History by Committee?
Professor Albert Bushnell Hart has earned the gratitude of all Americans who love America in defending himself before the Boston School Committee as he has. Furthermore, he has shown a sense of humor, a sense which some of the gentlemen opposed to him appear sadly to lack.
The whole affair would be amusing were one only to judge by the letter of the criticism employed by those who would change Boston's school books. A far graver side of this concerted agitation is seen when we reflect that if Messrs. McSweeney, O'Connor, Prout, Walsh and Watson are to have their way, there is nothing to prevent one good textbook after another being tossed out of the Boston schools on the ground that their unhappy writers have not said that perfection was copyrighted in the thirteen States and more especially Massachusetts. Mr. O'Connor is reported in the Boston Herald as having expressed himself to the effect that "the writer of an historical textbook did not have absolute freedom in selection or interpretation of historical material." Whom, may we ask, would Mr. O'Connor choose for this duty of selection and interpretation? More specifically he is quoted as saying that "a textbook should be designed primarily to inculcate respect for law and order, and sympathetic appreciation of our country's institutions and our national ideas." A great deal depends on what is meant by "respect for law and order" and who sets the tune.
The writing of history is not an exact science, as anyone with the slightest acquaintance with the study of history is well aware, and some of the worst offenders in this respect have been in the past the historians of the school that Professor Hart's assailants seem to prefer. Their passionate concern for the greatness and character of Samuel Adams is gratifying proof that they love that America which undoubtedly he very much helped to create. But Messrs. O'Connor, McSweeny, Prout, Walsh and Watson as students of history should bear in mind that Samuel Adams was very English indeed, as were most of the men who aided him in his splendid work. --The Boston Transcript.