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American Revolution in Historical Misrepresentation Essay

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Updated: Aug 23rd, 2020

Introduction

James Loewen carried out a comprehensive study of American history books. He concluded that most of them were irrelevant to the needs of the students. According to him, the authors have concentrated on writing many books at the expense of covering relevant content. They include information that is not helpful to the students and teachers, making it difficult for them to cover the content within the stipulated period. Therefore, teachers and learners resort to memorization of items that are likely to appear in their exams. However,, the books portray most people that participated in historical events as being abnormally powerful (Loewen 5). Such a portrayal of people makes learners think that what those people achieved is not practical today. The general portrayal of American history implies that America has no problems as the founding fathers solved them all. This paper analyzes the portrayal of the American Revolution by several American authors in light of Loewen’s arguments and confirms that American writers give the wrong picture of American history.

An Analysis of the Portrayal of the American Revolution

The most evident problem in the writing of American history books is the authors’ deliberate efforts to instill patriotism among their readers. Writers exaggerate most of the events in American history. For example, Mason Locke Weem made George Washington appear superhuman in a biography he wrote about him (Weems 9). Jeff Shaara says:

It is regrettably easy for us to take for granted the freedoms we live under without considering who paid the price to secure them. That is only one reason among many that these extraordinary people must be remembered (III).

This statement is evidently not objective. The writer has indicated that his intention is not to talk about the American Revolution, but to show readers that they must be grateful to the people who liberated their nation from the British. As Loewen explains, one can decipher the misrepresentation of history from the title of a book. The title of Shaara’s book is The Glorious Cause. It is imperative that the book only depicts the good side of the revolution. Narrating the good side of history at the expense of the bad side passes the wrong information to the students of history.

The content of history books written immediately after the revolution is very biased. The facts depended on the side the writer supported during the war. Loyalist wrote books that showed the lack of sense in the ideologies behind the revolution while the patriots wrote in favor of the revolution. Thomas Hutchison wrote a historical account that depicted the revolution as a course that nobody needed (Hutchinson 14). In reaction to Hutchison’s side of the story, David Ramsay wrote a book with the purpose of justifying the rebellion (Ramsay 23). Learners are often those who experience the negative implications of such tussles. They get confused about the real facts of history. Hence, they see history as a subject that should not be in the curriculum.

Determinists portray the revolution as some people’s plan to take over the control of wealth from the British. According to them, all the other struggles during the revolution only hid the real reasons for the uprising. They insist that the real reason for the revolution was to develop a class of rich people in America. Therefore, freedom was not the main cause of the rebellion. Economic empowerment was the main driving force. Whigs, on the other hand, viewed the revolution as a mechanism by the Americans to protect their freedom and wealth from the intrusion of the parliament.

Bernard Bailyn portrays the founders of the US as all-knowing men. According to him, they knew the problems that would face US citizens two hundred years to come. This knowledge made them solve the problems before they happened. For example, they realized that if they did not control their leaders, they would betray them by depriving them of their fundamental rights. Hence, they came up with the bill of rights to prevent leaders from misusing their powers (Bailyn 10). This argument implies that America does not experience problems related to the misuse of power, which is not true. Having perfect leaders is not possible. Various institutions in the US have misused their powers on several occasions in history.

Conclusion

I agree with Loewen’s argument that American authors have given the wrong impression of American history. They have allowed their biases to hinder them from narrating the real occurrences in the history of America. Concerning the description of the American Revolution, most of them have written books depending on the side of the war they supported. Writers who supported the loyalist criticized the revolution while the ones who supported the patriots wrote with the purpose of justifying the revolution. From this discussion, it is clear that most of the writers in America supported the patriots. Therefore, their books are full of exaggerations about the people who took part in the revolution.

Works Cited

Bailyn, Bernard. The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. 1st ed. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1967. Print.

Hutchinson, Thomas, and John Hutchinson. The History of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, From 1749 to 1774. 1st ed. London: J. Murray, 1828. Print.

Loewen, James. Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007. Print.

Ramsay, David, and Lester H Cohen. The History of the American Revolution. 1st ed. Indianapolis: Liberty Classics, 1990. Print.

Shaara, Jeff. The Glorious Cause. 1st ed. New York: Ballantine Books, 2002. Print.

Weems, Mason. The Life of George Washington. 1st ed. Philadelphia: Printed for the author, 1809. Print.

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