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History and the Historian Defined

by on December 10, 2012

“History…is a matter of very solemn concern. You are to approach it with bowed forehead, unbonnetted front, and most philosophical exordium. It is not your light romance–your irreverent poetry. It is a sort of holy revelation of the past…There must be an awful solemnity of look and accent when the dry bones of ancient facts are to be unburied. You must delve, you must drudge, you must shake a mystical head, till it rattles again, in order to be a historian after the modern acceptation.”

By William Gilmore Simms in, “Weems, the Biographer and Historian,” from Views and Reviews, Second Series (1845), as quoted in Lewis Leary, The Book-Peddling Parson: An Account of the life and works of Mason Locke Weems; patriot, pitchman, author, and purveyor of morality to the citizens of the early United States of America, (Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books, 1984), 153.

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