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Blog Post 9/28

After reading chapter 9 of “A People’s History of the United States,” I was surprised to feel that I actually was taught in my schooling something very similar to what Zinn discusses. Previous chapters have made me feel as though I have been lied to but some of the facts that were brought about throughout this chapter were quite familiar to me. One thing that particularly stood out to me was the fact that Abraham Lincoln was not as heroic as we think. His intentions were not fully to abolish slavery but instead, he wanted to strengthen the Union. We look at Lincoln as a man who cared so deeply for the African Americans but instead his main source of motivation was to benefit himself. 

Later in the chapter, Zinn discusses the future for the slaves after the Civil War. Right after the Civil War laws were in place to try to allow the African Americans to have somewhat of an equal opportunity and resources in their lives. It was a big adjustment from having the African Americans being treated as property to them being viewed as equal. White plantation owners got their only way of making money taken away from them which created extreme anger. They were not ready to give up their power.

Another thing that stood out to me was Zinn’s question at the end of the chapter. He asked, “In the growth of American capitalism, before and after the Civil War, whites, as well as blacks, were in some sense becoming slaves?” This shows how people in power abuse their power. It is an ongoing cycle of the lower status of people being controlled by rich people who love to control others. 

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  1. Mia Slaunwhite Mia Slaunwhite

    I liked the quote you used at the end and brought about the idea of those who have power abuse that power. It’s hard to see who has power and uses it as good instead of evil. All people are selfish in some way, but who are the ones who abuse it is the question we need to be asking.

  2. Isabela Keetley Isabela Keetley

    I agree with your point about Lincoln and it has made me reconsider him as a leader and as an abolitionist. One one hand, we learned that Lincoln was a hero because he freed the slaves, regardless of if he was actually an abolitionist or only freed the slaves to preserve the union, does it matter? What matters is that he freed slaves. However, on the other hand, if all he cared about was the preservation of the Union, is it just that he is revered as a hero for the abolition of slaves if that was not his primary motive? This makes me question many other great American heroes, it makes me question the true intentions of these people we have come to idolize.

  3. Madeline Orr Madeline Orr

    I was also surprised by Lincoln’s true intentions going into the war. Zinn said that the first Emancipation Proclamation was more of a military move in order to threaten the south that their slaves would be freed if they continued to fight. The video also said that making the war about Emancipation gave it a moral meaning which would make the European countries less willing to intervene on the side of the Confederacy. We think of Lincoln as a leader who wanted to restore the Union while also freeing the slaves, but it is important to recognize the true process of how he actually gained that role.

  4. Pierce Kaliner Pierce Kaliner

    I too was a little bit surprised about why Lincoln presented the Emancipation Proclamation, but it makes sense because Lincoln like most other people back then was a racist. And, he only gave the Proclamation for his own gain. I still question though whether that means we think less of what Lincoln did, because I still believe that he should be admired by Americans as an inspirational figure, even though at the time he didn’t really have the slaves best interests at heart.

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