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Assignment Questions

A People History of the United States

United States History
Amy Bell

Written Exercise #1
“One is astonished in the study of history at the recurrence of the idea that evil must be forgotten, distorted, skimmed over. we must not remember that Daniel webster got drunk but only remember that he was a splendid constitutional lawyer. we must forget that george wahington was a slave owner…and simply remember the things we regard as creditable and inspiring. The difficulty, of course, with this philosophy is that history loses its value as an incentive and example; it paints perfect men and noble nations, but it does not tell the truth.” ~W.E.B. DuBois (Black reconstruction)

What is history? Why should we study history? Within the context of our stories concerning Christopher Columbus, Native Americans, the Pilgrims, or slavery, discuss how historians (Zinn and Loewen) have dealt with the above issues specifically. How have history textbooks begun to complicate our histories even further? With regard to the above topics, how have your readings and studies in this class differed from the ways in which these topics have been portrayed (all the way back to elementary school) to you in previous classes? In the quote above, W.E.B. DuBois suggests that in our studies of history, when we skim over the bad parts, our histories begin to lose their value as “incentive and example.” What does he mean by this? What are the far-reaching consequences of the ways in which so many of us have been taught history?

I know it may seem like we have rehashed much of the first half of US History, but stick with me! There is method to my madness… =)

Please take a look at this writing assignment. All of the instructions are included in the assignment sheet, but if you have questions, please feel free to email me over the weekend.

Ultimately, I want you to take everything you’ve read and use them as your sources to write this paper. You do need to cite throughout your papers from your readings.

Lies My Teacher Told Me James W. Loewen

A Peoples History Of the United States Howard/Zinn Both are available online

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