John Hope Franklin: The American Idea

Roundup: Historians' Take

[John Hope Franklin, the James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History at Duke University, is a past president of the American Historical Association and the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. His book From Slavery to Freedom has sold more than 4 million copies since its publication, in 1947.]

If the American idea was to subdue Native Americans and place them at the disposal of European settlers, to import several million Africans to the New World and subject them to a lifetime of slavery, to impose on Asian immigrants a lifetime of discrimination, then perhaps the American idea was not so admirable.

If the American idea, once the Civil War had concluded, was to sentence the freedmen to a lifetime of racial segregation, discrimination, and humiliation, then perhaps the American idea was not so praiseworthy.

If the American idea, during and after Reconstruction, was to subject the freedmen to new levels of indignities, and new forms of so-called racial integrity by defining the nature of the blood in the veins of a so-called white person, and to sentence entire communities to race riots that rivaled the pogroms of Eastern Europe, then perhaps the American idea was not quite so attractive....
Read entire article at Atlantic Monthly

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Randll Reese Besch - 4/1/2009

The 'shining' city on a hill. The white man's burden. The 'lessers' among us as decided by the ruling pale ones and the economic elites among them who had the power and came to the self serving conclusions in our history. When will we stop following their path? The American Dream is their dream or fantasy for us as they live theirs and leave the nightmare for the rest of us at their heels. When will it end? When will we lay this horror to rest and live closer to the ideals in the Bill of Rights for all or none?