How does Zinn's, the author of A People's History, interpretation of the American Revolution differ from traditional view of the war?

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Jessica Pope eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Howard Zinn's interpretation of the American Revolution focuses on the class conflict between poor colonists and well-to-do colonists. He considers documents such as the Declaration of Independence and the United States Articles of Confederation to be artifacts of war, set in place to keep a majority of colonists obedient and loyal to the wealthy few.

In Zinn's view, the American Revolutionary War was not necessary in order to become independent of Great Britain. He points out that Canada, for example, is now independent of Britain, having never engaged in a big, bloody conflict. For Zinn, the American Revolution is best understood as a sustained use of rhetoric, paranoia, and propaganda by the colonial wealthy class. The wealthy colonists wanted to deflect poor colonists' anger away from the colonial elite. In this way, the British Crown became a kind of scapegoat upon which poor colonists could heave their discontent, without threatening the secure position of the colonial wealthy class itself. 

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