A People’s History of the United States and A History of the American People

Zinn: “Was all this bloodshed and deceit—from Columbus to Cortes, Pizarro, the Puritans—a necessity for the human race to progress from savagery to civilization? Was [historian Samuel Eliot] Morison right in burying the story of genocide inside a more important story of human progress’?”Johnson: “Can a nation rise above the injustices of its origins and, by its moral purpose and performance, atone for them’?”
As these quotations indicate, both Howard Zinn and Paul Johnson weigh the role of injustice and violence in the colonial era. Was it an era fundamentally characterized by brutally, deceit, and discrimination? Or were these obstacles to be overcome on the path toward civilization and higher moral purpose?
Write an essay that analyzes what you’ve read so far in A People’s History of the United States and A History of the American People through the lens of these questions.
As you analyze Zinn and Johnson’s arguments, you should discuss at least two primary source documents and explain what light they shed on Zinn and Johnson’s perspectives.