compare and contrast it with other sources
Historical Documents Volume 2: From 1865
MICHAEL P. JOHNSON Johns Hopkins University
Bedford/St. Martin’s Boston ◆ New York
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For Bedford/St. Martin’s
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Copyright © 2012, 2009, 2005, 2002 by Bedford/St. Martin’s
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It is a violation of the law to reproduce these selections by any means whatsoever without the written permission of the copyright holder.
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Preface for Instructors
R eading the American Past is a collection of compelling documents that represent political, social, and cultural experiences critical to students’ understanding of the scope and diversity of United States history. Created by people who shaped American history in ways both large and small, these primary sources reveal the views of the au- thors, the historical context in which they were written, and the major developments and controversies of their era. The documents give depth, breadth, and variety to textbook discussions of important developments in our nation’s past. Organized chapter by chapter to parallel The Amer- ican Promise: A History of the United States in all its editions — full-length, value, compact, and brief, this wide-ranging set of documents offers teach- ers many pedagogical choices for discussion, analysis, writing assignments, and examinations. Above all, Reading the American Past seeks to ignite the sparks of historical imagination that every teacher hopes to see in stu- dents’ eyes.
Reading a textbook discussion of Columbus’s arrival in the New World, for example, gives students basic, up-to-date information that has been collected, sorted out, and synthesized over the past fi ve hundred years. But reading the words Columbus wrote in his log shortly after he stepped ashore in the Western Hemisphere recaptures as no textbook can that moment of profound, mutual surprise when fi fteenth-century Euro- peans and the people they called Indians fi rst encountered one another. As every historian knows, primary sources bridge the gap from the pres- ent, when they are read, to the past, when they were written. They encour- age students to venture across that span connecting present and past and to risk discovering a captivating and unexpected world.
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iv READING THE AMERICAN PAST
FEATURES OF THIS BOOK Three basic principles guided my selection of documents. First and fore- most, the sources highlight major events and signifi cant perspectives of a given historical era. Second, I chose and edited documents to be acces- sible, interesting, and often surprising to students. Third, I sought sources that lend themselves to analysis in classroom discussion and writing assignments — documents that vividly portray controversies marking a particular historical moment and that offer multiple avenues of interpre- tation.
User-friendly editorial features help students read and interpret the sources. Introductory headnotes and follow-up questions to aid students’ reading and discussion accompany each document. Unfamiliar words are defi ned when they are necessary to understand a document. Editorial intrusions have been kept brief, providing just enough information to allow students to explore the sources and make their own discoveries. By minimizing editorial interventions, I hope to encourage students to focus on the documents and to become astonished, perplexed, and invigorated by what they read.
Documents new to the fi fth edition. This new edition incorporates the insights and suggestions of teachers who have used Reading the American Past. Guided by their classroom experiences, I have replaced one docu- ment per chapter (and two in the last chapter) in order to diversify the historical voices from each era and to give students and teachers fresh choices for investigating major developments.
In all, thirty-two new documents provide greater attention to the global context of American history, as well as offer more coverage of the viewpoints of ordinary Americans — women and men, immigrants and natives, minorities and majorities, workers and bosses. A Native Ameri- can participant in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 in New Mexico explains why it happened (Document 3–5). A woman captured by the Seneca during the Seven Years’ War describes her life in captivity (Document 6–1). A South Carolina planter’s wife reports her encounters with slave women on her husband’s rice plantation (Document 13–3). A homesteader’s wife de- scribes her new life on the Nebraskan prairie (Document 17–2). A suffrag- ist ridicules arguments used by opponents of voting by women (Document 21–4). A Vietnam veteran denounces the Vietnam War (Document 29–5). And many more.
Diverse perspectives and sources. The documents assembled here pro- vide students a generous cross-section of the diverse experiences that comprise the American past. The refl ections of politicians and thieves, generals and privates, reformers and reprobates can be found here, along with those of the nation’s countless ethnic and religious minorities. Barack Obama’s 2010 speech in Cairo (Document 31–5) joins classic sources such
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PREFACE FOR INSTRUCTORS v
as John Winthrop’s Arbella sermon (Document 4–1), George Washington’s Farewell Address (Document 9–5), and George Kennan’s “Long Tele- gram” (Document 26–2), which disclose the perspectives of infl uential leaders. The no-less-signifi cant views of common people are revealed by such documents as the memoir of an En glishwoman who became an indentured servant in eighteenth-century New York (Document 5–1), the letter from a slave to President Thomas Jefferson demanding that the president live up to his criticisms of slav ery (Document 10–3), twentieth- century letters from American soldiers at war (Documents 22–3 and 25–4), and an interview with a Mexican American migrant farmworker (Docu- ment 24–4). Diaries and court cases convey the immediacy of history as lived experience. Reminiscences and oral histories illuminate the past with memories of participants. Speeches, manifestos, congressional testimony, and White House tape recordings spotlight the ends and means of politi- cal power. Essays, addresses, and passages from books offer the consid- ered opinions of cultural leaders, whether captains of industry, novelists, or social critics.
Classroom fl exibility. The selections in Reading the American Past allow instructors to choose documents that best serve their teaching needs. Teachers might, for example, ask students to read documents in prep ara- tion for lectures, then refer to the assigned selections as they explain, say, the encounter between Europeans and Native Americans, the tensions that led to the Civil War, or the origins and consequences of the Cold War. An instructor might devote a class to explicating a single source, such as Richard Frethorne’s letter describing his life as an indentured servant at Jamestown, Virginia (Document 3–1), or Walter Wyckoff’s observations about socialists and anarchists in 1890s Chicago (Document 19–4), or Joseph Stiglitz’s article that blamed the economic meltdown of 2008 on the dereg- ulation of the fi nancial system since the Reagan years (Document 31–4).
All the documents are ideally suited for provoking discussions dur- ing lecture sessions or in section meetings. Students can be asked to adopt and defend the viewpoint of a given source, to attack it from the perspec- tive of a historical contemporary, to dissect its assumptions and evasions, or to compare and contrast it with other sources. Selections might also be used for quizzes, brief writing assignments, longer papers, or examina- tions. The documents open these and many other avenues for inspiring students to investigate the American past.
Tips for reading documents. A short introduction for students at the out- set of each volume explains the signifi cance of documents for understand- ing history and outlines the basic questions that students should ask themselves in order to decipher any primary source. It encourages stu- dents to consider the historical context, author, date, audience, and lan- guage of the sources they are about to read.
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