Publication

Rethinking Periodization? APD & the Macro-History of the United States
Polity 2005, Volume 37, Number 4.

Kersh, R.
01/01/2005

Dividing American history into discrete periods dates to the first European colonists in North America, several of whom variously declared their region or colony to represent a "new beginning" a "new land of Canaan," a New England, and so forth: "in the New World is born a new history," as one early sermonizer had it. (1) Soon thereafter clerics and political leaders (often the same people) lamented their fellows' fall from grace; the dichotomy of golden age and descent into depravity, of Awakening and backsliding, has been an American motif ever since. Eventually, the sweep of U.S. history was sorted on a chronological, rather than theological or eschatological, basis. For well over a century political historians have in the main hewn to a familiar temporal script.