Analysis Of Nathan Huggins's 'The Transforming Mirror Of Truth'

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The idea that America can have an all encompassing master narrative that appeals to everyone is comforting– and naive. America contains a great panoply of perspectives; it is a fool’s errand to attempt to craft a narrative or identity that can make every single group happy. And truth be told, there are many events in American history that rightfully anger groups of people. Tragedies such as the forced migration of Native Americans and slavery should not be forgotten, as they were integral to the development of our nation and still affect our psyche today. America hasn’t always been, and still isn’t, and land of total freedom and equality. The failure of the penitentiary system in the United States as well as the virtual racial segregation that…show more content…
There simply isn’t any easy panacea for these deep rooted issues – no master narrative is capable of healing of these wounds. Nathan Huggins belief that we need to construct a new master narrative where slavery is at the very center, which he puts forth in his piece “The Deforming Mirror of Truth,” is simply misguided. No master narrative can hope to successfully the array of perspectives present in American History. However, Huggins does bring up some very profound points on the failure of past historians to analyze slavery in America. By only focusing on a broad, “master narrative” view of slavery, historians failed to humanize the experience. Humanizing the experience, as done in 12 Years a Slave, would ensure that slavery would not be forgotten. Rather than constructing a brand new master narrative with slavery at the center, we should continue to use the same master narrative painting America as a land of opportunity and constant improvement, yet openly acknowledge many of the shortcomings in American history, something historians in the past have failed to…show more content…
It is most definitely not a “myth that the United States was founded on racial slavery” (Wilentz). Our founding fathers were ashamed of its very existence. One only needs to look at the absence of the word “slavery” in the Constitution. This is only evidence that slavery was, in the words of Wilentz, a “national institution.” The words “peculiar institution” in replacement only highlight the shame. Jefferson shared similar sentiments with those expressed in the Constitution in an earlier version of the Declaration of Independence. He blamed King George III for “[waging] a cruel war against human nature itself, violating it’s most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him” (Boyd). Jefferson realized the inherent contradiction in having a free society with slavery. He too was ashamed of slavery. However, this shame is only proof that Historians like Wilentz have it wrong– slavery did play a big role in our development as a

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