Essay On America’s Attempts At Modernization

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: United States, America, White, War, Women, Law, Social Issues, Race

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/12/11

The period after the American Civil War of between 1861 and 1865 marked America’s attempts at repairing the social, economic, and political spheres of the country subsequent to the damages of war. Based on the contradicting ideologies between the pro-slavery Southerners and the abolitionism Northerners, the Civil War damaged relations between the two sides and cost the lives of many nationals. Prior the confrontation, President Abraham Lincoln, who was for abolitionism, blamed the formation of the Confederacy, by the seceded Southern States, for his decision to declare war. Later, he admitted to slavery playing a significant role in the hostilities and, as a result, sought to end it completely in all of America. Consequently, because the Union won, the African American race gained emancipation while the previously seceded Southern States disbanded the Confederacy to rejoin the Union. For this reason, it makes sense that the reconstruction period aimed at ending inequality in all of the United States and reintegrating the Southern States into the Union. However, if the cases of prejudice, inequality, and segregate laws are anything to go by, then the United States took the wrong path to a modern society.
The Caucasians in the American cultures after 1865 did not limit their prejudice to the African Americans but included other ethnic groups as well, particularly the Red Indians. Laws limited other races to the bottom of the social hierarchy and ensured the survival of white supremacy. Hence, unhidden bigotry governed the cultures, political affairs, and the economy of the United States. The best of everything remained property of the white man, from which they allocated limited provisions to the others. For instance, in the case of African Americans, Frederick Douglass reckons that white men formed the “judge, jury and prosecutor” in all situations (8). In other words, white men remained blameless regardless of any committed crimes while blacks continued to face unwarranted persecution from their ex-masters. As Douglass points out, even murders automatically became the black man’s fault, even when he is the victim. Hence, although the old forms of slavery were illegal, there existed another type of bondage prohibiting blacks from exercising their rights. Persecutions still reigned high and whites continually suppressed any self-worth the African Americans held.
The other victims of racial discrimination were the Red Indians, evacuated from their homeland by the United States government. As the natives of American lands, Indian tribes rightfully occupied the North American territories before the coming of Caucasians. However, the Indians found themselves journeying to a land eight hundred miles away from their homes to make room for white settlers. Thus emerges the cause for Geronimo’s letter to the President of United States in a bid to return his people to their homeland. As a leader of the Apache tribe, Geronimo took it upon himself to appeal to the American Head of State for their homes. According to the man's text, Arizona was fertile and the weather good for crops cultivation, however, a treaty with the American government prevented repossession and restricted the Apaches in undesirable areas (21). When one considers Geronimo’s reasons for wishing to go back to Arizona, it is clear that they are the same ones behind the whites’ preference for the land. For this reason, the situation of the Red Indians reinstates the white man’s choice for the best of everything and leaving the rest to other races.
The blatant exhibition of racism and the existence of laws to ensure segregation in the Southern States played two roles; show the southerners had separate laws and that racism was very much alive. However, if the United States was under the same governance, one ought to discover common rules within all of its jurisdictions unlike in the period preceding the Civil War. In other words, following the return of the Southern States to the Union and the disbandment of the Confederacy, legalized laws should reflect the ideologies of all Americans and not just a portion of the country. However, while the South encouraged segregation, Northern States did the opposite as its industries utilized all races as long as they qualified to work in factories. As mentioned above, the same stand was evident in the years leading to the American Civil War. Hence, discrimination in the North was limited while the Southerners sustained racism and drafted legislation to maintain their beliefs. As a result, one can safely assert that Frank Clark’s views of blacks as “dirty, greasy, and filthy” echoed those of a majority of the whites and encouraged segregation (32). That explains the need for separate but equal services and public utilities for the African and Caucasian Americans.
Finally, it is important to note that white supremacy in the United States catered for the grown up white males alone, leaving the women without fundamental rights including that of voting. Consequently, women faced oppression even after the war and, under the rule of their male counterparts, no woman practiced autonomy of the self or actions. With that in mind, American societies divided all people into two distinct portions, the Caucasian Americans and everybody else. Among the favorable whites a further division existed, that between the females and the males, children were by default the responsibility of everybody until they matured and assumed the rightful position. Hence, white supremacy after 1965 still entailed white men dictating the laws of the community based on their views of other races and the women. Expectedly, the females did not take kindly to the segregation and like in the Northern States prior the Civil War women rights became a debatable issue. Elizabeth Cady’s writing is an excellent illustration of the plight of women as she presents a case for “equality in social life” (15). In addition, her views of men taking advantage of the women provide the final proof that Americans upheld their traditions of race and gender inequality.
Conclusively, the United States was on the wrong track to the contemporary era because after the war in 1965, it is evident that the societies did not change, except for black emancipation. Equality remained unachievable because the voiceless faced more oppression and the racism from which slavery began still existed. Thus, the social hierarchy gave whites control over the country but in a subtle manner because of the Emancipation Proclamation that termed blacks as their equals. All the findings of this study were inevitable because even in the presence of the law, culture triumphs over government-imposed rules. Accordingly, white men still dictated the rights of their women and those of the other races as the southerners readily implemented laws that contradicted equality. For this reason, it is evident that the citizens of the United States failed to learn from the experiences of war and instead, committed the same mistakes that caused it in the first place. Even after 1965, there were traces of Antebellum America.

Work Cited

Clark, Frank. "Frank Clark Praises Segregation." Primary Source Documents Volume 2. 1908. 32-33. Print.
Douglass, Frederick. "The Color Line." Primary Source Documents Volume 2. 1881. 8-10. Print.
Geronimo. "His Own Story." Primary Source Documents Volume 2. 1906. 21. Print.
Stanton, Elizabeth Cady. "Adress before the US Senate Commitee on Woman Suffrage." Primary Source Documents Volume 2. 1892. 15. Print.

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