The View from the Bottom Rail

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The View from the Bottom Rail” After the Fact, Volume II James West Davidson and Mark Hamilton Lytle Copyright 1986 by Alfred A. Knopf Inc. Pages 177-210 Grant Hopkins AP U.S. History II September 11, 2000 The Lewinsky Scandal… A perfect example as to why we cannot accept everything at face value before carefully examining it first. Everyone thought President Clinton was behaving himself in the White House, but, as it turns out, he was most definitely not. This can be the same for history. We must carefully consider different aspects of articles so that we do no make the mistake of believing everything we read. In order to fully understand an article, we must understand the author that wrote it. It is necessary to examine prejudices, sources, information left out, and missing background information before accepting an article. This method of critical analysis allows us to better understand the article and therefore history because we are more aware of the authors and their possible mishaps. “The View from the Bottom Rail”, an article in After the Fact, provides an opportunity to examine different aspects of analysis. If we look at it carefully, then we will be able to determine if the thesis was proven effectively. In “The View from the Bottom Rail”, the authors, James Davidson and Mark Lytle, proposed, “For several reasons, that debased position has made it unusually difficult for historians to recover the freedman’s point of view.” Within the article, Davidson and Lytle cycled through different aspects as to why it is hard for historians to determine the “view from the bottom rail”. They questioned the validity of many sources that, if accurate, would have contained the perspective of an ex-slave. These sources included both white and black testimony. In order to examine these sources, the authors traced the topics using microcosm. Because they were covering a topic and not an event, microcosm was the most appropriate method of examining the subject. Davidson...
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