Picture of author.
109+ Works 4,111 Members 23 Reviews 3 Favorited

About the Author

Henry Steele Commager was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on October 25, 1902. He was educated at the University of Chicago. He taught history at New York University, Columbia University, and Amherst College. In addition to lecturing at many universities throughout the world, he was Harmsworth show more Professor at Oxford University and Pitt Professor at Cambridge University, where he was also an honorary fellow at Peterhouse College. His writings range widely over such topics as education, the Civil War, civil liberties, the Enlightenment, and immigration. Many of his books reflect his keen interest in constitutional history and civil liberties. He was also a documentarian, who has said to consider Documents of American History (1934), the 1988 edition of which he coedited with Milton Cantor, to be his most significant contribution. He died on March 2, 1998. (Bowker Author Biography) Henry Steele Commager was a well-known American historian who taught at New York University, Columbia, and Amherst. His many books won numerous prizes. He died in 1998 at age ninety-five. (Publisher Provided) show less
Image credit: Henry Steele Commager, 1954 / Photo © ÖNB/Wien


Works by Henry Steele Commager

A Pocket History of the United States (1942) — Author — 402 copies
America's Robert E. Lee (1950) 138 copies
The St. Nicholas Anthology (1948) 101 copies
The Heritage of America (1939) 64 copies
Freedom, Loyalty, Dissent (1954) 32 copies
Living ideas in America (1951) — Editor — 31 copies
The West (1976) 27 copies
Crusaders For Freedom (2000) 24 copies
Commager on Tocqueville (1993) 17 copies
The Study of History (1965) 15 copies
The American Destiny Volume 03: The New Nation (1976) — Editor — 7 copies
The Defeat of America (1975) 5 copies
Chestnut squirrel (1952) 4 copies
The Federalist (1949) 1 copy

Associated Works

Democracy in America (1835) — Editor, some editions — 5,798 copies
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin and Other Writings (1758) — Introduction, some editions — 2,459 copies
The Oregon Trail (1849) — Introduction, some editions — 2,083 copies
The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885) — Introduction, some editions — 1,434 copies
Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 (1988) — Introduction — 1,373 copies
Twenty Years at Hull-House (1910) — Foreword, some editions — 842 copies
The Confederate Nation 1861-1865 (1979) — Editor, some editions — 356 copies
The Civil War Almanac (1982) — Introduction, some editions — 310 copies
Why the North Won the Civil War (1960) — Contributor — 287 copies
The Awakening of American Nationalism, 1815-1828 (1965) — Editor — 170 copies
The English People on the Eve of Colonization, 1603-1630 (1954) — Introduction, some editions — 152 copies
The Far West and the Great Plains in Transition, 1859-1900 (1988) — Introduction — 59 copies
The Confederation and the Constitution, 1783-1789 (1905) — Foreword, some editions — 41 copies
Diary of My Travels in America (1977) — Preface, some editions — 25 copies
The development of a revolutionary mentality; papers (1972) — Contributor — 22 copies
American Heritage Magazine Vol 16 No 2 1965 February (1965) — Contributor, some editions — 18 copies
The World of History (1954) — Contributor — 16 copies
William Jennings Bryan and the campaign of 1896 (1953) — Contributor — 13 copies
Our Day and Generation: The Words of Edward M. Kennedy (1979) — Editor, some editions — 12 copies
Marlborough: His Life and Times (2 Volumes) — Introduction, some editions — 1 copy
Gone with the Wind, Vol. 1 (of 2) — Introduction, some editions — 1 copy


Common Knowledge



This is an anthology of writing about the war. Both sides have their say, and there is a collection of the lyrics of the popular songs of the day. a very useful work for the serious student as Steele was a very thoughtful editor.
DinadansFriend | 1 other review | Nov 22, 2023 |
A book covering 9 topics with stories of people . Freedom of Speech: Tom Paine, Thomas Erskine, William Lloyd Garrison, Elijah Lovejoy, Wendell Phillips.Freedom of Religion: Roger Williams, Puritans, Anne Hutchinson, William Penn, Thomas Jefferson. Freedom from Slavery: William Lloyd Garrison, Theodore Parker, Levi Coffin, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Harriet Tubman, John Brown, Abraham Lincoln. The Rights of Children: Hans Chritian Andersen, Richard Oastler, Lord Anthony Ashley, Charles Loring Brace, Jane Addams, UNICEF. The Right to Learn: Friedrich Froebel, Johann Pestalozzi, Bronson Alcott, Horace Mann, Domingo Sarmiento, Nicholas Svend Grundtvig, Christen Kold, Yang Chu Yen, Dr. Frank Laubach, The Rights of Women: Elizabeth Cody Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Susan Anthony, Emma Willard, Mary Lyon, Elizabeth Blackwell, Reverend Antoinette Brown Blackwell, Carrie Chappman Catt. The Right of Asylum: The Huguenots, Fridtjof Nansen, Israel. Fair Trial: Magna Carta, Voltaire, John Quincey Adams, Emile Zola. The Declaration of Human Rights: Eleanor Roosevelt . Very Readable book. I thought the writing style was great for children. My only negative was that he did not always clearly describe the ideas the person put forth.… (more)
RaskFamilyLibrary | 1 other review | Apr 21, 2020 |
Not a casual reading book, as such. This is a "curated" collection of brief excerpts from the period 1830-1860 which describe various reform movements of the era (education, womens' suffrage, abolition of feudal tenure in New York, homesteader rights, labour unions, and so forth). Commager (one of the most respected historians of his time) gives a brief overview of the genre in the introduction. This is the sort of book that's assigned in history classes as a supplement to lectures.
EricCostello | Dec 1, 2019 |
In this short "study", Commager tackles his own subject. Without actually citing any other teaching disciplines, only his own, he declares that "History, it seems, is more self-conscious than other disciplines" and the historian "more introspective". To his credit, his compass of his own discipline and its leading scholars is nonpareil. I am just sort of disappointed that he cites none outside his siloh of information--other than two ancient theologians (Plutarch and St. Augustine).

This work focuses on How historians can question themselves and "get on with the job of study and teaching and writing". He does not linger on the unanswerable -- "we cannot answer ultimate questions". He does formulate approaches to questions about the uses of history and what it is as a subject.

"Rightly studied," answers to elementary questions about the nature and uses of history, can "illuminate our understanding and broaden our sympathies".

This book is a collection of five short essays:
Ch. 1 The Nature of History.
Ch. 2 The Varieties of History
Ch. 3 The Study of History
Ch. 4. Some Problems of History.
Ch. 5 History as Law and as Philosophy.

In his Chapter 4 are four subheadings in which Commager wrestles with:
--Limitations on the Historian
--The Trouble with Facts
--Interpretation--and Bias
--Judgment in History.

To pull out a few highlights --not summarizing -- from this important section:

--Limitations on the Historian
Quoting Veronica Wedgewood: The historian "ought to be the humblest of men; he is faced a dozen times a day with the evidence of his own ignorance."

--The Trouble with Facts.
"First, a paradox. There are too few facts, and there are too many."
--Interpretation--and Bias
"There is one bias, one prejudice, one obsession, so pervasive and so powerful that it deserves special consideration: nationalism." This is a disease, really, of the eye.
--Judgment in History.
The idea of a moral function was well-stated by Lord Acton in 1895--he exhorted students of history "never to debase the moral currency or to lower the standards of rectitude, but to try others by the final maxim that governs your own lives, and to suffer no man and no cause to escape the undying penalty which history has the power to inflict on wrong." [63]
… (more)
keylawk | May 21, 2018 |



You May Also Like

Associated Authors


Also by

Charts & Graphs