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The True Overview of American History

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When we studied United States history in school, we always are taught to think about the wars created by heroes in History books. However, the book ‘A people’s history of the United States,’ written by Howard Zinn, changed the way Americans think. The author wants to show not only his views but also other people who wish to express their opinion about American history. Through reading this book, we have different viewpoints about American history, such as Columbus’s exploration, slavery, taxation and the Declaration of Independence.

The history of Christopher Columbus has always been a shared history in the educational system. American history books and most cultures described Columbus as a hero. The United States launched a festival called Columbus Day, which took place on the second Monday of October. During exploration trip, he opened three new roads to the New World. This event created more trade and business opportunities to America. On the contrary, the author Zinn gave a negative opinion about Columbus’s trip in chapter 1 that ‘my point is not that we must, in telling history, accuse, judge, condemn Columbus in absentia.”. Maybe Columbus’s exploration initiated for conquest from European countries to America. Cruel treatment in human civilization would accompany with conquests.

To meet the high demand for labor on plantations, many slaves arrived in the American colonies. Slaves were brought to America by Europeans or colonial traders. Slavery is an economic, legal system in which humans are bought and sold as property at the auction market. The author showed that ‘There is not a country in world history in which racism has been more important, for a long time, as the United States’. The slaves were treated as poor and low-status people, and a slave involved in the permanent contract. Although slaves work in harsh conditions, the plantation owners would pay them little or no money. Until the present, the history of slavery covers almost cultures, religions and nationalities. Slavery in the United States is considered to be one of the darkest days of humanity, and the innocent people of the African continent were sold to white American settlers.

The 1765 Stamp Act is the first internal tax imposed by the British government on United States settlers. The bill levied a tax on all paper documents of the colony when the British Empire fell into debt from the Seven-Year War. As in chapter 4, Zinn wrote ‘Throught this Act, the British were taxing the colonial population to pay for the French war, in which colonists had suffered to expand the British Empire.’. That kind of charge was regarded as the income for American colonies. The governors insisted that territories should be responsible for helping the mainland Britain pay off war debts. The settlers believed that only their parliament could tax them. Furthermore, taxation became a worrying target for all poor people. With great anger, traders did not order British goods. In 1765, Parliament passed a law requiring the colonists to exempt the tax. This action was a direct attempt to calm the colonies’ resentment.

Thomas Jefferson was known as the author of the Declaration of Independence. He helped the Constitution to acknowledge about protecting individual freedoms and maintaining a stable federal government. The Declaration of Independence declares that thirteen colonies are independent states and do not subject to British rules. A remarkable statement in the Declaration of Independence is that people have non-changeable rights. These rights cannot be denied or disclaimed. If the government does not protect the rights of each citizen, people need to replace the government. In a paragraph of the Declaration, Thomas Jefferson also mentioned the slavery issue in chapter 4 that ‘suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce’. He seemed to express about prohibiting the slave trade. However, that statement was removed from the paragraph because the slave traders and the slaveholders were opposed the slavery prohibition. In the future, there was a change for slavery.

In summary, “A people’s history of the United States” is a deserving book for reading that written by political scholars and American historian Howard Zinn. He did not reluctant to show his opposing views about the way history should be presented. Although there is a controversy around the book ‘A people’s history of the United States’ but it is still introduced to high school and college students in the American history course. This book helped us clearly understand the initiative of American histories such as the initial time of America, slavery, taxation, and the opening of the Declaration of Independence. They played essential parts for making American history today.

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