Why Is History So Controversial? Essay

1176 words - 5 pages

Incomprehensible facts of history get overlooked to fit the script people want to believe. So, history by its nature is a subject based on interpretation. As man and time changes, so do stories and tales that include history. Therefore it is necessary for students to make and justify decisions about the relative authenticity of historical texts. History can be compared to the situation in class where the teacher whispers a sentence into a student's ear, and then the student is to repeat the sentence to the next student and so on until the last student hears it. It is human to interpret what we hear or learn according to our opinions. In this example, each student can represent a decade of time and the sentence can represent history. In the settlement of the 13 colonies, there are different interpretations of the settlers and the natives. "Victors write history" and therefore the defeated ones have no choice but to rely on oral history. The difference between both articles "The planting of the colonies" and "The Early Settlers" written by Nevins & Commager and Zinn clearly show that either of them is biased or both of them are. Nevins & Commager talk more about superiority of the settlers and inferiority of natives whereas Zinn talks more about life and culture of the Natives and also that they were superior to the settlers in relations and humanity. In showing inferiority to the natives, Nevins & Commager state "…. filled with wild beasts, and peopled by warlike, cruel, and treacherous people still in the Stone Age of culture" (2). Moreover, Nevins & Commager also state "…. creeping on all fours from hills, like bears, with their bows in their mouths" (2). In contrast to this, Zinn writes "A French Jesuit priest….wrote: "No poorhouses are needed among them, because they are neither mendicants nor paupers…. Their kindness, humanity and courtesy not only makes them liberal with what they have, but causes them to possess hardly anything except in common" (2). Talking about the settlers, both Nevins & Commager and Zinn also disagree with each other. While Nevins & Commager state "…. admirably fitted to become the home of an energetic, thriving people," Zinn disagrees writing "…. brought over by the first colonists, a society of rich and poor controlled by priests, by governors, by male heads of families." This shows how can history be interpreted as both articles are of the same period but of different views. Work can be seen as biased if an author doesn't agree with himself and so do Nevins & Commager in their next article.As we move on to learn more about controversial history, Nevins & Commager in their second article "Developing Americanism" talk utterly about the Americans. In this, they talk more about the developing identity of the settlers and therefore state "By 1775, a distinctly American society, with its own social, economic, and political traits was emerging" (2),...

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