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The End of American History: Democracy, Capitalism, and the by David Noble

By David Noble

Examines the paintings of 4 significant historians, Turner, Beard, Hofstadter, and Williams, and exhibits how sleek occasions have compelled a transformation within the writing of yankee background.

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Extra info for The End of American History: Democracy, Capitalism, and the Metaphor of Two Worlds in Anglo-American Historical Writing, 1880-1980

Sample text

We have become an industrial nation during these thirty years. And this material transformation must be accompanied by comparable changes in political and social thought, in legal and economic theory. But overcoming this cultural lag has been made difficult by the failure of the average American to see that revolution is in progress and that the country is suffering from the capitalist theory of laissez-faire. This fallacious economic philosophy was harmful enough in England but it has taken on disastrous proportions in America because of the power of the Supreme Court to enforce it as the law of the land.

The sovereign will of the people must become free to express itself directly and completely through its legislative bodies. The election of 1896, according to Beard's account, marked the decisive turning point when Americans liberated themselves from the belief that they were defenders of an old, declining democracy and came to see themselves as the pioneers of a new, vigorous democracy. From 1896 to 1912, Beard wrote, the people were on the march, leaving behind the old political forms that the robber barons manipulated to their selfish advantage.

The natural was not being overcome by the unnatural. The plenitude of American space that prevailed in Turner's writings when he described the years before the Civil War was replaced by the plenitude of evolution when he discussed the period after 1865. From this perspective, the yeoman politics of late nineteenth-century America could be seen as the life-style of a primitive people who were destined to move from this early and simple stage of society to higher and more complex stages of civilization.

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