|There's nothing like the Early American survey to|
help you decide on the perfect spring display.
So I did a little research (something you can learn as a history major!) to find successful folks who got the most out of being a history major, and I came up with four people who I would love to invite to a history majors' soiree.
Virginia A. Phillips, the District Court judge who just issued an injunction that orders the Department of Defense to stop enforcing Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Not only was Phillips a history major, but she got herself a history husband in the process. According to SignOn San Diego, "At the end of her first year of law school, she married John A. Phillips, a rising star on the University of California Riverside’s faculty. Seven years older than his bride, Phillips had been hired in 1976 as a history professor at the age of 26. No one interviewed for this story could remember how the couple met, but his first years in the history department coincided with her time as a history major." And you are insinuating -- what?
Robert Kagan, who has, among his many accomplishments, served as a foreign policy advisor to Rep. Jack Kemp (R-NY), and to Senator John McCain (R-AZ) during his recent campaign for President, was a history major at Yale. We have to admit here that Kagan also has a Ph.D. in history, perhaps a prerequisite to certain kinds of Beltway action, and an example of how to convert that degree to a career without ever being interviewed at the AHA! The author of several books, including Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order (2003), Kagan is currently at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, which I bet employs many history majors.
Martha Stewart was a history major. She got there by a rather complicated route (according to my fabulous research assistant Wiki P. Dia) which included a teenage stint as a model for the American Tobacco Company's "I'd Rather Fight Than Switch" campaign on behalf of their Tareyton brand. You know the one: women happily enjoying a cigarette, bearing a big black eye from some insensitive lout of a political science major having tried to make them "switch"? OK, so there was no such thing as feminist history yet: cut the woman a break for having posed for ads best known for having rendered domestic violence and cancer hilarious. Attending Barnard College on a partial scholarship, Stewart "intended to major in chemistry, but switched to art and European history, and later architectural history. It was around this time that she met and later married Andrew Stewart, on July 1, 1961. She left Barnard but continued her moderately successful modeling career, while her husband finished his law degree at Yale Law School. She returned to Barnard a year later, to graduate with a double major in History and Architectural History."
David Brooks who went to the public school I would have gone to had I not gone to private school, and would have graduated the year ahead of me, was a history major at the University of Chicago. Brooks, a conservative commentator for almost everyone, made his argument for being a history major in an opaque article last summer about what he calls The Big Shaggy, by which I believe he means chaotic emotions that will be unknowable if you haven't read Tacitus or Jane Austen. The Atlantic Wire's John Hudson thought Brooks was alluding to "some kind of secular stand-in for the soul." I think maybe David has, like many of us, had an extremely embarrassing affair at some point, and was helped by having been a history major. Why do I think this? The upshot of his argument on behalf of the humanities, written in the aftermath of the married governor of South Carolina having run down to Rio-By-The Sea-O to visit his new love (but having said he was nipping down the Appalachian trail for a quart of milk), was that majoring in history or English, while it won't necessarily result in a career, might keep a person from self-destructing should s/he manage to acquire a career.