History is full of stuff, so it's understandable that we miss a great deal in the course of a normal education. Whether it be unsung battles, little-known historical figures, or whole eras that are misunderstood, plenty of opportunities always exist to broaden our understanding of the world and its past.
Here's a sampling of Redditors' pet topics - historical events that really ought to be better understood, and more frequently taught.
- 11,159 VOTES
The Struggle For Labor Rights In The US Is Often Overlooked
From Redditor u/FlipConstantine:
Speaking from a US perspective, probably the most criminally overlooked part of US history is the history of struggle for labor rights. In APUSH [advanced placement US history class] and even in my college classes I never heard a damn thing about the battle of Blair Mountain or the Pinkertons or anything of that sort. I was explicitly taught that Pearl Harbor was the first time bombs were dropped on US soil, neglecting the fact that at Blair Mountain the army dropped bombs on US citizens on US soil who were standing up for their rights.
Context: Class struggles are seldom put front and center in teachings of US history in the way that, for instance, racial struggles are. But the American labor movement- along with attempts to suppress it - has been immensely important in the country's history since the 18th century.
The status of unions in the US remains very much in flux to this day, so the history is still extremely relevant. The Battle of Blair Mountain occurred in 1921 and saw West Virginia coal miners pitted against local law enforcement in actual combat.
From Redditor u/KnowanUKnow:
The 7 years war (also known as the French and Indian war in the USA) was a world-shaping event that had ramifications that reverberate to the current day.
It really was a world war. From 1756-1763 it spanned all continents except Australia. It was (arguably) started by George Washington 12 years before the American Revolutionary war, and lead to not just to American independence, but also the French Revolution, the rise of Napoleon, etc, etc.
All started because George Washington, acting as a British ambassador and a lieutenant of the British military, ambushed and killed a French military commander (although admittedly that was just the spark that [lit] the powder keg).
Context: A mid-18th-century European struggle involving Great Britain, France, Prussia, and Austria, the Seven Years' War reached as far afield as colonial possessions in North America and India. Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill even called it “the first world war.”
- 3592 VOTES
The Tulsa Massacre Is Woefully Undertaught
From Redditor u/brothermuffin:
I attended public school and private university in the USA and NEVER heard mention of the Tulsa Massacre.
Context: In 1921, Tulsa, OK's thriving Black neighborhood, Greenwood, was destroyed in a two-day race riot that cost as many as 300 lives. Yet the event went largely unremarked in American history curricula.
- 4508 VOTES
Reconstruction Was As Important And Tragic As The Civil War That Preceded It
From Redditor u/centaurquestions:
Reconstruction after the US Civil War. They had ten years of trying to enforce a racially equal society, and then there was a white supremacist terror campaign and the government abandoned the project.
Context: The Civil War gets most of the attention, what with its epic battles and charismatic political and military leaders. But what happened afterward cast a long shadow over the next century of American history. Despite initial gains on behalf of newly freed slaves, Southern states were soon able to re-establish white supremacy and initiate the oppressive Jim Crow era.
From Redditor u/Camburglar13:
Cyrus the Great’s conquest, particularly the taking of Babylon. May not seem too world changing as the ancients were forever conquering each other, but Cyrus let all the captured slaves in the city go back to their own homelands. This included the Hebrews who were previously captured and enslaved from Judea who were now free. Without the ability to go home and continue practicing their own religion, we may not have Judaism, Christianity, or Islam today and history would look much much different.
Context: In addition to establishing the greatest empire in history up to that time, Cyrus the Great, founder of Achaemenid Persia, released exiled Jews from the Babylonian captivity and allowed them to worship as they wished.
- 6530 VOTES
Late Antiquity (AKA The 'Dark Ages') Gets Short Shrift
From Redditor u/monet_420:
Late Antiquity (previously known as the Dark Ages). We teach people about Romans and then we teach kids about the Middle Ages and we forget that gap in between. But that gap is so important. Think of the things that emerged from Late Antiquity. The merger of Roman and [Germanic] political culture that produced what we now understand as kingship, the political borders of Europe, the [languages] of most of Western Europe and the Americas, Islam and the demarcation of East and West. All these have rippling consequences to this day.
Context: The period following the fall of the Roman Empire has been derisively referred to as the “Dark Ages,” primarily imagined as a retreat from the knowledge and splendor of classical antiquity. But any real understanding of the Middle Ages is impossible without knowledge of this key period, which saw the rise of the Catholic Church, the rapid spread of Islam, the Anglo-Saxon period in England, and the flourishing of the Byzantine Empire.