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Race and American Revolution - Essay Example

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Gary B. Nash has had a long and distinguished career writing about the various oppressed and downtrodden peoples in early America. Almost from the beginning f his career, in the mid-1960s, Nash has been preoccupied with issues f inequality, class conflict, and cultural interaction in early America…
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Download file to see previous pages Giving the Indians and the Africans a more prominent role meant that the older white-dominated success story f early America would have to change, ideally to be replaced by a more complicated story f cultural conflict and cultural intermingling.
Nash next turned to the origins f the American Revolution, and in Urban Crucible, in 1979, he argued that the tensions arising from poverty and other underlying social and economic inequalities in the cities led to a radical lower-class politics that helps to account for the Revolution. Over the past several decades, Nash has devoted himself to the study f African American slavery and African American anti-slave movements--subjects on which he has written his best work. (Skemp 1429-1431) At the same time, together with Charlotte Crabtree at UCLA, he launched the National History Standards Project with funds supplied by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The published work, National Standards for United States History: Exploring the American Experience, which appeared in 1994, was repudiated by former NEH head Lynne Cheney, who had funded it, and disowned by the U.S. Senate by a vote f ninety-nine to one, though few senators actually read the standards.
Through all the controversies and attacks--from the left and from the right--Nash never lost his faith that a fairer, more just, and more equitable America could be created by a more "inclusive" historiography, by historians uncovering all the inequities and brutalities f early America, especially those inflicted on Native Americans, African slaves, and poor lower-class whites. Although he did not write extensively on women in early America, inevitably he has been sympathetic to their cause as well. Nash has always sought to project his political vision into his history-writing.
As much as anyone, Nash seems to represent the best f the "race, class, gender" historians f the past generation, who have succeeded remarkably in transforming the kind f history taught in many colleges and universities. His role as one f the leaders f this major historiographical transformation makes his book on race and revolution all the more significant. Here Nash applies the "race, class, gender" formula to what is arguably the most important event in American history.
Although Nash has titled his book Race And Revolution, his interpretation f the Revolution may not be as unknown as he makes it out to be, owing to the revisionist work f many academic historians over the past four decades. As a result f this work, many people now know who Crispus Attucks is. (But can anyone name the other four victims f the Boston Massacre) f course, if polls f seniors from leading colleges and universities are to be believed, many events f the Revolution appear to be unknown by even the best-educated Americans. Only 34 percent f college seniors were able to identify George Washington as an American general at the battle f Yorktown. Only 23 percent knew that James Madison was the "Father f the Constitution." When Nash laments the "historical amnesia" f Americans, he doesn't appreciate the half f it. (Foster 20-27)
Nash intends his book to be "a history f inclusion," an effort to bring into the story f the Revolution those who have been long forgotten: poor whites, Indians, African Americans, women. Compared with the likes f Washington and Madison, these people may have been lowly and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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