A People’s History if the United States, by Howard Zinn chapters 6 – 9

Chapters 6 – 9 cover a rather expansive array of people and their conflicts, women’s rights, native Americans and Mexicans and the expansionist ideal of manifest destiny, and the civil war, slaves, and black Americans. Collectively these different stories enforce Zinn’s thematic thread of class struggle and the political struggle between ruling elites.

“Emma Willlard told the legislature that the education of women ‘has been too exclusively directed to fit them for displaying to advantage the charms of youth and beauty.’ . . . Reason and religion teach us, she said, that ‘we too are primary existences. . . not the satellites of men.’” (118)

“Indian removal was necessary for the opening of the vast American lands to agriculture, to commerce, to markets, to money, to the development of the modern capitalist economy. Land was indispensable for all this. . .” (126)
Previous tactics for Indian removal involved mostly relocation, but “Jackson’s 1814 treaty with the Creeks started something new and important. It granted Indians individual ownership of land, thus splitting Indian from Indian, breaking up communal landholdings, bribing some with land, leaving other out—introducing the competition and conniving that marked the spirit of Western capitalism. It fitted well the old Jeffersonian idea of how to handle the Indians, by bringing them into “civilization.”(128)

“Speaking of California, the Illinois State Register asked: ‘Shall this garden of beauty be suffered to lie dormant in its wild and useless luxuriance?. . . the hum of Anglo-American industry would be heard in its valleys; cities would rise upon its plains and sea-coasts, and the resources and wealth of the nation be increased in an incalculable degree.’ The American Review talked of Mexicans yielding to “a superior population, insensibly oozing into her territories, changing her customs, and out-living, out-trading, exterminating her weaker blood. . .’ The New York Herald was saying, by 1847: ‘The universal Yankee nation can regenerate and disenthrall the people of Mexico in a few year; and we believe it is a part of our destiny to civilize that beautiful country.’” (154-155)
The Reverend Theodore Parker, Unitarian minister in Boston, combined eloquent criticism of the war with contempt for the Mexican people, whom he called ‘a wretched people; wretched in the origin, history, and character,’ who must eventually give way as the Indians did. Yes, the United States should expand, he said, but not by war, rather by the power of her ideas, the pressure of her commerce, by ‘the steady advance of a superior race, with superior ideas and a better civilization. . .’” (156-157)

“Harriet Tubman, born into slavery, her head inured by and overseer when she was fifteen, made her way to freedom alone as a young woman, then she became the most famous conductor on the Underground Railroad. . . always carrying a pistol, telling the fugitives, ‘You’ll be free or die.’ She expressed her philosophy: ‘There was one of two things I had a right to, liberty or death; if I could not have one, I would have the other; for no man should take me alive. . . .’” (175)

“Spirituals often had double meaning. The song ‘O Canna, sweet Canaan, I am bound for the land of Canaan’ often meant that slaves meant to get to the North, their Canaan. . .
‘No more peck o’ corn for me, no more, no more,
No more driver’s lash for me, no more, no more. . . .’
Levine refers to the slave resistance as “pre-political,” expressed in countless ways in daily life and culture. Music, magic, art, religion, were all ways, he says, for slaves to hold on to their humanity.”(179)

“As the tension grew, North and South, blacks became more militant. Frederick Douglass spoke in 1857: ‘Let me give you a word of the philosophy of reforms. The whole history of the progress of human liberty shows that all concessions yet made to her august claims have been born of struggle. . . If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lighting. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concede nothing without demand. It never did and it never will. . .’”(183)

“John Hope, a young black man in Georgia, who heard Washington’s Cotton Exposition speech, told students at a Negro college in Nashville, Tennessee: ‘If we are not striving for equality, in heaven’s name for what are we living? I regard it as cowardly and dishonest for any of our colored men to tell white people or colored people that we are not struggling for equality. . . Yes, my friends, I want equality. Nothing less. . . Now catch your breath, for I an going to use an adjective: I am going to say we demand social equality. . . I am no wild beast, nor am I an unclean thing.
Rise, brothers! Come let us possess this land. . . Be discontented. Be dissatisfied. . . Be a restless as the tempestuous billows on the boundless sea. Let your discontent break mountain-high against the wall of prejudice, and swamp it ti the very foundation. . . ‘”(209-210)


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