; he read a great deal, and wrote and published books. But he seems to have cared nothing for pure literature, and was unacquainted with the English classics. His intellectual interest was in things either occult or inconsequential. Biblical prophecy was his favorite study, and his most ambitious work, Phaenomena Quaedam Apocolyptica, essayed to prove that America was to be the final “rendezvous of Gog and Magog.”


W. C. Ford, 1918, historical editing

August 14, 2006

The Editorial Function in United States History
Worthington Chauncey Ford

Worthing C. Ford, enrolled at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute before dropping out of Columbia but eventually became the head of the Library of Congress’s new Division of Manuscripts under Herbert Putnam. Ford gathered from various government departments the papers of Presidents Jackson, Van Buren, Polk, Andrew Johnson, and Pierce, as well as those of other prominent American statesmen and intellectual and cultural leaders and was able to process them enough to make them available to scholars.

I should like to look into more about how this processing took place, and also into the daily goings on at Library of Congress Manuscript Division in the period after WWI until WWII. In this classic essay, originally presented as a presidential address to the American Historical Associated, Ford passes onto future generations the important role for documentation and in doing so creates a creditable list of collected letters worthy of historical retention. Reading the essay one gets the feeling for the freshness that certains materials had to the scholar in 1918. So much of historical documentation had been caught up in family tensions or in bureaucraftic fears. By Ford’s time, the age of Jackson was till entirely undecided and unexplored and was literally in the closets of descendants and locked up in the Department of State. It stood two generations behind. (In a side note Schlesinger’s 1945 Age of Jackson acknowledges manuscript collections from only Harvard ‘College Library,’ Massachusetts Historical Society, Library of Congress, Pennsylvania Historical Society, Maryland Historical Society, Norte Dame University Library (?) and the New York Public Library.)

Ford’s in-text references;

-Begining with diaries of Puritan clergymen
-Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, 1818
-Major General William Heath’s journal
-Marshall’s Life of Washington used original documents
-Life and Correspondence of Richard Henry Lee, 1825 & Arthur Lee, 1829
-Thomas Jefferson Randolph’s letters of his grandfather, 1830, omitting much.
-Hamilton’s papers drifted for years until 1840 there were used by his son to his brothers’ regret.
-Watt’s State Papers 1815 were a forerunner of Force’s Archives
-Acts and Procedings of the Convention of 1787 by John Quincy Adams
-Eliza Susan Quincy’s editing, or wheeding (a lovely quote inserted about women) of her grandfather’s Josiah Quincy’s papers in 1825.
-Spark’s Washington 1834, in ten volumes


“The editor deals with individuals, the historian with generals. The cultivation of a balanced and non-partizan spirit and utterance, no small accomplishment, brings its reward in confidence and clarity of vision.

What is the application of this excursion? For three years the country has been under a stress which has tested its people and its government. In the mass of interested discussion and propaganda, licit and illicit, it has been difficult not to take a position and express the faith that is in us. Even before actual participation in the war necessary information was wanting. Of partial statements the number was and is in excess, but it may be doubted if the fullest exposure of motives and performance will much change general opinion. The extremist is beyond change, and among these extremists on both sides are some historians. Their honesty of conviction is not to be question, but their violence of expression is to be regretted. Exaggeration in language is not confined to the newspaper. The is not yet come for a final weighing of evidence, for we are living, as in the England of the Reformation, under a “Royal Gazette.” Cables and mails are under a censorship which tends to become more rigid; discussion of governmental policy and execution is under a threatened interference by officials, who are wanting in experience and are fallible and extremely sensitive to currents of public opinion; and American opinion is subject to excitements, fitfuls and destructive reputations. But unless a man sell his soul he can be heard and answered, or left to the certainties of time. It is all very well to speak of the sober second thought of the people; the first thought may not be sober and my inflict great injury, and in war times the first thought is explosive. How long has it been since our text-books on history consented to modify their denunciation of Great Britain? How many years have allowed the war with Mexico to pose as a shocking example of greed and broken faith? The word rebel as applied to the South is a survival; the bitterness has slowly turned into sweetness, and the glory of honorable conflict is shared between the two sections. Much of what parades as history to-day will fortunately sink into the forgetfulness of the future, to be exhumed at times as curious examples of misdirected energy and ill-exercised thought. What remains, clarified of its partizanship, may serve for real history. It will be two generations before the full publication of documents can begin, and then will be applied the of fair judgement – the real editing. In the meanwhile we should cultivate, as far as possible, the editorial attitude, keeping our minds open, restraining our criticism lest it lead to injustice and persecution, avoiding personalities, and exercising the same patience and restraint under wrongs and violations of good faith as have place our country with an unsoiled record at the front of a world movement.”

inestimable worth

August 11, 2006

If each individual is of inestimable worth given their capacity for reason, is there a point at which a person is of estimable worth whose use of that capacity is limited? As events march forward and the number of persons achieving equality in rights increase and decrease in the blowing winds, will there come a time when it will be possible to assume that on occaision an individual is only of some worth, or even reasonably that all people are at some moment only of limited worth.


August 10, 2006

Yesterday was a blogging revelation. The idea that I can cut and paste from the jstor index using this, or any URL as a personal gateway back to the articles reveals exciting pathways towards expanding literacy. I have yet to discover the best way to save electronic articles. Returning to articles in JSTOR is met with personal setbacks. Such as when I save them as PDF’s I am forced to move them around on a USB mini-drive which can get tiresome. When I print them a big mess of paper is left on my desks or worse in my bag leaving me guilty about the wasted paper. Pasting the links here provides the perfect way to remind myself what I have found on my searches, organize them within “categories” and return to them with one click.

Following up on yesterday’s articles, I present to myself John Higham’s 1962 American Historical Review article which apparently was the first to name and criticize ‘consensus’ history. While searching the ’62 AHR index, I also found a Bailyn article that may be of help for my fall classes.

Beyond Consensus: The Historian as Moral Critic, pp. 609-625
John Higham

Political Experience and Enlightenment Ideas in Eighteenth-Century America, pp. 339-351
Bernard Bailyn

PS. Did someone “genteel, traditionalist segment of Anglo-American literary culture in the years between the two world wars.”

Review: [untitled]
Author(s) of Review: John Higham
Reviewed Work(s): James Truslow Adams: Historian of the American Dream by Allan Nevins…

Items Ordered Price
1 of: James Truslow Adams: Historian of the American Dream. by Nevins, Allan [Hardcover]
By: Allan Nevins
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AQ to read…

August 9, 2006

American Quarterly, Vol. 45, No. 2, Special Issue on Multiculturalism, Jun., 1993


Multiculturalism and Universalism: A History and Critique, pp. 195-219

John Higham
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American Education and the Postmodernist Impulse, pp. 220-229

Gerald Early
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The Limits of American Universalism, pp. 230-236

Gary Gerstle
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A Response to John Higham, pp. 237-242

Nancy A. Hewitt
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“It’s the People Who Drive the Book”: A View from the West, pp. 243-248

Vicki L. Ruiz
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Rejoinder, pp. 249-256

John Higham
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Calvin Colton 1789-1857

August 8, 2006

He served as missionary in western New York and then held Presbyterian pastorates at LeRoy and Batavia. The death of his wife, Abby North (Raymond) Colton (Feb. 1, 1826) and the failure of his voice led him to give up the ministry. Later, having taken orders in the Episcopal Church (1836), he served for one year, 1837-38, as rector of the Church of the Messiah in New York City.

History and Character of American Revivals of Religion (1832),
Church and State in America (1834),
Protestant Jesuitism
The Genius and Mission of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States (1853)

Manual for Emigrants to America (1832)
The Americans (1833), (a defense of his country against the criticisms of Capt. Basil Hall and Mrs. Trollope) Tour of the American Lakes, and Among the Indians of the North-West Territory, in 1830 (1833)

He wrote much under the nom-de-plume “Junius,” in support of Whig policies
Abolition a Sedition (1839)
Colonization and Abolition Contrasted (1839)
Reply to Webster (1840)
One Presidential Term
The Crisis of the Country (1840)
The Junius Tracts (1843-44), a series of ten essays on public lands, the currency, the tariff, expansion, etc.

Summoned to Ashland, Ky., in 1844 he became the official biographer of Henry Clay, and editor of his works.
The Private Correspondence of Henry Clay
The Works of Henry Clay (1856-57) are still standard.
Life and Times of Henry Clay (1846), and The Last Seven Years of the Life of Henry Clay (1853)
are superseded by later biographies.

In A Lecture on the Railroad to the Pacific (1850), delivered at the Smithsonian Institution, Aug. 12, 1850, he advocated a transcontinental railroad on the religious ground that through it the human family, dispersed at the Tower of Babel, might be reunited.

extremely good stuff

August 7, 2006

F. Nietzsche Beyond Good and Evil, Chapter 7, “Our Virtues”, Number 237 SEVEN APOPHTHEGMS FOR WOMEN has something to say about the stuff of women…..


How the longest ennui flees, When a man comes to our knees! Age, alas! and science staid, Furnish even weak virtue aid. Sombre garb and silence meet: Dress for every dame–discreet. Whom I thank when in my bliss? God!–and my good tailoress! Young, a flower-decked cavern home; Old, a dragon thence doth roam. Noble title, leg that’s fine, Man as well: Oh, were HE mine! Speech in brief and sense in mass–Slippery for the jenny-ass!

237A. Woman has hitherto been treated by men like birds, which, losing their way, have come down among them from an elevation: as something delicate, fragile, wild, strange, sweet, and animating- -but as something also which must be cooped up to prevent it flying away.

238. To be mistaken in the fundamental problem of “man and woman,” to deny here the profoundest antagonism and the necessity for an eternally hostile tension, to dream here perhaps of equal rights, equal training, equal claims and obligations: that is a TYPICAL sign of shallow-mindedness; and a thinker who has proved himself shallow at this dangerous spot–shallow in instinct!—may generally be regarded as suspicious, nay more, as betrayed, as discovered; he will probably prove too “short” for all fundamental questions of life, future as well as present, and will be unable to descend into ANY of the depths. On the other hand, a man who has depth of spirit as well as of desires, and has also the depth of benevolence which is capable of severity and harshness, and easily confounded with them, can only think of woman as ORIENTALS do: he must conceive of her as a possession, as confinable property, as a being predestined for service and accomplishing her mission therein–he must take his stand in this matter upon the immense rationality of Asia, upon the superiority of the instinct of Asia, as the Greeks did formerly; those best heirs and scholars of Asia  who, as is well known, with their INCREASING culture and amplitude of power, from Homer to the time of Pericles, became gradually STRICTER towards woman, in short, more Oriental. HOW necessary, HOW logical, even HOW humanely desirable this was, let us consider for ourselves!

239. The weaker sex has in no previous age been treated with so much respect by men as at present–this belongs to the tendency and fundamental taste of democracy, in the same way as disrespectfulness to old age–what wonder is it that abuse should be immediately made of this respect? They want more, they learn to make claims, the tribute of respect is at last felt to be well-nigh galling; rivalry for rights, indeed actual strife itself, would be preferred: in a word, woman is losing modesty. And let us immediately add that she is also losing taste. She is unlearning to FEAR man: but the woman who “unlearns to fear” sacrifices her most womanly instincts. That woman should venture forward when the fear-inspiring quality in man–or more definitely, the MAN in man–is no longer either desired or fully developed, is reasonable enough and also intelligible enough; what is more difficult to understand is that precisely thereby–woman deteriorates. This is what is happening nowadays: let us not deceive ourselves about it! Wherever the industrial spirit has triumphed over the military and aristocratic spirit, woman strives for the economic and legal independence of a clerk: “woman as clerkess” is inscribed on the portal of the modern society which is in course of formation. While she thus appropriates new rights, aspires to be “master,” and inscribes “progress” of woman on her flags and banners, the very opposite realises itself with terrible obviousness: WOMAN RETROGRADES.  Since the French Revolution the influence of woman in Europe has DECLINED in proportion as she has increased her rights and claims; and the “emancipation of woman,” insofar as it is desired and demanded by women themselves (and not only by masculine shallow-pates), thus proves to be a remarkable symptom of the increased weakening and deadening of the most womanly instincts. There is STUPIDITY in this movement, an almost masculine stupidity, of which a well-reared woman–who is always a sensible woman–might be heartily ashamed. To lose the intuition as to the ground upon which she can most surely achieve victory; to neglect exercise in the use of her proper weapons; to let-herself-go before man, perhaps even “to the book,” where formerly she kept herself in control and in refined, artful humility; to neutralize with her virtuous audacity man’s faith in a VEILED, fundamentally different ideal in woman, something eternally, necessarily feminine; to emphatically and loquaciously dissuade man from the idea that woman must be preserved, cared for, protected, and indulged, like some delicate, strangely wild, and often pleasant domestic animal; the clumsy and indignant collection of everything of the nature of servitude and bondage which the position of woman in the hitherto existing order of society has entailed and still entails (as though slavery were a counter-argument, and not rather a condition of every higher culture, of every elevation of culture):–what does all this betoken, if not a disintegration of womanly instincts, a defeminising?Certainly, there are enough of idiotic friends and corrupters of woman among the learned asses of the masculine sex, who advise woman to defeminize herself in this manner, and to imitate all the stupidities from which “man” in Europe, European “manliness,” suffers,–who would like to lower woman to “general culture,” indeed even to newspaper reading and meddling with politics. Here and there they wish even to make women into free spirits and literary workers: as though a woman without piety would not be something perfectly obnoxious or ludicrous to a profound and godless man;–almost everywhere her nerves are being ruined by the most morbid and dangerous kind of music (our latest German music), and she is daily being made more hysterical and more incapable of fulfilling her first and last function, that of bearing robust children. They wish to “cultivate” her in general still more, and intend, as they say, to make the “weaker sex” STRONG by culture: as if history did not teach in the most emphatic manner that the “cultivating” of mankind and his weakening–that is to say, the weakening, dissipating, and languishing of his FORCE OF WILL–have always kept pace with one another, and that the most powerful and influential women in the world (and lastly, the mother of Napoleon) had just to thank their force of will–and not their schoolmasters–for their power and ascendancy over men. That which inspires respect in woman, and often enough fear also, is her NATURE, which is more “natural” than that of man, her genuine, carnivora-like, cunning flexibility, her tiger-claws beneath the glove, her NAIVETE in egoism, her untrainableness and innate wildness, the incomprehensibleness, extent, and deviation of her desires and virtues. That which, in spite of fear, excites one’s sympathy for the dangerous and beautiful cat, “woman,” is that she seems more afflicted, more vulnerable, more necessitous of love, and more condemned to disillusionment than any other creature. Fear and sympathy it is with these feelings that man has hitherto stood in the presence of woman, always with one foot already in tragedy, which rends while it delights–What? And all that is now to be at an end? And the DISENCHANTMENT of woman is in progress? The tediousness of woman is slowly evolving? Oh Europe! Europe! We know the horned animal which was always most attractive to thee, from which danger is ever again threatening thee! Thy old fable might once more become “history”–an immense stupidity might once again overmaster thee and carry thee away! And no God concealed beneath it–no! only an “idea,” a “modern idea”!

blood in words

August 7, 2006

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I love the Dictionary of American Biography. I do not have time to truly express the many reasons my love, and why I dedicate myself to it, treasure it and believe it to be the ultimate summation of goodness. Instead time will allow only this idiotic dotage to serve the place of what should be a massive explanation holding up my communication with the Dictionary of American Biography as an instrument of learning like a hammock upon which sleeps the happiest cat swinging gently.

Nevertheless, let this space exist as the space that always shall, yielding honorable sympathy, in my heart… I will post my favorite paragraphs from the DNB especially those first paragraphs of entries which dearly manage to always include statements of lineage, ancestory and bloodlines consituting the individual of note. I may be simpleminded, but talk of blood makes me downright thirsty. In the following paragraph on James Truslow Adams, not even of the base set of DNB, rather from Supplement 4: 1946-1950 one feels A. S. Eisenstadt is so well versed in the art of the first paragraph that he leaves a praiseworthy mark on dearest J. T. Adams himself heartily involved with the DNB project. So, get ready:

Adams, James Truslow (Oct. 18, 1878 – May 18, 1949), historian, was born in Brooklyn, N. Y., the second son and youngest of three children of William Newton Adams, Jr., and Elizabeth Harper (Truslow) Adams. He was of Virginia ancestry, his Adams forebear–an indentured servant who rose to landowner–having settled there in the seventeenth century. He had a Spanish grandmother, for William Adams, Sr., while representing an American mercantile firm in Latin America, had married the daughter of a prominent family in Caracas, Venezuela. Both of Adams’ grandfathers were prosperous businessmen. His father, by contrast, was an unsuccessful Wall Street broker, whose precarious financial condition closely defined the course of Adams’ education and early career. For reasons of economy, he attended the Brooklyn Polytechnic School (1890-1894) and its Institute (1894-1898), from which he received the A.B. degree in 1898. His graduation as class president, valedictorian, and poet gave evidence of his intellectual and literary talent.

This one is good, but it pales in comparison to any of the entries credited ‘Dictionary of American Biography Base Set. American Council of Learned Societies, 1928-1936.’ Oh those sweet words! How they make my tongue swell. If I could, I would and I will because I can find every description of women from the base set 1928-1926, as duty to my dirty mind. For instance read how Mary Edwards, wife of Timothy Dwight is described in brief within the first paragraph of Dwight’s entry authored by Harris Elwood Starr.

Six feet and four inches tall and well-proportioned, he was by actual test as strong as an ox. In contrast, his wife, Mary, daughter of Jonathan Edwards, was so petite that, according to tradition, he could hold her at arm’s length on the palm of his hand. She bore him thirteen children, of whom Timothy was the firstborn.

Let “hold her at arm’s length on the palm of his hand” stand as the best euphemism for sexual congruency in the history of the written word! Thirteen children bore… sigh.

musical combinations

August 7, 2006

Everyone should be well aware by now that certain musics when combined in linear progression are capable of expanding into larger joy. For example one song followed by another is often more enjoyable than merely one song. An incredible mixing of music I have just discovered is Frank Sinatra (especially Only the Lonely, but any of the Nelson Riddle era will do) following and followed by Flying Saucer Attack (any release) is unbelievably smashing.

Did you know that this post has the ability to check its own spelling?

Serious, Sinatra crooning the blues booz in hand washed away by sheets of fleeting feedback scrawl and tribal gatherings of mutl-delay marches fading back into the smooth swing of the orchestra and again into the drone and yet returning safely on the very man himself, and back into the sky and back into the voice and back into the noise… It simply must be experienced to believe. It’s like vertebrae and inverterbae discovery of self.


August 1, 2006

William G. McLaughlin, ‘Pietism and the American Character,’ American Quarterly, 17(1965)

Robert Middlekauff, ‘Piety and Intellect in Puritanism,’ William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd series, 22(1965)

Alan Heimart, ‘Religion and the American Mind’ (Cambridge, Mass. 1966)