I have not repented of my decision to read Paul Johnson’s A History of the American People. Here are some quotes from the text that I find very enlightening:
“The Puritans did not exactly insist that poverty was a sign of wickedness. But there was a general assumption that the godly flourished and that if a man persistently failed to prosper—or if financial catastrophe suddenly struck him—it was because he did not, for some reason, enjoy God’s favor. This idea was very potent and passed into the mainstream of American social consciousness.”
I have no idea how correct this is, but it is the best explanation I have found this far to the mystery of Jesus as Regan’s sidekick.
And the following quote, while not unexpected, reminds us of the deep roots of the trade in mail-order brides (this outdated term should be changed to online-purchase brides):
“The year 1619 was significant for three reasons. In order to make the Virginia colony more attractive to settlers, the company sent out a ship carrying ninety young, unmarried women. Any of the bachelor colonists could purchase one as a wife simply by paying her cost of transportation, set at 125 pounds of tobacco.”
Jokes aside, the following is a very interesting insight:
“The financing, however, was right: this was a speculative company investment, in which individuals put their cash into a joint stock to furnish and equip the expedition, and reinforce it. The crown had nothing to do with the money side to begin with. Over the years, this method of financing plantations turned out to be the best one and is one reason why the English colonies in America proved eventually so successful and created such a numerous and solidly based community: capitalism, financed by private individuals and the competitive money-market, was there from the start.”
Of course, no other field of knowledge is as heavy on ideology as history. Every history textbook I have ever seen forces the reader to dig for hours to find a few scraps of actual information under the mountains of the author’s ideological pronouncements. This is precisely why I will be reading both a deeply Conservative and a heavily Liberal accounts. Paul Johnson, at least, recognizes from the start that he speaks from a certain political platform and doesn’t try to conceal that fact.
This is fun already, folks!