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An Author's Perspective

Featuring new fiction from Ken Brosky and author authors, as well as occasional political commentary whenever something really important happens. But mostly fiction.

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"A Kind of Revolution"

howard zinn, a people's history of the united states, history, american history, capitalism, slavery, bill of rights, ken brosky

In honor of historian Howard Zinn--who recently passed away--I thought it would be interesting to share passages from his best-selling A People's History of the United States. Unlike the history books we grew up with in school, A People's History doesn't sugarcoat any of the events that have defined our nation from its inception. It's been regarded, wrongly, as being "unpatriotic," whatever that may mean. But the goal of Zinn's book was to present certain truths that are simply omitted in our history classes, and it's worth reading if you haven't done so already. One of the best aspects of Zinn's history book is his use of writing from people living during each period in our country's history, and that's what I'm going to share.

On to Chapter 5, "A Kind of Revolution," in which our founding fathers are desperately trying to figure out a way to incite rebellion against England without getting the lower classes so upset that they'll go and start demanding pesky rights like "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." Or the right to vote. Or, in the case of slaves, the right to not be tortured.

On top of that, conscription became the norm in order to keep America's ranks full throughout the war. Those who wished could pay 5 pounds to get out of their "duty," leaving the military ranks filled with mostly poor and some middle-class. And when state constitutions were drawn up, they weren't all that drastically different beyond the creation of a new country called the United States. The people in power before the Revolution stayed in power. At the time, George Washington was the richest man in America.

And as the Revolution died down, Indians continued to find their treaties broken as colonists continued expanding westward. Blacks saw no changes. According to Benjamin Banneker, a black mathematician and friend of Thomas Jefferson:

I suppose it is a truth too well attested to you, to need a proof here, that we are a race of beings, who have long labored under the abuse and censure of the world; that we have long been looked upon with an eye of contempt; and that we have long been considered rather as brutish than human, and scarcely capable of mental endowments ... I apprehend you will embrace every opportunity to eradicate that train of absurd and false ideas and opinions, which so generally prevails with respect to us; and that your sentiments are concurrent with mine, which are, that one universal Father hath given being to us all; and that he hath not only made us all of one flesh, but that he hath also, without partiality, afforded us all the same sensations and endowed us all with the same facilities ... (89)

Banneker was practicing his freedom of speech, guaranteed by the First Amendment of the new Constitution of the United States.

Seven years later, Congress would violate the First Amendment by passing the Sedition Act of 1798.

Next up:"The Intimately Oppressed."

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