Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.

American historian, social critic, and public intellectual

Arthur Meier Schlesinger, Jr. (October 15 1917April 28 2007) was an American historian and social critic whose work has explored the liberalism of American political leaders including Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Robert Kennedy, as well as the men who surrounded Andrew Jackson. He served as Special Assistant to the President in John F. Kennedy's administration. He wrote a detailed account of the Kennedy Administration entitled A Thousand Days.

Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., early 1960s

Quotes edit

  • Santayana's aphorism must be reversed: too often it is those who can remember the past who are condemned to repeat it.
    • The Bitter Heritage: Vietnam and American Democracy (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1966) p. 91
  • The purpose of democratic statecraft is, or should be, to find the means of ordered liberty in a world condemned to everlasting change.
    • The Cycles of American History (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1986) p. 422
  • The use of history as therapy means the corruption of history as history.
    • The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society (New York: W W Norton, 1993) p. 93
  • Let us by all means teach black history, African history, women’s history, Hispanic history, Asian history. But let us teach them as history, not as filiopietistic commemoration. The purpose of history is to promote not group self-esteem, but understanding of the world and the past, dispassionate analysis, judgment, and perspective, respect for divergent cultures and traditions, and unflinching protection for those unifying ideas of tolerance, democracy, and human rights that make free historical inquiry possible.
    • The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society (New York: W W Norton, 1998) p. 104

Quotes about Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. edit

  • Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., in a mordant protest written soon after the election, found the intellectual “in a situation he has not known for a generation.” After twenty years of Democratic rule, during which the intellectual had been in the main understood and respected, business had come back into power, bringing with it “the vulgarization which has been the almost invariable consequence of business supremacy.”
  • With the slow and halting development, in late years, of what is styled "social history," male scholars, and occasionally a female scholar, have gradually manifested more consciousness that women had been in history and had done something, whatever it was, in the making of history. As to the state of things before this movement for the writing of social history was well launched, Arthur Meier Schlesinger, one of the pioneers in it, appropriately commented in his New Viewpoints in American History (1922): "An examination of the standard histories of the United States and of the history textbooks in use in our schools raises the pertinent question whether women have ever made a contribution to American national progress that is worthy of record. If the silence of the historians is taken to mean anything, it would appear that one-half of our population have been negligible factors in our country's history"...At all events Professor Schlesinger's appeal of 1922 for some consideration of women's contributions to the making of history effected no immediate revolution in the thinking of his guild. How completely it could be ignored was illustrated in 1940, nearly twenty years later, in The Course of American Democratic Thought: An Intellectual History since 1815, by Ralph H. Gabriel.

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