August 3, 2010
Zinn; Chapter 1:
1.) Howard Zinn’s main purpose for writing A People’s History of the United States is to give history in an un-biased manner. For example, he says that he will not glorify any movement and denounce any ‘bad guy’ in history; he will give information as it should be given. Fairly.
2.) His thesis for the first eleven pages is to describe past events as they happened. Regarding Columbus, Zinn wouldn’t glorify him as a hero, because he wasn’t. He was violent and greedy and would describe him as such.
3.) According to Howard Zinn, Christopher Columbus was wrongly portrayed as a ‘hero’, of sorts. Although he did discover America, there are quite a few significant reasons he should not be considered a hero. For instance, his discovery was accidental. He was looking for an alternate route to Southeast Asia. Another reason; he slaughtered, exploited and, overall, abused the natives who greeted him so kindly upon his arrival.
4.) Zinn disputes Henry Kissinger’s statement “History is the memory of states”, because he thinks that no one should take the memory of their nation as their own because he states in his book that “Nations are not communities and never have been.”
5.) Zinn’s basic criticism was that Morison told the truth about Columbus quickly and buried deep in the center of his book, and then moved on to things more important to him. In Zinn’s opinion, that is much like lying, or hiding the truth.
6.) Bartolome de las Casas, originally a conquistador, was turned a priest and promoter of peace in the Americas after what he’d seen happen there. Some of the issues las Casas make public involved the brutality of the new, Spanish inhabitants. Las Casas noticed how little they cared for the life of the native people. For instance, las Casas wrote about two Spanish men who, after an encounter with a native, decapitated him for the ‘fun’ of it.
7.) Columbus’ original motive as he set sail was to find an alternate route to India for the trade of spices and precious metals. However, after he discovered the Americas, his newer motive became finding gold, and other valuable items there, turning Columbus into a violent, greedy gold-hunter.
8.) The Arawak Indians who once thrived on the island of Hispanola were doomed the day Christopher Columbus set foot on their beach. The entire population was wiped out over the years of violence, abuse, and murder by the Spaniards, led by Christopher Columbus. The violence was so bad that Indian mothers would literally drown their babies to save them from the awful wrath of Columbus and his men.
9.) The Quetzacotal was a man-god who the ancient Aztecs believed in. He had disappeared 300 years prior to the arrival of Hernando Cortes, who was perceived to be the Quetzacotal upon his arrival, but there were doubts amongst the native population.
10.) The motives and strategies used by Pizzaro to conquer the Incas and those of Cortez to conquer the Aztecs were quite similar. The natives were under the impression that their soon-to-be conquers were significant beings whether towards their religion or other reasons. The conquistadors used their false impressions to their advantage, especially Cortez, whom was thought of as the Quetzacotal, a man-god of the ancient Aztecs. Both men were able to roam the land of the natives and kill and exploit to get the precious metals and other valuables the native land possessed.
11.) The war and constant tension between the Powhatans and English settlers was caused and sustained by the struggle to control land and the possession on natural resources. Both sides were also unwilling to make peace with the other.
12.) Powhatan’s statement was implying that if the settlers were peaceful about rights to land and possession of goods as opposed to taking everything by force, violence would be averted.
13.) Winthrop justified seizing Indian land through Psalms 2:8, “Ask of me,...