Webster’s Dictionary defines history as: “A branch of knowledge that records and explains past events” (Webster’s 2001). Historically, history is studied for many reasons. One major reason is to acquire historical knowledge.
One must look at all the historical facts and events recorded from history, to acquire what may be penned as “historical knowledge.” This is not just head knowledge and rote memorization, but an understanding of the facts, deaths, purchases, wars, business dealings, and most of all the understanding of the “character” of the people behind these major events.
Whether reading about Lincoln, our sixteenth president of the United States, who persevered as a president and abolished slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation, or the Louisiana Purchase whereby America obtained a huge acreage of land for about the price of a modem day hotel. Also the great depression of the 1920’s affected many people mentally and physically–creating a tough decade for all our citizens. These and many other historical events are studied because of knowledge–and knowledge is the power of history.
In 1860 the political conflict was slavery, and Abraham Lincoln was elected as President of the United States. Lincoln’s party, the Republicans, stood for the total abolition of slavery in America. “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” Lincoln stated.
Furthermore, “This government cannot endure permanently, half slave and have free…I do not expect the house to fall.. .It will become all one thing or another” (Young Republic 25). In 1863, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring all slaves in the Confederacy free–by his authority as president and commander in chief.
History accelerated the size of our United States when our third president, Thomas Jefferson, made a deal to purchase the Louisiana Territory from France for fifteen million dollars. This enormous purchase almost doubled the size of our nation and we obtained some of the most excellent and fertile land in the whole world.
Many other U.S. lands were obtained only by blood, sacrifice, and wars. When a man fights for his lands, he often obtains victory. Today we read in our texts about the blood, sweat, and tears that our military leaders undertook to gain such victories. We owe a debt of gratitude to our government and military leaders.
Though it may not be discussed enough, our war hero’s are truly the freedom fighters that captured the freedom we so easily enjoy today. Jefferson’s “Rough Riders” should be praised for just such a wonderful effort to keep and sustain our freedom. This was a tough bunch of soldiers with a brave commander who was almost unstoppable.
America’s economy took a huge dive downward during the Great Depression. The stock market crash of 1929 left citizens standing in line for bread and looking for work like never before in our history. History’s records indicate that investors lost everything.
Thousands of banks, businesses, and schools had to close down. A ton of loans were unable to be repaid because of low crop prices. Many usually busy U.S. workers suddenly found themselves without work. Our economy has always impacted our society. The study of our economy is essential to the understanding of our history.
When we study history we learn a great deal about our country and ourselves. Abraham Lincoln continues to come to mind as a mirror to us, because he persevered as president, when others might have quit. Abraham Lincoln showed the American people young and old how to have faith when facing the challenges of life.
Lincoln also was an example of “balance” in his life, having been shot by John Wilkes Booth, at a theater, of all places. He wasn’t too intelligent or strong-minded to stop enjoying his life. He took time for the things that were important, and that leaves a strong legacy for all Americans.
To conclude, one must look at all the historical facts and events recorded from history, to acquire what may be penned as “historical knowledge.” This is not just head knowledge and rote memorization, but an understanding of the facts, deaths, purchases, wars, business dealings, and most of all the understanding of the “character” of the people behind these major events.
There are many Americans who are devoted to studying the textbooks, newspapers, and magazines of the past. To these brave ones we must give our respect, for they are a picture of the past, but more importantly, they are a picture of our hope for the future. Many great presidents lead this nation to become one of the greatest nations in the world today, and certainly the most powerful.
Abraham Lincoln led our nation out of slavery, and by doing so, he opened up social, political, and economic opportunity for all people and he truly led us back to the Declaration of Independence.
The events of the past have also made their way into the classroom with the almost one hundred year old pledge of allegiance. Our pledge is a constant reminder of the victories that our great leaders obtained from the past: “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.”
The United States of America is a free country today, because of sacrifice, and we owe a huge debt of gratitude to our forefathers who fought to make this country a republic, a free land, a land where anything is possible with the right amount of hard work and solid spiritual foundations.
“Helping ALL to Succeed”
Don Alexander, Published Writer & Online Business Mentor