Essay Interpretations of American History

600 Words Apr 26th, 2013 3 Pages
Interpretations of American History
The world is full of rich culture, diversity and experiences unique to each individual. When determining the validity of historic accounts we must factor in that particular historian’s point of view, which should be characterized by ethnicity, idealogy, theoretical or methodological preference. With these factors views of the past often vary from person to person. In this essay I will be discussing the four different stages that shaped the writing of American history over the last 400 years.
According to Couvares, the writing of American history has passed through four stages: the providential, the rationalist, the nationalist, and the professional. The providential stage took place during the
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Bancroft believed that Anglo-Saxons were racially destined to lead and spread freedom across the globe. With the establishment of John Hopkins University, college education became more common among middle-class Americans, however only wealthy white men still only had access to that kind of education. This new wave of historians insisted that knowledge of history and physics were of equal importance.
The final stage of American history and progression according to Couvares, was the professional stage. Professional scholars rose to prominence from 1910-1945. These historians believed that modernity, industrialization, urbanization, and class conflict had fundamentally changed society. Charles Beard argued that “the constitution was not the product of wise men intent on balancing liberty and order, but a clique of wealthy merchants and landowners who wanted a central government strong enough to defend their privileges against the unruly masses.” (Couvares 77-2). Beard also thought that many of the major conflicts in society were between economic interest groups. Many critics found flaws in his idealogy, but at the same time it inspired them to find answers to questions that plagued the people.
Over the past 400 years, these historians all had different stances on how they thought to improve society. With the mix of cultural backgrounds, and ethnicities no two viewpoints will ever be exactly the same. Couvares…