American History, Essay Example

Questions

  1. What were the causes of the Great Depression (1929 to 1939)? Explain. How did the New Deal attempt to help the suffering of the Depression and bring reforms to the nation so that a depression might not happen again? What ended the Depression: the New Deal or World War II? Explain.

There are various theories as to what caused the world-wide economic collapse the precipitated the Great Depression. The main causes of the depression are based in natural economic cycles which are influenced by supply and demand and also by government regulation.  A drop in the confidence level of investors coupled with a downturn in consumer spending created an economic bubble that in turned caused rampant deflation. These factors eventually led to the Great Depression because of the fact that banking industries were not sufficiently regulated and therefore the trend toward holding onto money rather than spending it or investing it became fixed and, in the long run, caused a “panic” which led people to take their money out of banks and investments, which, in turn, caused the collapse of the financial industry.

The New Deal  was a series of countermeasures meant to steer the economy out of the Great Depression. The measures were based in three ideas: reform, recovery, and relief. The reform aspect of the New Deal was meant to curtail abuses by the financial industry and banks. The recovery aspect of the New Deal was geared toward revamping the economy by addressing issues of supply and demand. The relief aspect of the New Deal was intended to help those who were suffering due tot he economic collapse and included minimum wage, social security, adn regulation of the labor laws.

While many observers have argued that the New Deal was a successful approach to the crisis of the Great Depression and, in fact, ended the depression, others have claimed that the outbreak of the Second World War was actually the reason why the American economy experienced a turnaround. This idea is specious because the upturn in the economy began before the outbreak of World War Two, and persisted through the years that led to the war. In fact, it is unlikely that the United States would gave been able to mobilize its industrial base for the war so successfully had the New Deal not been enacted.

2) Explain the progress of civil rights in America from the Civil War to 1974. Mention specific groups — or even individuals — who have taken part in this struggle.

While it is true that the American Civil War ended slavery, the reality is that minorities adn particularly African Americans remained persecuted long after slavery was abolished. The so-called “Jim Crow” era in American history is a nightmarish chapter that includes horrifying examples of the racist oppression of African Americans. The progress of Civil Rights after the end of the Civil War can therefore be regarded as an uninterrupted struggle for human rights that began before the Civil War and continued through it and on into the present day. The populist sentiment for racial equality and human rights that existed primarily in the Northern states before, during, and after the American Civil War increased in influence and spread slowly throughout the country. The idea that whites were superior to people of color was culturally endemic in American society and resulted in segregation.

In the mid-twentieth century, the Civil Rights movement began to take hold of popular consciousness and became an almost mainstream phenomenon. Leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcom X, used different strategies to awaken consciousness about racial inequality and injustice. Their efforts combined withe the efforts of countless activists across diverse disciplines and social levels culminated in the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Acts which were both signed into law by Lyndon B. Johnson. The Civil Rights movement must, however, be considered as a populist movement because it coalesced not only those activists who were concerned with racial injustice, bot those who worked for equal rights for other racial and religious minorities and  women. The passage of laws to curtail discrimination was an important step in the progress toward civil rights, but the process of achieving social equality continues right into modern times.