The Problem of History, starts when History was first founded as a academic venture. The problem was the Rankian theory of History. That History was a objective science. That if one way of telling history was done, so much it had been tested, and that had been all there ever would be. That was the only story of History to be told.
This basis led to what can only be referred to as White Mans History. This white mans history often was written during the expansion of Empires. This led as the backdrop for what can only be thought as Scientific Racism. The idea that certain races had to be inferior, thats why they were so easily conquered. That when the “inferiors” had been conquered that they were wanting to become civilized. This came to be known as Romantic Nationalism. In which conquest and violence were romanticized. These approaches to History, that seem repellent now, were very popular to the public at the time of Americas emerging.
This nationalism, this view of the world historical problem, from the perspective of the White Man, who was looking to dominate the world and spread his so called freedom, became the Objective view. Anyone who claimed that this view was not objective, that it was wrong, that it was crazy, dangerous, and cancerous, to any society that see’s itself as remotely humane, was deemed unpatriotic.
Their even went on to create very warped versions of History, like the Teutonic Germ Theory, which claimed that racial theory of German conquest over the inferiors Celts is where the theory of Democracy came from. Another popular view was Turners Frontier Thesis. This Thesis presented the idea that what made Americans so great was their rugged individualistic experience of frontier life.
The Mint Julep school was also very popular, a theory that claimed Africans and African Americans where better off under slavery because they were being civilized and they were actually happy. Many used this view to argue that the Civil War was a war of Northern Aggression. That Reconstruction was a terrible thing that was crushing southerners morality. William A. Dunning viewed the KKK, the Ku Klux Klan, as the heroes during this time, fighting the good fight.
These views on History can be seen as none other than White Supremacist and Imperialists garbage, hog washed in a vacuum of ignorance and pumped out to the public during the rise of the Early American Empire.
In opposition to this view came the Pragmatists. Who wanted to retests previous ideas in History that had been seen as objective and concluded. Historians like William James, would go on to challenge the White Mans History, and historians like WEB DuBois would also learn from William James. DuBois proved everything wrong.
Than there was Charles Beard, who used Socialism to come to new conclusions not seen previously by any historians. These histories captured more attention to Americans outside of Academia. Charles wife, Ritter Beard, was also a socialist, and a feminist. She wrote history from the perspective of Woman. Charles and Ritter Beard, wrote histories together. One of their famous American History Texts they wrote was Rise of the American Civilization.
These texts often focused on Radicalism in the United States, and why it wasn’t as large as movements in Europe. Yet they were not Marxists, as they saw some positives out of Capitalism for working people, like the opportunity to move up in the social strata. They also did not see a Communist Revolution ever happening in America.
With that being said, the Return to consensus does not come as a surprise. This return saw a resurrection of Romantic Nationalism. It was history used to promote exceptionalism. Most of these Histories talked about anticommunism. These histories were much more conservative. They where also a response to the Histories of the progressives. During the Red Scare, the Blacklists, these histories became more common, as outspoken academics were purged and replaced by more noble historians.