Wood and Zinn’s arguments on the nature of the American War for Independence

Nov 4, 2021 | 0 comments

Nov 4, 2021 | Writing Guide | 0 comments

The American Revolution is considered as one significant and powerful historical event. It is often regarded as the war that led to the beginning of America’s Independence. Gordon Wood and Howard Zinn, both very prominent historians in the history of the United States, hold contrary opinions regarding the nature of the American Revolution. This essay will analyze the views of both parties and point out who between Wood and Zinn presented a better case.
Zinn’s view of the revolution is a more conservative one. He argues that the elites fought the war against the nobles. Zinn expressed his belief that the elites used the war as an opportunity to gain power and status. By spearheading the war against England and the nobles in England, the elites had found a way to preserve and even enhance their social and political statuses. He also argues based on the issue of social contrast at the time and how it had started to unfold in the colonies.
The elites needed to find somewhere else to throw blame for social division and have it removed from them. This explains why the elites were forefront in blaming England for the existent social inequality when new taxes were introduced. To further tighten his argument, Zinn included evidences from various rebellions. He started with Bacon’s rebellion and continued with some of the preceding 18 rebellions. In these rebellions, the nobles were intentionally led through political leadership against England, which partially benefited the lower class but more the political leaders.
The elites also used propaganda to get the poor to side with them. Zinn would argue of how the revolution promises of liberty and freedom, equality and an end to special privileges and Thomas Jefferson’s book ‘Common Sense were rhetoricized in order to convince the percentage of neutral citizens to join the patriotic cause. The Declaration of Independence was yet another strategy used to gain the nobles’ support. Included in the declaration were mainly rich white male property owners and a few nobles who were allowed to participate in government; but that was nothing like complete democracy.
Contrary to Zinn, Wood argued that the war for independence was a social revolution. He first states his belief that the American Revolution should not at all have been considered as a revolution. By comparing the American Revolution to the French and other revolutions, Wood argues that the aftermath of the American Revolution was not specific of what should be expected after a revolution. He uses the non-existence of poverty and economic deprivation as examples.
Argument after argument, Wood repeatedly disregards the idea of class conflict by using other revolutions for comparison. He uses numerous examples such as the revolution ending monarchism and creating a republic, women being allowed to vote, colonial expansion to the west, and that the provisions in the Declaration of Independence were implemented much later. If the war for independence is determined by the extent of social change, then it would be deemed radical; Wood believes that the American Independence war was a radical revolution and among the greatest revolutions in the world. He further adds that the revolution, more than anything else, changed America into the most liberal, democratic and modern nation worldwide. Other issues were arising from abuse of government. First, the American Revolution was radical as it was the first successful national independence from western imperialism.
Wood is for the opinion that the war was a social revolution leading to significant changes in the lives of most Americans; hence it was radical, while Zinn argues that the constitution was created by the wealthy and the elites, and he is right. Thus, I believe Wood presented a better case in his argument. It established that Enlightenment’s liberal ideas could be actionable. As such, for its mass violence and libertarian goals, the American Revolution, as argued by Wood, was radical.
*Problems faced by Andrew Jackson and how he Handled Them*
The seventeenth president of the U.S, Andrew Jackson, is perhaps the most significant of the early 19th Century U.S presidents. For the better part of his life, Jackson always faced criticism for his steadfast views and autocratic manner. During his term as president, Jackson destroyed the second bank of the U.S, created the Democratic Party, and believed in individual liberty. Despite his many wins, Jackson also faced a number of problems as president. This essay will look at the three major problems faced by Jackson and how he handled them.
First was his war on the bank of the United States. The bank was compromised of 25 board members; 20 elected from stockholders and 5 appointed by Congress. Jackson alleged that the bank was a supporter of special privilege. The elites could use the public tax revenues to loan out with interest and make profit. In 1836, the bank was rechartered to 1836 but Henry Clay and Nicholas Biddle, both supporters of the bank, called for an early recharter of the bank being fully aware that Jackson would veto, which he did. Jackson’s veto message was against the unfair privilege given to the rich and the foreign influence of America’s money. To deal with this problem, Jackson started transferring huge sums of money from the U.S Bank and put them in smaller banks, political banks and private banks. In the end, the U.S Bank became financially disabled and powerless.
The Tariff issue which almost split the nation should also not be overlooked as a problem. Tariff is the tax levied on received goods hence giving the American manufacturers a competitive advantage. The South was against the tariff as it led to an increase in the prices of goods. John Calhoun, who was from South Carolina, used his position as senator to oppose the tariff. He warned Jackson that if the tariff was not gotten rid of, South Carolina was going to pull out of the Union and not at all implement the tariff. Jackson threatened to wage war on South Carolina if it continued with its threats. This got South Carolina scared and it eventually gave in to the tariff after having worked out a compromise with Henry Clay. The tarrif issue was considerably Jackson’s most serious problem because he feared for the dissolving of the Union whereas his biggest concern was to preserve the Union.
The third problem Jackson faced was the issue of Indian removal; a problem he created by himself. Jackson announced that all the Indians in the east of the Mississippi had to go to new western regions. He made agreements with Native Americans in this effect. He declared the forceful removal of the Indians if they refused to move willingly. As a result a group of Cherokees, who lived in Worcester, went to court on grounds that Indian removal from their lands was unconstitutional. They in turn won the case but Jackson disregarded the court ruling. He proceeded to deploy Diplomats to Cherokee and gave the Indians a deadline of when they should have moved. This in turn led to a division in the Cherokee nation; with half of the people choosing to move and the other half wanting to stay.
Conclusively, these are among the many things that make Jackson the most renowned and influential presidents in the history of America. With the way he dealt with issues facing his rule, he showed that he was not one to be bullied. As such, this earned him a lot of people’s respect.