NOTHING is more likely to shake the historian's confidence in his power to tell the truth than making the effort to give a just account of his intellectual debts. If I have failed to include them all, it is not from any lack of a sense of gratitude. For arousing and shaping my interest in the philosophy of history I owe more than I can ever adequately reckon to the immensely provocative teaching of John W. Miller at Williams College. Since my undergraduate years I have been influenced, as philosophers will recognize, by the writings of R. G. Collingwood, Benedetto Croce, Michael Oakeshott, Raymond Aron, and Ortega y Gasset. Most of the research and thinking which went into the making of this essay were done at Harvard University in 1951-52, for a thesis in American Civilization. I was fortunate in having Perry Miller and also Oscar Handlin for advisers; they gave me, besides the high example of their own work, the needed encouragement and freedom to work out my salvation on a topic which less imaginative and more paternalistic mentors might have rejected. I hope the former will feel that his efforts to keep me from ever forgetting the humanity of my two subjects were not wasted.
This extensively revised and condensed version of my thesis owes much to my colleagues at Yale. David M. Potter has been especially generous with his time, criticism, and support, greatly aiding me in clarifying and organizing my argument. George W. Pierson has very skillfully pruned many a literary thicket of my own making, and Harry Rudin's benignly critical eye particularly helped me in