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U.S. History from discovery to 1877 - Book Report/Review Example

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Gary B. Nash is a renowned historian that was educated at Princeton and work at UCLA for many years. He has served on many national boards and is the author of over thirty books, primarily focusing on the Revolutionary period of American History. …
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U.S. History from discovery to 1877
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U.S. History from discovery to 1877

Download file to see previous pages... The book is not a popular book with many historians and readers of traditional American history. Many people have labeled this book as revisionist history because it does not follow along with the received wisdom that is most commonly discussed by historians. As far as slavery is concerned, most American historians have focused on the southern States and their demand for slave labor due to economic considerations. The plantation economy, so the story goes, was the driver that kept the institution of slavery alive and well in the American colonies and the New Nation after the revolution. Much blame is heaped upon prevailing economic conditions in the South and southern culture. Other arguments are made that state the founding fathers were not capable of tackling the problems of race and slavery because the new Republic was too fragile and there were too many other pressing issued to deal with. Race and Revolution looks at the long life of slavery in the United States from a different angle. Gary B. Nash argues that there were missed opportunities early in the Republic that lead to the continuation of slavery in America. What is different about his thesis is his claim that many of these decisions and lost opportunities can be attributed to powerful politicians and individuals in the North, not the South. Nash takes a close look at the institution of Abolitionism; it’s failings and how black Americans slowly began to develop a sense of self as a nation within a nation. Nash first introduces the issue of race in the Revolutionary era through the lens of the Abolitionist movement. There were many Americans that felt slavery was an evil and immoral practice. Many northern clergymen railed against the institution of slavery. The Methodist and Quaker churches both took a strong abolitionist stand. This resulted in considerable conflict with southern clergymen of these churches in the south. On the surface, the fault lines in this conflict seemed once again to break along Northern and southern lines. But a closer examination of the writings, teachings and actions of Northern clergymen reveals some reasons why abolitionists were less than successful in forwarding their agenda. The first great push by clergymen to eliminate slavery in America came in 1790. The Quakers were certain that they had enough support in Congress and various influential state legislators, to legislate the end of slavery. When their support evaporated, the Quaker activists were left wondering what when wrong. It became apparent that many of the abolitionists that advocated the end of slavery actually meant that slavery should be abolished at some future time, as in after they were done enjoying the benefits of their own slaves. The fact of the matter is many vocal abolitionist ministers were slave owners themselves (p. 15). They also had commercial and family interests that were tied to slavery in the South. As a result, the push in 1790 by clergy failed to bring about the desired results. Another branch of the abolitionist movement was centered on a belief in the natural rights of man. This idea was very influential for the founding fathers. Many of the Enlightenment writers, such as Montesquieu, Locke and Adam Smith wrote essays on the rights that all of humanity should share, regardless of race or religious affiliation. Many early leaders in America found a direct conflict in claiming to be a nation that believed in Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness yet allowed the institution of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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