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Analysis Of A People´S History Of The United States

3352 words - 14 pages

1. Zinn's purpose for writing A People's History of the United States is to write about American history from the viewpoint of the people, and not from the rich or the men that made the decisions, but from the people who lived through those decisions and whose lives were affected. His purpose is not to make the people who were in charge look bad, but to see what they did from all perspectives.

2. Zinn's thesis for pages 1 to 11 is to tell the arrival of Columbus as it really happened from the point of view of the Indians. He doesn't try to hide the things that Columbus and other Europeans did to the Indians and talks about how the Indians were not inferior as the Europeans had thought they were.

3. In traditional history books Columbus is often portrayed as the hero who discovered new land. These books do not mention the massacres of the Indians that took place, and if they do, they only say so briefly, and focus on all the positive about Columbus.

4. Zinn disputes Kissinger's statement because in Kissinger's book, he discusses how from the viewpoint of the leaders of nineteenth century Europe that everything was peaceful but he ignores the working class and those who suffered from the decisions made by these leaders. Kissinger claims that "peace" had been restored in Europe, but for the lower classes, everything was far from peaceful.

5. Columbus oppressed the indigenous peoples initially because he was under the impression that they knew where the gold was and by capturing them they would eventually lead him to where it was. After discovering there was not as much gold as they assumed, Columbus began taking the Indians as slave workers by force back to Spain to make up for the lack of gold.

6. Powhatan said, "Why will you take by force what you may have quietly by love?" as a plea to John Smith. He said this to try to stop the violence between the two peoples after so much fighting and death. This is significant because it shows that Indians were open to peaceful co-existence, but the Europeans just killed them off instead of living with them.

7. John Winthrop, the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony created the land he wanted to take as a "vacuum." The Indians, he said, has not subdued the land and therefore had a natural right but did not have a civil right to it, legally. Also, the Puritans appealed to the Bible (Psalms 2:8) to justify taking the land because God had allowed for them to and also had justified their use of force to take the land (Romans 13:2).

8. Zinn attempts to prove the Indians were not inferior by saying how they had developed into egalitarian communities, larger populations, more divisions of labor among men and women and had built irrigation canals, dams, were doing ceramics, weaving baskets, and making cloth out of cotton. A culture known as Moundbuilders had built enormous sculptures out of the earth that were miles long and many other tribes had tool makers, potters, jewelry makers, weavers, copper...

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