The writing of history reflects the interests, predilections, and even prejudices of a given generation.
--John Hope Franklin

History has to be rewritten because history is the selection of those threads of causes or antecedents that we are interested in.
--Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Never confuse history with the past.

Not that I would ever put myself on the same level as such a great historian as John Hope Franklin or such a great jurist as Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., but it is important that we understand the nature of history.  Most people when they use the word "history" are referring to the past, but when historians use the term, they are referring to a discipline, a method for chronicling, interpreting and understanding the past. 

The past does not change, but history does.  That is what Franklin and Holmes are trying to convey, and it is what we must always remember.  Historians are constantly rewriting and revising history, not just because they can, but because the discipline of history is changing. 

This year the discipline of history will change.  Most of the topics we will study in APUSH will be familiar to you from  other US History classes, but many of the interpretations we make and the conclusions we draw will be dramatically different.  There is no agenda on my part here; we will simply be studying American history in greater depth and breadth than you have previously.  Sometimes these differences will arise out of new questions we ask, new sources we consult or alternate theories we consider.  Sometimes they will simply arise out of new ways of seeing the same past from a new perspective.


What I have described above is the historical process, but there is another level to the discipline of history that we also need to consider:  Historiography.  Historians do not merely come up with new interpretations and throw away the old; new interpretations must be considered alongside the old, the traditional must be considered alongside the radical, the standard must be considered alongside the unique.

Reading & Writing Assignment

Below are two essays analyzing the importance of Native Americans to the development of the European colonies, especially the Atlantic colonies settled by the English.  After reading Charles Mann's "Native Intelligence" and James Axtell's "Colonial America Without the Indians"  write a reader response paper of 2-3 pages or 500 words analyzing not just what the authors say but how they say it.  In other words, describe your reponse to how each author presents the history.  (Note: A reader response is a little less formal than a typical essay, but it should still have a thesis and use a logical argument structure.)

Congratulations!  You have completed the APUSH Summer Assignment. 


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