How to chose

“ Give Me Liberty! An American History” by Eric Foner is a survey of American history from the earliest days of European exploration and conquest of the New World to the first years of the twenty-first century. In the first chapter of his book, “ A New World”, Foner attempted to explain what were different between the New and the Old World, and the origin of the name “ The New World” of American continent. At the beginning of chapter one, Eric Foner stated “ Historians no longer use the word “ discovery” to describe the European exploration, conquest, and colonization of a hemisphere already home to millions of people. But there can be no doubt that when Christopher Columbus made landfall in the West Indian islands in 1492, he set in motion some of the most pivotal developments in human history. ” (p. 1) I think Foner give the first chapter the title “ A New World” because that is what modern America history started from even though the discovery of America is the most controversial issue discussed in many classroom settings. Many people think that Columbus deserves the credit for the discovery of America while, others believe that he deserves no credit because when he landed on the Island there were already natural inhabitants there who had been living there for centuries. This so called, New World was new to Columbus but, old to the Indians who had been living there for centuries. What called “ new” in the “ new world” was the Indian people that Columbus previously unaware of their existence. Back in the day, when Columbus landed on an Indian island in 1492, “ A New World” could be an acceptable name. But in present, when history revealed the truth that America Indian people had been there for thousand of year, “ A New World” is not really an appropriate term. However, perspectives play a significant role in calling the Americas “ new”. America is the name that we learn as schoolchildren, was named in honor of Amerigo Vespucci, for his discovery of the mainland of the New World. We tend not to question this lesson about the naming of America. By the time we are adults it lingers vaguely in most of us, along with images of wave-tossed caravels and forests peopled with naked cannibals. Not surprisingly, the notion that America was named for Vespucci has long been universally accepted, so much so that a lineal descendant, America Vespucci, came to New Orleans in 1839 and asked for a land grant ” in recognition of her name and parentage.” Since the late 19th century, however, conflicting ideas about the truth of the derivation have been set forth with profound cultural and political implications. To question the origin of America’s name is to question the nature of not only our history lessons but our very identity as Americans. “ Traditional history lessons about the discovery of America also raise questions about the meaning of discovery itself. It is now universally recognized that neither Vespucci nor Columbus ” discovered” America. They were of course preceded by the pre-historic Asian forebears of Native Americans, who migrated across some ice-bridge in the Bering Straits or over the stepping stones of the Aleutian Islands. A black African discovery of America, it has been argued, took place around 3, 000 years ago, and influenced the development of Mayan, Aztec, and Inca civilizations. The records of Scandinavian expeditions to America are found in sagas – their historic cores encrusted with additions made by every storyteller who had ever repeated them. The Icelandic Saga of Eric the Red, the settler of Greenland, which tells how Eric’s son Leif came to Vinland, was first written down in the second half of the 13th century, 250 years after Leif found a western land full of ” wheatfields and vines”; from this history emerged a fanciful theory in 1930 that the origin of ” America” is Scandinavian: Amt meaning ” district” plus Eric, to form Amteric, or the Land of (Leif) Eric. “ (Jonathan) Jonathan Cohen stated that there were several group of people came to America way earlier than either Columbus or Amerigo and they even inhabited on the huge continent for the thousand of year. Literally, America continent could not be called “ A New World” in general. It may be new to European but it already contained a very old world in itself. However, despite the issue of who discovered America, we are still confronted with the awesome fact that it was the voyages of Columbus, and not earlier ones, that changed the course of world history. Indeed, as Tzvetan Todorov, author of The Conquest of America), has argued, ” The conquest of America … heralds and establishes our present identity; even if every date that permits us to separate any two periods is arbitrary, none is more suitable, in order to mark the beginning of the modern era, than the year 1492, the year Columbus crosses the Atlantic Ocean.” Columbus clearly made a monumental discovery in showing Europe how to sail across the Atlantic; Vespucci’s great contribution was to tell Europe that the land Columbus had found was not Asia but a New World. In this way, “ A New World” described a new America, a modern world, at the point the Old America became “ New”. I think the title “ New World” is appropriate to the context of America history. Because of the voyage of Columbus in 1492, the America continent and especially the North America continent had many significant changes and made its way to the modern world. When the Europeans first came to America, they saw Indians as embodying freedom. But later on, they “ considered Indians barbaric in part because they did not appear to live under established governments or fixed laws, and had no respect for authority” and “ In a sense, they were too free”(p13) . Once again, perspectives play an important role in judging the America society. Native Indian had a very different definition of “ freedom” from what European considered as “ freedom”. They were living in “ absolute freedom”. The native America Indians were expected to think for themselves and did not always have to go along with collective decision making. This is what made the European thought the native Indian did have the right kind of freedom. Because the Indian did not have rule or laws to obey, religion became that most importing component to tie all the tribe members together. Due to the wide range of habitats in North America, different native religions evolved to match the needs and lifestyles of the individual tribe. Religious traditions of aboriginal peoples around the world tend to be heavily influenced by their methods of acquiring food, whether by hunting wild animals or by agriculture. Native American spirituality is no exception. Traditional Lakota spirituality is a form of religious belief that each thing, plant and animal has a spirit. The Native American spirituality has an inseparable connection between the spirituality and the culture. One cannot exist without the other. The arrival of Europeans marked a major change on Native society and its spirituality. Native Americans have been fighting to keep their spiritual practices alive. Right from the beginning, Native American religious practices were misunderstood and forbidden. Some would agree that freedom of religion is one of America’s most important laws. When it comes to Native Americans, however, freedom of religion was almost non-existent. Native Americans have had to struggle to survive in a country that has discriminated against them and persecuted them for hundreds of years. Even though, European considered the native Indian had “ too much freedom”, I think freedom really existed among native Indian at the time the European came. Thus, I think Eric Foner did a very good job to describe the image of “ A new world” in chapter one. After reading through the first chapter, I myself have a general view about the first interaction between the America native inhabitant and the newcomers European. Citation: 1. Give me liberty! An American History by Eric Foner, page 1, 13 2. The naming of America: Fragments we’ve shored against ourselves by Jonathan Cohen. http://www. uhmc. sunysb. edu/surgery/america. html PHUC TRAN HIST 1301 MW 7: 00 PM — 8: 30 PM CRITIQUE ESSAY