Ohio History Journal

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360 Ohio Arch

360       Ohio Arch. and Hist. Society Publications



President Johnson called the meeting to order at

2 o'clock. The audience was delightfully instructed and

entertained by Dr. George W. Rightmire, who delivered

the following timely address on the subject, THE HIS-


I should like to open my remarks with a quotation from an

Italian historian, Beccari. Long ago he wrote, "Happy is the

country without a history."

To him history meant military campaigns, political upheavals,

international intrigue and social unrest. And generally that is

what it had meant, and if, as he saw it, a community should have

none of these shaking experiences to chronicle it would have no

history, and therefore, must be happy.

But that conception of history is entirely inadequate; history

comprehends those occurrences but it means much more. Essen-

tially it is an attempt to recreate the past--the whole past, and it

goes on as a natural human endeavor.

Men in the sundown of life turn aside to recall and to recite

their own deeds and experiences which rise up vividly out of the

past; they desire their children to know what manner of men

they have been and they find a peculiar satisfaction in their own

achievements which, through the mists of time, seem imposing

and significant. There is also a half-expressed desire to instruct

those who come after and furnish them an example; what other

motive could probably have prompted Franklin in writing his

intimate biography, or Depew in his My Memories of Eighty

Years? Some such urge impels men to write also about others;

future generations should know of the exploits of an Alexander

or a Genghis Khan, the religious motivation of a Luther or a

Wesley, and the social transformations activated by a Florence

Nightingale or a Frances Willard--although the Caesars and the

Napoleons have held most of the stage!

As men have chronicled contemporary events or have recre-

ated the men and the deeds of a bygone age, they have, of course,

wanted to leave a personal memorial. They anticipated a feeling

of satisfaction in the association of their names with great men

or great movements. Hereafter men may often speak not of Wash-

ington, but of Weems's Life of Washington! Not of Lincoln, but