Thunder at the Gates

Douglas R. Egerton, Thunder at the Gates: The Black Civil War Regiments that Redeemed America (Philadelphia: Basic Books, 2016)

As the title indicates, this book focuses on African American soldiers and regiments during the American Civil War, specifically looking at the African American regiments in Massachusetts. Although the American Civil War began in the spring of 1861, it was not until around 1864 that African Americans were nationally recognized by the Union as viable soldiers. The 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, which ended slavery, sparked “abolitionists to begin to call for the raising of black regiments”[1] Egerton’s research brings to focus the more lesser known African American regiments of the Civil War: Massachusetts 55th and Massachusetts 5th regiments.

At the start of the American Civil War, both Union and Confederate leaders feared that having African American troops would be a hindrance. For the Union, the fear the African Americans wouldn’t be able to take up arms against white Confederate troops stopped them from considering African Americans as soldiers. For the Confederate, the fear the regiment leaders wouldn’t be able to control African American soldiers and there might inner uprisings prevented the Confederates from enlisting African Americans. The possibility that being armed or desiring freedom would result in African Americans fleeing or uprising to escape to freedom was the overall concern on both parties.

However, it is humorous to think that people in the North, especially people within New England, wanted to enlist African Americans from the start of the war. President Abraham Lincoln was the one who was cautious and withheld permission. Egerton does not explore President Lincoln so much, but this perspective calls into question how President Lincoln truly felt about African Americans. On 1 January 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. In response, the Confederates disregarded any white man who was “found serving in company with armed slaves.” Rather than being regarded “as soldiers engaged in honorable warfare” these white soldiers fighting alongside African Americans would be viewed “as criminals deserving death […]” While some Northerners felt the same way in this regards, General Robert Gould Shaw saw a value in utilizing African Americans.

Shaw, who became General of the Massachusetts 54th and died during battle, saw that the use of African Americans as soldiers or more would bring the Civil War to a sooner end. As Harriet Tubman epitomized, the utility of runaway enslaved persons as spies would further the advancement of the North. African Americans could blend in as enslaved persons. The South neglected to realize that some African Americans were educated and would leave papers lying around that could be read.

It was July 1863, when an all-white Connecticut regiment ran into trouble when facing a strong Confederate opposition. James Island, South Carolina was the destination of the Confederate regiment. This was intended to be a prelude to seizing Charleston. Egerton takes the time to describe the battle and depicts the 54th Massachusetts Regiment as heroes. This encounter was definitely a turning point in many minds of Northern citizens who doubted or had speculations about the validity of enlisting African Americans.

Mohammed Ali bin Said was born around 1836 in the Kingdom of Bornou, which is now part of Nigeria. Said was captured as a teen by slavers and taken to Turkey. In Turkey, one of his owners was a Russian general of Crimean war fame. Somehow, Said crossed the waters to New England, where he not only worked on whaling vessels, but also renamed himself Ned Hallowell. Hallowell was one of many sailors who joined the Massachusetts Colored Regiments. William Carney, a runaway slave, became another African American soldier for the Massachusetts Colored Regiments. He also became the first African American to win the Medal of Honor. Carney is occasionally referenced for his bravery in one of the 1864 battles where he risked his life to retrieve the American flag from a fallen flag bearer.

Although Egerton depicts such heroics in vivid detail, he also shows the unfair treatment bestowed up African Americans. Apparently, some 180,000 African Americans ended up fighting in the Union army. I would not be surprised if that number was higher and didn’t count the number of enslaved people in the South that acted as spies. Even still, the bravery that the African American community exhibited did not bring equal treatment. This included pay. There was a disparity in how white Union troops were paid compared to African American Union troops, with African Americans receiving the short end of the coin.

Egerton depicts the contribution of African Americans during the Civil War as a heroic display of resistance to the enslavement of their people. His research is thorough and well-constructed in this book. He caters towards a greater audience. This book is for the historian and for those interested in understanding the role of African American soldiers and regiments during the Civil War, bringing forth some of the lesser known African American soldiers, battles, and regiments. From looking at the perspectives of how people felt about African American soldiers in the beginning of the war to the turning point with the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, Egerton displays that the devotion and desperation for freedom was enough to secure loyalty to the cause. Yet, their courage and bravery was not enough to pave a way for equality within the war or society then after.

[1] Douglas R. Egerton, Thunder at the Gates, 2016.

Be Free or Die

Cate Lineberry, Be Free or Die: The Amazing Story of Robert Smalls’ Escape from Slavery to Union Hero (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2017)

As the title indicates, this book focuses on the life of Robert Smalls beginning with his capture of and escape with a Confederate army vessel in May of 1862. Lineberry does not solely focus on Smalls’ escape, but elaborates into his contributions to the nation, the war, and his own personal successes. Rather than depicting Smalls’ first as an enslaved person leading up to the escape, Lineberry begins with the escape and focuses primarily on the Civil War, some of the battles that Smalls participated in and his overall contributions leading to him becoming a captain of his own Union army vessel. Essentially, Lineberry presents Robert Smalls in a heroic and idolized manner.

Robert Smalls, along with his wife and two children, were enslaved on a plantation in Charleston, South Carolina. After years of being oppressed and bonded, listening to the commands of a white man, Robert Smalls was fed up. He had, had enough. He wanted more for his family, especially his young children. Though he never experienced freedom, he knew it must be better than remaining a slave. The Civil War began in 1860, and while the causes of the Civil War across all levels of society, slavery was definitely in the backs of many people’s minds. Robert Smalls was no different. Slavery was beginning to become a more centralized focus and freedom was becoming, somewhat, promising. In May of 1862, Robert Smalls, at the age of twenty-three, seized a Confederate steamer. He hid his wife and two children on board and gathered together a small crew. Smalls and his crew delivered the war vessel and the massive weaponry it carried to nearby Union forces. It was because of Smalls’ act of courage and bravery during his escape that made him a Union hero. The supplies he brought to them were truly beneficial. Smalls continued to fight for and with the Union army. He made many accomplishments, including becoming the first black captain of an army vessel. At the same time, he forced the country to reconsider their opinions and views of African Americans. African Americans would, essentially, do just about anything for their freedom. A more satisfying moment in Smalls’ life, aside from achieving freedom for himself and his family, was likely when he purchased the home in which he and his mother had once been house slaves in.

Within the contents of the book, Lineberry appears to argue that Robert Smalls is a Civil War Union hero who achieved both military and personal success, from becoming the first African American captain of an army vessel to purchasing one of his former slave master’s homes. In addition, Robert Smalls defied all odds, and forced the country to confront their prejudices about African Americans and how desperate they were to achieve freedom. Lineberry does this by diving right in. The initial vibe of the book is almost like a story-telling. Lineberry utilizes sources to help paint a vivid images of Robert Smalls’ escape, activity during the war, and so forth. Her approach is very biographical, but also very informative, leaving out excess fluff and bias.

From a historian point of view, I didn’t feel like there was much historiography. While other sources were referenced, I wasn’t sure what other historians had previously researched about Robert Smalls. I am curious to know what other historical approaches there may be. This version is definitely a good read for a combination of biography and Civil War. Lineberry did use other sources to help detail the life and bravery of Robert Smalls, but her approach lacked insight on past historical approaches on the subject. I question what other significant events may have been relevant in understanding Robert Smalls and why he chose to seize a Confederate vessel.

Overall, Cate Lineberry and her book are an essential read to understanding the Civil War. Robert Smalls is one African American who experienced life as an enslaved person and then escaped slavery and fought for the Union Army. He aided in the Union seizure of Charleston, becoming a Civil War Union hero. He also became the first African American captain of an army vessel. The book also provides insight on how African Americans desperately wanted to achieve freedom and at what lengths they would go to get their freedom. At the same time, the book provides insight on a change in how the country views African Americans. While I am sure other significant events were occurring, the Lineberry made it appear as though Robert Smalls’ brave escape with the confederate vessel was the turning point in the minds of many Americans. That he forced them to confront their prejudice views and begin to rethink the idea of keeping slavery all together.

A Perspective on Slavery Like No Other

The topic of slavery is always a sensitive and heavy topic of discussion. So, when attending the presentation, “Film Series: Conversations About Race and America,” I did not know what to expect. The event, hosted by Suffolk and presented by Dr. Robert Bellinger, a historian of black studies, began with a film, Beyond the Field: Slavery at Middleton Place produced by Tracey Todd.

In school, depending on our education system and teachers, we all experience the teachings of slavery differently. More often than not, it is glazed over, for various reasons. Beyond the Field discusses the relationships between the enslaved people on the plantation and the slave masters, with a focus on re-humanizing these African American enslaved people. The audience is invited into a conversation with the various people featured on the film and their experiences as descendants of the Middleton family, white and enslaved people, as well as the historians who specialize in black studies and slave culture. I will go more in-depth on the film as I juxtapose the film with the panel discussion that was held after the film with Dr. Robert Bellinger, associate professor and historian at Suffolk University; Tracey Todd, producer of the film; Jeff Neale, director of interpretations at Middleton Place; and Atyia Martin, Chief Resilience Officer in the Boston Mayor’s Office.

The dialogue and focus was on slavery and trying to capture the presence of the people who had been enslaved on the Middleton property. Middleton Place was established in Charlestowne [sic], South Carolina as early as 1678 and amassed to 63,000 acres over 19 different properties. During the span of about 187 years, the Middleton family owned over 3,500 enslaved people. Jeff Neale reminded us that slavery is not about slave and slave master, but about human beings and the relationships between people and the connections they had with one another. The term “slave” is nothing more than a label or tag, but that we must remember that behind that label was a person, who had feelings: “they laughed, they cried, they got mad, they celebrated.”

Being that I am a professional genealogist who specializes in African American ancestry and an aspiring historian with a focus on African American studies, I found this presentation highly valuable and insightful. During the panel discussion, I couldn’t help but ask a question. I was curious to know “how do you [the panelists] think that this film will be groundbreaking in family history? From the black perspective, how do you think that this film will aid in the process of understanding that as African Americans we have ancestors who enslaved our other ancestors? From the white perspective, how do you think that this film will aid in processing that they [white people] may have ancestors who owned slaves?” My question stemmed from my growing consciousness of this “coming to terms” mentality and the history imbedded in that notion that at some point we must revisit the true history of slavery to accept what happened and appreciate all of our ancestors because without them, we would not be here. The panelist pondered over the question. Dr. Bellinger, an African American, spoke on this. He too is a genealogist, and someone I know personally through our affiliations through genealogy organizations. He is a descendant of the Middletons via an enslaved person. For Dr. Bellinger, doing family history and attending the Middleton Family Reunions, allows him to continue to process the truth within his own family history because it allows for conversation and understanding. He notes that through his work, he had long ago come to terms with the reality of slavery, but that when you can insert yourself and your family in the narrative it makes it all the more real, and being able to have conversations, but also understand the roles played is essential. At the same time, some of the other panelists, reiterated that this film will hopefully open up the possibilities to truly talk about race in America and the impact that slavery had on our understanding and conversations of race.

The analysis behind the history of Middleton Place is what truly fascinated me. The journey from time period to time period, was filled with information from both perspectives: enslaved person and slave owner. Well-kept historical documents on the Middleton Place allowed for a narrative from the enslaved person perspective. Over 3,000 names could be found of enslaved people, some listed in family groupings, giving humanity to these names and seeing how families were torn apart because of the desire to have more money. The argument, was that enslaved people are people to and through research, Middleton Place has been resurrected as a memorial for the enslaved people in way that other slave plantations do not tell the same narrative in giving voice and life to these enslaved African Americans.

I have been to a slave plantation before, and I am now planning to go and tour Middleton Place to get my own feel. I was able to get a copy of the film from the director, and promised him that I would show it to all who are interested. I believe that I have also begun a new train of thought on a thesis topic for my history thesis. I learned so much, and just wish I could have shared this experience.

Runaway Slave Images

Marcus Wood’s chapter, “Rhetoric and the runaway: the iconography of clave escape in England and America,” really resonated with me. He devoted this chapter looked into the usage of runaway slave images as tools, influential elements, in society. The way in which Wood organized this chapter was unique and definitely eye-catching. Wood structures his argument around the visual images used to showcase runaway slaves in America and in England. The images acted as “intercontinental transcultural currency.”

I learned the most from this piece because of the way in which Wood structured his argument. Not only did he reference other major writers and cases, he incorporated images and how those images impacted society. I never really considered how iconic runaway slaves were. Wood makes a good initial argument in saying that without runaway slaves a lot of our literature inspired by them would not exist, advertisements and fugitive slave laws would not exist, and cases like the Dred Scott case would not have occurred. This concept is remarkable in itself, and one I never even considered. Having majored in English and read a lot of the texts mentioned and being a historian with a deep interest in slavery, I just found this piece astonishing and one that I wanted to keep reading, and read over again.

Taking a more in depth look at how Wood structured his argument, I can see that he juxtaposes images and the texts surrounding images of runaway slaves with white abolitionists. He addresses how other authors utilize images and narratives of runaway slaves to exemplify a movement supported by white abolitionists. The literary texts are used to illustrate how society depicts runaway slaves. At the same time, the texts focus around slave advertisement, thus showing how the language used to talk about enslaved people and runaway slaves was vague, but also dehumanizing. The images in the latter part support a lot of what the textual language says.

Wood introduces the idea of contradictions in reference to slave runaway images early on. He moves on to illustrate how without these images artists, writers, and law suits would not have been made possible, and how each of this utilized the influence of slave runaways in their own way. Some highlighted and memorialized their plight, while other critiqued and demonized their lack of “loyalty.” Wood makes several references to author Toni Morrison and her novel Beloved, which is a take on Margaret Garner. Using Toni Morrison’s book, escaped slaves such as Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the Dred Scott Case, other’s, shows how influential runaway slaves were. I feel as though the examples indicate more than what the images show and assist in further understanding, as Wood suggests.

The images within the chapter act as tools to show how society, during the time, portrayed escaped slaves. The first set of images displayed were used as runaway ads, but then also utilized to promote slave auctions. As Wood uses the word “propaganda” to describe the images. Language was a major element when it came to slave runaway images. Enslaved people were compared to all types of animals and called all sorts of things. Wood, for a good portion of the chapter, references Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Coleridge was an influential individual in the early 1800s. Coleridge was one of many white abolitionists who critiqued runaway slave images.

Essentially, Wood brings to focus how texts and images can support or contradict what is going on. Wood truly captured me and I plan on reading more of his book. I think it is an interesting concept to see how texts and images can describe a single event or movement and how the same things can support or negate a cause. I think Wood choosing slavery really helped to drive his point.

Oral Tradition in African History

Barbara M. Cooper’s article, “Oral Sources and the Challenge of African History,” examines the complicated sources of African history. One passage that stood out to me in the beginning, was:

African history, perhaps more than other domains of history, has had to be inventive in its use of sources and eclectic in its approach to evidence. Africans draw upon linguistic, archaeological, ethnographic, genealogical, oral-performative, and oral-interview evidence in addition to the documentary sources more conventionally understood as primary sources within the discipline.

Due the complex past within Africa, there are many reasons why there aren’t as many physical, primary, original documents that record Africa’s history. As a result, historians of Africa have had to borrow techniques from other disciplines in order to find methods to record events of history. Within many African nations and tribes, oral history has been a tradition passed down from generation to generation. With this came debates and concerns about “true” African history.

An early debate was whether or not Africa’s history could be recovered. Jan Vansina and his students tried to develop an approach to utilize oral tradition to recover the history of Africa’s “nonliterate peoples.”  Ongoing debates about ways to investigate Africa’s history and to identify if Africa’s history could be recovered, shaped the oral tradition as a potentially vital source that could be utilized by historians of Africa. However, these debates didn’t go without success. As Cooper acknowledges, these debates led to “fruitful borrowing and rapprochement. Historians of Africa were forced to borrow from other disciplines:

African social and cultural history, for example, is today very close to historical anthropology in its concerns, approaches, and sources of evidence. This makes for very lively intellectual communities and sustained explorations of related issues from more than one vantage point.

As new historical movements came forth, disciplines were able to borrow and collaborate with other disciplines. This led to further development in the approachable methods to gaining access into Africa’s history. While debates and movements have led to the examining oral tradition as a source of African history, historians themselves, were forced to re-evaluate their previous understandings of history. Unlike other histories, African history is unique, complex, and complicated. With the lack of readily available records, historians of Africa were put to the test with trying to configure a way to understand Africa’s history.

While historians within the debate of African history have faced challenges, these challenges can be considered both “healthy and “exciting.” I think that was gets misconstrued is that the methodology is what is most important in trying to capture the past and understand it.

Unfortunately the reality is that the methodological and conceptual challenges produced by African history have rendered it largely unintelligible to academic historians in general. It is becoming urgent that scholars of African history frame questions and enter into conversations in such a way that our colleagues outside African Studies can learn from us and we from them.

As of late, Cooper notices the importance of reframing of the critical approach. There is a necessity in capturing the oral histories from people within Africa in order to preserve the past. Cooper’s article appears to outline past attempts, approaches, and conflicts within African history as it relates to oral tradition.

Sex, Gender, and History

 “We strive to hear the echo of a voice which, somewhere, probes, knocks against the world’s silences, begins again, is stifled.” Our most fundamental task as historians, I would argue, is to solicit those fragmented inner narratives to emerge from their silences”

-Gabrielle M. Spiegel (Presidential Address: Task of the Historian)

I really resonated with Spiegel’s quote when reading the other pieces. It was interesting to see how sex and the consciousness of sex or rather the repression of sex has impacted society in Michael Focault’s “The Repressive Hypothesis” piece. At the same time, Focault’s piece fit perfectly in conjunction with Joan W. Scott’s article, “Gender: A Useful Category of Historic Analysis,” which argues the that historians of gender history should focus on the social and political construction of gender.

In my journey toward becoming a historian, I find that there is a fascination in the changing views of gender and how society views each gender: male and female. While gender is sometimes used as a “substitute” for female, there is a societal view that continues to permeate even today in a, sometimes negative, connotation. I find that sometimes I cannot always control my understanding of the past. Essentially, presentism is sometimes hard to keep out of history entirely. I struggle with these readings and not having my own biased judgement.

When I reflect on my experiences as a family historian, I can remember my thoughts on how women and sex have an effect on the societies in which the people I’m studying lived in.  Focault talks about the “imposed silences” and “censorship” of sex. Focault’s words make me question history even more and the view that history has defined women both as a “biological” gender and in the realm of “social science.” I am conflicted in my views right now. I lack the understanding of trying to comprehend the information of the past. There are biases in the writings by the informants of the past, so how can I not insert my own?

If sex was such a taboo topic, why did people engage in the act? Was there a shame on women, as a gender? Or was there something deeper? Perhaps the way people, men, envision gender, more specifically women, is reflected on a fear of political and social reign. Women carry and give life, which is a power no male can ever harness. In a political sense, women have the ability hold the greatest power. Could the topics of sex be one of a “prudish” mind due, in part, to the way that men have sometimes perceived women?

I feel as though sex and gender must be tied, at least in some ways. Throughout linguistic history, men have written about women in some of the purest ways to some of the most exploitative ways. When history refers to gender, it is usually referencing the differences between the sexes, gender roles, or feminism – also a movement. But these readings cause me to re-evaluate both women and gender in a way that has me questioning my own presentism. In my journey through history, I must have at some point inserted my own bias. As a family historian, I know that I am to be unbiased about the people I’m researching, but sometimes it is hard. I have my own beliefs of what is right and what is wrong. I can understand that history and the views society had at certain times impact the actions of the people I’m studying, but I still insert those questions of presentism – the whys of a situation.

In the end, sex and sexuality are alike and different. The history of both is convoluted. There is a political and social aspect in which both must be examined through such a lens, as Scott argues. I want to understand. I wish that in my educational career that I had been given the opportunity to hear more female voices of the past than the voices of the male dominators. How did women feel about their own unique gender and sex? We read history. We read Focault’s telling of sex and sexuality spanning a few centuries in history, but from whose point of view did he recite? Was it a man’s or a woman’s? The answer matters because it’s telling.

The Definition of History

It has been suggested that despite changes over time, there are certain things which all human beings experience throughout history, which therefore link us together: birth, sex, and death.

– John H. Arnold (History: A Very Short Introduction)

When reading John H. Arnold’s book History: A Very Short Introduction, this one quote (among many others), but this one quote in particular, resonated with me. Overall Arnold’s book depicted the various viewpoints different time periods had on what is story is or was. History, while it is currently a profession, has taken on the form of the ideologies of the people doing the history during their existence. Arnold references certain events in history that I had not even heard of, but his usages of them made me rethink my own definition of what history is and means to me. History, prior to any of the readings, was the people, places, and events of the past. What did that truly mean? I no longer know. That is very broad and vague. As Arnold mentions, there are many people who seem to have existed in the past part are forgotten.

When learning of archives and the information they hold, I am not reminded of the importance they truly bestow. Aside from being evidence and a vessel to certain bias in history (simply because the documents or artifacts reflect the individual(s) that created or owned them), archives hold the hidden secrets that we must be able to make intellectual guesses. This notion of guess-work then brings into play both: the notion that history has, and continues to, evolve and scientific history.

Arnold reminds us that people during each era or time period did not name themselves, for in their mind, they were living in the “now”. We reference 5th Century to 15th Century AD to being the Medieval Period, but the people living during that time did not consider themselves to be living in the Medieval Period but in their version of the “right now,” same goes for the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians. I am certain, now, that they did not refer to themselves as being ancient people, but as being just people, the same way in which we see ourselves. Yet, we can say that their understanding of history differed from how we understand history today. From reading their literature, we can an emphasis on history for a while was that of wars and royalty. Yet, today we learn history as a collective. In grade school, history is the mother, but we learn of the various characteristics of her children: anthropology, archaeology, archivists, and the like. History, after reading Arnold, I realized is such a broad term. People who study history often also specialize in an area or discipline of history. These disciplines, some of them, are now notarized professions, yet they all dibble in the same realm as what history now is. History, to me at this current time, is the in-depth study of the biases of the people, places, and times throughout the past with no definite beginning and no definite ending, flowing together to make progress in the dynamics of structure and understanding with time.

As we know from science, time is infinite, which then means it essentially does not truly exist because infinity is not a number. However, there is more than time that history borrows from science and then we segue over to the concept of scientific history. In Bonnie G. Smith’s The Gender of History, chapter 4 “The Practices of Scientific History”, she enlightens me on the mode of comprehension when it comes to determining this notion of “historical fact”. I must also remember my new learnings from Arnold that history is not fact but simply our interpretation from the evidence we are given and with intellectual guesses of what is fact. With that being said, Arnold along with Smith and Joyce Appleby in her article on “The Power of History”, all reference this concept of scientific history, which I had never before heard about or even considered. As previously mentioned, Smith initiates her discussion with the concept of borrowed techniques. I reverently enjoyed Arnold’s analyses to history borrowing concepts and techniques from other disciplines, but Smith took my understanding to a different dimension. I had to stop in reading those few lines just ponder how history may have taken the scientific method approach to understanding the past?

I came to fruition when I had complete all the readings. Historians begin with a question, or maybe a couple questions, we then do background research. Whether knowingly or unknowingly, we co9nstruct a hypothesis on what we think we might uncover. Instead of doing a test, we search for evidence that either helps to confirm our thought process or, and probably most often, contradicts our thought process. Along the way, we are faced with the inevitable question of “is this working?” Are we looking in the right places? Are we following the right leads? Did we uncover all that we can uncover? In the end, answers are probably complex. There are gaps, like Arnold mentions and we must make those intellectual guesses. We must analyze our evidence and draw conclusions. We then reflect on our initial thought and we generally share our research. Science and history are not far from being similar as far a common process goes.

Yet, I cannot help but think about Arnold and his references to borrowing disciplines. I question history as a whole. Essentially, is almost everything we learn technically history? I was an English major for undergrad, but I learned the history of literature and I learned of various literary works over the centuries. When studying various scholarly – and perhaps even the non-scholarly but trade – professions, do we not first learn the history behind their origins? And even still, those professions each have a stake in an area of history. So history is more like an umbrella for every discipline? Or is it that these disciplines can help to analyze the past because of what was going on? At some point, reading and writing (English) was created to do and to be studies, but now English can help us to understand the cultural history of a group of people. This same concept can be said about other disciplines. Yet, in my now, all of these can constitute as history.

My thoughts continue to prove to me that history and the way in which history is viewed is constantly changing. Who is to say that history in a century from now won’t be how I perceive it today? Does my presentism, at times, impact my complete understanding or the past? Am I casting my presentism onto what I perceive the future to be? How can I remove my own bias presentism and give an authentic inside scope to a historic time, or can I? Arnold has opened my mind in a way that I am not completely done thinking. I have much to learn and I could go on and on, but then I may only further confuse myself.

What I do know is that history is more complex and can bestow multiple definitions depending on the individual. I also know that because history is constantly changing, I could be correct in my understanding of history because of complexity. For now, I am content with my definition of history, but I know it will change as I continue to learn more. History is the in-depth study of the biases of the people, places, and times throughout the past with no definite beginning and no definite ending, flowing together to make progress in the dynamics of structure and understanding with time.