ZINN QUESTIONS – A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn Chapter 1 – Columbus, the Indians and Human Progress
1. According to Zinn, what is his main purpose for writing A People’s History of the United States?
2. What is Zinn’s thesis for pages 1-11?
3. According to Zinn, how is Columbus portrayed in traditional history books? 4. Why does Zinn dispute Henry Kissinger’s statement: “History is the memory of states?”
5. What is Zinn’s basic criticism of historian Samuel Eliot Morison’s book, Christopher Columbus, Mariner?
6. What major issues does Bartolome de las Casas bring up regarding Spanish expeditions in the Caribbean?
7. Identify one early and one subsequent motive that drove Columbus to oppress indigenous peoples.
8. What was the ultimate fate of the Arawak Indians?
9. What was the significance of Quetzalcoatl?
10. Compare the strategies and motives underlying the conquest of the Aztecs by Cortez and the conquest of the Incas by Pizzaro.
11. What were the major causes of war between the Powhatans and the English settlers?
12. Discuss the significance of Powhatan’s statement, “Why will you take by force what you may have quietly by love?”
13. Explain Governor John Winthrop’s legal and biblical justification for seizing Indian land.
14. Explain the main tactic of warfare used by the English against the Indians. 15. According to Roger Williams, how did the English usually justify their attacks on the Indians?
16. What ultimately happened to the estimated 10 million Indians living in North America at the time of Columbus’ arrival?
17. Evaluate the statement: “If there are sacrifices to be made for human progress, is it not essential to hold to the principle that those to be sacrificed must make the decision themselves?”
18. How does Zinn attempt to prove that the Indians were not inferior?
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