Posts Tagged With: revisionism

Death of History

It is said that if we ignore history, we will repeat it. How can we follow this quintessential maxim if we allow people to erase or rewrite history?

Recently, Charlottesville City in Virginia, voted to tear down a statue of Robert E. Lee at a cost of $300,000. Once councilman claimed it was “delusional”  to believe anything different than the “Confederate states had as their primary aim the preservation of a way of life in which enslaved humans.”

No, Councilman, your statement is a rewrite of history.

There were those who wanted to preserve slavery, but Lee was not one of them, he wrote before the war (as quoted by H.W. Crocker III): “In this enlightened age…slavery as an institution, is a moral and political evil…” and “emancipation will sooner result from the mild and melting influence of Christianity than from the storms and contests of fiery controversy.”  Lee would also free his inherited slaves before the Emancipation Proclamation and argue for the South to abolish slavery during the war. Lee was loyal to Virginia, and when it seceded he went “to her defence” but still hoped that “wisdom and patriotism of the nation will yet save it.”

He believed in the United States of America, but also the right that every state understood when they joined the Union: The right to leave. To consider Lee a symbol of racism or slavery is what is delusional. Ignoring history also makes it easy to avoid the question that few every want to ask:

Was there not a better way to end slavery and preserve the Union that didn’t result in the deaths of at least 620,000 Americans (and maybe as many as 850,000)? Continue reading

Categories: Critical Thinking, History | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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.


Categories: History | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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