What ***should*** be taught in history classes?

I would agree but would like to give another example a bit further back in American history to see how the winners get to write history.

My ancestors were farmers in Connecticut well before the American Revolution. When fighting broke out between the Yanks and Brits they remained loyal to the British. How were they treated after the war by the victorious revolutionaries? Their land was taken from them by the Americans without compensation and they were forced to flee north into what would become Canada because they were threatened with death for their prior loyalty to the British if they stayed.

Is the vicious treatment of the losing side in the American Revolution taught in American history? I expect not much is said as it is more about the brave revolutionaries rather than how they treated the losing side who fought just as bravely. The winners always get to write the history but I at least have the recorded family history that tells the other side of the story.

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Vicious treatment and fought just as bravely were definitely left out of the version i was taught in the US but the gist of the British loyalist fleeing b/c of fear and financial stability were included.

I come from an area that was settled long after the Revolutionary War was fought which could have some imact on what we learned.

I see this as much more lenient than what the British would have done had they won. I would expect that thousands of revolutionaries would have been executed if you look at how the British treated rebellions in other parts of the world around that time (Ireland and Australia, for example).

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In any event I hold no grudge against the Americans as my ancestors had good lives in Canada since the British gave them generous land grants here.

My wife has some Cherokee blood in her so one thing we have in common is the mistreatment of our ancestors by the Americans. However I expect the native Americans would have been treated equally badly under either British or American rule. Certainly Canada has a shameful history in this regards but at least it is now taught in great depth in school.

I was taught the British gave possessions in the Caribbean to Loyalists in the South, but nothing about Loyalists in Connecticut. I’m curious what you mean by “remained loyal to the British”. Did your ancestors kill American revolutionaries, or was it about financial support and refusal to join the Continental Army?

Good questions.

My ancestor was born in Connecticut but left when it became unpleasant to be a British adherent there. The family moved to what would become the state of Vermont which was still loyal at that time.

A large contingent of British regulars subsequently came in from Lower Canada (now Quebec) and recruited my ancestor as they passed through. He fought with the King’s Rangers but Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain Boys prevailed. The defeated loyalists were offered land in the Bay of Quinte area of Upper Canada (now Ontario).

My ancestor’s wife’s family were Wrights from Boston and they fought on the side of the revolutionaries so stayed in the United States. Two of their direct descendants were Wilbur and Orville Wright.


In public grade schools, mostly not.

In good history classes at college, yes. (Actually one of the coolest electives I took in college was a class on the American Revolution taught by a visiting professor from England.)

BTW, don’t forget about the tactics used by the revolutionary committees to “encourage” colonists to support The Cause.


In my senior year of high school, we had a teacher exchange with someone from England. I had WW I/II and the American Civil War with him (as electives). It was very interesting, to say the least, to “see” these wars through an Englishman’s perspective.

Having been already well versed in each of these wars from an American perspective (both from earlier history classes and my general interest in military history), I learned even more by working to see things from an “outsider’s” perspective; especially regarding the American Civil War.


I think it was great that you were able to hear history from two perspective as it provides a more fulsome history. It is not so much that one account is false but rather what is omitted or emphasized.

I have always thought that “The People’s History of the United States” is worthwhile reading as it is written from the losers’ perspective and mentions events often largely ignored in other texts. Although it would probably currently be labelled as “woke” (I hate that word).


No, not in K-12 school it’s not anyway.

Is the vicious treatment of the winning side in the American Revolution taught in Canadian or British history?

We used a textbook written by an American historian in our high school US history class. I therefore assume it was thorough about the atrocities the British inflicted upon the American revolutionaries. It did not mention the treatment after the war of the loyalists like my ancestor: I only learned that from other sources in Canada. I believe multiple sources of information are valuable to get a fuller picture.

Hmmm, I don’t think my history textbooks were.

You mean your textbooks downplayed the British oppression?

I don’t recall reading about the rape and slaughter of women & children in my textbooks, no.

I recall studying the reasons the colonists went to war (excessive taxation… without representation, quartering of troops), Common Sense, stuff about the various battles: especially heroic George Washington wintering at Valley Forge and crossing the Delaware River on Christmas Day when he knew the hired German soldiers would be drunk and gloriously defeating them, traitorous Benedict Arnold, hiding the Liberty Bell, Cornwallis surrendering at Yorktown…

Nothing about atrocities committed by either side though. :woman_shrugging:

High school texts are semi-sanitized. Also, since the usual high school American history class is charged with covering American history from prehistory to the modern era, there’s only so much detail they can go into. Not enough time to go into the full horrors of war.


Generally, I think wars are about rape and torture, and generally, HS history did not talk much about it.

We did however spend a lot of time talking about the causes of wars, and my teachers tended to suggest that conquering the Native Americans was evil.

Hopefully by now the full evilness of conquering the Native Americans is taught. Not only the stealing of their lands but the subsequent cultural genocide produced by the residential school system. Sadly Canada decided to adopt the US model of residential schooling in the 19th century and only recently started to make significant amends.

Not that I remember, though it’s hard to focus much on cultural genocide when you are so busy with physical genocide, not to mention the unthinkably huge evil of chattel slavery.

I can recall my 6th grade social studies book being about “oh, this white family sold all their possessions and moved to New Mexico / Arizona” and everything else was learning about Navajo history and American expansion into the area and such, but it was very sanitized in a “see, white Americans came in and made the lives of the Navajos so much better!” kind of way.

Otherwise, I can recall classes teaching “Americans attacked Indians” but mostly with a “because the Indians wouldn’t be peaceful, and Americans had to protect themselves” kind of slant. The abuses that white Americans committed weren’t buried, but it was definitely pitched as an “accidents happened” thing.

I can recall classes teaching “Americans attacked Indians” but mostly…

Should add that I do not think US history is very standardized. And it’s probably changed a lot in the last couple generations.

In my case (1990’s in a liberal-ish suburb) taught we were bad guys.