A People’s History – Chapter 2, Drawing the Color Line part 3

Next Zinn attempts to add additional context to why the British settlers in Virginia didn’t take the Native Americans as slaves:

They couldn’t force Indians to work for them, as Columbus had done. They were outnumbered, and while, with superior firearms, they could massacre Indians, they would face massacre in return. They could not capture them and keep them enslaved; the Indians were tough, resourceful, defiant, and at home in these woods, as the transplanted Englishmen were not.

Everything Zinn writes above may be true. But it was no less true of the Spanish, or of the Native Americans the Spanish first encountered. Here Zinn really makes no argument at all.

All Zinn would have to do is go back and read Chapter 1 of his own book to see that Columbus’ men were outnumbered, and the natives of Caribbean were at home while the Spaniards were not.

This particular paragraph by Zinn is more baffling than most. Since usually we can understand the underlying cause of Zinn’s errors – his bias. But here, such a mistake doesn’t even necessarily fit with his worldview except in so far as to help him build a case for the inevitability of the British settlers importing black slaves.

In part 4 of Drawing the Color Line we look at Zinn’s poor showing as a historian in all its glory.

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