History, the Lifeblood of Society
This is a first draft (not edited) chapter of my upcoming book. This may change with edit. Please excuse any grammar mistakes since this was a first draft:
Part 1, Chapter 4
Case Study: History, The Lifeblood of Society
“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin, and culture is like a tree without roots.”
Common History unites a group of people to form civil societies. Therefore, it’s almost a crime when history is changed due to perspectives or special interests. History in America has changed so much that it is unrecognizable from what was taught 100 years ago. You would not imagine that our history books used to have Hispanics and Black heroes of the time. However, when you have someone that is declared credible and praised almost like a king, nothing can stop them from changing history if they choose to. And no one in American history was more notorious for using this than former president Woodrow Wilson. Wilson was an academic who held a Ph.D in political science, was the president of Princeton University, had a passion for history, earned Nobel peace prize winner, and was also a known white supremacist (17). However, many organizations that would be considered credible would put Wilson as one of the greatest Presidents in history (18). Let us use critical thinking methods and historical data as our case study to understand the “Wilson affect” that eventually leads to the problems we face today. Our best start is the beginning; we need to observe Wilson’s youth and the political climate of that time.
Prior to becoming President of the United States, “Tommy” Woodrow Wilson was a son of a preacher who supported the Confederates during the Civil War. Wilson grew up as a sympathizer because of it. But history will also suggest he hated war. How did this change in history? Well, history is written by the victors. The drive to reunite the country during and the end of the Civil War was so high that the Republicans (created as the anti-slavery party) compromised to bring the Democrats back into the fold. Moreover, Abraham Lincoln chose Democrats as his Vice President for both terms in office to show the country he is trying to reunite the Union. And I must elaborate with this side note: Lincoln, regardless of what you may have heard from propaganda or false historians (ones that state a “truth” without the facts or ability to give primary sources to support that “truth”) did NOT like slavery, NEVER owned slaves, and WANTED equality for ALL (19). Furthermore, the Civil War was foremost about slavery. In the “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union”, the mention of the word “slave” is 18 times; Georgia’s declaration mentioned the term “slave” 35 times. Mississippi’s declaration mentioned the term “slave” 7 times; Texas’s declaration mentioned the term “slave” 22 times; Virginia, although a slave holding state, mentioned the term slave only once (20), which is the fact they use as the total defense of the Democratic party. The reason I point this side note out is because upon Lincoln’s assassination, Democrat Vice President by the name of Andrew Johnson assumed the Presidency. Remember, Johnson was also a sympathizer to the south. This complicated the progress for the country who, like Lincoln’s legacy, wanted equal rights AND opportunities for ALL Americans (19).
Now, Johnson took office after Lincoln’s untimely death which halted much of the progress. Republicans, now the majority of congress, were the only group that can hold off the executive branch but only so much can be done within Congress without the support of the Executive branch and vice versa. This is the perfect example of Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances within the United States, but I digress. Johnson maintained his anti-abolitionist stance and gave enough power back to the Democrats prior to his leave of office (21). Now FORMER slave owners from the South were able to not only begin enforcing terrible local laws, which we now know as “Jim Crow” laws, but were able to create a domestic terrorist organization known as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). The intent of the KKK was to militarily support the Democratic party and subdue through fear or kill blacks and known southern republicans. This power grab of the KKK began with the rise of the former slaves becoming an educated rapid force in politics and economics. Imagine: one day you were a slave getting beaten, forced to do extreme manual labor, and the next, you can go where you please because you are free? And imagine the idea, you can now choose your next President and local representative thanks to the 13th Amendment? This was a big issue for the KKK. During election time, the KKK would stand by, with weapons on hand, voting offices and make sure Blacks did not vote. Furthermore, if they knew you were Republican, regardless of race, you would be forced off the line or killed (2). This use of voter suppression slowly gave back Congressional power to the Democratic party but had to face Republican Presidents Grant, a former Union General, who fought back the KKK with federal laws, the military, and mass arrest (17). However, Separation of Powers goes both ways and Grant can only do so much as president. During the next election, blacks and southern republicans began carrying guns to make sure they had an opportunity to vote. This eventually leads to Democrats opposing gun rights. Now that you understand the context of political and ideologies, we can look at Woodrow Wilson.
President Wilson was known as our “Academic President”. Remember, He was a professor and was president of Princeton University. Prior to his election, he wrote a series of History books which became the standard for History education. Problem with his books, he intentionally removed almost ALL Blacks and Hispanics while creating a supremacy of white race. Drawings of people of color, within the text books, looked as if they were cartoons of a monkey with clothing. History books prior to Wilson include the names like Lemuel Haynes, Richard Allen, Absalom Jones, Crispus Attucks, and Admiral David Farragut (a Hispanic Admiral in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War and Grant’s “right hand man”). We also had an African American, who was a Patriot during the American Revolution, elected as an American assessor, auditor, and Justice of the Peace in New Hampshire beginning in 1768 by the name of Wentworth Cheswell. Moreover, because of this academic change, most Americans today never knew that after the American Revolution, there was already a black leading organization that were abolitionist called Free African Society (22, 23, 27). Famous Quaker Christians who were vital to the abolition of slavery and education of blacks were also removed from the history books. Between President Grant and President Teddy Roosevelt, the KKK were diminishing, and the Black communities held wealth in the south until the election of the “Academic President”. If this change in history books wasn’t enough, he reignited the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) by airing the first film in the White House, “The Birth of a Nation”, which was a KKK propaganda film. He publicly praised it. The creator of the film credited Wilson’s history books for the inspiration. The north and south slowly began to use different forms of Jim Crow during his administration. However, because of President Wilson’s education, charm, and use of rhetoric, he was highly regarded and praised. He helped establish the rights of women to vote, began the first military occupation (which we now call the “War Machine”), and helped create “The League of Nations” which eventually became the “United Nations” after World War II (17, 24).
So why change history and how did he convenience a nation? Common history unites a group into societies. For example, in ancient Greece, the philosophers would gather together to speak and pass knowledge of the past and theories of the future while criticizing the present. Native tribes did very similar things in the Americas. How can two groups of people do similar things but have an ocean divide them? Well, it’s a natural humanistic thing to do. However, once you control and change history, you gain the power to manipulate a group. Wilson was a highly regarded academic and as the president of Princeton, had influence. He convinced academia to teach a new way of history. These professors teach students who become future leaders and educators. Can you see the chain of events occurring? With a small group in key positions, you can rise a certain group up or set them up for failure. Nazi Germany, an alt-right organization that brought Europe to its knees, burned books while the far-left Soviet Union, who almost destroyed the world with nuclear war, collected books by force (called Spetskhran) (25, 26). Both modified history through propaganda and influence. They understood, despite having complete polar opposite points of views, if you control knowledge, you control the masses. Could you imagine if we did not just highlight victims but taught our children the heroes of our nations from the beginning, who not only represented different races but shared the same values? This is why we, as a society, must protect history (the good, the bad, and the ugly) and share information with each other as much as possible!
Philip Van Doren Stern (1940), The Life And Writings of Abraham Lincoln. Toronto, Canada. Random House, Inc.
Castel, Albert E. (1979). American Presidency. Lawrence, Kan.: The Regents Press of Kansas. ISBN 978-0-7006-0190-5.
Wilder, Craig Steven (2005). In The Company Of Black Men: The African Influence on African American. NYU Press. ISBN 9780814793695.
Nell, William (1855). The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution
Stelmakh, V. D. "Reading in the Context of Censorship in the Soviet Union", Libraries & Culture - Volume 36, Number 1, Winter 2001, pp. 143–151, University of Texas Press
Woodrow Wilson Photograph by Harris & Ewing, 1919