History, you are a cruel mistress. Some days you are a fun romp that looks at our past; other days, you are a somber reminder of our shortcomings and failures. Sometimes you are a well-documented account, with 1000s of books written on your behalf. Other times you are a convoluted mess, an untidy murder scene riddled with more questions than answers. Either way, rule number 6 of history: No cherry-picking. For those unfamiliar with the concept, cherry-picking is the act of pointing to individual cases or data that seem to confirm a position while ignoring a significant portion of related and similar topics or data that may contradict that position. Cherry-picking may be committed intentionally or unintentionally but still births the same results. History is not entirely exceptional, and nor is it wholly evil. And to not attempt to remain a centrist in these matters does a disservice to the historical community.
A prime example is our first subject: Booze. Drinking has its benefits and drawbacks, and they bleed through our history. To only look at the benefits of drinking alcohol (i.e., fun at parties, making me look more handsome) and not the drawbacks (hangovers, the poor girl that thought I was handsome) would be folly.
In short, there is a current trend to politize American history as either American exceptionalism or a country founded solely on oppression. The truth is, both are right.
7:19 Headright System
14:10 Tobacco Brides
18:42 1619- African Slavery
28:46 Cecily Jordan Farrar
History of alcoholic drinks
Col. James Taylor, of King & Queen
On This Day: First Enslaved Africans Arrive in Jamestown Colony
The True Story of Pocahontas
Cecily Jordan v. Greville Pooley dispute