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Jeffrey Sprung Blog Post 9/14

In “A Kind of Revolution” Howard Zinn provides a more accurate analysis of the American Revolution, which includes the perspectives of slaves, Indians, white servants, and poor white people. Similarly to previous chapters within A People’s History of the United States, I was once again compelled to question and alter my past beliefs about historical events after reading this chapter. In lower, middle, and high school I learned of the American Revolution through the lens of rich, white powerful men, such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, and therefore never really considered the major role that minority groups played in the American Revolution. Zinn’s description of the wealth divide between the wealthy and poor oppression that the minority groups faced during the American Revolution was very eye opening to me.

Zinn explains the unfortunate truth that one of the motivations of the upper class to engage in the American Revolution was to gain more wealth and power in society. I was previously unaware of this and the wealth divide that existed within the Continental Army. For example, I was suprised that colonel’s within the army received $75 a month, meanwhile privates in the army received $6.66 a month. After learning about this and other facts, I completely agree with Zinn that the Revolution was, “distributed in such a way as to give a double opportunity to Revolutionary leaders: to enrich themselves and their friends…” (84). It is now much easier for me to understand why the United States still faces major wealth gap and class issues as classism was implemented in our countries roots hundreds of years ago by our Founding Fathers.

Furthermore, I agreed with Zinn’s statements regarding the Constitution.I think that it is awful that African Americans, indentured servants, women, and men without property were not reflected in the Constitution. As Zinn states, I once believed that “…the Constitution drawn up in 1787 [was] a work of genius put together by wise, humane men who created a legal framework for democracy and equality” (90). However, now, it is puzzling to me that our Founding Fathers only referenced white men in the Constitution and did not include minority groups, such as women and African Americans. 

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  1. Henry Groves Henry Groves

    I thought the same thing as your last paragraph. I always knew that the Constitution did not include African Americans, servants, women, and men without property; however, I do not think that this got enough attention in school when studying the Constitution.

  2. Thomas Bennett Thomas Bennett

    The pay gap between low ranking and high ranking officials in the army is made worse by the fact that plenty of low ranking soldiers were simply not payed for their service. They were snatched away from their daily lives and work to fight in a war that they believed would allow them to support themselves afterwards, but instead faced poverty and debt after the war. The United States at its inception shares the problem of not supporting its troops after their service with the United States of today.

  3. Michael Stein Michael Stein

    I think it was interesting how many colonists joined the war effort in hopes of gaining socioeconomic mobility; however, the drastic pay difference prevented this from happening in earnest. Indeed, many middle and lower class white colonists joined the war in hopes of climbing the ranks and gaining social status. The draw was immense. If a regular man could enter the war in the lower class and leave as a decorated fighter, the opportunities for him and his family would be plentiful. In addition, the pay of the military was not bad given the opportunity the rank system offered. However, the Continental Congress, in hopes of attracting smart, successful Generals, offered experienced war veterans an impressive amount of money and benefits. So, while the average man worked in hopes of finding class mobility, the pay structure of the military actively benefited Generals, many of whom came from already high class families. Thus, the hopes of finding class mobility through the war were really just a mirage.

  4. Mohamad Kassem Mohamad Kassem

    I see that it is really interesting but also upsetting that reason why the upper class has engaged in the revolution was that they were materialistic and were only looking for money and power. In addition, I was also surprised to see the pay gap between officials in the army as high ranking colonels were given the opportunity of further enriching themselves. However, for the middle/low-class colonists, they were affected most as they joined the war in order to find economic stability and higher their status but were left without money or opportunities.

  5. Pierce Kaliner Pierce Kaliner

    I too agreed with Zinn’s comments on the Constitution. We should learn about how it is the greatest document, but we need to learn about it’s flaws as well. It’s important to have an accurate representation of our history, the Constitution used the greatest wisdom from the 1700’s and we need to recognize times have changed. We don’t throw out the Constitution, but we can use it and make it better to reflect 21’st century standards.

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