Howard Zinn Chapter 1 Study Questions

8 August 2016

1. Howard Zinn explains that his purpose as a historian and his purpose for writing A People’s History of the United States, is to tell history from the view points of the forgotten members of history, such as the Cubans during the Spanish-American War. 2. Zinn’s thesis for pages 1-11 talks about how history only tells itself from the viewpoint of the rulers and victors. Zinn’s goal is to tell about history from the viewpoint of the victims, such as the fate of the Arawak Indians when Columbus landed in the Americas. 3.

Zinn says that Columbus is traditionally portrayed as a world hero, who was the great and admirable discover of the Americas. 4. Zinn disputes Henry Kissinger’s statement “History is the memory of states” because he feels the lower class, forgotten races, and unknown names that all shaped our past and helped create our current world are ignored by this statement. 5. Columbus was originally driven to oppress the natives because he saw they could be sent back as slaves for the Spanish. Later on, Columbus further oppressed the natives because of his determination to find gold and repay his investors. 6.

Howard Zinn Chapter 1 Study Questions Essay Example

The Arawak people are ultimately wiped out entirely by Columbus. 7. Governor Winthrop stated that the Indian’s only had “natural law” of the land, not “civil law”. The Puritans also looked to Psalms 2:8 and Romans 13:2 as justification for taking the land from the Indians. 8. The English preferred the trick the Indians into thinking they had peaceful motives and then massacring the unarmed Indians. 9. Rodger Williams said that the English justified their attacks by saying they were preventative and they were in need of the land. 10. Ultimately, the 10 million Indians were mostly wiped out due to the European presence in the Americas.

11. Zinn tried to prove the Indians were not inferior people by stating how the societies had advanced in agriculture, language, construction, and religion. Zinn Chapter 2 Study Questions 1. Zinn says the root of racism in North America is slavery that started in the early days of the Americas when blacks were brought from Africa. 2. Africans were considered “better” slaves because they were helpless compared to the Indians who were at home in the Americas and could escape much easier than the blacks that were now alone in a strange place. 3.

16th century Africa was politically similar to 16th century Europe, with a form of feudalism, except they also had a strong tribal presence. Africa also impressed the Europeans with their well-built economic structure and the trade within cities. Europe greatly overpowered Africa militarily however, with better guns and ships. 4. Slavery in Africa was very similar to the peasants in Europe, which was a hard, laborious life (yet still having the ability marry, own property, etc. ), however very different from the American slavery where all rights were denied and slavery was lifelong.

5. The conditions on the Middle Passage were horrible. The space allotted to each slave was often too small to move the shoulders and the neck and legs were chained down. Many slaves died on the voyage and never made it out of the hull of the slave ships. 6. The slave trade in North America originated because plantation owners in the South need large amounts of cheap labor and there was not enough European servants coming to the Americas. 7. It is estimated that 10 to 15 million African blacks died due to slavery by 1800.

Africans had turned on each other, capturing rival tribes to be taken to slave traders in return for European goods and weapons. 8. America’s slaves expressed that they did not wish to accept their fate into slavery by working slowly, destroying and stealing their owner’s property, running away, and in extreme cases, starting slave rebellions that ended in deaths to both slaves and whites. 9. Slave owners lived in fear of poor whites because they knew a slave rebellion would be much worse if it had the aid of whites. They then tried to make the poor whites feel like they were socially above the slaves to avoid this issue.

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