A History of the American People

A History of the American People

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786113422
Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date: 01/01/2003
Edition description: Unabridged, 9 Cassettes (PART3)
Product dimensions: 6.80(w) x 9.30(h) x 2.40(d)

About the Author

Paul Johnson is a historian whose work ranges over the millennia and the whole gamut of human activities. He regularly writes book reviews for several UK magazines and newspapers, such as the Literary Review and The Spectator, and he lectures around the world. He lives in London, England.

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Chapter One

The creation of the United States of America is the greatest of all human adventures. No other national story holds such tremendous lessons, for the American people themselves and for the rest of mankind. It now spans four centuries and, as we enter the new millennium, we need to retell it, for if we can learn these lessons and build upon them, the whole of humanity will benefit in the new age which is now opening. American history raises three fundamental questions. First, can a nation rise above the injustices of its origins and, by its moral purpose and performance, atone for them? All nations are born in war, conquest, and crime, usually concealed by the obscurity of a distant past. The United States, from its earliest colonial times, won its title-deeds in the full blaze of recorded history, and the stains on them are there for all to see and censure: the dispossession of a indigenous people, and the securing of self-sufficiency through the sweat and pain of an enslaved race. In the judgmental scales of history, such grievous wrongs must be balanced by the erection of a society dedicated to justice and fairness. Has the United States done this? Has it expiated its organic sins? The second question provides the key to the first. In the process of nation-building, can ideals and altruism—the desire to build the perfect community—be mixed successfully with acquisitiveness and ambition, without which no dynamic society can be built at all? Have the Americans got the mixture right? Have they forged a nation where righteousness has the edge over the needful self-interest? Thirdly, the Americans originally aimed to build another-worldly 'City on a Hill,' but found themselves designing a republic of the people, to be a model for the entire planet. Have they made good their audacious claims? Have they indeed proved exemplars for humanity? And will they continue to be so in the new millennium?

We must never forget that the settlement of what is now the United States was only part of a larger enterprise. And this was the work of the best and the brightest of the entire European continent. They were greedy. As Christopher Columbus said, men crossed the Atlantic primarily in search of gold. But they were also idealists. These adventurous young men thought they could transform the world for the better. Europe was too small for them—for their energies, their ambitions, and their visions. In the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries, they had gone east, seeking to reChristianize the Holy Land and its surroundings, and also to acquire land there. The mixture of religious zeal, personal ambition—not to say cupidity—and lust for adventure which inspired generations of Crusaders was the prototype for the enterprise of the Americas.

In the east, however, Christian expansion was blocked by the stiffening resistance of the Moslem world, and eventually by the expansive militarism of the Ottoman Turks. Frustrated there, Christian youth spent its ambitious energies at home: in France, in the extermination of heresy, and the acquisition of confiscated property; in the Iberian peninsula, in the reconquest of territory held by Islam since the 8th century, a process finally completed in the 1490s with the destruction of the Moslem kingdom of Granada, and the expulsion, or forcible conversion, of the last Moors in Spain. It is no coincidence that this decade, which marked the homogenization of western Europe as a Christian entity and unity, also saw the first successful efforts to carry Europe, and Christianity, into the western hemisphere. As one task ended, another was undertaken in earnest.

The Portuguese, a predominantly seagoing people, were the first to begin the new enterprise, early in the 15th century. In 1415, the year the English King Henry V destroyed the French army at Agincourt, Portuguese adventurers took Ceuta, on the north African coast, and turned it into a trading depot. Then they pushed southwest into the Atlantic, occupying in turn Madeira, Cape Verde, and the Azores, turning all of them into colonies of the Portuguese crown. The Portuguese adventurers were excited by these discoveries: they felt, already, that they were bringing into existence a new world, though the phrase itself did not pass into common currency until 1494. These early settlers believed they were beginning civilization afresh: the first boy and girl born on Madeira were christened Adam and Eve. But almost immediately came the Fall, which in time was to envelop the entire Atlantic. In Europe itself, the slave-system of antiquity had been virtually extinguished by the rise of Christian society. In the 1440s, exploring the African coast from their newly acquired islands, the Portuguese rediscovered slavery as a working commercial institution. Slavery had always existed in Africa, where it was operated extensively by local rulers, often with the assistance of Arab traders. Slaves were captives, outsiders, people who had lost tribal status; once enslaved, they became exchangeable commodities, indeed an important form of currency.

The Portuguese entered the slave-trade in the mid-15th century, took it over and, in the process, transformed it into something more impersonal, and horrible, than it had been either in antiquity or medieval Africa. The new Portuguese colony of Madeira became the center of a sugar industry, which soon made itself the largest supplier for western Europe. The first sugar-mill, worked by slaves, was erected in Madeira in 1452. This cash-industry was so successful that the Portuguese soon began laying out fields for sugar-cane on the Biafran Islands, off the African coast. An island off Cap Blanco in Mauretania became a slave-depot. From there, when the trade was in its infancy, several hundred slaves a year were shipped to Lisbon. As the sugar industry expanded, slaves began to be numbered in thousands: by 1550, some 50,000 African slaves had been imported into Sao Tome alone, which likewise became a slave entrepot.

Table of Contents

Preface xiii
PART ONE 'A City on a Hill' Colonial America, 1580-1750 3(118)
Europe and the Transatlantic Adventure
3(7)
Ralegh, the Proto-American, and the Roanoke Disaster
10(13)
Jamestown: The First Permanent Foothold
23(5)
Mayflower and the Formative Event
28(5)
'The Natural Inheritance of the Elect Nation'
33(8)
John Winthrop and His 'Little Speech' on Liberty
41(5)
Roger Williams: The First Dissentient
46(9)
The Catholics in Maryland
55(7)
The Primitive Structure of Colonial America
62(11)
Carolina: The First Slave State
73(8)
Cotton Mather and the End of the Puritan Utopia
81(7)
Oglethorpe and Early Georgia
88(2)
Why Colonial Control Did Not Work
90(6)
The Rise of Philadelphia
96(5)
Elected Assemblies versus the Governors
101(8)
The Great Awakening and Its Political Impact
109(12)
PART TWO 'That the Free Constitution Be Sacredly Maintained' Revolutionary America, 1750-1815 121(162)
George Washington and the War against France
121(6)
Poor Quality of British Leadership
127(7)
The Role of Benjamin Franklin
134(9)
Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence
143(9)
The Galvanizing Effect of Tom Paine
152(6)
Washington, the War, and the Intervention of Europe
158(13)
Patriots and Loyalists: America's First Civil War
171(6)
The Constitutional Convention
177(13)
The Ratification Debate
190(8)
Citizenship, the Suffrage, and 'The Tyranny of the Majority'
198(6)
The Role of Religion in the Constitution
204(7)
The Presidency, Hamilton, and Public Finance
211(11)
Success of Washington and His Farewell Address
222(8)
John Adams and the European War
230(5)
Central Importance of John Marshall
235(6)
Jefferson's Ambivalent Rule and Character
241(10)
The Louisiana Purchase
251(6)
Madison's Blunders and Their Punishment
257(10)
Andrew Jackson, the Deus Ex Machina
267(2)
Jackson and the Destruction of the Indians
269(14)
PART THREE 'A General Happy Mediocrity Prevails' Democratic America, 1815-1850 283(141)
High Birth-Rates and the Immigrant Flood
283(7)
The Market in Cheap Land
290(6)
Spread of the Religious Sects
296(11)
Emergence of the South and King Cotton
307(9)
The Missouri Compromise
316(4)
Henry Clay
320(9)
The Advent of Jacksonian Democracy
329(23)
The War against the Bank
352(7)
America's Agricultural Revolution
359(6)
Revolution in Transportation and Communications
365(7)
Polk and the Mexican War
372(17)
De Tocqueville and the Emerging Supernation
389(10)
The Ideology of the North-South Battle
399(4)
Emerson and the Birth of an American Culture
403(5)
Longfellow, Poe, and Hawthornian Psychology
408(16)
PART FOUR 'The Almost Chosen People' Civil War America, 1850-1870 424(87)
The Era of Pierce and Buchanan
424(8)
Ultimate and Proximate Causes of the Civil War
432(3)
The Rise of Lincoln
435(7)
Centrality of Preserving the Union
442(4)
The Election of 1860
446(4)
Jefferson Davis and Why the South Fought
450(11)
Why the South Was Virtually Bound to Lose
461(8)
The Churches and the War
469(5)
The War among the Generals
474(5)
Gettysburg: 'Too Bad! Too Bad! Oh! TOO BAD!'
479(6)
The Triumph and Tragedy of Lincoln
485(14)
Andrew Johnson and the Two Reconstructions
499(12)
PART FIVE Huddled Masses and Crosses of Gold Industrial America, 1870-1912 511(116)
Modern America and Its Aging Process
511(1)
Mass-Immigration and 'Thinking Big'
512(3)
Indians and Settlers, Cowboys and Desperados
515(8)
The Significance of the Frontier
523(9)
Centrality of Railroads
532(4)
Did the Robber Barons Really Exist?
536(14)
Carnegie, Steel, and American Philanthropy
550(5)
Pierpoint Morgan and Wall Street
555(5)
Trusts and Anti-Trusts
560(9)
Monster Cities: Chicago and New York
569(8)
The Urban Rich and Poor
577(2)
American Science and Culture: Edison and Tiffany
579(6)
Church, Bierstadt, and the Limitless Landscape
585(6)
Bringing Luxury to the Masses
591(7)
The Rise of Labor and Muckraking
598(4)
Standard Oil and Henry Ford
602(5)
Populism, Imperialism, and the Spanish-American War
607(7)
Theodore Roosevelt and His Golden Age
614(13)
PART SIX 'The First International Nation' Melting-Pot America, 1912-1929 627(100)
The Significance of Woodrow Wilson
627(3)
Education and the Class System
630(4)
The Advent of Statism
634(2)
Wilson's Legislative Triumph
636(3)
McAdoo and the Coming of War
639(9)
The Disaster of Versailles and the League of Nations
648(7)
Harding, 'Normalcy,' and Witch-Hunting
655(1)
Women Stroll onto the Scene
656(4)
Quotas and Internal Migration
660(3)
The Harlem Phenomenon and Multiracial Culture
663(8)
Fundamentalism and Middle America
671(3)
Prohibition and Its Disastrous Consequences
674(9)
San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Californian Extremism
683(6)
Cheap Electricity and Its Dramatic Impact
689(1)
Hollywood
690(7)
The Social and Moral Significance of Jazz
697(6)
Race Prejudice, Popular Entertainment, and Downward Mobility
703(4)
Harding and Historical Deconstruction
707(5)
The Age of Coolidge and Government Minimalism
712(5)
Twenties Cultural and Economic Prosperity
717(10)
PART SEVEN 'Nothing to Fear But Fear Itself' Superpower America, 1929-1960 727(118)
Government Credit-Management and the Wall Street Crash
727(8)
Why the Depression Was So Deep and Long-Lasting
735(4)
The Failure of the Great Engineer
739(8)
Roosevelt and the Election of 1932
747(5)
The Mythology of the New Deal
752(6)
FDR, Big Business, and the Intellectuals
758(5)
Transforming the Democrats into the Majority Party
763(5)
US Isolationism and Internationalism
768(9)
Roosevelt, the Nazis, and Japan
777(3)
America in the War; the Miracle in Production
780(8)
FDR, Stalin, and Soviet Advances
788(4)
The Rise of Truman and the Cold War
792(7)
Nuclear Weapons and the Defeat of Japan
799(5)
The Truman Doctrine, Marshall Aid, and Nato
804(14)
America and the Birth of Israel
818(3)
The Korean War and the Fall of MacArthur
821(5)
Eisenhower, McCarthyism, and Pop Sociology
826(13)
Piety on the Potomac
839(6)
PART EIGHT 'We Will Pay Any Price, Bear Any Burden' Problem-Solving, Problem-Creating America, 1960-1997 845(132)
The Radical Shift in the Media
845(3)
Joe Kennedy and His Crown Prince
848(4)
The 1960 Election and the Myth of Camelot
852(6)
The Space Race
858(1)
The Bay of Pigs and the Missile Crisis
859(10)
Lyndon Johnson and His Great Society
869(8)
Getting into the Vietnam Quagmire
877(10)
Nixon and His Silent Majority
887(4)
Civil Rights and Campus Violence
891(6)
Watergate and the Putsch against the Executive
897(7)
Congressional Rule and America's Nadir
904(6)
Carter, the 1980 Watershed, and Reaganism
910(16)
Rearmament and the Collapse of Soviet Power
926(5)
The Bush Interlude and Clintonian Corruption
931(9)
Fin-de-Siecle America and Its Whims
940(5)
Wyeth and the Significance of the Realist Revival
945(2)
Judicial Aggression and the Litigational Society
947(5)
The Sinister Legacy of Myrdal
952(7)
Language, Abortion, and Crime
959(8)
Family Collapse and Religious Persecution
967(5)
The Triumph of Women
972(5)
Source Notes 977(84)
Index 1061

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