In comments andrew patiently reminds us he has previously pointed to Andrew Cayton’s lament that historians “leave the world of emotion to novelists, poets, and filmmakers.”1 While this is perhaps true, it is not only historians who have made this shift to bloodlessness. This discussion began with an example from the 1960s. Here are a few more, which I use in lectures.

Lyndon Johnson:

“We must either love each other, or we must die.”

Robert Kennedy:

“What we need in the United States is not violence, and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another.”

… and, yes, even Richard Nixon; check out what’s on the screen as he pledges “an honorable end to the war in Vietnam.”


I don’t think we get this use of the l-word, as a social virtue and a human motive, in presidential rhetoric these days.

1Considering that historians leave the world of quantity to the economists and political scientists, one wonders more and more what we have left.