Quotes by: Edmund Morgan

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Franklin was the best known of the Founding Fathers. His death could not go without some sort of official notice. The House of Representatives, after listening to a brief tribute by James Madison, voted to wear badges of mourning for two months and then got on with business.
Edmund Morgan
In 1595, by order of the Privy Council, the English armed services abandoned the longbow and fought with muskets for the next two centuries and more. Nobody is sure why.
Edmund Morgan
The musket could not be aimed except in a general direction; a bow in the hands of a skilled archer could regularly hit and kill an enemy completely beyond musket range.
Edmund Morgan
Most historians don't much like generalizations. Indeed, they make a trade of showing that this or that generalization about the past will not work here or there or then.
Edmund Morgan
Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence and deem them like the Ark of the Covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment.
Edmund Morgan
The preoccupation of American historical and literary scholars with the New England Puritans must seem to outsiders like an obsession.
Edmund Morgan
Who would think it possible to redirect historical scholarship by explaining what Thomas Jefferson said in the Declaration of Independence?
Edmund Morgan
It is hard for anyone who discovers George Washington not to write about him, perhaps because he is so hard to discover and such a surprise when you do.
Edmund Morgan
By 1892, enlightenment had progressed to the point where the Salem trials were simply an embarrassing blot on the history of New England. They were a part of the past that was best forgotten: a reminder of how far the human race had come in two centuries.
Edmund Morgan
The famous convention of 1787 met in Philadelphia to define the additional powers needed to enable Congress to do its job effectively. Instead, the convention proposed a brand new national government.
Edmund Morgan
The American world had - seemingly, at least - become a Jeffersonian world by the election of 1800, which placed Thomas Jefferson in the presidency. Jefferson had been Hamilton's rival in the new government's early years, and Hamilton has figured in the public memory almost as much for that rivalry as for his positive achievements.
Edmund Morgan
The three hundredth anniversary of the Salem witch trials of 1692 comes at a time when witchcraft commands a scholarly attention that would have been puzzling in 1892 or even in 1792.
Edmund Morgan
It was not necessary and might even have been disadvantageous for a government to claim a direct personal commission and communion of the kind God had given some rulers in the Old Testament. A working government might need the support of the Church but not of God Himself in a voice from on high.
Edmund Morgan
Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence; Madison wrote not only the United States Constitution, or at least most of it, but also the most searching commentary on it that has ever appeared. Each of them served as president of the United States for eight years. What they had to say to each other has to command attention.
Edmund Morgan
The men who founded and governed Massachusetts and Connecticut took themselves so seriously that they kept track of everything they did for the benefit of posterity and hoarded their papers so carefully that the whole history of the United States, recounted mainly by their descendants, has often appeared to be the history of New England writ large.
Edmund Morgan
When historians of early America turned from the pursuit of past politics, they devised a category known in the academy as 'social and intellectual history.' In it, they stuffed nearly everything except politics on the assumption, which the anthropologists assured them was correct, that it would all fit together. Somehow it did not.
Edmund Morgan
The musket, always a muzzleloader, took minutes to reload; an archer could aim and fire up to a dozen arrows in a minute. Muskets required continual cleaning and repair; bows were quickly made and easily maintained.
Edmund Morgan
In America, we may acknowledge Washington and Lincoln as great men, and probably Franklin and Jefferson and maybe Franklin Delano Roosevelt and possibly even several more, but we would probably disagree about precisely what it was that made them great, what it was that enabled them to give a lasting direction to the course of events.
Edmund Morgan
There is something about guns that inhibits understanding. It is not just that they can put an end to argument. They somehow generate beliefs that are obviously contrary to observable fact.
Edmund Morgan
Thomas Paine, so celebrated and so despised as he traveled through the critical events of his time, has long appealed to biographers. Paine was present at the creation both of the United States and of the French Republic. His eloquence, in the pamphlet 'Common Sense,' propelled the American colonists toward independence.
Edmund Morgan
The colonial period has been the proving ground in America for the new social history, which concentrates on the ordinary doings of ordinary people rather than on high culture and high politics. Unfortunately ordinary people, almost by definition, leave behind only faint traces of their existence.
Edmund Morgan
Americans, perhaps more than most people, have pondered the question of who they are and what their country is.
Edmund Morgan
Cotton Mather's publications in his own lifetime amounted to more than 400 titles, and his magnum opus, on which he labored most of his life, remains unpublished: a commentary on every verse of every book of the Bible. Anyone who leaves that kind of record behind issues an irresistible invitation to historians.
Edmund Morgan
Throughout his long career, Washington earned the adulation not merely of ordinary people but of the other luminaries whom we now hail as 'founding fathers.'
Edmund Morgan
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