Chapter Three: An American Historian in The American Century (1948-1963)
This chapter includes information about the fifteen-year period of Hofstadter's career when his fame as a historian and public intellectual was at its apex. In this period of profound economic growth and domestic political stability, intellectuals more generally established themselves in positions of unprecedented security and prestige, as government agencies, universities, and major research institutions sought their expertise. This phase of the Cold War also saw the United States, as a newly emergent superpower, extend its military power and political influence abroad. Domestically, fear of Communist subversion and foreign influences propelled a new right-wing politics, known as McCarthyism, that would become a perennial preoccupation of Hofstadter's for many years.
During the years covered in this chapter, Hofstadter resided in New York City and taught at Columbia University. Items featured here include images and documents relating to his scholarship in this period, especially The Age of Reform (1955), as well as an unpublished work of political criticism from the late 1940s entitled "The New Deal and American Liberalism," and correspondence with other leading scholars and intellectuals. This collection will likely be of particular relevance to those who are interested in the evolution of Hofstadter's political views, his use of the social sciences, and his controversial interpretation of the populist movement.