United States History & Early Western Civilization
I recollect nothing so fraught with momentous importance.”
The settling of North America was an international endeavor that brought together diverse peoples from several continents and sparked both new discoveries and new disruptions around the entire globe, continuing to this day. The past 600 years have witnessed not only massive war and devastation, but also great leaps in scientific discovery, huge movements toward democracy and equality, and a rising standard of living for increasing numbers of people. Yet as the 21st Century begins, climbing deficits burden the economic security of coming generations, widespread financial speculation disrupts the world economy, dependence on oil challenges international peace, global warming quickens the process of extinguishing life on Earth, stockpiles of nuclear weapons await their opportunity to destroy the planet. We, too, live in an era fraught with potential.
The election of Barack Hussein Obama to the presidency on November 4, 2008 represents a hope for change on many different levels both within the U.S. and abroad: race relations, democratic participation, the needs of the many versus the needs of the few, inter-religious cooperation, global citizenship, a belief in the ability of people to solve problems that have moved beyond pressing into immediate threats. Is this merely a moment in time, or a reflection of real movement in the history of the United States? How would you know?
Much study of the past focuses on influential moments, or persons of greatness, as if they alone dictated the path taken. But behind each momentous event or great leader must be a movement toward change, a paving of the way, often unnoticed until a spark illuminates the new conditions and brings with it new viewpoints revealing previously “unimagined” historical perspectives.
In 1774, two years before Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, enslaved African Americans presented a written request for their liberty to the colony of Massachusetts pointing out, “We have in common with all other men a naturel [sic] right to our freedoms.” Neither they nor he were the first to insist on such ideals.
As George Washington presided over an elite meeting of politicians daring to create a new Constitution based on liberty and equality, he, and they, overlooked another, smaller group of intellectuals. African Americans, writing on abolition, freedom, and equality, were the first in the United States for call for the creation of a multi-racial egalitarian democracy. “This land which we have watered with our tears and our blood, is now our mother country” claimed Richard Allen in 1827. African Americans, with every U.S. Independence Day celebration, reminded whites, “not a few of our fathers suffered and bled to purchase its independence.”
Such quests for equality from all groups: women, Native Americans, Asians, Latinos, blacks, gays and lesbians, and more, are throughly embedded in the creation and development of the United States. Its history cannot be understood without exploring the connections between increased global connectivity and the progressive movement toward a greater understanding of human rights.
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Enjoy and remember: The choices of today determine the opportunities of tomorrow . . .
Wait....Wait, I've got a better one: True Happiness is Often a Rebound from Hardwork.... (I got that from a fortune cookie!)
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