Intervention and Colonization in Africa

Intervention and Colonization in Africa

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Intervention and Colonization in Africa

Intervention and Colonization in Africa

Read FREE!

Excerpt

There is a tradition among historians that, since history deals with the past, the further a subject is removed from the present, the more historical it is. School-books and lectures often reflect this point of view. The Peloponnesian War was forced upon the innocent children of the nineteenth century in all its wearisome detail, while the pages of the history manuals closed either with Napoleon in exile or at most with Bismarck dictating terms of peace. Just across the threshold of the world of to-day one read the word "finis." It was the close of the world's story!

The exclusion of recent events from the field of history was justified by the historians upon the plea that only as events receded into the past could their proper perspective be seen. Often what seems of most moment at the time proves to be but temporary and local in importance. The Reign of Terror in the French Revolution, for example, is now seen to have been an incident of less importance than the relatively unknown social revolution of 1789, which destroyed the remnants of medieval feudalism in France. The dramatic interest of the tragedy led those closest to it to concentrate unduly upon the story of mobs and guillotine, and only the sober historian of a later day could correct the perspective, after the issues involved had ceased to arouse the passions of the investigator. Warned by such experiences, scientific historians of the last century accepted it as a canon, that one could write accurately and intelligently only of things that happened before one's time.

There is much force in this contention, but if carried out to its logical conclusion, --that one must wait for facts to . . .

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