The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988 Page: 114
The following text was automatically extracted from the image on this page using optical character recognition software:
Southwestern Historical Quarterly
newer works on European expansion to the Americas and then into North
America, digested and synthesized them, and presented us with a
panoramic view of greater breadth than historians are supposed to be able
to provide in this age of the monomaniacal monographer. His success
may be due in large part to his professional background: he is not a
historian but a geographer. He tends to see human experience areally,
first, and then politically, religiously, etc. He thereby innocently steps
over such bottomless pits as puritanism and the origins of representative
government, pits into which legions of orthodox historians have marched,
never to be seen again. For instance, he sees Massachusetts Bay Colony
as being important as the center of a "Greater New England" (p. 100),
in which Nova Scotia is significant and antinomianism not worth
mentioning. He sees all of the West Indies and the whole coast from
Maryland to New Orleans not primarily as a unit where Europeans per-
formed various experiments in political and economic organization, but
as "Afro - North America" (p. 423), where blacks comprised one-third
and often much more of the population. In other words, his version of
American history is the old story told in a fresh and provocative way.
For those of us who despaired of ever again interesting our students in
early American history, much less reinteresting ourselves, Meinig's book
is a revelation.
This massive work is a clear signal not only of a fresh approach, but
that the anti-establishment interpretations that sprang up-sometimes
rankly-in the period of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War
have not been lost in the Reagan era. Their fibers are now part of the
basic weave of our appreciation of our past. Meinig is not an iconoclast,
and a few may call for more about Afro-Americans and Amerindians than
he has-included in this book, but he has included vastly more about non-
Europeans than can be found in the classic large-scale interpretations of
American history. Where in Hubert Howe Bancroft or Edward Chan-
ning or Samuel Eliot Morison would we find an assessment of the birth
of the United States as sad and as wise as the following:
For indigenous peoples in the outlying territories who had no wish to be
part of the United States, the American president was a man to be feared,
the direct analogue of czar, emperor, and sultan; for Creeks and Cherokees,
Chickasaws, Shawnees, Winnebagos, and many others, the new city of
Washington was what St. Petersburg was for the Finns, Peking for the Miao,
or Constantinople for the Serbs- the seat of a capricious, tyrannical power.
(pp. 369 - 370)
This book is a masterpiece in the best and old sense of the word, i.e.,
a proof offered by a craftsman that his skills have advanced to the point
Here’s what’s next.
This issue can be searched. Note: Results may vary based on the legibility of text within the document.
Tools / Downloads
Get a copy of this page or view the extracted text.
Citing and Sharing
Basic information for referencing this web page. We also provide extended guidance on usage rights, references, copying or embedding.
Reference the current page of this Periodical.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 91, July 1987 - April, 1988, periodical, 1987/1988; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101211/m1/140/: accessed September 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.