Quotes by: Samuel E. Morison
|Samuel Eliot Morison
Samuel Eliot Morison in his official U.S. Navy portrait
July 9, 1887|
||May 15, 1976
|| United States of America
|| United States Navy
|Years of service
|| Rear Admiral (Reserve)
||World War II
Courses on historical methodology are not worth the time that they take up. I shall never give one myself, and I have observed that many of my colleagues who do give such courses refrain from exemplifying their methods by writing anything.
Intellectual honesty is the quality that the public in free countries always has expected of historians; much more than that it does not expect, nor often get.
The same contingencies of time and space that force a statesman or soldier to make decisions, impel the historian, though with less urgency, to make up his mind.
Too rigid specialization is almost as bad for a historian's mind, and for his ultimate reputation, as too early an indulgence in broad generalization and synthesis.
Historical methodology, as I see it, is a product of common sense applied to circumstances.
Any child knows that history can only be a reduced representation of reality, but it must be a true one, not distorted by queer lenses.
So I have cultivated the vast garden of human experience which is history, without troubling myself overmuch about laws, essential first causes, or how it is all coming out.
If a lecturer, he wishes to be heard; if a writer, to be read. He always hopes for a public beyond that of the long-suffering wife.
Yet enthusiasm is no excuse for the historian going off balance. He should remind the reader that outcomes were neither inevitable nor foreordained, but subject to a thousand changes and chances.
Skepticism is an important historical tool. It is the starting point of all revision of hitherto accepted history.
With honesty of purpose, balance, a respect for tradition, courage, and, above all, a philosophy of life, any young person who embraces the historical profession will find it rich in rewards and durable in satisfaction.
In any case, his judgment and set of values, acting alone or through his assistants, determine not only what is gold and what is dross but the design of the history which he creates out of the metal. The historian decides what is significant, and what is not.
Every historian with professional standards speaks or writes what he believes to be true.
Everyone agrees to that; but when we come to define truth, dissension starts.
Throughout this evolution from left to right, Beard always detested war. Hence his writings were slanted to show that the military side of history was insignificant or a mere reflection of economic forces.