The Other Side of Main Street: A History Teacher from Sauk Centre

The Other Side of Main Street: A History Teacher from Sauk Centre

The Other Side of Main Street: A History Teacher from Sauk Centre

The Other Side of Main Street: A History Teacher from Sauk Centre

Excerpt

ONE EVENING AFTER AN UNUSUALLY BRIEF SESSION of the Graduate Department of History at Columbia University, Professor Dunning, then head of the Department, suggested that, since there had been so little business to transact, it might be interesting to round out the session by exchanging accounts of how we had come to be teachers of history. From the reports which followed it appeared that everyone present had embarked upon or planned a different career and that the shift to the teaching of history had in every case been due to accidental circumstances. The play of chance in determining vocations is of course a familiar fact. I had often noted it in my study of historians, and something like an explanation of chance had once come to me from John Bach McMaster when I asked what had led him from civil engineering to the writing of history. "Let me tell you," he answered, "about an experience with President McKinley. The first time that I met the President he greeted me very cordially with the remark that he had read the whole of my History and had derived so much pleasure and profit from the work that if he could ever do anything for me I must be sure to let him know. I thanked him without any idea that occasion would ever arise for testing his sincerity until one day a good friend of mine, who was trying to get his son into the Naval Academy at Annapolis by presidential nomination, asked if I had any influence with . . .

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