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3 Intro­ duc­ tion­ History’s Past Pres­ ence In the ­ spring of 1947, Pres­ i­ dent Harry Tru­ man for­ mally ­ launched the do­ mes­ tic Cold War by is­ su­ ing Ex­ ec­ u­ tive Order 9835, which es­ tab­ lished the fed­ eral­ government’s em­ ployee loy­ alty pro­ gram. In No­ vem­ ber, the House Com­ mit­ tee on ­ Un-American Ac­ tiv­ i­ ties ­ launched its in­ ves­ ti­ ga­ tion of the mo­ tion pic­ ture in­ dus­ try with pub­ lic hear­ ings into the ac­ tiv­ i­ ties of the “Hol­ ly­ wood Ten,” and names soon began to ap­ pear on an en­ ter­ tain­ ment in­ dus­ try black­ list. In an un­ am­ big­ u­ ous re­ sponse to the ­ nation’s dark­ en­ ing mood that aired just over a month later, mil­ lions of radio lis­ ten­ ers heard a ­ staged news re­ port from the Salem witch ­ trials of 1692, in which “anx­ iety and un­ rest” led the peo­ ple of Salem to ­ wrongly be­ lieve that ­ scores of their ­ friends and neigh­ bors were “plot­ ting the de­ struc­ tion of our govern­ ment.” That same year, over the same me­ dium, the Greek phi­ los­ o­ pher Plato also spoke from the past to the ­ present—and di­ rectly to ­ Americans, chas­ tis­ ing them for ir­ ra­ tional par­ a­ noia and ex­ plain­ ing that “a fever of fear runs high among us. We’re con­ fused, des­ per­ ate, and so we seek some­ one to blame and sac­ ri­ fice.” Then Plato ­ pleaded with lis­ ten­ ers to re­ sist suc­ cumb­ ing to fear­ mon­ gers. These dra­ ma­ tized his­ tor­ i­ cal pro­ tests ­ against the ris­ ing tide of anti­ com­ mu­ nism con­ tin­ ued in a var­ ied form on the CBS News se­ ries You Are There, while si­ mul­ ta­ ne­ ously, and in the ­ months lead­ ing up to the 1948 pres­ i­ den­ tial elec­ tion, lis­ ten­ ers of the Du Pont ­ Company’s Cav­ al­ cade of Amer­ ica 4 E Introduction se­ ries heard ­ Thomas Jef­ fer­ son speak of the debt of grat­ i­ tude all ­ Americans owed the Du Pont fam­ ily, and by ex­ ten­ sion other busi­ ness lead­ ers, past and­ present, and of the need to keep ­ American busi­ nesses free of cum­ ber­ some govern­ ment reg­ u­ la­ tion. As the mass media de­ livered these an­ tip­ a­ thetic mes­ sages from the past to tens of mil­ lions of radio lis­ ten­ ers, a group of prom­ i­ nent his­ to­ rians­ launched the His­ tory Book Club (HBC) in an ef­ fort to bring in­ tel­ lec­ tual guid­ ance to what they hoped would be an emerg­ ing pub­ lic di­ alogue with his­ tory. And on Penn­ syl­ va­ nia Av­ e­ nue and Wall ­ Street, po­ lit­ i­ cal and cor­ po­ rate lead­ ers or­ ga­ nized the Free­ dom Train, which dur­ ing the years 1947–49 would carry the doc­ u­ ments de­ clared to be most vital to ­ American his­ tory all over the coun­ try, os­ ten­ sibly so that ­ Americans could com­ mune with his­ tory di­ rectly, but ac­ tu­ ally for pur­ poses of prop­ a­ ganda. Mean­ while, in the ­ pointed ­ shadow of the Wash­ ing­ ton Mon­ u­ ment, plan­ ning began for a na­ tional mu­ seum ded­ i­ cated to cel­ e­ brat­ ing, ­ through icons and com­ memora­ tion, the his­ tory of the ­ nation’s de­ vel­ op­ ment and its mod­ ern tri­ umph as world super­ power and glo­ bal cham­ pion of free­ dom. The early post­ war era was in­ un­ dated by a wide va­ riety of pro­ jects fo­ cused on con­ nect­ ing con­ tem­ po­ rar­ ies with par­ tic­ u­ lar per­ spec­ tives on the past. This book fo­ cuses on sev­ eral of the most im­ por­ tant of these in order to ex­ am­ ine why and how ­ Americans inter­ acted with his­ tory in this pe­ riod, and what that inter­ ac­ tion re­ veals, both about post­ war so­ ci­ ety and about the con­ tin­ u­ ing ev­ o­ lu­ tion of his­ tor­ i­ cal con­ scious­ ness in the ­ United...


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