Acuña, Rodolfo. Occupied America: A History of Chicanos. New York: Longman, 2000. 554 pages, $46.95.
This "Chicano bible" is supposed to be a "history of Chicanos" but the author never really tells us who the "Chicanos" are. I have deduced that a "Chicano" is any person whom Acuña admires. The "Chicano" label is applied to people like Francisco Ramirez, the newspaper editor of El Clamor Público in Los Angeles during the 1850s. It doesn't seem to bother the author that Ramirez himself never answered to the "Chicano" label (is it possible he never even heard it?), which in reality is more political than anything else. Dr. Acuña relates that the label is being challenged by contemporary scholars and students but he uses it anyway, as well as a number of others. One can see why the author was run out of UC Santa Barbara, though the courts awarded him back pay by declaring one's tenure couldn't be terminated from a teaching position merely because of his "porque me da la gana" attitude.
One thing is certain: when he considers the "stupidities such as the mythicization of Juan de Oñate by New Mexican 'Hispanos' who desperately hold on to the fable that they are Spaniards..." the author does not admire the historic European people of New Mexico. The reason seems to be that he feels they refer to themselves as “pure Spanish” and "Hispanos" while Acuña is promoting “Chicano” and Mestizo-hood. Speaking as a 12th generation New Mexican I can say with all sincerity that Dr. Acuña’s scholarship is marred by his “Chicano” attitudes on race, attitudes that resemble racist notions of American society. To boot, all people under the sun are “mixed bloods,” but Acuña and his Chicanos don’t have the courage to emphasize that except when discussing Hispanics.
This very expensive volume contains a number of overt as well as covert intrinsic problems. Occupied’s basic layout and design is poorly done. It has no pictures so the approach could be described as intended for a captive audience It has so many typographical errors that one would deduce it is a "garage production" instead of a release by a major publisher, which it is. (The Occupied refers to anyone from Europe who has gained suzerainty over “indigenous” people. It doesn’t explore “indigenous” societies that gained control over other “indigenous” societies, focusing only on the Europeans who did. Neither does it explore historical facts like Hispanics being in New Mexico for some 400 years. This makes us “indigenous,” as far as I am concerned.)
While the book is full of information as we investigate more deeply we find that Acuña depends heavily on authors like Nancie (Solien?) González and Ramón Gutiérrez for source material on New Mexico. (As an illustration of source material selection, Gutiérrez described the missionaries of New Mexico as “fools for Christ.”) Further, his concern with racist ideals impels him to ridicule the “fantasy heritage” of “racial purity” (as if such a thing ever existed) supposedly promoted by “Hispano” New Mexicans whom he says “mixed with the Pueblo Indians” while they looked down at the people from Mexico. Speaking as a 12th generation New Mexican, my grandparents always referred to themselves as “Mexicanos” and the only racial mixing, which seems to be Acuña’s fixation, that has turned up in my direct line genealogy is with one Francisco Márquez, described as “Mestizo” in Church records, who might have been half Comanche, not Pueblo. I consider myself a typical New Mexican and I’m as proud of my Francisco Márquez as I am of any other ancestor. Over the centuries we became “New Mexicans” and I too would correct anyone who asserted I was from Mexico, from Spain, from Sweden, from Latvia, Ireland, etc., because I am from New Mexico, nowhere else. The fact that I have ancestors who emanated from Spain and Mexico, and a smidgen from the Comanches, doesn’t alter my New Mexican identity. Acuña seems more concerned with race and race mixing than with the history made by New Mexican ciboleros, mesteñeros, comancheros, missionaries, arrieros, patrones, santeros, etc. He doesn’t know that Pedro Vial first blazed what became known as the Santa Fe Trail in 1792, instead saying it was “initiated” by North Americans “in the 1820.” (actually, a Frenchman named Becknell).
There is much Southwestern information in Occupied America. One can only hope it is more accurate than the material provided on New Mexico.
Cather, Willa. DEATH COMES FOR THE ARCHBISHOP
It has been said that the most popular book to come out of the Southwest is
Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather. (It has been written that the second most popular is Bless Me, Ultima by Rudy Anaya.) Scholars tell us that the two protagonists in Cather's book, Bishop Latour and Fr. Vaillant, are modeled after Bishop Lamy and his Vicar Machebeuf. It is strange that the heroes in the book are given fictitious names while the supposed villains, almost all of which are native Hispanic New Mexicans, are portrayed with their actual historical names. These "villainous characters" are mostly priests "who lead the people in vice." The "arch villain" is Father Martínez of Taos but there is also plenty of room for Father Gallegos of Albuquerque, Father Lucero of Arroyo Hondo, etc., as well as the noted frontiersman Manuel Antonio Chaves, who "boasted of his descent from Castilian knights...was jealous of Kit Carson..." and is described as anti-American.
Death Comes for the Archbishop is your basic story of the good guys against the bad. According to Willa Cather, the good guys are generally anybody who comes from the United States and the bad are those New Mexicans who don't go along with whatever the former wish to do. Cather, in her ethnocentric, left-handed compliment sort of way, does give native New Mexicans some "hope:" In one episode we are told about Magdalena, a native New Mexican female, who marries one Buck Scales, "whom everyone knew for a dog and a degenerate--but to Mexican girls, marriage with an American meant coming up in the world."
Cather epitomizes the ideals of 19th century Manifest Destiny: Americans are the master race, their destiny is to take the entire continent of North America for freedom and democracy, and it is part of God's plan to push aside inferior people like Indians and Mexicans. While the book is well written, the racism at its base should have caused its demise almost from inception. This has not been the case because Hispanics are acknowledged villains in the racist minds which have kept this book alive. The book's popularity continues to the present day.
The long history of Hispanic New Mexicans verify that we are a people of the " great outdoors." 0ur literary traditions have been structured mostly in the Spanish-language until about 1950, give or take a decade or two. One of the weaknesses of the Hispanic New Mexicans is that we have not reacted to English language literature that portrays us in negative strokes as in Death Comes for the Archbishop. Viewed dispassionately, it is a wonder that the Cather estate has not been sued for all it's worth. It is certain that people like Father Martínez, Father Gallegos, and Manuel A. Chaves must have hundreds of relatives in present day New Mexico. Perhaps New Mexicans are not really aware of these "literary" slanders and libels or the damage they have done to the Hispanic people of New Mexico. So the damage continues and is played out all over the country whenever people, including students, read Cather's book.
If a work of fiction had slandered “American” personalities like Kit Carson, Mary Austin, Mabel Dodge Lujan, Bert Harwood, etc. it probably wouldn’t have been printed and it certainly wouldn’t have received the acclaim of Death Comes for the Archbishop. Does it have any redeeming value? Probably, especially if you wish to study the workings of anti-Hispanic racism.
Loewen, James W. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. New York: TOUCHSTONE (Simon & Schuster), 1995.
This item is a must for anyone interested in American history. While the title implies that teachers did the lying, the real message is that textbook history as written in our society is more hype then historiography. But there is much food for thought in this book. For example, the author believes that other pre-Columbian explorers should be credited with discovery of the Americas. This might be a good topic for discussion because one can always ask how the Vikings, for example, could be “credited” since their settlements, if that's what they were, did not endure except in the Norse Sagas.
There are some more or less expected stereotypical observations: Christopher Columbus and “the Spanish” come in for their share of “Black Legend” denigration. This is principally a rehash of the anti-Spanish and anti-Catholic bias that permeates so much of the English speaking world. Then there is the issue of “the Indians,” most of whom were exterminated in the Caribbean Islands. What isn’t mentioned in Lies is when information on Spanish atrocities got back to Spain a sincere effort was made to put an end to them by passing laws intended to preserve indigenous populations. These efforts, which didn’t exist in English or American occupied territories and which are usually ridiculed by English language writers today, enabled many Native American groups, like the Pueblo people of New Mexico, to survive.
Aboriginal survival is a stark contrast to the situation in what was/is the USA, where Indians were targeted for exile or extermination until 1890, something that “textbook history” refuses to substantiate. It is also completely accurate to observe that Spanish society produced many defenders of the Indians, led by the herculean Bartolomé de las Casas, while no such thing happened in English or American society: the few like Roger Williams were silenced or neutralized so efficiently that their efforts were futile. (One can only wonder what would happen if society “woke up” and realized what “Americans,” made impersonal by use of labels like “the whites,” did to Native Americans over a period of almost three centuries. R.K. Andrist refers to it as The Long Death.)
But unlike other writers, author Loewen also relates how the Indians were exterminated by England and the USA itself. Denigrating Spain is old hat but focusing on American Indian extermination by “Americans” would probably be considered revisionist history by the popular mind and the author would have been ostracized or even “run out of town” if he had championed American Indians any time before 1890. They did it to Roger Williams during Puritan times and they would have done it to author Loewen as well because, unlike Hispanic society in Spain or the New World, neither English nor American society produced societal forces powerful enough to compete with English and/or American greed for money and Indian land.
Things that aren’t commonly written about but that Loewen relates is information like that the Puritans, typical products of an English society that didn’t believe in bathing, smelled so bad that Indians like Squanto tried to instruct them to bathe—to no avail. He debunks the popular hypistory concerning Betsy Ross creating the first flag at George Washington’s behest: he didn’t and she didn’t. The author informs us that Thanksgiving had next to nothing to do with the Pilgrims for it wasn’t even a celebration until 1863 when President Lincoln proclaimed it a national holiday and even the term “Pilgrims” wasn’t used until the 1870s. Loewen devotes much space to telling the truth about President Woodrow Wilson, the interventionist par excellance who also segregated the federal government and refused to put a stop to the lynchings of black Americans. He writes about why Helen Keller was truly great, which had much more to do with her social activism than “merely” being blind and deaf.
I have always felt that History is the most dangerous subject that one can study in American society. If you disagree, see how you feel when Loewen writes: …Adolph Hitler understood how America treated its Indians. Hitler admired the American concentration camps set up for Indians in the West and often lauded them to his inner circle for the effectiveness of American aptitude for promoting starvation and unequal combat, which inspired him for his own extermination of Jews and Gypsies.
People who truly know “American history” are fully aware of what a very few writers like James W. Loewen write about. They don’t have the moral courage to say so in public. If they did, chances are their works wouldn’t be published. So they promote “fantasy” because “it sells.” Apparently morality doesn’t.
Lies My Teacher Told Me is a tremendous adventure into a more or less unchartered course of American historiography.
Sando, Joe S. Pueblo Profiles: Cultural Identity through Centuries of Change. Santa Fe: Clear Light Publishers, 1998.
This work has to do principally with Pueblo biography. These biographies are not necessarily about famous people and the emphasis isn't on war leaders or mere celebrities. The focus is on individuals who have served their Pueblo people. The point is made that to be an achiever you don't have to be a warrior or a famous artist.
The biographies are mostly about individuals who were active during the 20th century but the first 25 pages have to do with Popé and the “popular” Pueblo Revolt, so called, of 1680. This “St. Lawrence Day Massacre” (referred to as such in Spanish chronicles of the time, is presented as "the first successful American revolution against a colonial power, Spain." This is gross misrepresentation of the historical facts. To begin with, there were a number of Indian uprisings on the east coast before 1680, also successful to various degrees, and it appears no one wishes to include them, even forgetting the biggest Indian war of all time, 1675 in New England, when it appeared the English invaders might be pushed back into the sea. Uprisings in the Americas against the English and then later the USA aren’t generally described as revolutions for Freedom! or Liberty! of “native people” unless they are against Spain and Pueblo Profiles continues this scriptography. (If that sounds “radical,” consider how Kit Carson, who became “famous” in the USA as an “Indian killer,” is lauded as a “hero” in Taos and various parts of the Southwest while Hispanics like Oñate are portrayed as “butchers.” Further, Kit Carson was never famous in New Mexico until written about in “Dime Novel” works of fiction. In truth, it can be said that Kit Carson became “celebrity famous” along the lines of move actor John Wayne.)
New Mexico's Hispanic people retreated to El Paso, the southern end of New Mexico at that time, and returned north within a dozen years but we are now hearing that the St. Lawrence Day Massacre was the "first successful American Revolution" hype, generally promoted by non-Indians and “Indians” who have been “educated” in universities whose History departments promote Black Legend bias.
Events in the first chapter of Pueblo Profiles are portrayed as if they were happening today, implying that sensibilities at the end of the 20th century are the same as in the 16th. “Forced Indian labor” of the encomienda and repartimiento systems have to be judged to in the context of the times but this isn't done in this work. For example, slavery was practiced by “indigenous” Indians, though this historical fact is avoided. We do read that “Christian Spaniards” would not accept the “pagan” forms of worship practiced by the Pueblos. We aren’t told some of these practices included polygamy, or sentencing an adulterous woman to have her ears and nose cut off. Polygamy as a base for Pueblo society isn’t investigated.
Perhaps this particular first chapter is intended to exonerate the Pueblo people for the atrocities they inflicted on the Hispanic population of the day, atrocities which have not been scrutinized because the victims were Hispanic.
The author writes that the oral tradition, “remembering by the eyes and ears,” was fortunate in that the Culture could be saved because of the oral tradition. Then he writes that the incidents that led to the “Pueblo Revolt” of 1680 are mostly unknown. But this isn’t really a problem, says the author, because they can be retrieved by an "imaginative recreation" of those times. The recreation is indeed imaginative for we are told that the Apaches had been friends of the Pueblo people, not enemies. We are then made privy to a recreated council meeting where the “Revolt” is being discussed. As the various speakers sitting around the circle stand up to talk one of them is supposed to have said, We will ask them to leave and if they will leave let them go peacefully. It is only if they absolutely refuse that we must use force. If anything is certain about the “Pueblo Revolt” it is that it was a surprise uprising. For someone to write that before the Revolt the Spanish people of New Mexico were warned to leave or they would be killed is preposterous Orwellian hype that takes this information out of the realm of historiography. Then we are told that 21 of the 33 Franciscan friars in Pueblo country had been killed as were some 400 “of the more resistant Spaniards.” The historical fact is that three out of every four killed during the “Revolt” were non-combatant women and children. Again, this is historical fact that can be studied in archival depositories.
This first chapter has very few redeeming qualities for it is typical Black Legend hype now being promoted as “History” by an Indian historian who has said on many occasions that the Spanish people have been true friends of the Pueblo people. It is apparent that forces in the dominant society are prompting anti-Hispanic bias through Indian themes and historical events like the “Pueblo Revolt.” The rest of the book is worth reading because it has information on various Pueblo individuals who are almost never written about in typical “hypistory” books.
In the Afterword, Alfonso Ortiz notes that the book provides a valuable glimpse into the "Pueblo peoples remarkable cultural resilience, tenacity and sheer will to endure." The implication is that the Pueblo people survived “against all odds.” This might be accurate if Pueblo survival had been achieved under English or American domination. If the USA had held suzerainty over the Pueblo nations they would have been exterminated or exiled to Oklahoma in remnant groups just like the Five Civilized Tribes, who were at least on par with the Pueblo nations. To anyone who knows Native American history, the difference was that Hispanic government didn’t require extermination or exile of aboriginal populations. The Spanish government respected aboriginal land ownership, quite a contrast to policies promoted by the English and later Americans who coveted all Indian land east of the Mississippi and took it from every Indian nation living there. Under Spanish/Mexican government, land ownership permitted Pueblo survival and protected it even after the USA takeover for running the Pueblos out of their native land would have branded the Americans as “worse than the Spaniards,” a charge American authorities couldn’t neutralize, even with highly developed Orwellian hypistory devices. All people, including the Pueblos, have tremendous talents and abilities, but let us not forget that the Hispanic settlers of New Mexico came here to live their lives without having first to exterminate or exile their Indian neighbors. They didn’t live by the American motto of “The only good Indian is a dead Indian.” That attitude was the principal reason for Pueblo survival, even if few wish to admit it in the contemporary world. Despite Pueblo Profiles, we can continue to hope that American historiography will someday cleanse itself of its propaganda quagmires now being utilized by some Native American writers.
Stuart, David E. Anasazi America. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2000.
This is an enthusiastic approach to the study of precontact people living in what is today described as the Four Corners area of the American Southwest. The author says his book is a " fundamental part of the grand rhythm of human civilization " so one could expect it to be laudatory and it is. There is much information on the Paleo-Indians of from 5,000 to perhaps 10,000 years ago. Despite the enthusiasm, life was difficult for these ancestors of the modern day Pueblo people. For example, cooking was accomplished with heated stones. Hunting was with the atlatl because the bow and arrow hadn't appeared yet. Around 2000 B.C. to 500 B.C. the weather got wetter and corn was introduced from Mexico. Then came squash and beans to improve a diet which included rodents like “wood rats and deer mice.” There were also age-old cycles of hunger, conflict, wife-raiding, atrocities in which women and children were killed right along with warriors, and abortion or infanticide.
Violence became atrociously common during the 1100s, peaking around 1150. “An estimated 60% of adults and 38% of all children died violently in the Gallina highlands…” There is much evidence of “atrocities… decapitated bodies… ethnic and tribal hatreds…” and “…fierce factional warfare…” was general.
Surviving populations started moving to locations by rivers around 1300, where various Pueblos are to this day. Anthropological and archaeological findings are often described as rather dry but this volume makes things come to life much more successfully than other works I have read.
The fatal flaw of Anasazi America comes at the end of the work when Spanish people arrive on the scene. Instead of observing that the Pueblo people are living basically where they were when Hispanics settled, the Spanish are portrayed in typical Black Legend villainy. We are told that Coronado suffered from “everlasting disillusionment” because “there were no riches” and his basic legacy was “diseases to which the Puebloans had no immunity.” It is the height of hypocrisy for anyone from the USA, a society based on infinite greed for money, to denounce the Spanish quest for money. Furthermore, this is the first time I have ever heard this “disease” charge, undocumented even in this publication from a supposedly “scholarly press,” against Coronado. Neither is there is anything in H.E. Bolton’s master work, Coronado: Knight of Pueblos and Plains, with which to corroborate the assertion. This type of Orwellian scriptography is effective, however, for it villainizes the Spanish and tends to defocus factual “American” history regarding, for example, the smallpox carried by the Lewis and Clark expedition that all but destroyed the Mandan villages situated on the upper Missouri or the cholera that destroyed half of the Cheyenne nation in 1849. (This is a basic problem in the “heroes and villains” precept that governs much of American historiography: incidents are created in order to “hype” a point of view. Career historians are among the few who know that the Lewis and Clark expedition spread smallpox but here it is promoted with the Coronado expedition, that wasn’t involved with spreading the disease.)
We are told that Coronado and Oñate were brought to trial for “mistreatment of New Mexico’s Indians.” To promote the “mistreatment” charge against Vasquez de Coronado or Juan de Oñate is itself specious. It was a procedural matter referred to as a “residencia” for Spanish officials to be investigated after their term in office was ended. Anyone with a complaint could step forward and give testimony. That was procedure, pure and simple, and it can be imagined what one’s enemies could “testify” to if given the opportunity. Leaders, especially Governors, were always “investigated” as a matter of policy after their stint in office. A “residencia” isn’t an indictment but a routine procedure in which anyone with any kind of complaint could step forward and accuse. According to Marc Simmons (Spanish Government in New Mexico, UNM Press, 1968 and 1990, pp. 62-63) typical complaints aired during residencias were “that royal orders had been violated, powers abused, and subjects, particularly the Indians, mistreated.” One of the “charges” against Coronado is that he played cards. Against Oñate one was that he permitted a family member to call him “Your Majesty.” Oñate was subject to that procedure and the people who deserted the New Mexican colony, who had a death sentence put on them for that desertion, brought charges against him. (He was found guilty of a few charges but at a later time fully exonerated.)
By contrast, no such opportunity for redress existed east of the Mississippi where the English and other Germanic people colonized. Indeed, frontier English speaking groups like the Scotch-Irish were lauded for their inhuman brutality directed against Indian populations. Neither they nor their leaders were ever charged with criminal behavior by their society because extermination of Indians was considered a worthy goal. Was Lord Amherst ever indicted for waging germ warfare (using smallpox infected blankets) against Pontiac’s Indians? No. The same was true when the USA took over: there was no machinery in place for “crimes” against Indians (or blacks; in 1857 the Supreme Court of the United States informed Dred Scott, a Negro, that he had no rights that were respected by the laws of the USA). President Andrew Jackson was never charged for the unbelievable cruelties that took place during what is referred to euphemistically as “Indian Removal” and no one would dream of trying to do so now (yet this is standard fare with personalities like Columbus, Oñate, Father Serra, etc.)
When the author finally admits to some of the positive contributions that Hispanics brought with them the observation isn’t made that the “Puebloans” were much better off with a diet that included bread, beef, pork, and mutton instead “wood rats and deer mice.” Neither does the author mention that the alliance between “Puebloans” and Hispanics was the closest ever between Native Americans and a European people in what is today the USA. (New Mexicans also achieved this kind of alliance with the Comanches at a later date.)
Predictably, the author treats the American period of domination fleetingly with information like “…the United States acquired the Southwest in 1848.” But even in the “United States” section, Hispanic people are the villains who took Pueblo land, targeted Pueblo languages for extinction (another phony charge), etc., obviously defocusing American Indian policy by promoting anti-Hispanic bias for the reader to feed on.
The enthusiasm which the author feels for his subject might be another Orwellian pitfall for he doesn’t mention that modern research has established the fact that the Anasazi also indulged in cannibalism. Neither does he point out that a Pueblo woman found guilty of adultery was punished by having her nose and ears cut off. Polygamy, one of the basic practices of Pueblo society when Spaniards arrived, isn’t mentioned. The reader can only wonder how much of Anasazi is history and how much is hype. This is done with subtlety, as when we are informed that building through the millenniums was with “poured adobe.” Then we are told that “Adobe blocks did not appear until after the arrival of the Spaniards…” in a transparent attempt to deflect the idea that Hispanics introduced the adobe architectural style to the Southwest. By contrast, we learn in no uncertain terms that “measles, smallpox, syphilis” were “Spanish diseases” that enabled Hispanics to return to N.M. after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. As mentioned above, this is the first time I’ve ever heard this charge. No documentation is provided but it’s made anyway. This is as ludicrous as asserting that “English hoof-and-mouth disease” is devastating parts of Europe in the present day. But that sort of propaganda strategy is being utilized wherever Southwestern Hispanic people are involved in this work. (And all of the above is from a “scholarly” UNM Press.)
The epilogue of Anasazi America states: “Daniel, this is your ancestors’ story.” While the anthropological and archaeological information in the book could be accurate, though it ignores the more ugly realities like cannibalism, promoting hatred against Hispanic Americans is a grave potential danger for our society. Puebloans and Hispanics have been staunch allies since around 1700 but now there are forces that are promoting a “Let’s you and him fight!” environment. The Indian will be “championed” against Hispanics but only until the dominant society wants to take what the Pueblos have, whether it be another Blue Lake or casino riches.
Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1999.
This work is quite a departure from standard American scriptography. While it begins in much the same way, denigrating Columbus and later “Black Legend” conquistadores like Cortés while utilizing the writings of reform-minded missionaries like Bartolomé de Las Casas, it often applies the same tenets to England and the USA. The latter is a rarity in English-language historiography while the former is standard procedure with the exception of H.E. Bolton and some of his students.
Zinn quotes Albert Camus when describing his rationale in writing history: It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners. So his PEOPLE’S HISTORY is written from the perspectives of Indians, blacks, minorities, women, etc., not the conquerors nor the corporations. I believe Zinn makes the effort to tell both sides of the issue. For example, he says Spaniards came for gold, their “obsessive goal,” but he also states the Aztecs sacrificed thousands of people “to their gods.” He doesn’t mention that cannibalistic Aztecs sold the flesh in the market place after the sacrifices, thus helping to feed the population (nor does he draw a parallel between Spanish “obsession” for gold and unbridled American greed for money). Neither does he mention that surrounding Indian nations hated the cannibalistic Aztecs, a hatred that enabled the astute Cortés to conquer an area that had perhaps a million warriors under arms. Furthermore, Cortés didn’t exterminate the Indians of Mexico. Indeed, the Tlaxcalans proved such valuable allies that the great conquistador petitioned the King to exempt them from tribute or any form of slavery for all time, a petition that was granted. Zinn isn’t ready to delve that deeply into comparative history.
But the author does write that “settlers” like the Puritans didn’t come onto vacant land. Indians lived everywhere and they were exterminated. He cites one person writing in 1972 that the Pequots in Connecticut now number “twenty-one persons.”
America’s first labor shortage was solved by bringing in black slaves. There were huge profits involved so morality didn’t apply. England became the great slave runner of the “civilized” world because she came to dominate the high seas. Miscegenation was outlawed but apparently no rarity. It appears that one of the perks of being a slave master—8 of the first 12 American Presidents were—was sexual access to the black women he owned.
Slaves came to represent wealth and status. This was true even after the American Revolution. James Madison reported that he could make about $257 on a Negro in a year and only spend about $13 on his upkeep. Punishments for “offending” slaves were brutal to the extreme, anything from whipping to branding to painful execution. Castrating males wasn’t uncommon.
Zinn provides different perspectives for Bacon’s Rebellion (1676), indentured servitude, oppressive laws formulated by the rich, the abject fear of rebellion as much from poor whites, blacks, or Indians. In 1717 the English Parliament made it a law that people convicted of crimes could be sent to the colonies (English America) as legal punishment. He points out that from 1676 to 1760 there had been eighteen (18) uprisings intending to overthrow colonial governments, six (6) rebellions by black slaves, and forty (40) serious riots from New York to South Carolina.
The American Revolution brought…freedom? Thomas Jefferson, one of the biggest slave owners of his day, proclaimed to the world that “all men are created equal.” Women were not included because they were more chattel than persons before the law. When the American Constitution was created it legalized slavery and protected property held by rich people. All this gets us through the first 102 pages. Then Zinn takes us to the contemporary scene, telling us (p. 658) that one percent (1%) of Americans own forty percent (40%) of American wealth.
A People’s History of the United States runs to 702 pages. Howard Zinn tells it like it is. For example, what would you say is the basic characteristic of American (USA) history? Freedom!? Progress!? Zinn believes it’s RACISM. Study his book if you can handle differing perspectives