Make no mistake; the American Revolution was not fought to obtain freedom, but to preserve the liberties that Americans already had as colonials. Independence was no conscious goal, secretly nurtured in cellar or jungle by bearded conspirators, but a reluctant last resort, to preserve "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."— Samuel Eliot Morison
The most unbelievable Samuel Eliot Morison quotes you will be delighted to read
If the American Revolution had produced nothing but the Declaration of Independence, it would have been worthwhile.
If the European discovery had been delayed for a century or two, it is possible that the Aztec in Mexico or the Iroquois in North America would have established strong native states capable of adopting European war tactics and maintaining their independence to this day, as Japan kept her independence from China.
America was discovered accidentally by a great seaman who was looking for something else; when discovered it was not wanted; and most of the exploration for the next fifty years was done in the hope of getting through or around it. America was named after a man who discovered no part of the New World. History is like that, very chancy.
He [Columbus] enjoyed long stretches of pure delight such as only a seaman may know, and moments of high, proud exultation that only a discoverer can experience.
A few hints as to the craft may be useful to budding historians. First and foremost, get writing!
Historical methodology, as I see it, is a product of common sense applied to circumstances.
An historian should yield himself to his subject, become immersed in the place and period of his choice, standing apart from it now and then for a fresh view.
The cruel policy initiated by Columbus and pursued by his successors resulted in complete genocide.
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.
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.
No big modern war has been won without preponderant sea power;
and, conversely, very few rebellions of maritime provinces have succeeded without acquiring sea power.
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.
Franklin may . . . be considered one of the founding fathers of American democracy, since no democratic government can last long without conciliation and compromise.
One learns more from defeat than from victory.
Skepticism is an important historical tool.
It is the starting point of all revision of hitherto accepted history.
But sea power has never led to despotism.
The nations that have enjoyed sea power even for a brief period-Athens, Scandinavia, the Netherlands, England, the United States-are those that have preserved freedom for themselves and have given it to others. Of the despotism to which unrestrained military power leads we have plenty of examples from Alexander to Mao.
Never, in these United States, has the brain of man conceived, or the hand of man fashioned, so perfect a thing as a clipper ship.
Dream dreams and write them aye, but live them first.
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.
The freedmen were not really free in 1865, nor are most of their descendants really free in 1965. Slavery was but one aspect of a race and color problem that is still far from solution here, or anywhere. In America particularly, the grapes of wrath have not yet yielded all their bitter vintage.
America was named after a man who discovered no part of the New World.
History is like that, very chancy.
A tough but nervous, tenacious but restless race [the Yankees];
materially ambitious, yet prone to introspection, and subject to waves of religious emotion. . . . A race whose typical member is eternally torn between a passion for righteousness and a desire to get on in the world.
Military and absolutist regimes are undoubtedly well fitted to get the jump on an unsuspecting or unprepared enemy; but the history of modern warfare proves that they cannot win over representative governments in the long run, provided that people behind those governments have the heart to sustain initial punishment, and both the will and the resources to fight back.
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.
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.