The Opressed Essay Research Paper The Oppressed — страница 2

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free white settlers, many of them were skilled craftsmen, or even men of leisure back in England, who were so little inclined to work the land that John Smith… had to declare a kind of martial law, organize them into work gangs, and force them into the fields for survival….. ?Black slaves were the answer. And it was natural to consider imported blacks as slaves, even if the institution of slavers would not be regularized and legalized for several decades? (25). Black slavery became an American institution that the southern and middle colonies began to depend on for their economic success. The first stirrings of resentment began to come not from the slaves but from the proletariat in the form of the frontier whites. Nathaniel Bacon led a revolution against Virginia governor

William Berkeley and his conciliatory Indian policies. Bacon and others who lived on the western frontier wanted more protection from the government against Indian attacks. Berkeley and his cronies were so concerned with their own financial and political gain that they ignored Bacon?s Rebellion and continued their policies. In the end, Bacon died a natural death (he caught a nasty virus) and his friends were hanged, but for the first time ever, the government was forced to listen to the grievances of the underclass that had been for the most part largely ignorable up to that point. Meanwhile, class distinctions became sharper and the poor grew in number. Citizens were put into work houses for debt and occasionally rioted against the wealthy. More and more though, the anger turned

from being just a class war to being a war of nationalities. Impressment and other British policies distracted the colonists from being mad at the bourgeoisie to being mad at their mother country. At the end of chapter three, tension is mounting, pitting the Americans against the English and the workers against the rich. The atmosphere was ripe for revolution. The reason that this book might be better titled A Proletarian?s History of the United States is that Zinn?s main focus on the book besides the actual history is the effect of the history on the common people and the workers, or proletarians as Marx and Engels referred to them. While most history books focus on the dominating Europeans, Zinn focuses on the dominated Native Americans, who Zinn holds to be at least as

advanced as their European masters. He writes that ?Columbus and his successors were not coming into an empty wilderness, but into a world which in some places was as densely populated as Europe itself, where the culture was complex, where human relations were more egalitarian than in Europe, and where the relations among men, women, children, and nature were more beautifully worked out than perhaps any place in the world. ?They were a people without a written language, but with their own laws, their poetry, their history kept in memory and passed on, in an oral vocabulary more complex than Europe?s, accompanied by song, dance, and ceremonial drama. They paid careful attention to the development of personality, intensity of will, independence and flexibility, passion and potency,

to their partnership with one another and with nature? (21-22). In the middle of the first chapter, Zinn uses the historical treatment of Columbus to explain his own view on teaching history. ?Thus began the history, five hundred years ago, of the European invasion of Indian settlements in America. That beginning, when you read [Bartolom? de] Las Casas… is conquest, slavery, death. When we read history books given to the children in the United States, it all starts with heroic adventure — there is no bloodshed — and Columbus Day is a celebration? (7). He goes on to vituperate historian Samuel Eliot Morison for his brief and buried mention of Columbus?s genocide of the natives. This is one of the most heinous crimes a historian can commit, Zinn says, because ?Outright lying

or quiet omission takes the risk of discovery which, when made, might arouse the reader to rebel against the writer. To state the facts, however, and then bury them in a mass of other information is to say to the reader: yes, mass murder took place, but it?s not that important… it should effect very little what we do in the world? (8). Zinn says that ?selection, simplification, [and] emphasis? (8) are necessary to the historian, but he chooses to take a different stance in his writings. ?…I prefer to tell the story of the discovery of America from the viewpoint of the Arawaks, of the Constitution from the standpoint of the slaves, of Andrew Jackson as seen by the Cherokees, of the Civil War as seen by the New York Irish… of the First World War as seen by socialists, the