On Wilentz

What do you think about Wilentz’s concept of “relentless unforeseen,”  that we do not know what our actions will lead to, and that throughout the 1776 period and the 1865 period, people white and black did not know that slavery would be abolished.  Yet it was.

Question:  do we have the power as human beings to make history, or does it just happen to us enforced by fate?


Cheyenne writes:

“After reading Hannah-Jone’s views on slavery in “The 1619 Project”, and expanding my knowledge of other writers’ views by reading Wilentz’, ” American Slavery and the Relentless Unforeseen” I was able to see both sides main points. Wilentz makes a point that it was not Inevitable that slavery would be abolished. He made it clear that it was a great fight between abolitionists and antiabolitionists due to their differing views to reach an end of slavery.”

I commented in reply to her:

Excellent overview. It’s possible to build a historical context of the world around us and though both Hannah-Jones and Wilentz have an important point of view, it is slightly different to look at history from the point of view of “relentless unforeseen.”

Today as well we are making history, and we do not know how it will turn out.

This is a valuable perspective in academia and in life. It does however require some “book learning.” Otherwise, how will we know what happened in the past? How will we evaluate differing versions of history?

History is a narrative too. And yes Hannah-Jones is 100% right to bring front and center the action and agency of African Americans in the ongoing history of the United States of A.”

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