Be thankful for history

Posted November 21, 2013 at 12:46 pm


As Thanksgiving 2013 approaches, I decided to take a look at Thanksgiving from an historical point of view since I am an historian.

On Nov. 28, we will be thankful for a lot of people and things near and dear to us. But let’s look back in history and give a few words of thanks for things and people that help develop, shape, and make our country. Five quickly come to mind.

First, the pioneer woman. She was the true hero of the Westward Expansion, tending to family, suffering and surviving heartbreak, and working hard to make sure everyone was fed and taken care of.

Second, the slave. Brought here in chains, the slaves helped the economy develop and helped make America a great economic power in the world. Once freed, they contributed to all aspects of American life, from business to the theatre, from the farm to literature.

Third, the American farmer. He or she first fed his or her family, then fed the community, then the country and by the time the 20th century rolled around, the American farmer was feeding the whole world.

Fourth, the horse. Working as hard, or harder as any human, this noble animal pulled wagons and plows and labored as a beast of burden as the country expanded westward, asking for nothing in return except for some hay and a good pair of shoes.

Fifth, the train. The railroad and the people who worked on it often get overlooked in historical studies. Without the railroad expanding the nation, we might all still be stuck on the East Coast.

So when you give thanks on Nov. 28, don’t forget five historical people and things who helped make America the greatest nation the world has ever known.


David Shipp

Castro Valley CA