November 24, 2010 by USA Post
Thanksgiving Quotes, Understanding many Americans have of the early history of their country is stuck in the level of competition Thanksgiving and rhymes about the navigation of Columbus Blue Ocean. “The truth is more complicated and less uplifting. The Europeans who came to the Americas were not meek refugees were conquerors. Some came for freedom, many came for gold and the majority belonged to the land. They took what they wanted and justify their ruthless methods in the same way today’s jihadists to justify their own: God wanted it.
In recounting the fierce war that occurred in the years shortly after the legendary first Thanksgiving, Zinn cites the Puritan leader William Bradford description of an English attack on a Pequot village. Bradford recalled that the Indians who escaped from their homes on fire were slain with the sword, cut into pieces and pierced by swords. Few in the town escaped. At least 400 – and perhaps up to 600 – were killed.
It was a terrible sight to see them frying in the Fyer, and streams of blood quenching the same, and horrible was the stincke present and that, but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and (the English) gave the prayers thereof to God, who had done so wonderfully for them, thus to enclose their enemies in their hands…
This was just one of many reciprocal atrocities that only ended when the Indians were driven off their land and almost exterminated.
Going back a century before Plymouth Rock Foundation seminal our history, Zinn cites the men who witnessed the slaughter that Columbus went after the New World opened in 1492. Back to Spain from his first voyage, Columbus made wild promises to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, telling them to bring shiploads of gold and hordes of slaves if they want to finance a second expedition. Had 17 ships and 1,200 men who proceeded to murder his way through the Caribbean islands.
They found very little gold and enslaved thousands of Indians died, but Columbus and his men kept trying. In the process, which killed entire populations of people who had innocently received Columbus with gifts and hospitality?
Zinn rightly asserts that the understanding of history has an impact on contemporary life and politics. If this were not so, there would be fights in the local school boards about the history textbooks and curriculum. Zinn purpose in writing his own version of American history was to fill the huge gaps left by women, blacks, Asians, Hispanics, poor workers and immigrants while white, male presidents, generals, adventurers and capitalists most of the credit for building the nation.
Zinn’s book has page after page of criticalanlysis ruthless jewel tones of the American experience with dark intentions. Zinn facts are solid and many of their performances are convincing. However, his revisionism is, in its way, an incomplete story that requires a broader context.
There is nothing unique about the cruelty that accompanied the arrival of Europeans on American shores. Human history in all times and all places is a record of invasion, plunder, slaughter and subjugation. The ancient Hebrews could have said that they were entering the Promised Land, but taking it for swords. The Romans built a great civilization legions marched behind. The Mongols carved an empire in the blood of their homeland in the eastern end of Asia to the borders of Europe. In the eighth century, Muslims from North Africa across the Strait of Gibraltar and conquered most of Portugal and Spain, only to be expelled from their last stronghold Iberian Columbus sailed the same year.
Not that the English invaders of North America is exempt from the ruling simply saying everyone does. But it is important to understand their sins were not unique. And, if we are to give full context, it is worth noting that the country the Puritans of New England Shakespeare left behind in 1620 had produced only a generation earlier. There are good and bad in every society and every human being. Unlike Columbus, the English settlers were not driven by gold and glory. Their motivations were more complex and brought with them an emerging vision of human rights that Americans would ask Zinn dispossessed again and again to push the limits of freedom in the coming centuries.
Now, the Puritan vision of personal autonomy did not extend far beyond their own narrow field of rigid religion and private property – and certainly not extended to Indians, according to William Bradford had a “natural right” but not a legal right to their land. However, since the small seed grew the American declaration that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Zinn notes that when Thomas Jefferson wrote these words, “all men” more or less mean white male Protestant landowners. But we can celebrate Thanksgiving Day is the path we have taken Plymouth and Monticello to a truly inclusive experience of freedom.
Like Jefferson, the slave owner who wrote so eloquently about freedom, we get caught by monsters of our past, however, like him, we send our dreams forward and, by laying claim to ancestral promises, making real.
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