27 Pages

The Art of Revising History: Revisiting the Marshall Court

WithG. Edward White

This chapter examines the nature and process of historical revisionism. In the case of the Marshall Court the shared sense of historians can be encapsulated in four talismanic labels: it was a "nationalistic," "Federalist," "property-conscious," and "Chief Justice-dominated" Court. The art of revisionism is therefore the art of fashioning an original interpretive structure that bridges a potential gap between new angles of vision and an established sense of the raw materials of a given portion of history. The general theory's postulate is that historical revisionism is essentially an interpretative process set in motion by factors deep within the generational context in which a work of scholarship is constructed, and that therefore nearly all historical writing is revisionist. The conventional view that only some historical works can claim to be revisionist, and the implication of that view that revisionist works are superior to nonrevisionist works, therefore seem misplaced.