The Legacy Of Innocence Analysis

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Often in American history, the nation’s faults are not fully realized until decades afterwards. There have been multiple instances where Americans believed they were acting under noble ideals, that are later regretted. Historian Patricia Limerick used the term ‘Empire of Innocence’ in her 2006 book The Legacy of Conquest: The Unbroken Past of the American West, to reference how American settlers moving West ignored the atrocities they were committing on the natives, and instead how settler’s perceived “innocence of intention placed the course of events in a positive light” . But this concept of ‘Empire of Innocence’ is not merely limited to the settlement of the West, as this ideology is found throughout the nation’s history, even today. America has repeatedly used this mindset of innocent intentions to overlook other actions we now realize were impermissible. It is this mentality that was used after the Civil War by white Southerners to justify their racist treatment of freed slaves during the Reconstruction Era. Another instance is how Americans justified their imperialistic motives during the Philippine-American War, as well as to ignore the atrocities their military were committing. Both historical events help reveal America’s impulse to justify immoral and corrupt behavior, by shifting the blame onto other parties. D. W. Griffith’s 1915 film The Birth of a Nation gives a glimpse into how the white Southerners and founders of the Ku Klux Klan justified their racist
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