Understanding America’s true history is as important to know as knowing one’s family history. Recently, Tribune columnist Rebecca Johnston wrote several columns on how important history is to an individual and a community. Her recent column told of her aunt’s involvement in World War II. A fascinating story of a woman she referred to as “hard as nails” because of how she endured during that war. Johnson’s column made reference to the history of Cherokee County. Joan and I are looking forward to visiting the Cherokee County historical display now open in the old Cherokee court house.
But the title for this column did not come from Johnston’s column, it came from a newly published history book titled “AMERICA — Land of Principles and Promises — Founders Principles, Tomorrow’s Promises — America’s History from Discovery to Reconstruction,” by Sandra Dee Reid. In this fascinating history book, I read how British general Cornwallis had his defeated army surrender their arms at Yorktown, while marching to a tune titled “The World Turned Upside Down,” and I wondered if some Americans would understand how humiliating it must have been for Cornwallis, leading the world’s then greatest army, to be defeated by Washington’s rag-tag army in the Revolutionary War at Yorktown. I think they would.
Reid’s new history of America, from discovery to reconstruction, will do for freedom-loving Americans today what Thomas Paine’s pamphlet “Common Sense” did for the Colonists in 1776 — it will stir them up. Few, if any, history books on America are as clear and concise as is this book. While it was basically written for the classroom I strongly believe it is a book that needs to be every home class room in America — it is that good and that powerful. If I were a parent with a child in college today, or preparing to leave home to attend one of America’s now famous progressive universities, I would obtain this book and study it. Then I would sit down with my child and go through it chapter by chapter and pray he or she comprehended the true history of America presented in this newly written history book and what freedom and liberty meant to those men and women who founded America.
The book is unique for several reasons. First, it is written so that every American, from age 12 through 100, can understand it. Second, it uses beautiful pictures and maps to enhance the historical message of the time period being covered. Third, it writes about the challenges faced by our historical ancestors beginning with the Pilgrims on up to the beginning of the Revolutionary War. It then tells about the challenges Washington faced as he led his army to victory at Yorktown. Next, the book explains in clear English how a group of 55 very wise men argued and debated, always with the good of America in mind, to create a written Constitution, including how three men refused to sign it, but by refusing to sign it caused America’s Bill of Rights to become the Constitution’s first 10 amendments.
Three other teaching methods used in this book make it perhaps the best true history book to be written on America is the past 100 years. The first: its review of each president from Washington to Hayes and of the challenges each president faced, and how they reacted to those challenges during their administration. The second: the Annotation of the Constitution clause by clause. Tea party members should study and ponder this section. And third: the author clarifies and enhances subject matter with short inserts titled 1) More of the Story; 2) Patriot Profile; 3) Words of Wisdom; and 4) Concepts to Consider.
Most importantly, the reader will learn that the challenges freedom loving Americans face today are normal. Every generation has had to defend its freedom or lose it. Many previous generations nearly lost their freedoms before exceptional leaders stepped forth to restore sanity to a power-hungry government.
Donald Conkey is a retired agricultural economist in Woodstock.