Zinn Chapter 4: Tyranny is Tyranny

1.    What is tyranny? What is oppression?

2.   In the first paragraph of “Tyranny is Tyranny,” Howard Zinn makes a case for the argument that by diverting anger that ordinary colonists had focused on the colonial elite to the British Empire, the “important people in the English colonies . . . could take over land, profits, and political power from favorites of the British Empire.” Do you think he proves his case? How and why?

3.   What evidence does Zinn provide of class conflict? How does this information support or refute any of your earlier beliefs about American colonists?


4.   Why do you think colonial governors, all of whom lived in eastern cities, were either slow to respond or unresponsive to the grievances of ordinary colonists, many of whom lived in the western regions of the growing colonies?


5.   What evidence can you find in this chapter that the white urban population in some parts of colonial America was divided? Do you support or refute Howard Zinn’s contention that the colonial leaders convinced the evolving middle class to unite with them against “the biggest problem,” the “property less people” (A People’s History, p. 65)? How and why?


6.   What does Howard Zinn mean when he says that the “myth of the Revolution” was that “it was on behalf of a united people” (A People’s History, p. 70)? Do you agree or disagree? How and why?


7.    What is the significance of the chapter title, “Tyranny is Tyranny”?