If you can even call it that, the American history curriculum is a flimsy thing. The United States lacks national guidelines for what history lessons should cover for children in public schools, in contrast to many other nations. Each state establishes its own curriculum standards, although they are often flexible given that 13,000 school districts choose their own textbooks and that individual instructors have a significant deal of authority.
Donald Yacovone, a scholar at Harvard and the author or editor of multiple works, most of which are on the Civil War era, is the most recent author to concentrate on the topic. His first book on education, “Teaching White Supremacy,” is based, as he notes in the preface, on approximately 3,000 American history curriculum textbooks from the 1800s to the 1980s that are kept in the collection of the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Yacovone’s argument that Northern publishers, universities, religious leaders, and social activists were more responsible than Southern ones for spreading a persistent ideology of white superiority and Black inferiority that outlived the institution of slavery and was vehemently expressed in school materials is compelling and convincing. This worldview frequently coexisted with ardent support for the Union and the abolition of slavery, linking the survival of the Republic to the notion of America as a white nation.
Yacovone expertly examines the pervasive racism that existed in 19th-century Northern progressive movements. Abolitionists who were white and Christian frequently wanted to send freed Black people to Africa. Some white feminists made the claim that white women were morally and intellectually superior to freshly freed Black males in order to support women’s suffrage. Black Americans were frequently seen by northern white labor advocates as undesired employment competitors. Textbooks for elementary school represented all of these concepts.
Yacovone also makes some perplexing decisions on which authors and philosophers to highlight. He seems to believe that the Democratic Party propagandist and 19th-century New York publisher John H. Van Evrie holds the key to comprehending the white supremacy seen in school textbooks. Van Evrie popularised scientific racism, such as the ridiculous polygenesis idea, which claimed that black people and white people were two distinct species and that slavery was a natural state for the lower, Black order.
Read the complete article at: The New York Times