What makes history so interesting and stimulating, however, are the debates that emerge over the facts. From an early stage, the middle passage inspired moral outrage among those opposed to the slave trade, who often treated it as the most horrific part of the whole slave experience. Recently some scholars have argued that such moral outrage has led to a "melodramatic" rather than a "historical" account of the middle passage. I have tried to present an argument that we need a more balanced and less moralistic account of the middle passage from the perspective of the changing values and challenges thrown up by industrialization. (Breen T. H; 1997)
In the course of this paper, I have examined a plethora of facts, chosen the ones that are important, and determined their meaning. In the study of history, one has to make choices, develop explanations, and find meaning in whatever records of the past they can find. One also evaluates and challenges the choices, explanation and meanings developed by other historians. Making and debating interpretations, finding new sources, deriving new meaning from documents that others have used, all make the reading and writing of history challenging and exciting.
The books used by me are in context of the documentation of various issues and acts pertaining to American history, especially in the timeframe spanning from the 1860s to the early 1900s. While Power of Words is an important piece of literature from the research and scholarly point of view that requires ample proof of issues in order to challenge the perspectives on the same, the second book we have used is Unto a Good Land by a team of highly qualified historians. This team has been led by David Edwin Harrell Jr, and Edwin S Gaustad, this book contains a narrative history of American as recorded from the first contact of this great nation with its distant European settlers, to the current situation. I have attempted to understand the uniqueness of the great American dream through an understanding of the role of religion in the social, cultural, economic and political context.
It was believed that the nation had passed through perhaps the single most significant transformative period in its history by those who lived through the Civil War and Reconstruction. The great questions of slavery, sectionalism, and national supremacy that had plagued the Americans for nearly eight decades had been resolved through a combination of the force of arms and the constitutional and legal change made possible by military victory. Irrespective of the fact that most Americans believed that these issues had been permanently resolved, this period posed new challenges to American values and assumptions.
Three intertwining themes define this period:
(i) industrialization - the rise of the industrial economy and of accompanying issues of law, governance, and public policy;
(ii) urbanization - the dramatic growth of the nation's cities as focal points for population growth and demographic change, and as centers of commerce, culture, education, news, and politics; and
(iii) immigration - the effects on American identity, politics, and culture of the great waves of immigration from eastern, central, and southern Europe and from Asia. The interaction of these themes added richness and complexity to late nineteenth-century American history. (Harrell et al, 2005)
Even in the years before and during the Civil War, the nation's growing mastery of