David Hackett Fischer

David Hackett Fischer (born December 2, 1935) is University Professor and Earl Warren Professor of History at Brandeis University. Fischer's major works have covered topics ranging from large macroeconomic and cultural trends (Albion's Seed, The Great Wave) to narrative histories of significant events (Paul Revere's Ride, Washington's Crossing) to explorations of historiography (Historians' Fallacies, in which he coined the term "historian's fallacy").

David Hackett Fischer
BornDecember 2, 1935 (age 83)
NationalityUnited States
Notable worksWashington's Crossing (Pivotal Moments in American History); Albion's Seed


Fischer grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. He received an A.B. from Princeton University in 1958 and a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1962.[1]


Fischer has been on the faculty of Brandeis University for 50 years, where he is known for being interested in his students and history.[2]

He is best known for two major works: Albion's Seed (1989), and Washington's Crossing (Pivotal Moments in American History) (2004). In Albion's Seed, he argues that core aspects of American culture stem from four British folkways and regional cultures and that their interaction and conflict have been decisive factors in U.S. political and historical development. In Washington's Crossing, Fischer provides a narrative of George Washington's leadership of the Continental Army during the winter of 1776–1777 during the American Revolutionary War.

He was admitted as an honorary member of The Society of the Cincinnati in 2006. He is a member of the board of College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine.


Washington's Crossing (Pivotal Moments in American History) (2004) won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for History[3] and was a 2004 finalist for the National Book Award in the Nonfiction category.[4]

He received the 2006 Irving Kristol Award from the American Enterprise Institute.[5]

In 2008, he published Champlain's Dream, an exploration of Samuel de Champlain, the French explorer and founder of Quebec City. The book was a runner-up in the 2009 Cundill Prize.[6]

In 2015, Fischer was named the recipient of the Pritzker Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing.[1][7]

In addition to these literary awards, he has been recognized for his commitment to teaching with the 1990 Carnegie Prize as Massachusetts Professor of the Year and the Louis Dembitz Brandeis Prize for Excellence in Teaching.[1]

Selected works

External video
Booknotes interview with Fischer on Paul Revere's Ride, July 17, 1994, C-SPAN
Presentation by Fischer on Champlain's Dream at the New York Historical Society, October 23, 2008, C-SPAN
Presentation by Fischer on Washington's Crossing, February 26, 2004, C-SPAN
  • Historians' Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought (1970) ISBN 0-06-131545-1
  • The Revolution of American Conservatism: The Federalist Party in the Era of Jeffersonian Democracy (1976) ISBN 0-226-25135-7
  • Growing Old in America (1977) Series: Chester Bland—Dwight E. Lee Lectures in History.
  • Concord: The Social History of a New England Town 1750–1850 (1984) (Editor)
  • Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America (1989) ISBN 0-19-503794-4
  • Paul Revere's Ride (1994) ISBN 0-19-508847-6
  • The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History (2000) ISBN 0-19-505377-X
  • Washington's Crossing (Pivotal Moments in American History) (2004) ISBN 0-19-517034-2
  • Liberty and Freedom: A Visual History of America's Founding Ideas (2005) ISBN 0-19-516253-6
  • Champlain's Dream (2008) ISBN 9781416593324
  • Fairness and Freedom: A History of Two Open Societies: New Zealand and the United States (2012) ISBN 9780199832705


  1. ^ a b c "David Hackett Fischer". pritzkermilitary.org.
  2. ^ "Historian David Hackett Fischer Marks 50 Years at Brandeis - Brandeis Magazine". Brandeis Magazine.
  3. ^ "David Hackett Fischer Receives Pulitzer Prize". historians.org.
  4. ^ "David Hackett Fischer, 2004 National Book Award Finalist: Nonfiction, National Book Foundation". nationalbook.org.
  5. ^ "David Hackett Fischer to Receive 2006 Irving Kristol Award". AEI.
  6. ^ "2009 Short List - Cundill Prize in History". cundillprize.com. Archived from the original on 2015-06-29.
  7. ^ "Brandeis professor Fischer wins $100,000 Pritzker Award". BostonGlobe.com.

External links

2005 Pulitzer Prize

The Pulitzer Prizes for 2005 were announced on 2005-04-04.

Albion's Seed

Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America is a 1989 book by David Hackett Fischer that details the folkways of four groups of people who moved from distinct regions of Great Britain (Albion) to the United States. The argument is that the culture of each of the groups persisted, to provide the basis for the modern United States. Fischer explains "the origins and stability of a social system which for two centuries has remained stubbornly democratic in its politics, capitalist in its economy, libertarian in its laws and individualist in its society and pluralistic in its culture." Fischer describes Albion's Seed as a modified Teutonic germ theory within the framework of the Frontier Thesis and the migration model.

Argument from fallacy

Argument from fallacy is the formal fallacy of analyzing an argument and inferring that, since it contains a fallacy, its conclusion must be false. It is also called argument to logic (argumentum ad logicam), the fallacy fallacy, the fallacist's fallacy, and the bad reasons fallacy.Fallacious arguments can arrive at true conclusions, so this is an informal fallacy of relevance.

Barring out

Barring out is the former custom in English schools of barring a schoolmaster from the premises.

A typical example of this practice was at the school in Bromfield, Cumbria, where it was the custom "for the scholars, at Fasting's Even (the beginning of Lent) to depose and exclude the master from the school for three days." During this period the school doors were barricaded and the boys armed with mock weapons. If the master's attempts to re-enter were successful, extra tasks were inflicted as a penalty, and willingly performed by the boys. On the third day terms of capitulation, usually in Latin verse, were signed, and these always conceded the immediate right to indulge in football and a cockfight. The custom was long retained at Eton College and figures in many school stories, including the story "The Barring Out: or Party Spirit" in The Parent's Assistant

by Maria Edgeworth (1796), and the 1948 Billy Bunter story "Barring Out".[1])

More serious incidents of barring out reportedly took place at The Royal School, Armagh, and Belfast Royal Academy in Northern Ireland; and at the Royal High School, Edinburgh.

Dr. Samuel Johnson reports a story that Joseph Addison, when a schoolboy, was the ringleader of a barring out at his school.The custom extended to some early American Colonial schools, such as William and Mary College in Virginia, where students barred out Dr. James Blair and shot at him with pistols when he attempted to enter. According to

David Hackett Fischer, the custom became common in the southern highlands and the Ohio and Mississippi valleys, though occasionally taking place elsewhere in the colonies.Barring out continued in Falstone, a village in Northumberland, until 1940 when the headmaster William Moody, who was unaware of the custom, demanded entrance to his school and the students eventually relented and let him enter.

Culture of honor (Southern United States)

The traditional culture of the Southern United States has been called a "culture of honor", that is, a culture where people avoid intentionally offending others, and maintain a reputation for not accepting improper conduct by others. A theory as to why the American South had or may have this culture is an assumed regional belief in retribution to enforce one's rights and deter predation against one’s family, home and possessions. The concept was tested by social scientists Richard Nisbett and Dov Cohen in their book Culture of Honor and repopularized by a discussion in Chapter Six of Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

David Fischer

David Fischer may refer to:

David Hackett Fischer (born 1935), American historian

David C. Fischer, Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan

David Fischer (ice hockey) (born 1988), American hockey player

David Fischer (mayor), mayor in 2001 of St. Petersburg, Florida

David B. Fischer, Vice President of Business & Marketing Partnerships at Facebook and son of banker Stanley Fischer

Furtive fallacy

The furtive fallacy is an informal fallacy of emphasis in which outcomes are asserted to have been caused by the hidden misconduct or wrongdoing by decision makers. Historian David Hackett Fischer identified it as the belief that significant facts of history are necessarily sinister, and that "history itself is a story of causes mostly insidious and results mostly invidious." It is more than a conspiracy theory in that it does not merely consider the possibility of hidden motives and deeds, but insists on them. In its extreme form, the fallacy represents general paranoia.Fischer identifies several examples of the fallacy, particularly the works of Charles A. Beard. In each case, Fischer shows that historians provided detailed portrayals of historical figures involved in off-record meetings and exhibiting low morals, based on little or no evidence. He notes that the furtive fallacy does not necessarily imply deliberate falsification of history; it can follow from a sincere (but misguided) belief that nothing happens by accident or mistake.Richard Hofstadter discussed the fallacy before Fischer, although not by name. In reviewing histories from the Progressive Era, Hofstadter noted that the progressive historians tended to assume that reality was always hidden and ignored, being determined by bribes, rebates, and secret business deals.A modification of the furtive fallacy holds that when the historical record provides no evidence explaining a particular set of events, this is itself evidence of a furtive cause.The idea of the furtive fallacy is criticized by Jeffrey M. Bale, who cites the risk of historians underestimating the influence of political secret societies, vanguard parties, and intelligence agencies.

Great Wave (disambiguation)

The Great Wave usually refers to The Great Wave off Kanagawa (神奈川沖浪裏), a 19th-Century Japanese woodblock print by Hokusai.

Great Wave or The Great Wave may also refer to:

The Great Wave (book), by David Hackett Fischer, 1996

Great Wave Software, an educational software company

Great Wave Pavilion, or Canglang Pavilion, in Suzhou, Jiangsu province, China

The Great Wave, describing Jewish immigration to New York after 1880

The Great Wave, a 2015 album by Skipping Girl Vinegar

The Great Wave, Sète, a 19th-century photograph by Gustave Le Gray

Great Wave mural, street art in Newtown, Australia

The Great Wave, a 1931 novel by Mona Caird

The Great Wave, a play Francis Turnly at the British National Theatre in 2018 directed by Indhu Rubasingham

"The Great Wave", a 1994 episode of Aaahh!!! Real Monsters

Historian's fallacy

The historian's fallacy is an informal fallacy that occurs when one assumes that decision makers of the past viewed events from the same perspective and having the same information as those subsequently analyzing the decision. It is not to be confused with presentism, a mode of historical analysis in which present-day ideas (such as moral standards) are projected into the past.

The idea that a critic can make erroneous interpretations of past works because of knowledge of subsequent events was first articulated by British literary critic Matthew Arnold. In his 1880 essay The Study of Poetry, Arnold wrote:

The course of development of a nation’s language, thought, and poetry, is profoundly interesting; and by regarding a poet’s work as a stage in this course of development we may easily bring ourselves to make it of more importance as poetry than in itself it really is, we may come to use a language of quite exaggerated praise in criticising it; in short, to overrate it. So arises in our poetic judgments the fallacy caused by the estimate which we may call historic.

The concept of the historian's fallacy was named and outlined in 1970 by David Hackett Fischer, who suggested it was analogous to William James's psychologist's fallacy. Fischer did not suggest that historians should refrain from retrospective analysis in their work, but he reminded historians that their subjects were not able to see into the future. As an example, he cited the well-known argument that Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor should have been predictable in the United States because of the many indications that an attack was imminent. What this argument overlooks, says Fischer, citing the work of Roberta Wohlstetter, is that there were innumerable conflicting signs which suggested possibilities other than an attack on Pearl Harbor. Only in retrospect do the warning signs seem obvious; signs which pointed in other directions tend to be forgotten. (See also: hindsight bias.)

In the field of military history, historians sometimes use what is known as the "fog of war technique" in hopes of avoiding the historian's fallacy. In this approach, the actions and decisions of the historical subject (such as a military commander) are evaluated primarily on the basis of what that person knew at the time, and not on future developments that the person could not have known. According to Fischer, this technique was pioneered by the American historian Douglas Southall Freeman in his influential biographies of Robert E. Lee and George Washington.

Irving Kristol Award

The Irving Kristol Award is the highest honor conferred by the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.

The award is given for "notable intellectual or practical contributions to improved public policy and social welfare" and named in honor of Irving Kristol. It replaced the Francis Boyer Award in 2003. The award was named for Kristol as a tribute to his influence on public issues and as an intellectual mentor to several generations of conservatives. According to Christopher DeMuth, "In our sixty years of labors, no one has had a more profound influence on the work of the American Enterprise Institute, or on American political discourse, than Irving Kristol. Combining philosophical depth with intense practicality and constant good cheer, [Kristol] has, as President Bush has put it, 'transformed political debate on every subject he approached, from economics to religion, from social welfare to foreign policy.'"

The Kristol Award is presented at AEI's Annual Dinner, a gala dinner in Washington, D.C., that is well-attended by conservative leaders and is a major event on the Washington social scene. President George W. Bush spoke at the first Kristol Award presentation in 2003. Bush's speech, only days before the commencement of the Iraq War, laid out his promise to launch military action even if the United Nations Security Council did not authorize it. Former vice president Dick Cheney and former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar have also presented the award.

Kristol Award recipients occasionally make news with their speeches. John Howard, who had a few months before been defeated in the Australian elections, criticized his successor as prime minister, Kevin Rudd, over industrial relations and the Iraq War.All recipients are given a token of esteem engraved with a citation for their achievements.

James Ewing (Pennsylvania)

James Ewing (August 3, 1736 – March 1, 1806) was a Pennsylvania soldier, statesman, and politician of the Colonial, Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary eras. He served in the Pennsylvania General Assembly and also as Vice-President of Pennsylvania, a position comparable to that of Lieutenant Governor.

Legacy of George Washington

George Washington (February 22, 1732 – December 14, 1799) commanded the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), and was the first President of the United States, from 1789 to 1797. In terms of personality, a leading biographer Douglas Southall Freeman concluded, "the great big thing stamped across that man is character." By character, says David Hackett Fischer "Freeman meant integrity, self-discipline, courage, absolute honesty, resolve, and decision, but also forbearance, decency, and respect for others." Because of his central role in the founding of the United States, Washington is often called the "Father of his Country" (Latin: Pater Patriae). His devotion to republicanism and civic virtue made him an exemplary figure among early American politicians. His image has become an icon and is commonplace in American culture.

Presentism (literary and historical analysis)

In literary and historical analysis, presentism is the anachronistic introduction of present-day ideas and perspectives into depictions or interpretations of the past. Some modern historians seek to avoid presentism in their work because they consider it a form of cultural bias, and believe it creates a distorted understanding of their subject matter. The practice of presentism is regarded by some as a common fallacy in historical writing.The Oxford English Dictionary gives the first citation for presentism in its historiographic sense from 1916, and the word may have been used in this meaning as early as the 1870s. The historian David Hackett Fischer identifies presentism as a fallacy also known as the "fallacy of nunc pro tunc". He has written that the "classic example" of presentism was the so-called "Whig history", in which certain 18th- and 19th-century British historians wrote history in a way that used the past to validate their own political beliefs. This interpretation was presentist because it did not depict the past in objective historical context but instead viewed history only through the lens of contemporary Whig beliefs. In this kind of approach, which emphasizes the relevance of history to the present, things that do not seem relevant receive little attention, which results in a misleading portrayal of the past. "Whig history" or "whiggishness" are often used as synonyms for presentism particularly when the historical depiction in question is teleological or triumphalist.

Pritzker Literature Award

The Pritzker Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing (formerly Pritzker Military Library Literature Award 2007-2013) is a literary award given annually by the Pritzker Military Museum & Library. First awarded in 2007, it is a lifetime achievement award for military writing, sponsored by the Tawani Foundation of Chicago. The prize is valued at $100,000, making it one of the richest literary prizes in the world.

Quakers in science

The Religious Society of Friends, commonly known as Quakers, encouraged some values which may have been conducive to encouraging scientific talents. A theory suggested by David Hackett Fischer in his book Albion's Seed indicated early Quakers in the US preferred "practical study" to the more traditional studies of Greek or Latin popular with the elite. Another theory suggests their avoidance of dogma or clergy gave them a greater flexibility in response to science.

Despite those arguments a major factor is agreed to be that the Quakers were initially discouraged or forbidden to go to the major law or humanities schools in Britain due to the Test Act. They also at times faced similar discriminations in the United States, as many of the colonial universities had a Puritan or Anglican orientation. This led them to attend "Godless" institutions or forced them to rely on hands-on scientific experimentation rather than academia.

Because of these issues it has been stated that Quakers are better represented in science than most religions. Some sources, including Pendlehill (Thomas 2000) and Encyclopædia Britannica, indicate that for over two centuries they were overrepresented in the Royal Society. Mention is made of this possibility in studies referenced in religiosity and intelligence and in a book by Arthur Raistrick. Regardless of whether this is still accurate, there have been several noteworthy members of this denomination in science. The following names a few.

Ted Steinberg

Ted Steinberg (born 1961) is Adeline Barry Davee Distinguished Professor of History and Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University.Steinberg is the author of several books in U.S. history that focus on the relationship between ecological forces and social power. His best known works include Down to Earth: Nature’s Role in American History (2002); Acts of God: The Unnatural History of Natural Disaster in America (2000); and American Green: The Obsessive Quest for the Perfect Lawn (2006). His most recent book, Gotham Unbound: The Ecological History of Greater New York (2014), reinterprets the New York metropolitan area’s history from an environmental perspective and argues against the commonly held view that geography determined the city’s destiny. Considered by some to be an ecosocialist or pro-socialist scholar, Steinberg is highly critical of the impact that capitalism has had on the environment and society.His books have received the following prizes: National Outdoor Book Award in the category of Nature & the Environment for Down to Earth: Nature’s Role in American History, 2002; Ohio Academy of History's Publication Award for Acts of God: The Unnatural History of Natural Disaster in America, 2001; co-winner, the Law and Society Association's J. Willard Hurst Prize for the best work in socio-legal history for Nature Incorporated: Industrialization and the Waters of New England, 1992; and the Old Sturbridge Village E. Harold Hugo Memorial Book Prize for the best book on the history and material culture of rural New England for Nature Incorporated, 1992.

He also written for CounterPunch, Dissent, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Discover, Scientific American, Natural History, and The New York Times among others and has appeared on numerous radio and television shows including Freakonomics Radio, Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane, The Leonard Lopate Show, The Dennis Prager Show, The Michael Smerconish Show, Marketplace, The Jerry Doyle Show, The Mischke Broadcast, Martha Stewart Living Radio, To the Best of Our Knowledge, Penn & Teller: Bullshit and CBS News Sunday Morning.He has been the recipient of support from the Michigan Society of Fellows (1990–1993), the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (1996), the American Council of Learned Societies Burkhardt Fellowship (2001), the National Endowment for the Humanities (2010), and Yale University, where he was the B. Benjamin Zucker Fellow in 2006.

Steinberg opposes the market economy and capitalism. He has publicly advocated for free speech and the rights of the Palestinian people living under Israeli occupation. He supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, including the boycott of Israeli academic institutions.He received his BA in 1983 from Tufts University. He received a Ph.D. in history from Brandeis University in 1989, where he worked under the guidance of Donald Worster, David Hackett Fischer, and Morton Horwitz.

The Great Wave (book)

The Great Wave: Price Revolutions and the Rhythm of History is a scholarly work by historian David Hackett Fischer, published 1996 by OUP.

Hackett Fischer identified three complete monetary waves in European history, each consisting of; a), price revolution, featuring high inflation, followed by; b) a war crisis, followed by; c) equilibrium.A fourth wave began, says Fischer, with the persistent monetary inflation of the 20th century.

Washington's Crossing (book)

Washington's Crossing is a Pulitzer Prize-winning book written by David Hackett Fischer and part of the "Pivotal Moments in American History" series. It is primarily about George Washington's leadership during the 1776 campaign of the American Revolutionary War, culminating with the famous crossing of the Delaware River and the subsequent campaign, with the Battle of Trenton, the Second Battle of Trenton, and the Battle of Princeton.

William Dawes

William Dawes Jr. (April 6, 1745 – February 25, 1799) was one of several men and a woman in April 1775 who alerted colonial minutemen in Massachusetts of the approach of British army troops prior to the Battles of Lexington and Concord at the outset of the American Revolution. For some years, Paul Revere had the most renown for his ride of warning of this event.

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