Modern Day de Tocqueville – Chapter 1: US History Misconceptions

​Chapter 1: US History Misconceptions

American History – The history of events that occurred in the United States of America, mainly focused on the years of the late 1700s to the early 1900s. There may occasionally be points where current events will be addressed that can be deemed American History-worthy (i.e. the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the terroristic attacks that took place on September 11th, 2001, or even the killing of the Osama Bin Laden, leader of the terrorist group called Al Qaeda). Take note, all of that is according to what is taught in the schools of America, to Americans, by Americans.

Every single day (mostly between the months of September through June), students around the world (but mostly in America) are taught the history of America, how things occurred, why those things occurred, and how they have impacted past and current day society. These students are taught material that is based off of a very strict and limited criteria that most likely cannot be altered due the state laws, rules, regulations, and requirements. With this method taking place in the areas of education where students are being taught about their own homeland’s history, they unfortunately are not being taught the full story of what is being displayed. In other words, a teacher may review a very vast topic such as the Bay of Pigs Invasion, but only discuss why this event in American history took place. There are so many more facts that should be addressed. For instance, it’d be beneficial for the students if they learned what came about from the Bay of Pigs Invasion and what the end result of it was. Also, if these extra things aren’t addressed, two things are happening; first, it’s a waste of time learning about the topic if all of the details aren’t addressed, and second, it’s putting incomplete information into the minds of students. They’ll be free to roam around the world with what they were taught, but they won’t have any need to share this information considering they won’t have the full story.

To start things off, an amazing example that can be used is the Pledge of Allegiance. This is a good topic to talk about because the Pledge of Allegiance is used every single day in this country. Either a classroom full of students say it before class begins, or a baseball stadium full of people say it to salute the troops fighting in the war, or even military personnel say it to also salute their troops. With so much diversity and importance of the Pledge of Allegiance in this country, this makes a very good topic to start things off. Back on September 8th, 1892, the first draft of the pledge was written. This is what the first draft looked like:

"I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

While a majority of people who live in the United States are so accustomed to reciting the Pledge of Allegiance that goes like this:

"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Unfortunately, SO MANY people don’t know that the “the Flag of the United States of America” wasn’t added until 31 years later in 1923. And then then “under God” portion wasn’t added until ANOTHER 31 years later in 1954. It’s a shame and pretty pathetic that we as Americans have been reciting such an important pledge for SO LONG and most likely don’t that what we are reciting isn’t the original. There are actually valid reasons behind the changes that were made to the Pledge of Allegiance over that sixty-two year period. Before the first revision took place, Francis Bellamy thought the “to the flag” portion should be added so people would have the go-ahead to face the flag.

Closing things up with all of this missing information for the Pledge of Allegiance, it’s very clear that there is so much information on the history of the United States that is never addressed because most people find it irrelevant and outdated.

For another example, let’s take a look at the early times of African American slaves. To get things going, take a look at this quote from The Present and Probably Future Condition of the Three Races that Inhabit the Territory of the United States by Alexis de Tocqueville:

“The Negro, plunged in this abyss of evils, scarcely feels his own calamitous situation. Violence made him a slave, and the habit of servitude gives him the thoughts and desires of a slave, he admires his tyrants more than he hates them, and finds his joy and his pride in the servile imitation of those who oppress him. His understanding is degraded to the level of his soul.”

Also, let’s also take a look at this quote from The Present and Probably Future Condition of the Three Races that Inhabit the Territory of the United States Alexis de Tocqueville:

“Everybody has remarked that in our time, and especially in France, this passion for equality is every day gaining ground in the human heart.”

When people are taught about the history of African American slaves, there is only some information that is presented to them because only THAT specific information is considered important. That minuscule amount of information includes the very obvious and broad things such as African Americans not having equal rights and the caucasian people (men more than anything) having the majority of power in a country. Unfortunately, some very important information, like what de Tocqueville discussed, is definitely of importance and should be included into whatever criteria that discusses and coincides with the segregation era of America. Looking at the quotes above, the first one addresses the similar broad things that are addressed in a classroom while the second quote addresses some deeper information. The second quote states that a majority of people wish that every person in the country had equal rights during the times of racial segregation. With that being said, typically a criteria would only discuss the desire for equality from African Americans while obviously there were people of other races out there wishing that every person had equal rights.

With that said and done, it’s obvious that American history comes along with it’s strong and weak points. Unfortunately, the way that people are taught American history only learn the cliché history of events. The method of people learning history is equivalent to someone covering a whole in a wall with a painting. Although you can’t see the whole, it’s there behind the painting waiting to be revealed. People need to understand that there is more than two sides to a story and everything is worth investigation because there is definitely more waiting to be learned. Quite frankly, there’s probably so much about American history that we as Americans don’t know about just because we haven’t discovered it yet. But again, that’s why it’s good to dig deeper and truly understand every last bit of information of whatever is being presented, because it’s obvious that American’s lack so much knowledge about their own country’s history.

Below is a two minute long multimedia add-on to this chapter: