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Voices of a Peoples History, Term Paper Example

Pages: 1

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Term Paper

Introduction

A considerable amount of American History is drawn from  the Colonial through to the Civil War era.  Most of this was focused upon minority groups and the exploitation of these by the predominately white land owners.  This created a power struggle of politics and economics where racism and sexism escalated conflict.  This paper examines this situation and addresses the question ” who was riding whom and how were they riding them”?  The paper is structured into three main parts:  i) Historical background  ii) The argument and supporting evidence  iii) Concluding remarks.

Historical Background

it was in the year of 1619 the first shipment of black slaves were brought to the Americas.  In order to serve the white colonists.  Most of these being located in Jamestown, Virginia, and to be used as a source of cheap labour.  Slaves did not readily accept the position of enslavement.  In this letter.  Revolts during the period 1720 to 93.  The white landowners put down such reports with considerable force and hanged many slaves in order to set an example to others who would revolt.  Four petitions against slavery were made during 1773 to 1777.  Slavery was an extremely cruel institution imposed by the white colonists on the important Negro population from Africa.  In 1790it supported 1000 tons of cotton and in 1860 the South had increased this to 1 million tons.  In the same era slaves had increased from 400,000 to over 4 million.[1] (Arnove)

It was in 1607 that England placed hundred and five colonists in Virginia and the settlement was called Jamestown.  After 15 years the settlement had only 1200 residents.  It was the discovery of tobacco that created a boom time which  remained through the 1620s.  By the end of the 17th century.  Virginia was listed as England’s most profitable overseas colony.  It created a huge return in tobacco revenue.  The success was largely due to the huge slave trade  that was built up in order to harvest this tobacco.  The Chesapeake Bay was a huge dock that contained slave ships and  cargo ships bound for Europe.  Virginia settlers were only concerned with wealth creation, and getting rich quickly.  They cared little about the morality of slavery or the welfare of others.  This was contrasted to the settlers of New England who had more pious and  religious beliefs; this was more of a family community. Virginia was more a community of single get-rich-quick merchants.  New England built churches, schools, self-government, and thrived; whereas, the Junior struggled to survive in a single dimensioned  economy.

New England was considered a haven of puritans and a great example of righteousness.  Virginia was the hellhole of sin, disease, slavery and exploitation.  By the middle of the 17th century, slavery and racism had grown deep roots in the South.  The scene was set for the American Civil War. The origins of the Civil War were  about the dispute of slavery.  Southern states were angered by the North’s attempted antislavery policies.  The South was mainly run by a plantation system dominated by the use of slavery.  The North were growing large urban populations with no slavery.  There was a higher birthrate in the north, with larger number of European immigrants joining the community.  It was in 1860, with the inauguration of President Abraham Lincoln that caused the succession of the Southern states to form that of the Confederate states of America.

Other minority groups

The gay community in the USA were inspired by the civil rights movement.  They organized themselves in order to fight for equality of rights.  They started a  controversial legal battle that still goes on to this very day.  History shows that gay people have been a minority group that always have been discriminated against.  They have been victims of both abuse, violence and sexual harassment.  They have even been targeted by religious groups, as the non-conformist stereotype of the gay person, for a is against teaching of Christianity.  This reached an ultimate head in the second world war in Europe with both Hitler and Stalin murdered a huge number of gay people as part of their policy of ethnic cleansing.  The position today is still deeply divided regarding gay and homosexual rights.  Hence there is a similarity to that of slavery, i.e., if you try to avoid this issue and marginalize the gay community from society.  It remains equally impossible to that of the stance taken with civil rights, slavery, women’s right to vote etc.

In the USA marriage has been defined as “a religious and local commitment between a man and a woman”, essentially the ultimate expression of love between two people. (Messerli, 2009). Whether the morality of gay marriage is right or wrong seems to be debated on moral, religious, democratic and human rights.  Whether same sex marriages should be legalised may briefly be summarised as follows:

  • Denying such rights may be considered a breach of both religious freedom
  • The concept of homosexuality is not new and is generally accepted as part of a modern social lifestyle
  • Denying such marriages may be considered an act of minority discrimination
  • There is no evidential reasons to suggest that gay couples cannot raise children as good parents, child adoption rates rise creating a more caring society

The Civil Rights Movement was considered to be at its peak in the ten years from 1955-1965. “Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, guaranteeing basic civil rights for all Americans, regardless of race, after nearly a decade of nonviolent protests and marches”  (Cozzens, 1988).  The African community in the USA suffered the indignity of many decades of second-class citizenship.  It was in the 1940s and 1950s that leaders within the black community began to rally the people  and fight back.  Not until  after the end of the Civil War did  the black community start  to enjoy some privileges i.e. the right to vote, the right to schooling and the right to hold public office.  Despite some progress,  life for blacks in the southern states remained a dismal prospect.  In some regards there  was even a continuation of the old practice of slavery.   There was really a catalogue of events in the 1950s that fuelled the civil rights movement.  In 1954 in the case of Brown vs. the Board of Education, the Supreme Court declared school segregation as unconstitutional.  In 1955 in the town of Montgomery, Alabama, a certain ‘Rosa Parks’  refused to sit at the back of the bus, as required by the city ordinance.  A boycott followed and  ultimately this resulted in  bus  segregation being declared as unconstitutional.  In 1956 Southern congressmen formed a coalition  and tried to challenge the rulings of the Supreme Court.  In 1957, the Arkansas government Little Rock attempted to use the National Guard to prevent nine black students from attending the Little Rock high school.  This involved intervention from the president and the dispatch of federal troops to ensure legal compliance.  Essentially, a decade of unrest.

Works Cited

Arnove, Howard Zinn & Anthony. “Voices of a Peoples History.” Arnove, Howard Zinn & Anthony. Voices of a Peoples History. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2004. 196.

Chew, Robin. Dr Martin Luther King jnr. 1 12 1995. 3 3 2010 <http://www.lucidcafe.com/library/96jan/king.html>.

Messerli, Joe. Should same sex marriages be legalized? 24th May 2009. 1st October 2009 <http://www.balancedpolitics.org/same_sex_marriages.htm>.

Scheier, Bruce. US Civil Rights Movement as an insurgency. 15 12 2009. 3 3 2010 <http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2009/12/the_us_civil_ri.html>.

[1] Voices of a Peoples History, H.Zinn and A Arnove p167.

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