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From the year 1944 to 1970 Richard Hofstadter enriched the historical world with his writings. In 1948 Hofstadter joined the faculty at Columbia University. Here Hofstadter published The American Political Traditions and the Men who made it. Many regard this book as the start of the consensus school of historical writing. Much of this book was a look into brief political biographies on presidents, but the way that it was presented was very different. Hofstadter made some points in the introduction that points in the direction of consensus history. Hofstadter states that it is "of the need for a reinterpretation of our political traditions which emphasizes the common climate of American opinion," the existences of which had been "much obscured by the tendency to place political conflict in the foreground" (Kraus & Joyce Pg.314)
After The American Political Tradition and the Men who made it, Hofstadter went on to publish a book on Turner, Beard, and Parrington. Hofstadter recognizes the personal contributions that Turner, Beard, and Parrington had to offer to the field of History, but Hofstadter felt that there was much controversy in their writings. As a consensus writer Hofstadter found that Turner, Beard, and Parrington spent more time writing on "economic and political conflict. But he shows they had no criteria for measuring the magnitude and intensity of conflict" (Potter pg. 186). Hofstadter then looks at this statement through a balanced position of consensus and conflict. He feels that we need both consensus and conflict because "conflict to activate ideals in an otherwise static simulation; consensus to set limits upon the hostilities generated by conflict" (Potter pg. 186-87). On the subject Hofstadter believes that we should be realistic about conflict and consensus because both are a major part of American History. Hofstadter feels that consensus and conflict can be reached when "those enlisted in society's contending interests have a basic minimal regard for each other: one party or interest seeks the defeat of opposing interest on matter of policy, but at the same time seeks to avoid crushing the opposition or denying legitimacy of its existence or values" (Potter pg.188). Hofstadter believes when this is achieved, both consensus and conflict can work hand in hand to achieve the goal of Hofstadter "comity" (Potter pg. 188) This book for Hofstadter had a major impact on some of the ideas he had for
Quotes talked about in this paper
- Hofstadter states that it is "of the need for a reinterpretation of our political traditions which emphasizes the common climate of American opinion," the existences of which had been "much obscured by the tendency to place political conflict in the foreground"
- Hofstadter believes when this is achieved, both consensus and conflict can work hand in hand to achieve the goal of Hofstadter "comity" ...
- Hartz says that the United States was "born free" ...
- He claimed that they "went back to the origins of American history, splitting into two worrying camps, discovering a 'social revolution' in the eighteenth century, and in general making it impossible to understand the American liberal community" ...
- Hartz finally notes that the "Progressive historians had many comforts…. Which liberal society can never claim."
Names referenced in this essay
Daniel J. Boorstin, These three writers, Louis Hartz, Kraus, Hofstadter, Joyce,
Locations talked about in this research material
United States, America,
Keywords referenced in this research material
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