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Must Historians Regress?

Kousser, J. Morgan (1986) Must Historians Regress? Historical Methods, 19 (2). pp. 62-81. ISSN 0161-5440. doi:10.1080/01615440.1986.10594170.

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In a series of books and articles published from 1957 to 1961, Lee Benson attacked previous political historians' implicit theorizing, faulty inferences, and failure to examine relevant data using multivariate methods. Benson castigated the view of Jacksonian Democracy embodied in Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.'s, Age of Jackson as "fiction," for example, and announced that he had rejected this view because he had "penetrated the rhetorical surface and struck hard data." Distinguishing between factual and interpretative questions, he sought to reduce the scope of "subjective relativism" among historians by first "objectively reconstructing" the facts, thus putting historians in a far better position to pose interpretative questions "in meaningful and reasonably precise form." To attain objectivity, historians had first to discard "the mpressionistic approach long dominant in American political historiography," and adopt a "systematic methodology," one that required data to be analyzed "comprehensively and rigorously. " The young Lee Benson's vision inspired many historians, myself included, to attempt to carry out a new, more thorough and "scientific" program to revise American political history.

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Additional Information:Published online: 06 Feb 2013
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Deposited On:08 Oct 2013 22:19
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 04:33

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