“It is very easy to put a country into combustion, when it possesses the elements of discord; but the difficulties of its re-organization are infinite”
From: Henderson, Timothy J. The Mexican Wars for Independence. New York: Hill and Wang, 2009.
“Something was said which drew from General Taylor the expression of views which greatly surprised me. They were to the effect that California and Oregon were too distant to become members of the Union, and it would be better for them to be an independent government. He said that our people would inhabit them and repeated that it would be better for them to form an independent government for themselves. These are alarming opinions to be entertained by the President of the United States.”
An excerpt from James K. Polk’s diary entry of Monday, March 5, 1849. Polk is relating a conversation between himself, President Zachary Taylor, W.W. Seaton (the Mayor of Washington D.C.), and Robert Winthrop (former Speaker of the House of Representatives) conducted during a carriage ride after Taylor’s inauguration.
Nevins, Allan (ed). Polk: The Diary of a President 1845-1849. New York: Capricorn Books, 1968. p 389.
“The drama, indeed the tragedy, of history comes from our understanding of the tension that existed between the conscience wills and intentions of the participants in the past and the underlying conditions that constrained their actions and shaped their future.”
Wood, Gordon S. The Purpose of The Past: Reflections on the Uses of History. (New York: The Penguin Press, 2008).p.11
“Rather than trying to understand the past on its own terms, these historians want the past to be immediately relevant and useful; they want to use history to empower people in the present, to help them develop self-identity, or to enable them to break free of that past.”
“In their well-intentioned but often crude efforts to make the past immediately usable, these scholars undermine the integrity and the pastness of the past.”
Gordon S. Wood on many cultural historians from:
Wood, Gordon S. The Purpose of The Past: Reflections on the Uses of History. (New York: The Penguin Press, 2008).p8
“Remember the days of old,
consider the years long past;
ask your father, and he will inform you;
your elders, and they will tell you.”
Deuteronomy 32:7 NRSV
“The omission of such events as the Mexican War from the American consciousness does history injustice.”
“The cost in American lives was staggering. Of the 104,556 men who served in the army, both regulars and volunteers, 13,768 men died, the highest death rate of any war in our history. The period between 1844 and 1848 was a significant time, not something to be regulated to the attic of memory.”
Eisenhower, John S.D. So Far From God: The U.S. War With Mexico 1846- 1848. (New York: Random House, 1989). p. xviii
“Nor were they just like we are. Their present was part of a different time, and because of that, they were different from us. We have to take into consideration, for example, all they had to contend with that we don’t even have to think about- all the inconveniences, discomforts, and fears. And the hard, hard work.”
McCullough, David. The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2017). p. 87.
“History, I like to think, is a larger way of looking at life. It is a source of strength, and inspiration. It is about who we are and what we stand for and is essential to our understanding of what our role should be in our time. History, as can’t be said too often, is human. It is about people, and they speak to us across the years.”
McCullough, David. The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2017). p. xii
“It is hard to celebrate the past in an ecumenical way, or even in a fair-minded one, apparently. The trouble with the past is not just that it’s behind us, it’s that it is not even over yet.”
“The Cold War isn’t thawing; it is burning with a deadly heat. Communism isn’t sleeping; it is, as always, plotting, scheming, working, fighting.”
Richard M. Nixon