Forgotten Americans: Footnote Figures Who Changed American History

Forgotten Americans: Footnote Figures Who Changed American History

Forgotten Americans: Footnote Figures Who Changed American History

Forgotten Americans: Footnote Figures Who Changed American History

Synopsis

Our history was shaped by many people who have been forgotten in popular histories and relegated to footnotes in scholarly ones. Forgotten Americans illuminates our past through fifteen portraits -- of feminists, abolitionists, religious reformers, Indians, and Indian-hunters alike. With these threads Randall and Nahra weave a rich tapestry of American life up to the twentieth century.

Excerpt

Sometimes known as the American century, the twentieth century has made awareness of the United States unavoidable in the global culture. In many countries knowledge of American English has become a requirement for the class in ascendancy. But Americans in America have not necessarily deepened their awareness of their own culture as the evolved product of the peculiarly American past.

Each of the people profiled in this book was celebrated, or notorious, in his or her time. Today even the educated public has largely forgotten them. Only our Virginian in the Lake Country, Thomas Jefferson, is viewed as a major historical figure, but the contribution he made by taking his supposed "summer vacation" in 1791--and the impact it had on our politics--is little known. Sitting Bull remains a household name, but few Americans distinguish him from other Indian leaders, defiant or assimilationist. The rest of these celebrities faded from view, preserved mainly as names on roadside markers or in book footnotes.

The reasons America forgot these Americans are as varied as their lives. Some were on the losing side of a war (Teedyuscung, Franklin), rarely a good way to be remembered. Others won . . .

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