Columbus to the Robber Barons
Chapter 1, "Columbus, the Indians, and Human Progress" covers early Native American civilization in North America and the Bahamas, the genocide and slavery committed by the crew of Christopher Columbus, and the violent colonization by early settlers. Topics include the Arawaks, Bartolomé de las Casas, the Aztecs, Hernando Cortes, Pizarro, Powhatan, the Pequot, the Narragansett, Metacom, King Philip's War, and the Iroquois.
Chapter 2, "Drawing the Color Line" addresses early slavery of African Americans and servitude of poor British people in the Thirteen Colonies. Zinn writes of the methods by which racism was artificially created in order to enforce the economic system. He argues that racism is not natural because there are recorded instances of camaraderie and cooperation between black slaves and white servants in escaping from and in opposing their subjugation.
Chapter 3, "Persons of Mean and Vile Condition" describes Bacon's Rebellion, the economic conditions of the poor in the colonies, and opposition to their poverty.
Chapter 4, "Tyranny is Tyranny" covers the movement for "leveling" (economic equality) in the colonies and the causes of the American Revolution. Zinn argues that the Founding Fathers agitated for war to distract the people from their own economic problems and stop popular movements, a strategy that he claims the country's leaders would continue to use in the future.
Chapter 5, "A Kind of Revolution" covers the war and resistance to participating in war, the effects on the Native American people, and the continued inequalities in the new United States. When the land of veterans of the Revolutionary War was seized for non-payment of taxes, it led to instances of resistance to the government, as in the case of Shays' Rebellion. Zinn wrote that "governments - including the government of the United States - are not neutral... they represent the dominant economic interests, and... their constitutions are intended to...