Historians working in the classical liberal tradition believe that individual decision-making and individual rights matter in the making of history. History written in the classical liberal tradition emerged largely in the nineteenth century, when the field of history was first professionalized in Europe and the Americas. Professional historical research was then imbued with liberal values, which included rigorous attention to the sources, historicist suspicion of an ultimate mover, an honest and dispassionate rational outlook, and humility towards what could be known. Above all, liberals wanted to chart the history of liberty, warn against threats to liberty, and defend it in an evolving political world. They believed history was real, and that it had lessons to teach, but that these lessons could not provide sufficient knowledge to predict the future or reorganize society around a central plan.
This book demonstrates how the classical liberal tradition in historical writing persists to this day, but how it is often neglected and due for renewal. The book contrasts the classical liberal view on history with conservative, progressive, Marxist, and post-modern views.
Each of the eleven chapters address a different historical topic, from the development of classical liberalism in nineteenth century America to the the history of civil liberties and civil rights that stemmed from this tradition. Authors give particular attention to the importance of social and economic analysis. Each contributor was chosen as an expert in their field to provide a historiographical overview of their subject, and to explain what the classical liberal contribution to this historiography has been and should be. Authors then provide guidance towards possible tools of analysis and related research topics that future historians working in the classical liberal tradition could take up.
The authors wish to call upon other historians to recognize the important contributions to historical understanding that have come and can be provided by the insights of classical liberalism.
Publisher: Lexington Books
Number of pages: 268
Weight: 572 g
Dimensions: 237 x 159 x 25 mm
Historians who are classical liberals constitute a minority within a field that seems to be dominated by progressive, Marxist, feminist, postmodernist, and conservative schools. So it is refreshing and enlightening to have this insightful scholarly collection from some articulate classical liberal historians. Tackling such issues as historiography, the nature of capitalism, the role of social history, feminism, civil rights, civil liberties, and the origins of sustained economic growth, they reinvigorate a classical liberal approach to these profound historical questions. -- Jeff Hummel, San Jose State University
This is one of the freshest and most stimulating efforts to rethink the premises of modern historiography to appear in many years. While paying due respect to the collective and material forces that professional historians have come to regard as the principal drivers of historical change, the authors in this volume make a different commitment-to the priority of liberty and the dignity and agency of the individual person-in their accounts of the human past. The paths opened here by these authors are full of promise. May their enterprise flourish, and their efforts bear abundant fruit, and multiply. -- Wilfred M. McClay, University of Oklahoma