People’s History of the United States

Question Description

For this RP you will use especially a chapter from A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn.

The URL to the document is here:
http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/zinncol1.htm (Links to an external site.)

Response Paper Options:
Answer just ONE of the following questions.

1) Zinn and Foner offer differing portrayals of the Columbus story and of colonization/imperialism in general. Discuss these portrayals, keeping in mind that Foner might be a bit more difficult to interpret because his version is presented in a bit more subtle (but no less biased) manner, while Zinn is not keeping any secrets regarding the motives and actions of Columbus, his men and other Europeans.

The questions that historians, and with the Columbus issue, cultural activists and critics, have been considering include the following:

2) Compare Columbus’s log entries with Las Casas’s journal entries.

a. Identify differences and similarities (e.g., how each describes the Arawaks).

b. Identify topics the other did not discuss.

c. What accounts for the differences? the similarities (their goals, their job functions, their status in relation to the other Spaniards)?

3) What sources are the textbook authors using? Pay special attention to Zinn’s sources; they give his history a certain credibility on this topic.

4) If communities share common interests, did Columbus and Las Casas belong to the same community? If so, what are their common interests? (What was Columbus in the Caribbean for? Las Casas?) If not, what interests separate them into different communities? Did Las Casas have more in common with the Arawaks than he did with Columbus?

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