Historian David McCullough has some advice for those who are still in despair over the results of the 2016 election: Snap out of it.
McCullough believes history can provide guidance during trying times, and that's what he hopes to provide in his new collection of speeches, "The American Spirit: Who We Are And What We Stand For." McCullough joined Boston Public Radio to discuss the book and more. Highlights from the interview include:
On his decision to release a book of collected speeches
"I became very concerned last year, as so many did, about this dark cloud that was coming on the horizon: the general quality of the rhetoric and dialogue on Capitol Hill, and unwillingness for people to work together, and a real slide in the system. I was thinking, 'What could I do — what might I do — to help remind people that this isn't the way we're meant to be?' We're not like this. We're better than this talk that we hear. We're better than the vulgarity and the ignorance that's flaunted as popular. I began to think, 'Well, you've been talking about it for 40 years or more. Why don't you go back and comb through what you've been saying and see what might stand up to the test of time?'"
His advice for people despairing over the 2016 election
"I feel strongly we are a good country, we are a good people. Ninety percent of us go to work, do the right thing, tell the truth, do the best we can for our children and our towns and cities. We've been through bad times before. So we shouldn't think this is the worst that ever happened, by no means. We should snap out of it, and remember who we are and what we stand for. In other words, remember our history. Take the lessons of our history."
On the lessons Americans today can learn from the Founding Fathers
"They were individuals of tremendous courage. The quote I use at the beginning from George Washington [is], "Perseverance and spirit." With a combination of those two, there's no end to what one and a country can accomplish. They wouldn't give up, that's the key thinking to know about them — and we shouldn't. We should have objectives. We will go to the moon, Kennedy told us. Did you know it has been 55 years since the president of the United States called upon us to do something about our country? Over half a century. High time."
Click the audio player above to hear the full interview with David McCullough. This transcript has been edited and condensed for clarity.