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MRCQ Howard Zinn Ch. 1

By leprechaun802 Oct 30, 2014 395 Words
Main Point:
The main point Howard Zinn makes in Chapter 1 is that the history from the perspective of the “victims” often is not told in full, and in this case that is the perspective of the Native Americans.

Reflection:
Immediately Zinn makes it very clear what Columbus’ intent was when he first landed on what he thought was India by quoting Columbus from his log saying, “They would make fine servants.... With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.” This exposes in full the darker side of Columbus that is often hidden to us in our earlier years of education.

Amid Zinn’s first chapter he goes off on an aside explaining to the reader how he believes that, “in such was world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it its the job of the thinking people... not to be on the side of the executioners.” With this he communicates that his approach in telling the history of the United States will be non-biased towards the “executioners, (in this passage that would be Columbus and the English).

Zinn uncovered something that was unknown to me, and that was Powhatan’s, chief of Tsenacommacah, plea to Captain John Smith. An excerpt from his plea reading, “Why will you take by force what you may have quietly by love?” depicts the feelings the Natives had towards the English*. This further exposes the dark and near savage side of the relationship the English had with the Natives, in that they (the Natives) were willing to trade and live amongst others in a non aggressive manner. *This can also be applied to Spanish Conquistadors such as Columbus.

Comments:
It surprised me how in the middle of chapter one Zinn goes off on a tangent of how he will be writing/approaching U.S. History in his book.
Why on earth would Columbus cut off the hands of people who failed to bring back gold? He not only is killing one person who had the potential to find him gold, but he also is killing off a possible slave.

Questions:
Zinn talk of how the English execute the Natives because they were unable to enslave them, but were also not able to live amongst them. Given how willing to trade the Natives were why did the English immediately jump to executing them?

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