“A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today": Rare Ten Volume Set of Wilson's The History of the American People; Signed by Him

  • A History of the American People: Documentary Edition.

A History of the American People: Documentary Edition.

Item Number: 68005

New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1918.

First edition. Octavo, 10 volumes, bound in the publisher’s three quarters morocco, gilt titles to the spine, contains numerous plates and illustrations. One of 400 copies, signed by President Wilson on the limitation page.  An excellent set of this scarce edition of Wilson‘s history of the American people, first published in 1902, this expanded edition was published at the start of his second term as President of the United States. Rare.

"Wilson wanted to enhance the presidency by establishing a direct link to the American people. He thought the president, as their spokesman, should be the preeminent leader of the democratic nation. Long convinced that the British parliamentary government was better than the American constitutional system, he exerted personal influence on the legislative branch in unprecedented ways…The first president to hold regular press conferences, he sought to shape public opinion by managing news from the White House. Moreover, he delivered messages personally to Congress, reviving a practice that George Washington and John Adams had used on a few occasions. From Jefferson through Taft, other U.S. presidents had submitted only written messages" (ANB). As a writer, Wilson "propounded his own frontier thesis to explain American history. Influenced by conversations and correspondence with historian Frederick Jackson Turner, Wilson now credited the frontier, more than the Anglo-Saxon heritage, with the rise of freedom and democracy in the New World" (ANB). "As a lecturer and writer Wilson had a genius for simplification, for the clarification of the complex and the explanation of the relation of things. These qualities he carried into his political speeches and they account in part, at least, for the effect he exercised upon men's minds" (DAB).