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Maddie Orr – 9/9 blog post

Chapter 3 and 4 of A People’s History of the United States discuss the growth of class divisions that occurred within colonial America. I was very surprised when I read that more than one half of the colonists that came to North America came as servants and the majority of them either returned to their home country, died as servants, or became a part of the poor white class. This led to a sharp distinction of class that created many conflicts across lines. The lower, “poor” class was doubling and created problems of crime and theft in cities which forced the building of housing and correctional offices to try and combat the issues. An interesting idea was brought up in “Persons of Mean and Vile Condition” when Zinn said, “The country therefore was not ‘born free’ but born slave and free, servant and master, tenant and landlord, poor and rich” (50). This shows how there has always been a deep rooted division of people determining wealth, treatment, and placement in society. 

I thought an interesting trend throughout “Tyranny is Tyranny” was the mindset of the “rich and important” people of the colonies towards how to control the lower classes. They wanted to gain enough support to be able to defeat the British control over the colonies without ending slavery or erasing class lines. They did this through language that created anger and resistance towards England but also to avoid uprising of classes. The strategic and careful manipulation of language to the colonists was driven by the desire for power and wealth of the “important people” of colonial society. I think this is very interesting because this can be seen in many different aspects of life today. Class divisions, desire for power, and drive of wealth play a large role in today’s society where many similarities can be seen between now and the colonial period.

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One Comment

  1. Sophia Peltzer Sophia Peltzer

    I really like your point about how deep the divisions of class in our country go. Of all the things Zinn discusses in these chapters, I feel like this point needs to be emphasized – the reason America is so divided is because it has always been divided, and the only way to fix such deep division is to dismantle the very systems which allowed it to occur in the first place. Although it’s shocking for many to realize, the idea of America being built as a free country is simply untrue, and we will never be truly free until the systems that bound us are undone.

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