Defining History

581 Words3 Pages
In the document, "Indians: Textualism, Morality, and The Problem of History," Jane Tompkins examines the conflicts between the English settlers and the American Indians. After examining several primary sources, Tompkins found that different history books have different perspectives. It wasn’t that the history books took different angles that was troubling, but the viewpoints contradicted one another. People who experience the same event told it through their reality. This becomes a problem when a person who didn’t experience the effect wants to know what happened. Tompkins said, "The problem id that if all accounts of events are determined through and through by the observer’s frame of reference, that one will never know, in any given case what really happened (202)." The problem was evident when Tompkins was researching the history of the Europeans and Indians. She started her inquiry with the book Errand into the Wilderness by Perry Miller. In the preface of his book Tompkins found that Miller didn’t even recognize the Indian’s existence in America, calling it "vacant." The fact is that there were Indians here, Miller just didn’t see history in that light. Secondly, Tompkins went to the book, New England Frontier Puritans and Indians, 1620-1675 authored by Alden Vuaghan in 1965. This Vuaghan’s angle toward American history was antipodal to Miller, even though the writers spoke of the same effects. Vuaghan recognized the Indian’s presence, he...
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