History Essay

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History The study of history is a challenging and often ambiguous pursuit of reconstruction. Historians are forced to remove themselves from the confines of modernity while desperately trying to grasp the fleeting remnants of an ever fading past. It is impossible, however, for a historian to fully accomplish either one of these necessities of research. The present remains an integral part of his perspective causing a distinctive slant in the analysis; evidence of the past can remain hidden or be entirely lost in the strides of time. These limitations of individual historians’ conceptions of the past necessitate the study of history to be an accumulation of different theories throughout the ages by conflicting researchers. A…show more content…
What particularly sets Hofstadter’s argument apart is his research focus on the popular, political culture of the time. His analysis centers on “the kind of thinking that impinged most directly upon the ordinary politically conscious citizen.” Hofstadter begins with an examination of the public misconceptions that surrounded the Populist rise to political activism. He claims that this agrarian outcry developed out of “a primary interest” to remain “a survival of the pioneer, striving to adjust present conditions to his old ideals.” Therefore, a Jeffersonian mindset based on the need for self-sufficiency was forced to deal with the harsh truths of a changing reality. The farmers that comprised a large portion of the Populist movement were trying to rationalize the complexities of an industrial world and economy with an out-dated mind that was reluctant to adapt. Their inability to comprehend the intricate changes that were affecting their ability to achieve the faded, Jeffersonian image of economic self-sufficiency led to a hysteria founded in ignorance and displacement. Hofstadter theorizes that this collective insecurity and paranoia led the Populists to expand into Anti-Semitism, nativism, and other radical ideas in the vain hope of placing blame for the confusion and frustration that they were experiencing. In short, Hofstadter’s argument destroys the typical, heroic view previously held by historians of the Populist little man rising up to take on

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