John Richard Alden
American university teacher, historian, biographer; James B. Duke Professor of History at Duke University
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- ... harassing problems must often be solved in order to produce scholarly biographical writing regarding the supporting actors upon the historical stage. For example, it is commonly difficult to find adequate source materials. In addition, a serious problem of organization frequently occurs. Thus it is not easy to achieve unity in an account of the activities of a minor personage who played a relativity small part in various scenes. Again, there is an almost overwhelming temptation to exaggerate the importance of such a person.
- Man is greatly tempted to see in past events the directing hand of God, or ineluctable Fate, or historical laws. The Americans were long inclined to believe that they were a chosen people, that they had a special mission, that the Deity guided them as He did the ancient Israelits. The historian, alas, must obtain his information from defective human records and remains. He cannot find the decree of the Divine declaring such to be His intentions.
- A History of the American Revolution. New York: Knopf. 1969. 2013 ebook