Rescuing History

The truth is that the white men and savage Indians could never live in peace in the same land. The Indians wanted the land for hunting grounds; the white people wanted it for farms and ranches. The white men, being stronger, were able to win.

So it was written in the elementary school history text, The Growth of the American People and Nation, published in 1937. Boy, times have changed. A perfect example of history being revised, perhaps unintentional or based on the intentional agendas of others. Some more:

The government at last decided it was cheaper to feed the Indians than to keep on fighting them…moved [them] to…Indian reservation[s]…Government Indian schools were opened…The Indian problem was no longer one of our chief problems.

History has since, for the most part, corrected its recording of what transpired to the natives in the Americas. They didn’t just want the land for hunting, it was their home where they had lived for generations. Nor were they particularly more “savage” then any other humans. The text even notes that, “…the Indians had no food supply [buffaloes killed], [their] lands were taken from them…[they] were put on reservations.” Sobering to those who think such things cannot happen in a democracy. Historian Francis Jennings wrote in The Founders of America:

From 1812 until the end of the century, official policy, no matter what euphemistic terms expressed, was simple conquest. Its purpose was to reduce Indian persons to dependence and to seize tribal lands. It is common scandal that the United Sates has violated every single one of its treaties with Indians.

We cannot engage in revisionism of history, the good or bad, what we like or dislike, or else we cannot learn from it. One wonders, though, how many genocides and oppressions we must witness, or allow happen, before we get it. Unfortunately, historical revisionism is alive and well and is a favorite of those with political and other agendas.

There seems to have been a craze of trying to dig up dirt on the Founding Fathers in order to justify support for our less than stellar elected class. No one ever claimed the founders were perfect, unblemished humans. Comparative to many of our own, they did have a higher respect for their office. In the zealous attempts to dethrone them, facts have often been flushed away. For instance, take the cottage industry of attacking Thomas Jefferson.

One of those attacks is the claim that DNA proved he was fathering children with slave Sally Hemings. The problem with this is that the DNA didn’t have Jefferson’s name on it, only that someone in his family was implicated. Turns out that his brother could have been the father of the children. There is nothing that can be used to state that Thomas Jefferson absolutely was fathering these children, as so often has been implied or stated.

Often the old history books do get it right and can be used to ferret out agendas in our own. It is always a fun exercise to compare the two. The points to remember are these: Dig a little deeper, don’t think everything you are told or read is without error. Look for bias and agendas, especially when attached to politicians and those that fund them. Ask why some detail of history has changed and where’s the evidence. Yes, it can take time and may seem unnecessary to some people. Ultimately, however, we have a responsibility to pass on accurate and truthful history.

We must start thinking about those who will follow us instead of just tomorrow and the next day. We do this in the hope that our ancestors won’t repeat our tragedies and mistakes and will remember our triumphs.


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