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American Civil War - Book Report/Review Example

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-1This paper will compare and contrast two major historical analysis of Americas civil war. Perhaps the most notable difference between 'A People's History Of The United States 1492- Present' (Zinn 2003, Chap 10) and 'American Destiny' (Carnes 2005, chap14) is their approach to historical analysis…
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American Civil War Book Report/Review
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Download file to see previous pages It also provides the reader with a unique chance to process the truly subjective nature of historical analysis which, depending on the author, often creates a bias against or for histories noted 'winners'. Author subjectivity is most evident when comparing and contrasting the dominant themes of both.
Zinn (2003) and Carnes (2005) major commonality is the re-emergence of key themes contributing to the upheaval. Race, social class, possession, money, power, sovereignty, land and politics are seen as central by both. Yet their dissection of each differs. Carnes attributes the emancipation of slaves to a happy by-product of North versus South. He wrote:
Although he was simply paraphrasing a Lincoln letter and the sentiment is essentially correct, most voters did not look favourably upon the abolition of slavery but recognised they needed more numbers to make a successful war effort, it ignores the great lengths that people of race, and indeed the lower classes generally, went too to secure emancipation from slavery and elitism. When it comes to slavery Carnes even goes as far as noting Lincolns Cabinet as being a major factor, he notes that
"Seward hoped to conciliate the NorthSenator Salmon P. Chase represented the radicals"(2005, 401). The implication being that Lincolns political nous and a cabinet that reflected the 'people' won what little freedoms the people experienced, again dwarfing the conscientious efforts of freedom campaigners.
According to Zinn however, abolition and renter freedoms were the result of a tireless campaign by those affected and their sympathisers. Freedom was not a happy coincidence but bore out of hard work and collective action.
"Despite the protests of Dorr and a few others, the "People's Constitution" kept the word "white" in its clause designating voters. Angry Rhode Island blacks now joined the militia units of the Law and Order coalition, which promised that a new constitutional convention would give them the right to vote." (Zinn 2003).
As Zinn points out, these attempts at freedom were often thwarted. Although the lower classes achieved some success through collective action. They sent a petition signed by thousands declaring they would not pay taxes, rent, or fight in the militia unless they were granted the basic freedoms afforded 'white' land owners. Ruling elites needed lower classes to do all of these things if they were to win the war so these measures had minimal success but not at a sustainable level and when the war was won the lower class still only garnered allowable rights not akin to their wealthy 'white' counterparts;
"In 1877, the same year blacks learned they did not have enough strength to make real the promise of equality in the Civil War, working people learned they were not united enough, not powerful enough, to defeat the combination of private capital and government power. But there was more to come." (Zinn 2003).
Despite their differences in analysis Zinn (2003) and Carnes (2005) give equal weight to race and class struggle preceding, during and post civil war. It is their approach that differs significantly and this has the potential to sway the reader. Zinn paints a picture that makes ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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