Themes in American History: Capitalism, Slavery, Democracy

Blog 2

America Wasn’t a Democracy, Until Black People Made it One by Nikole Hannah-Jones discusses the supposed ideals of American democracy during its creation and its hypocrisy. Mainly white leaders constructing a nation that is suppose to be the land of the free but building off the backs of slaves who have virtually no freedom. Slaves were a huge part of the American economy. Used to pick cotton which was a huge part of the economy and also being seen property in the eyes of the government helped bolster the success of many white owners in America. Nikola Hannah discusses that Americas greatest profitable trade was manufactured by slaves. Jones also brings up that one of the main reasons colonist wanted to gain independence from Great Britain was to hopefully keep ownership of their slaves. Although it may have only been one of the many factors to lead to independence it should not be dismissed as a reason. Jones also mentions that it is because of African Americans that democracy works as well as it does. The hypocrisy of Thomas Jefferson not including black people in the declaration of independence when he penned “all men are created equal”, despite he himself being against the international slave trade.

The main thing I’ve taken away from this reading is how much history can be rewritten by the people with power. And even when there are other historians who discover that there might be more to the story than initially believed by the public there are others who will quickly dismiss it or even try to actively say its incorrect and misleading. This reading had made more aware of how relevant this problem is today in the news today as each outlet will tell their own version of the story and political parties using these stories to strengthen their own politics off the emotions of the public who blindly support them.

One thought on “Blog 2”

  1. A thoughtful post. You say that the desire to protect slavery “should not be dismissed as a reason” for American colonists declaring independence from Britain, but I’m curious to know what evidence you would offer to back that up, especially after reading Gordon Wood’s criticisms. Is he one of the people you are talking about in the second paragraph? Or is it possible to distinguish between more legitimate criticisms and efforts, like we’ve seen recently, to discredit or ban materials like The 1619 Project entirely?

    Make sure you keep spellings of author’s names consistent—in this case, her full name is Nikole Hannah-Jones (with hyphen).

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