American History in Transition

From Religion to Science


In American History in Transition, Yoshinari Yamaguchi provides fresh insights into early efforts in American history writing, ranging from Jeremy Belknap’s Massachusetts Historical Society to Emma Willard’s geographic history and Francis Parkman’s history of deep time to Henry Adams’s thermodynamic history. Although not a well-organized set of professional researchers, these historians shared the same concern: the problems of temporalization and secularization in history writing.
As the time-honored framework of sacred history was gradually outdated, American historians at that time turned to individual facts as possible evidence for a new generalization, and tried different “scientific” theories to give coherency to their writings. History writing was in its transitional phase, shifting from religion to science, deduction to induction, and static to dynamic worldview.

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Yoshinari Yamaguchi, Ph.D. (University of Tsukuba, 2016), is Associate Professor of American literature at Kanazawa University. His research interest is the making of America and its literature during the early national era.

Introduction: America and History
1 “A Republic of Letters”: Organizing Historical Knowledge in Early National America
 1 No Document, No History
 2 Collection, Preservation and Publication
 3 The Republic of Letters, or a Network of Historiographical Fraternity
 4 Many Documents, Many Histories
2 Natural History Turned National History: Unity and Uniqueness in Jeremy Belknap's Federalist Historiography
 1 The Third Volume of The History of New-Hampshire
 2 Natural History Turned National History
 3 Honeybees and Fiddlers: National Unity or Individual Uniqueness
 4 History Writing and the Building of the Federal Republic
 5 Satire in History
3 The Biographer's (Sub)Voice: Historical Objectivity and Interpretive Imagination in Jared Sparks's Documentary History
 1 Erudition or Narrative
 2 Document Hunter and Blocked Historian
 3 The Editor's Duty/Liberty
 4 The Biographer's (Sub)Voice
 5 Filiopietism, Blasphemy, or...
4 American Geographic History: Visibility and Timelessness in Emma Willard's ``Progressive Maps'' and ``History in Perspective''
 1 Geography and History
 2 The Tradition of American Geographic History
 3 History and Geography Education in Nineteenth-Century America
 4 Visible and Timeless History: Emma Willard's ``Temple of Time'' and ``History in Perspective''
 5 The Problem of American Historicity
5 The Traveling Historian: Spatiality and Panoramic Abstraction in Francis Parkman's Writings
 1 Travel and History
 2 Parkman's Research Trip for History Writing
 3 The Spatiality of The Conspiracy of Pontiac
 4 The Effects of a Traveler: Cartography, History, and Panoramic Abstraction
 5 Space of History
6 Slow and Long History: Geology and the Idea of History in Nineteenth-Century America
 1 Historical Associations, the ``Retarding'' Text, and Natural-Historical Longue Durée
 2 Geology in Nineteenth-Century America
 3 The Geological Scale Enlargement and the Arguments from Analogy
7 History in Depth: Geological Imagination and the Memories of the Landmass
 1 Geology and the Temporalization of History
 2 Geological Connections
 3 Geological Imaginations in Parkman's Historical Writings
 4 Geological Deep Time and the Nation-State's Time
8 Toward the Impersonality of History: Inductive Reasoning and the Problem of the Individual in Henry Adams's Physicist History
 1 Science and Historical Studies
 2 The Problem of the Individual
 3 The Solution and Sublimation of the Individual
 4 Open Endings
Conclusion: the Temporalization of American History
Appendix I: A List of Characters in Jeremy Belknap, The Foresters
Appendix II: Francis Parkman's Historical Writings: an Overview
Works Cited
Professional scholars and graduate students in American literature and culture, especially from the late eighteenth century through the late nineteenth century, and scholars in the field of historiography.