The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 28, July 1924 - April, 1925 Page: 96
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
valuations. Often, he is bound more strongly than the profes-
sional by local sentiment, state, and family pride. Alas, too
often he is merely a descendant. At his best, however, he is a
saving grace. He speaks out the unpublished thinking of the
responsible professionals, taking the burden and credit as his
own. There is no clamor, because of his lack of official signifi-
cance. Often there is none, because he fails clearly to express
himself. It amounts to the same obscurity as the professional's,
but not from the same cause. And in most cases he is in posi-
tion to tell the clamorous to clamor where it is hotter.
There is a contention that men and peoples must be judged
by the standards of their times. But a judgment is always a
two-edged blade. We judge ourselves as well as the men and
peoples when we judge them by the standards of their own times.
Such a judgment denies the reality of the science of ethics. The
true historian, amateur or professional, accepts the possibility,
indeed the reality, of final ethical valuations. Comparative his-
tory is the method of approach to ethical values. The treatment
of Cherokee Indians by the early Texans merges into the whole
story of the white American and the Indians. This in turn
merges into the larger question of the treatment of the weaker
races by the stronger since the origin of man. It passes then
into abstract questions of philosophy. What is right? What is
But if the amateur historian, along with the professional, is
free to play his mind over the deeds of bygone eras, bringing
them to the bar of modern ethical judgments, he is not justified
in mere harsh condemnation. Too much amateur history con-
sists in hounding the villain and kissing the feet of the hero.
Too much professional history is like that, too. James Ford
Rhodes is the nearest to ideal fairness I have read. But it seems
to me the model for the amateur or professional historian is no
historian at all. At least, scholars have shown his reputed
events, his "Histories," to be almost all directly wrong. I refer
to William Shakespeare. Grant his facts are wrong; yet his fair-
ness is almost perfect. Indeed, a certain tenderness, even, hangs
over his blackest villains, Richard III, Iago, and the king in
But the highest model for historians should be that Recording
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 28, July 1924 - April, 1925, periodical, 1925; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101087/m1/100/: accessed July 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.