Kirk among the Historians
Cover of issue 35

How to Cite

Kirk among the Historians: Myth and Meaning in the Writing of American History. (2006). The Political Science Reviewer, 35, 132-158.


America is the land of progress, speculative, contingent,pragmatic, experimental, traditionless. An American conservatism,accordingly, is oxymoronic, blundering, graceless, andembarrassing in a society devoted to change and forgetful of thepast. "The storybook truth about American history," began LouisHartz in The Liberal Tradition in America, is that the country"was settled by men who fled from the feudal and clericaloppressions of the Old World. If there is anything in this view…thenthe outstanding thing about the American community in Westernhistory ought to be the non-existence of those oppressions, orsince the reaction against them was in the broadest sense liberal,that the American community is a liberal community." In 1953,two years before the appearance of The Liberal Tradition inAmerica, Russell Kirk, then an unknown professor at MichiganState College (later University), had published The ConservativeMind. Kirk not only announced the existence of a vibrant Anglo-American conservative tradition, but, as his publisher HenryRegnery declared, he gave "coherence and integrity" to thepostwar conservative movement in the United States.