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Howard Zinn's Essay On The Pequot War

747 words - 3 pages

When reading Howard Zinn’s essay on the Pequot war, one might not immediately notice the extreme bias in the writing unless he or she has prior knowledge of the Pequot war. It simply seems as though he is listing the facts, and that the Puritans were to blame for the war. In reality, however, history was different. The Pequots also fought in thewar. The extent of Zinn’s portrayal of the Pequots’ vulnerability is severe, and he even ignores important facts to support his opinions. This is completely inaccurate and can lead to misperception of British, Pequot, and Puritan history.
Important facts are missing or edited in Zinn’s paper, which can lead to difficulties in understanding historic events. The war began when the Pequots attacked a group of rival Indians who traded at Hartford. Zinn, however, explains that “[The English] had commission to put to death the men of Block Island…. They were to obtain it by force” (Zinn 1). As he does not mention anything before that attack, Zinn indirectly states that the colonists were the first to attack. This portrayal of the Puritans as merciless men can seriously alter perception of American history. If the Puritans are looked at as inhumane, people will begin to dismiss anything negative that happened to them, believing that they were no different. Zinn also notes that the expedition – which by his narrative supposedly began the war – left to attack the Narragansett Indians. This leads to further confusion, as the Narragansett Indians were the Puritans’ allies. So then why would they attack their own allies? In fact, the alliance between the colonists and any Native American tribe, Mohegans or Narragansetts, is not included in Zinn’s narrative. This also blurs reality, as it might make someone believe that the Puritans hated all Indians. Daniel Flynn, a critic of Zinn’s work, does not give many sources when he accuses Zinn of being biased, but he makes a point when he says that “[Zinn] details only atrocities committed by one side: the Puritans” (Flynn 1). The Pequots also killed ruthlessly – their name came from an Algonquin word meaning “the...

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