A people's history of the United States - (first 3 chapters) Summary and reflections.

Topics: Slavery, United States, History / Pages: 8 (2482 words) / Published: Dec 10th, 2003
Summary I

COLUMBUS, THE INDIANS, AND HUMAN PROGRESS

A People's History of the United States is a book written by Howard Zinn, whose purpose is not to introduce someone to American History. He assumes his readers already know the basics. Of course, many people do not. It is not a history of the United States but it is a series of contentious corrections to the history traditionally taught in American classrooms.

Zinn presents the major historical facts of the first 250 years of American history starting from when Christopher Columbus's Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria landed in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492. It was there that Europeans and Native Americans first came into contact; the Arawak natives came out to greet the whites, and the whites were only interested in finding the gold. "They ... brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they owned...They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features... They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane... They would make fine servants... With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want" (Zinn 1).

This was Columbus first idea as soon as he arrived on the island. Expedition after expedition sent into the interior by Columbus had no success. The gold was not found, and hundreds of Indians had been killed for not finding anything of what was requested. After Columbus, comes Bartolome de Las Casas who was a young priest that participated in the conquest of Cuba, but then gave up and became a vehement critic of Spanish cruelty. Las Casas wanted to replace the Indians by Black slaves, thinking they were stronger and would survive, but later he found out the effects on black slaves so he decided to tell about the Spaniards and how they treated the Indians.

The Indians attempted to save their lives from the Spaniards

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