History Homework After The Fact
This week you will be reading a chapter from After the Fact called, Serving Time in Virginia. It focuses on the very high mortality rate in early Virginia.
In this chapter the authors of the book want to address: what are the challenges that historians’ face when working with documents? What is the potential problem with John Smith’s Autobiography? What challenge does the short government proclamation about planting corn and not tobacco present?
So first you need to read the chapter, and then answer the following 3 questions:
- What experiences did John Smith write about? How much veracity is there to what he recorded about his experiences?
- Who was Sir Edwin Sandys, and how did his policies and reforms impact the colony?
- Why was labor critical to the boom economy, and in what ways did planters acquire that labor? What kinds of abuses did the labor system spawn?
The assignment is worth 50 points (and if you go above and beyond you can earn 10 points of extra credit).
- Each answer should be a paragraph to several paragraphs long and fully address all parts of the question
- This assignment is due on Sunday, no late work is accepted.
Attached is a sample of a very good After the Fact answer from an actual student in U.S. History
After the Fact
Chapter 13: The Decision to Drop the Bomb
1) What are interpretive models? Describe the rational actor model.
The use of “models” is commonly interpreted in different ways. Historians have adapted
the use of these very models from social sciences. Interpretive models as they are referred to are
reduced from the scale of reality and increases the researchers’ capacity to describe the
characteristics of what they observe. Models can be applied to systems as basics as individuals
behavior or as grand as the world climate. However while the capacity is overwhelmingly grand
they are not infinite, limitations are set. Another adaptation of the social sciences historians have
managed to grasp is that of the “rational actor” model, this type of model is used without even
thinking of it as an actual quote on quote model. Rational actor theory treats the actions of
government and large organizations as the acts of individuals. It assumes that the individual actor
behaves rationally in that he or she uses the most efficient means to pursue ends that are in his or
her self-interest. For example, when involving government leaders, the leaders will proceed to
choose among a range of possible actions. The selection of an action will be the option that
achieves and is geared to the best results at the lower cost. The appeal of this model lies in its
2) Who is Gar Alperovitz and what are his conclusions about bomb’s use? What evidence does
he use to support his theory?
Gar Alperovitz a well-known historian argued after the death of Franklin Roosevelt in
April 1945 that President Truman was more preoccupied with containing the Soviet Union than
with defeating Japan. His conclusion came out by the evaluation of the factors and events leading
into the use of the atomic bomb. Alperovitz examined the information available to Truman and
his advisors in the summer of 1945, that very data, he argued should have convinced President
Truman (or any other rational actor in said situation) that the United States had no convincing
military reason to drop atomic bombs on Japan. The American navy had already made great
progress by establishing a tight blockade around Japan, cutting off delivery for raw materials and
threatening the Japanese economy with widespread starvation. Allied land-based bombers had
leveled whole sections of Tokyo without opposition from Japanese fighters. In July 1945 Japan
was ready to consider capitulation except that in 1943 Roosevelt had laid down an
uncompromising terms of “unconditional surrender”. The Japanese were frightened that the
United States would insist upon the emperor leaving his throne, their only hope was to negotiate.
This information recognized by President Truman yet he still set forth with Roosevelt’s original
plan of unconditional surrender. A series of events beginning with the bombing of Hiroshima on
August 6, followed by a Russian declaration of war, and the second bombing of Nagasaki on
August 9 entered the world into the new atomic age. Even with all this occurrence Japan only
surrendered when the US made an implicit commitment to retain the emperor. Despite Truman’s
insistence on an unconditional surrender, in the end it was conditional. Alperovitz’s conclusion
was that if ending the war was Truman’s only goal, the obvious rational response would be to
give Japan a few extra days or weeks to negotiate a surrender. The dropping of the bomb could
have been avoided. Based on these circumstances logic proves that President Truman’s primary
goal was to intimidate the Soviet Union. Roosevelt discussed the sensitive subject surrounding
the creation of the atomic bomb with British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, they agreed to
keep it a secret from the Russians. Alperovitz’s contended just that, the leaders recognized how
valuable a lever the weapon might be in postwar negotiations.
3) What factors influenced President Truman’s decision to use the atomic bomb?
Factors such as organizational processes and bureaucratic politics came into play when
President Truman’s decision to use the atomic bomb was made. In 1945 committee members
decided that a combat demonstration would facilitate negotiations with the Russians.
Assumptions such as this brought about three conclusions, one was that the bomb should be used
as quickly as possible against Japan, two the plan was to maximize shock value the target should
be a war plant surrounded by workers homes, and three no warning should be given. It was
decided the two bombs should be separated into different raids during August in to maximize
shock and convince Japanese that further resistance meant certain destruction. James Byrnes
believed using the bomb quickly would minimize Russian demands for territorial and political
concessions in Asia, as well as strengthen the US in any postwar negotiations. None of Truman’s
advisers wanted to rely on soviet entry into the war as an alternative to dropping the bomb. By
the time of the Potsdam conference Japans military position had become hopeless. The United
States did not want to encourage Stalin’s ambitions especially when the bomb was available for
use. While it seemed President Truman was pretty much onboard for the use of the atomic bomb
not all agreed. Scientists like those in the Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory lacked the political
influence to change policy after a discussion surrounding the possible postwar implications of
nuclear weapons and the threat of an international arms race. However, those in power were
Truman, Byrnes, and Stimson, their debate was not regarding whether to drop the bomb but
rather when they would commit such an act. Their priority was to end the war quickly and to
transit a dramatic warning to the world. The events leading up to the dropping of the bomb were
based on a military basis rather than a moral basis. President Truman’s goal was one that was
overshadowed with the destruction of the Japanese while it was clear there was in fact alternate
possibilities of meeting a conditional surrender.