Making a Difference: Puritans and Slaves

By Towler, Katie | Humanities, January/February 2001 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Making a Difference: Puritans and Slaves

Towler, Katie, Humanities

"Curiosity is the principal motivator of all important work, " says historian Edmund S. Morgan.

Whether he is overturning common wisdom about the American Revolution or debunking the myth of "the American people," Morgan is quick to wade into controversy.

"There is no way there's such a thing as the American people expressing a wish," Morgan says. "Wishes must be expressed through representatives who have their own views. But we need the fiction of the 'American people' as an entity with a will and expressed views. Our American government is based on this fiction."

In his book, Inventing the People: The Rise of Popular Sovereignty in England and America, Morgan says the popular control of government is largely a fictional concept, inherited from the notion of the divine right of kings. "No society is governed by the many," he says. "All societies are governed only by the few, whether the government is a monarchy or a democracy." But it is a concept that has worked well over the centuries and the continued belief in it, he asserts, is essential to our system of government.

The author and editor of eighteen books, Morgan has written on the Puritans and the intellectual foundations of early American life. Still active in the field at the age of eighty-four, Morgan says, "The more familiar you become with a subject, the more you realize you don't know, so there's a reason to go on."

Morgan taught at the University of Chicago and Brown University before joining the faculty at Yale in 1955. He is the Sterling Professor of History Emeritus at Yale.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Making a Difference: Puritans and Slaves


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?