Author: Arthur Schlesinger Jr.


Arthur Schlesinger Jr. (1917–2007), the son of a distinguished historian, would himself rise to become a well-known American historian, social critic, and public intellectual. He specialized in American history, with a focus on 20th-century liberalism. He was the winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, one for The Age of Jackson (1946) and one for A Thousand Days (1966), a history and memoir of the Kennedy administration in which Schlesinger served as Special Assistant to President John F. Kennedy. In 1966, Mr. Schlesinger became the Albert Schweitzer Professor of Humanities at the City University of New York. Throughout his political career, Schlesinger remained an active scholar, publishing several more historical works and establishing himself as the leading intellectual of postwar liberalism.

Was America a Mistake?

Arthur Schlesinger Jr.

The present selection was published in the Atlantic Monthly in September 1992, on the eve of the quincentennial of Columbus’ arrival in the New World. In a balanced way, it addresses ongoing arguments about whether this is an event that should be celebrated.