The View from the Bottom Rail Essay

The Position from the Bottom Rail” After the Fact. Volume II James West Davidson and Mark Hamilton Lytle Copyright 1986 by Alfred A. Knopf Inc. Pages 177-210 Grant Hopkins AP U. S. History II September 11. 2000 The Lewinsky Scandal… A perfect illustration as to why we can non accept everything at face value before carefully analyzing it foremost. Everyone thought President Clinton was acting himself in the White House. but. as it turns out. he was most decidedly non. This can be the same for history. We must carefully see different facets of articles so that we do no do the error of believing everything we read.

In order to to the full understand an article. we must understand the writer that wrote it. It is necessary to analyze biass. beginnings. information left out. and losing background information before accepting an article. This method of critical analysis allows us to better understand the article and hence history because we are more cognizant of the writers and their possible bad lucks. “The Position from the Bottom Rail” . an article in After the Fact. provides an chance to analyze different facets of analysis. If we look at it carefully. so we will be able to find if the thesis was proven efficaciously.

In “The View from the Bottom Rail” . the writers. James Davidson and Mark Lytle. proposed. “For several grounds. that adulterate place has made it remarkably hard for historiographers to retrieve the freedman’s point of position. ” Within the article. Davidson and Lytle cycled through different facets as to why it is difficult for historiographers to find the “view from the bottom rail” . They questioned the cogency of many beginnings that. if accurate. would hold contained the position of an ex-slave. These beginnings included both white and black testimony.

In order to analyze these beginnings. the writers traced the subjects utilizing microcosm. Because they were covering a subject and non an event. microcosm was the most appropriate method of analyzing the topic. Davidson and Lytle foremost introduced a beginning. Then. they pondered over the different ways that the beginning could be biased. They took little sections from the beginning and used those to show why the beginning could non be taken at face value. For illustration. when analyzing the proposed beginning of a slave master’s history. Davidson and Lytle examined one facet of this to do a decision.

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They determined that. “With slaves so dependent on the master’s authorization. they were barely likely to uncover their true feelings ; the unsafe effects of such injudiciousness was excessively great. ” Therefore. they were able to reason that. for the most portion. a maestro would ne’er genuinely cognize what his slave’s point of position was. The writers proceeded to assail the other beginnings in this method. The other beginnings that Davidson and Lytle examined were non merely diverse but besides effectual. Many of the beginnings were direct citations from the words of freedwomans. including two in-depth interviews of the same ex-slave by different newsmans.

Other beginnings included narratives and Hagiographas of both southern and northern Whites. While about all of the beginnings were primary. many were taken from secondary beginning books that included the words of primary beginnings. Taking primary beginnings from secondary beginning books can be a unsafe wont because it is non known what the writer of the secondary beginning chose to go forth out. The primary beginnings may hold already been biased even before Davidson and Lytle were able to do their ain focal points. However. some of the beginnings were direct primary beginnings such as letters and journals.

In add-on. all beginnings used were done so efficaciously. The diverseness of the beginnings made the authors’ statement more convincing since their positions were non limited to one sort of beginning. By non depending to a great extent on any one type of beginning. Davidson and Lytle were able to cover multiple sentiments. This effectual usage of research leaves really few inquiries unanswered. However. it would be helpful to cognize how location affected the freedman’s point of position. Blacks were treated otherwise depending on location. workplace. and position. The writers failed to analyze different locations as altering point of positions.

Since the writers set up that it is hard to find the point of position at all. it was non their duty to reply this inquiry. However. it would be helpful to cognize this merely because it is an unreciprocated inquiry. Another minor malady of the paper. besides go forthing one or two inquiries unreciprocated. is that the writers subconsciously have biass. While elusive and few. biass may colourise the authors’ position. Early in the article. Davidson and Lytle commented that. “…most histories suffer from a natural “top-rail” prejudice.

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They stated that those who are educated and wealthy are for the most portion the authors of history. This seems to be right if we examine the backgrounds of historiographers. particularly those farther into the past. Although the societal and racial position of Davidson and Lytle is unknown here. it is statistically safe to presume that the writers can be considered “top rail” . They are about squealing to be biased from the start. Furthermore. Davidson and Lytle made one prejudice remark. They wrote that. “By and big. those on the top tracks of society produce the best and most voluminous records.

While it may be documented that those on the “top rail” produce the most voluminous records. the simple usage of the word “best” is a ruddy flag for a bias. This word wholly suggests an sentiment. With sentiments. come mental luggage and hence biass. However. overall this was the lone show of any biass. This attitude was non seen once more at any other point. In the terminal. it did non consequence the article at all. The writers go on to turn out the thesis with no more miscues. In reminder. the writer was seeking to turn out that the societal position of a freedwoman made it really hard for historiographers to find an ex-slave’s point of position.

Despite the minor inquiries left unreciprocated and elusive biass. the writers did an first-class occupation of turn outing their thesis. Davidson and Lytle use a great deepness of research. non limited to one sort of beginning. The suited usage of microcosm provides a really effectual occupation of analyzing these facts needed to turn out the thesis. The writers explain why it is difficult to demur the testimony of any modern-day of freedwomans. even freedmen themselves. Davidson and Lytle prove that Masterss would non truly cognize what the sentiment of the slave was.

They besides prove that in direct testimony from an ex-slave to a white individual. the narrative might be limited or exaggerated depending on the fortunes of the interview. It was besides proven that white Northerner histories could non ever be trusted because of their limited cognition of slaves due to their separation in life styles. Overall. the writers were able to turn out that any beginning incorporating the freedman’s point of position can non be taken at face value. There were excessively many grounds why either the ex-slave might take to restrict what they told or why the white individual did non cognize what the truth was.

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In the terminal. any audience should be convinced that it is hard to detect the freedmen’s point of position because of the position they endured. While the thesis was proved exhaustively and efficaciously. there were occasions where more information would hold been utile. As before mentioned. the writers used two interviews of the same ex-slave by different newsmans. At the clip of the interview. this ex-slave was really old. estimated to be over ninety old ages old. The writers do inquiry whether her mental position was feasible or non.

However. farther background information was needed. It was imperative for the writers to analyze the cogency of this beginning before utilizing it. It is non cognize if the ex-slave was capable of remembering accurate inside informations of her life. Since the authors’ statement was that the same slave told two different narratives depending on the fortunes of the interview. how do we cognize if the narratives varied because of the fortunes or because of a hapless or possibly even inventive memory? This background information would do the authors’ statements even more convincing.

However. if we assume that the ex-slave was capable. so the statement is unflawed. Overall. the article was good written. Merely minor facets were left exposed. In add-on. non much background information was needed. Besides. the authors’ merely had sparse and elusive biass. A assortment of beginnings was used efficaciously. In the terminal. the thesis was proven convincingly. Almost all audiences would be assured that. “For several grounds. that adulterate place has made it remarkably hard for historiographers to retrieve the freedman’s point of position. “