Reaction Paper #3 9_11.docx - Isabel Gouse Introduction to...

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Isabel Gouse Introduction to Africana Studies Reaction Paper #3 9/11/19 Franklin: George Washington Williams and the Beginnings of Afro-American Historiography Summary John Franklin begins his article by highlighting how the pursuit of knowledge changed during the last quarter of the 19 th century. Many young scholars studying at both new and old institutions were encouraged to discover new ideas, rather than acquire existing knowledge of ideas held by previous scholars. This new pursuit of knowledge was especially clear in the study and writing of American history. However, Franklin also notes that most of these new writings about American History disregarded people who were not white. As a result of their inability to write an accurate account of history, and essentially ignore the experiences of those who were ethnically and racially different, Franklin maintains that these historians relinquished their claims of being scientifically just. The author continues to explain how African Americans, both free and enslaved, tried to correct the both the misinformation, or in many cases the complete omission, of African Americans from the history of the U.S. by writing their own histories. However, Franklin claims that it was not until George Washington Williams came onto the scene that someone was able to provide an accurate account of African American history in the U.S. The author then provides a biographical account of Williams’ life and how he went from an illiterate teenager in 1869 to a well-respected historian who wrote two extremely important literary works – the History of the Negro Race in America from 1619 to 1880: Negros as Slaves, as Soldiers, and as Citizens and A History of Negro Troops in the War of the Rebellion . Franklin concludes that Williams’ greatest achievement was his ability to use his talents and adherence to the principals of scientific historical research to write two great historical works in the general context of the larger picture of American History, making him responsible for the beginnings of Afro-American historiography.

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