Ohio History Journal

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VOLUME 65 ?? NUMBER 3 ??  JULY 1956





A New Horizon in History





When Ulysses, the wise old man of Greek mythology, prepared

to take off on his final voyage beyond the sunset, he summed up his

knowledge of life in the one remark, "I am a part of all that I

have met."

By this, I suppose, Ulysses was simply saying that history was not

a thing apart from him. He had lived; he had contributed his bit

to the life of his times, and in turn had been shaped by that life

around him--and he had been part of it all, he had been a living

figure in the history of his time, an actor in what later would be

seen as the grand pageant of the Homeric Age.

There seems to be very little of Homeric scope or grandeur

to the life we have known, here in the Middle West of America;

yet we still live by Ulysses' watchword, for we must say, with him,

that we too have been a part of all that we have met--that is, that

we do not exist apart from the daily life that moves about us--

and we may as well go on, with Ulysses, to say (in the words

Tennyson gave him), "And all experience is an arch where through

gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades forever as I


I would like to suggest that in these words we have nothing more

nor less than an appreciation of what history is: an understanding


* This is the text of an address delivered at the seventy-first annual meeting of the

Ohio Historical Society on April 28, 1956. Mr. Catton is the editor of American

Heritage: The Magazine of History and the author of a number of books on the Civil

War, including A Stillness at Appomattox.