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Summary And Analysis Of A People'S History Of The United States By Howard Zinn

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Zinn’s main purpose for writing his book is to tell American history from a different point of view, the victim’s. Usually, history is told from historians and not from point of view of common people. According to Zinn, Columbus is portrayed as a hero. He is seen as this because he discovered an unknown land. The major issues he brings up is that the Spanish treated the Indians badly. An example is that people worked to death; men died from mining, women died from overworking, and little children died from not having enough food and drinks.

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Zinn’s criticism is that even though Morison is telling the truth about Columbus’s cruelty, he is not talking about it in depth. Zinn believes that Morison is saying that his discovery was more important than his cruel actions. Zinn believes that Kissinger only looks at history from the point of view of leaders. He did not focus on the people who suffered. One early motive was fear of “the other”. One subsequent motive was that he would become famous. Their ultimate fate was to die. They were given difficult jobs and were treated very badly. They were punished, or even killed, when not finishing a job. During the winter of 1610, the English were in their starving time. Some went to the Indians to get food. When summer came, the English tried to get them to come back and ended up killing over a dozen Indians, burned, houses, and her children. Another cause is the Indians stole a small silver cup from the English and Richard Greenville burned a Indian village.

Last cause is an English colony was set up on Powhatan land. Powhatan is saying that there is no need for war and violence. As long as they are loving and caring about the things they want, there would be no issues between them. The main tactic was to “deliberate attacks on noncombatants for the purpose of terrorizing the enemy. ” This meant that they would kill women and children since they were not able to fight. This statement means that in order to go forward, sacrifices will have to be made. Before making these sacrifices, you have to think about it and what the outcome will be. Women were important and respected. They took general charge of village affairs and tended crops while men hunted of fished. Children were taught to be independent. Their life was very different than the English. They had no laws, had a strict sense of right and wrong, and did not have a divided society class. Zinn stated the accomplishments of the Indians that had nothing to do with the English. Some examples are laws, tradition, oral vocabulary, development of independence and flexibility, and the fact that the Indians were using irrigation systems way before the English. The root of racism is slavery.

Africans were considered “better” slaves because they could not force the Indians to work for them anymore. Politically, both Africa and Europe were organized. Economically, Africa had port cities that traded with Europe. Militarily, Africa had more people by Europe had more advanced weapons. Slaves in Africa had more rights then in Europe and the Americas. In the Americas, they were not treated as a human being.

Slavery was more severe in the Americas compared to both Africa and Europe. They were chained together in the dark in spaces no bigger than coffins. The smell was awful ( from their own poop) and the floor was slimy. In these conditions, one in every three blacks died overseas. Around 50 million people from Africa were lost by death and slavery. Kingdoms in England were collapsing due to the loss of so many people. The need for slaves grew when the plantation system increased. More labor was needed for plantations. Slaves tried to run away, many slave revolts occurred and they even tried to pass as free men. They feared that poor whites would join black slaves to overthrow the existing order.

Zinn’s thesis is that class structures were developed when the colonial period was progressing. Tension began to grow between the rich and poor. It began over how to deal with the Indians, who were close by, on the western frontier constantly threatening. The “double motive” was developing an Indian policy that would divide Indians in order to control them and also teaching the poor white of Virginia that rebellion did not pay. Servants, slaves, and freemen took part in Bacon’s Rebellion. Immigrants agreed to pay their cost of passage by working as a slave for 5 to 7 years. They were packed into ships and many died from diseases carried on the ships. They were imprisoned when the ship was docked as well.

Even though some became landowners and important figures, many became poor and even died. By 1700, the wealthy began to overpower the poor. The poor was growing. Zinn states that by 1700, the “top 1% of property owners owned 44% of the wealth. ”People at this time had a specific title. Nobody was really “free”. The rich forced them to move to the western frontier; this created a buffer against the Indians. Southern colonies began to be concerned that the population was becoming more black and that they may attempt a revolution. The rich whites were looking for any way to make whites superior than blacks. Even though they were at the top, adn the poorest whites were not even considered the bottom.

15 April 2020

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