Tuesday, August 30, 2022

the last book I ever read (Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth, excerpt nine)

from Forget the Alamo: The Rise and Fall of an American Myth by Bryan Burrough, Chris Tomlinson, and Jason Stanford:

Fifty years after the fall of the Alamo, Texas pride was already very much a thing. Writers such as Yoakum, Potter, and Pennybacker had created a rich folk history of the revolution and inculcated a collective memory of how the state came into being, what modern scholars sometimes refer to as the Texas Creation Myth. Anglos embraced the folklore with gusto, proud of their unique history. And as far as most were concerned, every word was gospel truth.

Which became a bit of a problem after the first academic historians arrived in Texas with the opening of the University of Texas in 1883. The professional study of American history in the late 1800s was very much in its infancy, at least in Texas, and after 1893 was heavily influenced by the so-called frontier thesis advanced by a University of Wisconsin professor named Frederick Jackson Turner. In a paper delivered before the American Historical Association that year, Turner argued that the Anglo conquest of the American West generated a spirit of freedom, democracy, and egalitarianism and created a uniquely American culture. This was history by, for, and about the white man; Native Americans, Black people, and Latinos were marginal characters at best, two-legged buffalo at worst. To Turner, America’s exquisite society more than justified the barbarous means used to achieve God’s will. Practically overnight it became law in history department nationally. It would remain so for decades.

No comments:

Post a Comment