A People's History of the United States Questions and Answers
by Howard Zinn

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What are Zinn's points of argument in Chapter 1 of A People's History of the United States?

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Howard Zinn titled the opening chapter of his A People’s History of the United States “Columbus, the Indians and Human Progress” to further establish his argument, discussed in his introduction, that the “discovery” of America represented anything but “progress” to the people who already lived here, the indigenous tribes or Native Americans. Zinn begins this chapter with the following quote from Christopher Columbus’s journal, in which the European explorer describes an early encounter with a native tribe:

They . . . brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks' bells. They willingly traded everything they owned... . They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features. . . . They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane. . . . They would make fine...

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