The book “A People’s History of the United States”
Published 28 Dec 2016
The book “A People’s History of the United States” is an historical text about the developmental progress of the American natives and the society as a whole. Chapter one of the book “A People’s History of the United States” is about the arrival of the Columbus in the West Indies region. This Chapter is entitled ‘Columbus, The Indians, and Human Progress’. Chapter two is entitled, ‘Drawing the Color Line’ and it explores racial discriminatory issues and experiences in the Western Indies. The third Chapter, entitled ‘Persons of Mean and Vile Condition’, is a story of the natives in the Western Indies. It tells the story of their ignorance to civilization and the effect the Europeans would have in their life for allowing them to settle among Arawak natives.
In chapter one, Zinn (p. 21) tell the story of the Arawak community and their encounter with Columbus and companions. The Arawaks are portrayed to be kind hearted, but uncivilized. This chapter draws a comparison between the Arawak Natives at the Bahama Island and the Indians on the main land. The author notes that, these two communities have a lot in common. He says they both have similar degree of hospitality to strangers. These people were receptive and ware free to trade with strangers. Zinn (p.53) notes that, Columbus was in search of gold and he had to educate the Arawak natives in order to develop a means of communication with them. Zinn observes that, this is the beginning of slavery in this region. Columbus forced these natives to learn the European Language so that they could communicate with him and tell him where he could find Gold.
In relation to the people in this region, Zinn criticized the religious believes of the European people. Despite the Europeans’ believe in God, they could not beat the Arawaks in the aspects of humanity. (Zinn, p. 68) This chapter tells of the ancient expeditions to the Asian world by the European Traders in search for raw materials for their industries and the market for their industrial products. The European took advantage of the less civilized communities. The expedition to the region occupied by the Arawaks boosted the next expeditions by Columbus. He got wealth and was able to organize more expeditions.
The history of the Arawaks states that they were serious farmers and practiced gold mining. Gold was mined to make jewels for the people. (Zinn, p. 70) They Arawaks were liberal as far as marriage relationships were concerned. Both men and women equal rights to choose their mates and live together in unity and as they wish. The women are commended for their hard work.
The inversion of Columbus in the Western Indies began the errands of the European community into the Indies world. (Zinn, p. 79) However much any one can pin point the evils associated with this inversion, the inversion had a commercial benefit to the Arawaks. It marked the beginning of civilization and technological Advancement.
Chapter two tells of the beginning of racial discrimination in U.S.A. The expeditions that took place in most parts of the world by the European yielded incorporation of strange ethnicities in the American Continent. The Blacks who were brought to the city of Virginia were considered as servants and never as part of the European society. (Zinn, p. 81) They ill treated and were considered as slaves not servants like the white servants. This developed the feeling of racism in the American society. As a result, the Blacks developed a sense of inferiority. The need for labor in the agricultural industries in Virginia made the Blacks to go through slavery in order to offer the labor services to the Virginians.
The blacks in the European world were introduced to a new cultural, Economical and social setting. They had to embrace the ways of the captors. (Zinn, p. 96) On the other hand, the Indians were in their own land but had no power over the European Traders. They also had to change much of their cultural, social and economic settings to fit in the plans of their masters, the Europeans. The Blacks, Asians and the Indians were segregated from the Britons. The Europeans considered these groups as primates. They did not see them as worth interacting with them. The Asians were referred as better than all the other groups.
The Indians were much better than the Blacks, who were the minority of the three. The Africans were recommended for having more organized kingdoms than the European themselves. (Zinn, p. 128) However, this did not hinder the European from invading and enslaving them! The European builds on the slavery that already existed among the Africans, to further their slave trade.
Slave trade that was contacted by the Africans was not a lifelong affair as it happened with the European enslavement in the American plantations. The Africans were detached completely from their families. (Zinn, p. 156) The Africans were ill treated and sold as slaves, unlike other ethnics. This led to the development of contempt, and oppression, and finally, Racism emerged. This was as a result of unequal treatment of the servants. Some were treated as servant, while others were treated as slaves. Class consciousness and fear arose and racial discrimination had been planted in America.
The third chapter is a recount of Bacon’s rebellion. The England solders send to combat the Colonists restored the condition in the Jamestown. This rebellion came as a result of a conflict between the colonists on the way to treat Indians in the Western Frontier. In Virginia, the governor was accused of injustice in executing taxation over the poor and the rich equally. (Zinn, p. 193) The administration favored the high in positions, monopolizing beaver trade and failed to protect the westerners from the Indians. As a result, the Bacon attacked and killed many Indians. Bacon rebels were poor underclass whites who fought in revenge over the rich whites in all colonies. The “rogues and vagabonds” constituted this rebellion. These and “six parts of seaven” formed the ‘persons of Mean and Vile condition’ group of people.
The violence that ensued against the Indians as a result of Bacon’s Rebellion was root of racial discrimination against the minorities, especially the poor, and the Indians, and platform to discriminate the Blacks later, was established. Bacon’s rebellion aimed at equalizing wealth, a policy they called, “Leveling”. (Zinn, p. 209) As a result, all beggars started being whipped and ill treated to counter the actions like those of Bacon’s rebellion. This was the initiation of minority groups in America and this has created the class differences in American since then. In conclusion, this text is a legend of the class domination and racial issues in the American society. Class segregation and racial discrimination in America is as old as the society itself. Affirmative Actions may never yield the expected result. They are likely to fail as they failed during Bacon’s rebellion period.
Zinn, Howard. A People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present. U.S.A, HarperCollins. (2006).