The Forgotten Fifth: African Americans in the Age of Revolution

The Forgotten Fifth: African Americans in the Age of Revolution

The Forgotten Fifth: African Americans in the Age of Revolution

The Forgotten Fifth: African Americans in the Age of Revolution

Excerpt

Over the last four decades, one of my greatest satisfactions in being an historian is to have figured among those working to construct a more democratically conceived American history—one that strives to portray a richly diverse people in a country that has seen one storm of strangers after another landing on its shores. Years ago, the English historian J. H. Plumb spoke of the need to move away from “confirmatory history”—a “narration of events of particular people, nations, or communities in order to justify authority, to create confidence, and to secure stability” among society's power holders. My goal in writing history has not been to destabilize history but rather to bring attention to those forgotten Americans who have inarguably been part of constructing our society and our nation.

Among those people who have returned to the stage of history through the efforts of hundreds of historians are African Americans. All of us who have . . .

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