History and Historians
In their writings about the American past, the nation’s historians have identified and distinguished the American people. They have spelled out American ideals and institutions and explained how they originated and evolved. They have narrated America’s collective memory. Because historians speak from and for the present, every age writes a different history. But American historians have over the years shared key perspectives about their past because American society, more than many others, has rested on certain premises that have been fairly consistently held. This does not mean that there have been no significant conflicts over American principles but rather that the conflicts did not mark radical changes and that, however redefined, the principles seemed to flow from one age into the next.