While reading today’s chapter of A People’s History, I noticed a lot of common themes among things we have already talked about in class, and also of things that we still hear politicians and people talking about today. First of all, Zinn’s telling of the American Revolution reinforces how the white elites that wrote history wrote it in a way that isn’t entirely accurate, and was meant to serve a specific purpose. In the well-known story of the American Revolution, colonists of all types and all classes came together to support a heroic and worthy cause and gain independence for everyone and create a new America where everyone could be equal and free. However, as Zinn points out, this is far from the truth – many lower-class Americans were against the Revolution because the benefits didn’t directly apply to them, but rather to the upper class who would be solidifying their power through the Revolution. There was a lot of coercion and involuntary service to create the militias that fought in the Revolutionary War, and many internal class conflicts that made the Revolution far messier than is often taught in American history. The Revolution is likely taught the way we know it, as a uniting and inspirational story of American bravery, to strengthen American partiotism and create an unproblematic version of American history.
Another point from the reading that stuck out to me was how deep class conflict in America goes, and how the institutions upon this country were built were purposely created to keep the rich rich and the poor poor. As we have heard in discussions of systemic racism over the past few months, it is often impossible to reform the racist systems we already have in place because they are already performing exactly as they were built to. After reading Zinn’s chapter, it is easy to see that the same goes for systemic classism. The elites both in the 18th century and today have always found ways to keep the middle and lower classes just satisfied enough to avoid revolts and conflict, but oppressed enough so that they can retain wealth and power, and in turn, political and social influence.