valley. It is to help do for this vast mediterranean region of country we in-
habit what like organizations have aided in accomplishing elsewhere. It is
said that in the number, variety, extent and attractions of historical work now
offered at Harvard University that institution rivals the great schools of the
old world. The American student need no longer go abroad for his instrustion
in either our own or European history. The first historical society in the United
States had its hom.e in Boston, hard by this venerable institution, and the
influence of that pioneer society upon advanced historical study and original
research has been most marked.
A similar work for the Mississippi valley is to be done through some
agency. What organization is so well equipped as ours to do its full share in
that work. We, settlers in the trans-Mississippi region, are a people largely
interested in economic questions. History is with us to become more eco-
nomic, and economics to become more historical, both in object and method.
The chair of American history is the foremost one in all our great schools
which are kept up fully abreast of the times. You who are college men be-
fore me to-night can go back to the time you recited annals of ancient Grecian
and Roman history during your college courses, for a few weeks, and were af-
terwards turned out into the world as liberally educated men. History held
the back seat in those days. But all this kind of thing is past in our present
educational methods. Those teachers whose names are on the lips of men
oftfnestas advanced scholars, at Ann Arbor, at Cornell, at Harvard, and Johns
Hopkins, are the professors in historical study at these several institutions.
Nor can we be at all surprised at this high rank historical pursuits have
gained in popular regard and esteem. That brilliant essayist, Macaulay, has
said, "to be a really great historian is perhaps the rarest of intellectual dis-
We note also, in this connection, that the bureau of education at Washing-
ton is devoting much study and attention to American educational history in
the different states, and some dozen circulars of information by way of con-
tributions to this history, have already been issued by the commissioner in
ch£irge, but edited by the distinguished professor of history in Johns Hopkins
University, Mr. Adams.
Kindred to this interest manifested by the Washington government in our
educational history, I may notice the revival of archaeological studies, and
the present popular interest awakened in excavating for lopt cities and in
bringing to light the buried secrets of the past. Everything that pertains to
the past occupancy by man of our planet is now being dug up, turned over,
studied, classified, and stored away for reference and instruction. Moved by
what I like to designate as the historical sentiment of our nature, no limit is
being placed upon the outlay of both Drain and money to discover and find out
what man has been doing in all the past.
Since the time that the childlike races, high up in the table-lands of central
Asia, first looked out upon the objects of their senses, and naturally fell to in-
specting whatever was most noticeable in the skies above them or in the forces
of nature about them, there has been no hour when mankind has seemed so
anxious to peer into the past, and also to gain a glimpse of the future, as now.
Two hundred and one years ago the first local historical association was
Addresses hefore the Societi/. 68
founded in the United States. I need not saj^ this was on the shores of Massa-
chusetts bay. It marked the beginning of a new phase in American history—
a beginning that has since grown, till to-day all the foremost states have local
organizations similar to our own. The uplifting influence of that local his-
torical society has been most significant. If we direct attention to what has
been regarded as the classical period of American historical literature— the
early part of the present century— ^ 'we find ourselves confronted with a strik-
ing fact of geographical distribution. If we tried to name the 10 principal his-
torical- writers of that period, we should find that seven or eight of them were
Massachusetts men, of old New England families, born in or near Boston, and
graduates at Harvard College." "There is one spot of a few acres in Cam-
bridge," says Professor Jameson, in his new book, "The History of Historical
Writers in America," "upon which .aree of the most eminent historical schol-
ars of the last generation dwelt, and upon which have dwelt three of the most
prominent historical writers of our time."
The thought at bottom, in the literary pursuits and historical studies of
those who achieved this high distinction for the state of Massachusetts, has
been a study of our national life. That rosult that manifested itself in the
great anti-slavery struggle in New liingland was, in the light of these facts, an
entirely natural result. They had Icept the lights burning, and when the great
war came on, in 18G1, a company of men, and women too, arose in that section
of our common country who made history, and wrote it too, in a sense so strik-
ing and peculiar as to have attracted the attention of the critical world.
These people chronicled the lesson of American history— which is a lesson of
love of liberty — in poetry, in art, and in song.
What may be considered the beginning of organized effort in the study of
our own history centers in and about local societies in the various states, like
our own in Kansas. Certain of these organizations have achieved little, while
others have done much. "Some are lifeless, or, like Pope and Pagan in Bun-
yan's allegory, are toothlessly mumbling over and over again the same innu-
trilious materials; some that seem full of activity direct that activity toward
any but the most scientific ends." But tney have, each and all, been school-
masters to lead the popular mind, in the various states, to a consideration of
the claims of historical culture as useful to the state and as calculated to foster
real patriotism, among all classes of our citizens.
But what is history, one may most pertinently ask, and what is correct his-
This query is not an unimportant one to be made in this hasty discussion.
Most people have their notions as to what history is, and they have a common
idea as to how it is generally made up and put into books and other enduring
forms: and yet in truth history is not the simple matter we commonly con-
ceive it to be, and historical composition exacts the highest art and the rarest
of scholarly attainments of every one who would write history so as to please,
instruct, and to be read.
"It is a science," says one. It is "a fiction agreed upon," said Napoleon.
To his friend who wished to while away the enforced leisure of Sir Robert
Walpole, by reading history aloud to him, the premier exclaimed, "Read me
anything except history; I know that isn't true." This was the opinion of a
man who had been for 20 years prime minister of England.
Nowadays it is in order to speak of history as a science, and in our higher
institutions of learning it is put in the curriculum alongside of political econ-
omy, or sociology, to use a newer verm, to be studied together. But Mr.
64 Kansas State Historical Society.
Froude ridicules the idea of joicing logether the words "science" and "his-
tory." He thinks history is like a child's box of letters, with which we can
spell any word we please. He thinks history should be written like a drama,
for he says it is nature's drama. It repeats one lesson, and only one, with en-
tire distinctness, and that lesson is, that the world is built somehow on moral
foundations; that, in the long run, it is well with the good; in the long run, it
is well with the wicked; and all this is no more science than it was when
taught as an old doctrine by the Hebrew prophets. With him history ad-
dresses the understanding less than the higher emotions; by its study we learn
to sympathize with what is great and good and to hate what is base. It is a
voice foreA^er sounding across the centuries the laws of right and wrong. But
we can draw no horoscopes from its lessons, nor assume to predict what fruits
reformations and resolutions will bear. He would have no philosophy of his-
tory, and he intimates the best way to write history is to make a book contain-
ing only premises, leaving the reader to draw his own conclusions and gather
up his own lessons. He closes his brilliant essay by saying that the riddle of
man's nature will forever remain unsolved. Mr. Froude is no pessimist, and
yet the world would derive but small benefit from a study of the past were his
views and methods our sole guide. Because the riddle of human life may
never be understood fully here, the lessons of that life can be none the less
The historian Macaulay declared for the dramatic style of historical com-
position. With that brilliant writer, the art of historical narration is the art
of interesting the affections of the reader and of presenting pictures to his
imagination. Perfectly and absolutely true, history cannot be. "A history
in which every particular instance may be true may on the whole be false."
It "begins in novel and ends in essay." He would subordinate important past
events to insignificant past events when by the recital of the latter he could
give to the reader a better picture of his subject. The scale on which he would
represent events "is increased or diminished, not according to the dignity of
the persons concerned in them, but according to the degree in which they
elucidate the condition of society and the nature of man." "Men will not
merely be described, but will be made known to us." While he would show us
the court, the camp, and the senate, he would also present a picture of the
nfition — the people, with their changes of manners, never forgetting their
domestic history — as absolutely necessary to any correct progression of poli-
Monteil says, "National history is a history of the various conditions of a
nation" — the conditions of the agriculturist, the artisan and the trader first;
next the callings of the financier, the artist, the physician, the teacher, the
lawyer, and the priest. He thinks the French have no such national history;
and he wonders why it is that during the 3,000 or 4,000 years people have been
writing history, the world should to-day be without one.
Doctor Arnold eays, "History is but time's follovv^er; she does not pretend to
discover, but merely to register what time has brought to light." It is the
biography of a society. It is to the common life of the many what biography
is to the life of the individual.
Schelling, in his "Philosophy and Religion," gives this allegorical defini-
tion of history: It "is an epic conceived in the spirit of God; its two parts are
the movement by which humanity leaves its center to expand to its utmost
development; and the other, the movement that effectuates its return. The
Addresses before the Societi/. 65
first is like the Iliad of history: the second is its Odyssey. The first move-
ment is centrifugal, and the other is centripetal."
In his new book, "Historical Lights," Mr. Little says: "Historical state-
ments awaken in the average mind an interest which proves the existence of
a hidden element in them that does not pertain to a mere account of facts.
The marvels of history, and the prosy facts as well, not only attest the oneness
of human nature and the unity of human experience, but they also forecast a
shadowy premonition of coming events." And he adds: "This that has
fotmd its graceful expression in tne words of a German writer who says,
'All history is an imprisoned epic, nay, an imprisoned psalm and prophecy.' "
The modern evolutionist will tell us that history is an account of that
eternal process of creation that goes unceasingly on about us, evolution itself
being the temporal aspect of this process, which is only a self-unfolding of
God, and it culminates in man, for man is the son of God.
These theistical and abstract views and definitions of what history is are
not wholly uninstructive to the every-day life we are leading. They nourish
that generous and liberal fastidiousness which is not inconsistent with the
keenest sensibility to merit, while it can but exalt our conceptions of the art
But our own times are less theistical and more fruitful in whatever field
of letters we may take up work, i he practical uses of history for an all-round
man of affairs in our work-a-day times are the special objects of our research
and study. As history was written in its infancy, it was little else than a
genealogy of princes and field-book of conquerors. The lives of queens, the
intrigues of kings, the sayings of courtiers, were the stock in trade of most
early annalists. Their accounts fail to acquaint us with the people they write
about. They put their own speeches into the mouths of their heroes, and
give us their own interpretations of the events they relate.
Mr. Webster, in his discourse before the New York Historical Society, a
little more than a year before his death, criticised the old and faulty methods
of historical compositions, and pointed out the way of a reform that has since
been followed in our schools and colleges, in imparting historical training.
It was a discourse in which that great statesman undertook to instruct his-
torical writers in the canons of their art. He set limitations to Bolingbroke's
old but famous saying, that "history is philosophy teaching by example."
"This saying," he says, "proceeds upon the idea that the essential characteris-
tics of human nature are the same everywhere and in all ages. This has
been found to be true; and accordingly, so far as history presents the qualities
of human nature, it does teach by example." "But then," he adds, "the
character of man so much varies from age to age, there is such a change of
circumstances, so many more objects of desire and aversion arise, and so many
new and powerful motives spring up, that unless history is so written as to
reduce the examples of the past to elementary principles in human nature,
freed from the influence of temporary conditions and applied to the impulses
and relations arising from the actual state of things, those examples of the
past will be no sure indication of what the conduct of men will be when times
and circumstances shall change." His conclusion, therefore, was, that history
is an example that may teach us the general principles of human nature, but
does not instruct us greatly in its various possible developments.
Nor did Mr. Webster think history was properly and adequately written
unless it was made to illustrate the general progress of society in knowledge
and the arts, and the change of manners and pursuits. He criticised the
66 Kansas State Historical Society/.
greatest masters of historical composition because, while they recite public
transactions, they omit what belongs to the civil, social and domestic progress
of men and nations. Up to the times of i^ivy and Sa.llust, we had no good his-
tory of Rome, affording any account of the manners and habits of the Romans
in social and domestic life, nor of the progress of her citizens. The rebukes of
Sallust and the satires of Juvenal are our best sources of information of the
private pursuits and vices of the Roman people at the beginning of the empire.
What we know of the manners and social life of the Greeks, also, we derived
from a study of their theater.
This address of Mr. Webster served to draw public attention to the general
plan then obtaining in our colleges of giving historical instruction, and it has
had much to do with the radical change that has come over us in the last 30
years in putting the study of history upon its present basis, as well as putting
It in the forefront of all our methods of intellectual culture.
Five years after the address was delivered. Professor Liober, in 1857, was
called to New York to teach historj' and politics as properly co-ordinate
sciences in Columbia College — an advanced step which marks the first recog-
nition by any American college of the necessary co-ordination of history and
political science. "History is past politics and politics is present history" — a
delinition of the study which is to-day accepted as an American idea.
In 1876, what is now known as the historical seminary appeared, with the
founding of Johns Hopkins Universitj^ at Baltimore, and it was devoted strictly
to the study of American history. This is a sort of laboratory of letters where
books are treated like mineralogical specimens, passed about from hand to
hand, exam.ined and tasted.
The recognized American method of studying history in our colleges that
keep abreast of the times is this seminary method, so called. Here nothing is
taken for granted, but everything is studied, taken to pieces, analyzed and
compared, classified and put together again. Hence we are getting practical
results out of a study that was once utterly barren and useless. Scientific
methods are applied to historical research. The principle of co-operation has
been laid under contribution in the business of history writing. We have had
a series of "Campaigns of the Civil War," ihe "American Statesmen Series,"
and the series on "American Commonwealths." A dozen or more different au-
thors are represented in each of these series. We are here transferring to the
production of historical works a tendency peculiarly American, the division
of labor and the application to book-making of the habits of business manage-
ment. We now have co-operative histories, large works, with chapters of
historical narrative by our most learned and able historical scholars, each
writing upon his own especial field, and these are coupled with critical essays
upon the sources of information, these latter wrought out ana elaborated in
th'3 historical seminary.
Professor Adams has this to say apon the application of economic princi-
ples to historical investigation: "Historical writing in America will follow the
democratic and social drift of our times. The world is surely becoming more
co-operative, if not less selfish; more constitutional, while still autocratic in
corporate forms. By and by it will perhaps appear, that for one man to at-
tempt to write a history of the world is to repeat the glorious folly of Alexan-
der. On the other hand, to combine individual forces in the writing of history
upon such co-operative and constitutional principles that individual rights are
conserved while the general good is promoted, indicates progress in historical
science worthy of these modern times."
Addresses before the Society. 67
I need not detain you further to speak of the uses of history and the
advantages of historical researches.
"I teach American history not so much to make historians as to make
citizens and good leaders for the state and nation," says Moses Coit Tyler.
In a government of the people and by the people, like our own, any culture
that helps make the citizen helps also to build up and develop the state.
Where every man is a voter this fact is of prime importance, and ought never
to be lost sight of. With us public opinion is King, and the humblest man
upon our streets does his share in making and in crowning this king. Ours
is a government by discussion. We talk. We all discuss public men and
public measures. A prime advantage of historical training among us at this
time would be to dispel the popular fallacy that an act of congress is a cure
for everything, and that the evils of a country can all be counteracted by the
debates of one session of that body. We are coming to demand more and
more paternalism in government. We want something to lean against in hard
times, and somebody to loan us money in our reverses. We ask for sub-
treasury schemes and all that, cheap money and an easy credit. Only those
who can take a large view of the past can understand that that government
is best which governs least and safest; which rests upon the will of a free and
instructed democracy; and that the character and habits of a people are not
greatly changed by the passing of innumerable laws by the Washington
History, too, would dispel the current idea that great social labor questions
can be settled offhand by an eight-hour law, or that the apparent conflicts
between labor and capital can be adjusted by state legislatures in a fifty-day
Professor Blackmar, of our own university, well sums up the uses of his-
tory, when he says it deals after all with man, the greatest study of mankind,
and for which all scientific investigation is carried on. Here are the highest
ideals of study, inculcating a deeper sympathy for all men and a greater inter-
est in the fate of society. It deals with the certain and the uncertain, in the
social organization as well as with the common and the uncommon, in the
work-a-day politics of daily life. The truths in the historical sciences are as
exact as the truths in the natural sciences, while they impart to the student
a knowledge of the customs, the laws, the institutions and the life of any
people, as well as their rights and their duties. They acquaint him with the
institutions and methods of government, and so fit him for proper citizenship
in a. free country.
In a recent number of one of the foreign quarterlies, the question is raised
as to who is the best-equipped man to write history, and the contention is,
that the politician — the man who has had a first-hand acquaintance with
public affairs — is to be the historian of the future. The professor of history —
the teacher, pure and simple — is least of all fitted to decide the merits of men
and their policies. He may correctly interpret what others write, but he him-
self cannot write what the masses will read and understand. His readers
will only be professors and their pupils.
There is much truth in this contention. If, as we have already hinted,
politics, in a large sense, means all that concerns the welfare of the state,
history may well be defined as the politics of the past, just as politics may be
called the history of the present; and if to write history is to describe the
politics of past ages, it results that the politician, using the term as quite
synonymous with the statesman, is by his training best fitted for this difficult
68 Kansas ^tate Historical Society.
task. I know it is not easy to get tlie man of business and tlie man of affairs
to teach history, by writing it in an adequate manner, so that men will read
it and be profited thereby. But what infinite advantage he would enjoy over
the mere literary man, the solitary thinker, the man who never faced a hostile
party in congress, who never tried his hand in passing a tariff-reform bill or
a measure for the free coinage of silver.
"Grant's Memoirs" are the best accounts we have to-day of the movement
of our armies in the field. What a history could we have of the eighteenth
century if Gladstone were to w^rite it; or of the growth of Italian unity, if it
could come from the pen of Signor Crispi; or of the rise of the German empire,
if Bismarck were to be its author. The ex-chancellor's state papers are often
historical essays, and when he was a diplomatist at Frankfort he is said to
have based his actions on historical grounds. The great German has himself
said that a "properly directed study of history is the essential foundation of
all statesmanship: history alone can teach how much can be obtained in
negotiation with other states; and the highest problem of diplomacy consists
in recognizing the limits of the attainable."
Nor are examples wanting of men who have made history and written it
too. Grote was a banker and a member of parliament; Gibbon and Clarendon
were men of affairs. Macaulay — a politician and statesman — wrote a history
of his native country that had the greatest sale in our land of any book ever
published, save the Bible. Motley and Bancroft, Thiers and Guizot, were
better writers of history for being men of affairs — having mixed much with
politicians and having occupied themselves much with what is commonplace
and conventional in life.
The mere arm-chair university man has too often assumed to pass sentence
upon public men and public measures, simply because, at some time, he has
digested a certain number of folios and quartos, or has published a series of