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A People's History of the United States

by Howard Zinn
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What is the main idea of chapter 5?

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Chapter Five of A People's History of the United States concerns the class and racial inequalities that were central to the American Revolution. While Americans usually imagine that conflict as a struggle for freedom waged by an enthusiastic population, Zinn draws on scholarship that reveals a strong class dimension to...

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Chapter Five of A People's History of the United States concerns the class and racial inequalities that were central to the American Revolution. While Americans usually imagine that conflict as a struggle for freedom waged by an enthusiastic population, Zinn draws on scholarship that reveals a strong class dimension to the conflict. Zinn points out that affluent Americans did not participate in the war (at least in the sense that they did not serve in the army) after the first year or so. The longer the war went on, the more the ranks of the Continental Army were full of poor Americans who had no choice but to serve. But the beneficiaries of the Revolution were a class of elites who essentially replaced the British in positions of power. It seems," Zinn concludes, "that the rebellion against British rule a certain group of the colonial elite to replace those loyal to England." Once in power, they established governments that benefited them. Also left out were other groups--enslaved African-Americans and Native Americans in particular--for whom the Revolution offered little. For Natives, it meant a new nation bent on expansion at their expense was unleashed on the continent. In the aftermath of the Revolutionary War, various groups, including the Whiskey rebels in Pennsylvania and Shays's rebels in Massachusetts, waged armed struggles that specifically cited Revolutionary rhetoric and ideology. They were crushed by many of the same men (Samuel Adams and George Washington, for example) who had earned their fame and power by claiming the same rights as the rebels during the Revolution. 

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