“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” (U. S. 1776). The Declaration of Independence became the foundation for America’s new beginning, yet eleven words in a conflict arises. First off, Howard Zinn shows a liberal point of view in The People’s History of The United States, providing details through the eyes of the common people rather than the political upper class.
Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen’s The Patriot’s History of The United States shows a conservative point of view and a counter-part to Howard Zinn’s book, showing details through political upper class. Neither of the books go in-depth with the pressing issue of women’s rights, but pass lightly over the subject. Secondly, Howard Zinn elaborates on what Columbus found when encountering the Indians, including the roles of women and their daily life, stating “Women were important and respected in Iroquois society” (Pg.
20). Larry Schweikart & Michael Allen also begins with Columbus, but heads into the Roanoke Island Colonies. The significance of Roanoke Island becomes clear when S&A mentions the arrival of settlers in 1587, Larry Schweikart & Michael Allen states “ Settlers received stock in Raleigh’s company, which attracted 133 men and 17 women who set sail on three ships” (Pg. 14). Only 17 women were sent over during this time, showing that women were needed, but on a small scale at this time.
Howard Zinn provides better details about the women because he gives an emotional connection between the women and the tribes, while Larry Schweikart & Michael Allen simply provide statistics and are pointing to the fact that people had settled at the Roanoke Island Colonies. Next, settlers successfully became established at Jamestown in 1607, leading to issues such co-existence with the Indians, trying to cut ties with Britain, and slavery. Slavery became the leading issue as more and more Africans as well as women servants from other countries were brought over.
Moving ahead in time, women were highly involved in the abolishment of slavery and helped to end the issue. According to Lisa T. Frank in Women during the Civil War, “The abolishment movement of the 1830’s, like other reform movements of the period, drew from a broad base support, including women, blacks, and white men of all classes” (Pg. 5). Women were involved in many different movements, which in fact Howard Zinn and Larry Schweikart & Michael Allen both lightly mention. Women were showing great strides during this time and many were beginning to see.
Lisa T. Frank stated “Women reformers sought political support from a large group of politicians and citizens, employing controversy to publicize their work and to bring about sweeping social changes” (Pg. 6). In addition, slave women faced double oppression compared to others. According to Howard Zinn, “The biological uniqueness of women, like skin color and facial characteristics for Negroes, became a basis for treating them as inferiors” (Pg. 103). Women were often left out or simply not mentioned.
According to Ella Forbes in African American Women during the Civil War, “When African American Civil War participation is the focus, the African American male is highlighted. If women are the focus, the perspective belongs to the white women” (Pg. 25). Howard Zinn and Larry Schweikart & Michael Allen both rarely clarify which group they are specifically talking about, unless the topic is primarily focused on that group of people. Many women are still name-less to this day that have made a big impact on the movement of slavery and women.
Ella Forbes also states, “White diarists and letters writers routinely referred to African Americans as “niggers” and “darkies”, African American women were lumped under these pejoratives, even when the writers are referring only to women” (Pg. 40). Furthermore, the American Civil war brought work for women during this time. Larry Schweikart & Michael Allen mentions women entering the workforce, stating, “…during the Civil War, nursing joined teaching as a profession open to educated women” (Pg. 226).
The writings of nurses reflected the willingness and enthusiasm to perform any kind of service for the Union. Women were doing anything and everything they could to find more work to help their families and the men while the war blazes on. In Elizabeth Leonard’s Yankee Women, Sophronia Bucklin stated, “I knew, if they [the soldiers] could suffer so much, and die for their country, I could at least give some years of my poor life in the attempt to alleviate their suffering” (Pg. 5). Men and women both were starting to realize that women were needed
in more ways than one, and women were starting to do something about it. Larry Schweikart & Michael Allen states, “All of these causes combined to lead women, inevitably, toward feminism, a religio-socio-political philosophy born at the end of the Age of Jackson” (Pg. 227). Feminism has started to launch by now, proving that women can make a change. Elizabeth Leonard also stated, “On June 10, Cameron conferred Dix upon Dix an official military commission, naming her the Union Army’s first Superintendent of Women Nurse’s, and delegating to her the responsibility…” (Pg.
7). Women were also running businesses that men had abandoned to fight in the war. Many women had never ran a business, only the business of a home, yet life went on and many businesses flourished and continued to grow, even after the men came home. In addition, Howard Zinn and Larry Schweikart & Michael Allen rarely included personal letters. Howard Zinn did use more personal letters compared to Larry Schweikart & Michael Allen, which helped paint a picture of the time. Howard Zinn also wrote a book called The Voices of The People’s History of the United States.
In Howard Zinn’s second book, he adds only personal letters depicting the time and place. Women were still not allowed to vote, which both books mention, but don’t elaborate. According to Zinn’s second book, Virginian Fannie Lou Harmer recalls “The plantation owner came, and said, ‘Fannie Lou… If you don’t go down and withdraw your registration, you will have to leave… because we are not ready for that in Virginia’ and I addressed him and told him and said, ‘I didn’t try to register for you. I tried to register for myself’” (Pg. 24).
Even though women may be fighting to move up during this time, the simple fact that men dominated the women and tried keeping them at home and “in their place”. Another personal letter in Howard Zinn’s second book shows the frustration shared by many women. Adrienne Rich, wrote a poem that states, “ I know of no woman- virgin, mother, married, celibate- whether she earns her keep as a housewife, or a businesswomen, for whom the body is not a fundamental problem: its clouded meanings, its fertility, its desires, its silences, its rapes, and its ripening” (Pg.
38) In conclusion, women were a lot stronger during this time than many people give them credit for. When comparing Howard Zinn and Larry Schweikart & Michael Allen, Howard Zinn elaborated more on women’s issues. Neither of the books did very well to describe what the women had to go through. Altogether, the books maybe had one paragraph about women. It seems as though both books meant to touch basis on the women’s issues, but both veered off into political territory and never picked back up on the subject.