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Monday, February 14, 2011

The enduring vision- A history of the American People

The enduring vision- A history of the American People

1. How did the industrial development of the United States from 1865 to 1900 change the country? (Make sure to talk about the rise of Corporate America and the impact it had on labor.)

Devastated after the civil war, it is lovely to realize that America started its industrial revolution at that very era. One good thing lead to another, thus, with the zeal to have continued source of cheap energy, which was the coal, it triggered other industries and businesses around.

It is very important to note that Americans had already, as early as the early beginning of the nineteenth century, been raising start-up capital for transportation enterprises such as turnpikes and canals (Boyer 405). This was made possible through a corporate-style of commercial entity or organization.

It may sound so far away, 19th century, and now it is the 21st century, it was about two hundred years ago but the corporate world back then, has been so active as ever. Corporations were utilizing stocks and bonds to raise money (Boyer 405).

The rise of corporate America was in perfect timing by coinciding this period with new inventions, specialty productions and innovations and marketing paving the way to colossal growth of the United States economy (Boyer 410). Labor conditions were greatly impacted by these changes as well. The rise of corporations triggered mass-production and that means the end of the artisans customizing orders from customers. Mass-production gave rise to non-skilled or semi-skilled labor; after all, skilled individuals were not needed anymore as there were machines available in helping them complete their jobs. In the modern age as of today, we do not feel the difference of the impact of these changes that happened before. We are born during this mass-production age but for those people living during that time, it was a big deal. For the people who cannot identify the individual who created their pair of shoes, it makes a lot of difference. It was even noted that the cultural values that accompanied the appearance of the business corporation have largely been lost in history, where managerial enterprise is often treated as something new, alien, and thoroughly opposed to principles of social reform and reordering. " (Lipartito and Sicilia 95)

Yes, the economy boosted from having a lot of people getting jobs than before but those were neither easy nor highly- paid labors earning lower than a dollar per day for mill workers (Boyer 417). Contract system was even the hype those days and I thought it is only the effect of liberalism in modern days!

2. How did the growth of cities and the influx of immigrants create a new awareness of ethnic and class differences? How were racial stereotypes used to reinforce these distinctions?

Identifying who made your shoes for you was impossible but at least it was best to stay being identified "who" you really are. Thus, migrant laborers stick to their culture and ethnic practices to stay clustered with each other. This is no different from normal human reaction because we ourselves would like to belong to something or someone or someplace that we have knowledge of or some attachment to. In the case of migrant workers, they stayed with their countrymen as possible retaining and practicing what they all together know such as culture, beliefs and traditions.

According to Boyer (416), Foreign-born English, German, and Irish workers setup ethnic trade organizations and joined affiliated benevolent associations, and being bound by ethnic and religious ties, they observe weddings and funerals according to old country traditions. This was even before the heavy influx of labor immigration hit the United States.

With the heavy influx of non-skilled migrant workers, stereotyping became even more emphasized. “Slums” and “ghettos” (Boyer 437) came into view and the stigma of these words remains up to the present. Although this attitude is not exclusive in American cities, as there are also “ghettos” and “slums” in many cities of the world, this stereotyping reinforced identity to those immigrants. It is sad though that in present times if you say “slum” or “ghetto” it connotes something negative in nature. And that’s how they Jews got it, they used to stay together and be identified with each other in their Jewish “ghettos” and for sure they never imagined that their aim to be with each other would result to the people’s current perception of the “ghetto”. Before these stereotypes, ghetto was typically walled, with gates that were closed at a certain hour each night, and all Jews had to be inside the gate at that hour or suffer penalties." ("Ghetto 19324") And sad to say, when you say “ghetto” these days, it does not refer to be exclusive to Jews anymore… it is something that denotes “danger, chaos and crime”, not necessarily committed by or related to the Jews but section of a city where members of any racial group are segregated.

3. How, where, and why did the United States get involved in territorial expansion in the late nineteenth century?

United States’ territorial expansion? How? Through and with the democrats having a strong zeal. Where? Beginning 1840 war with the neighboring Mexico, then with the Kansas-Nebraska act and later Cuba, The Philippines, etcetera as US planned to expand from North American continent, to the Atlantic seaboard to the Pacific Ocean. Why? Because it is a “Manifest Destiny”! Such was the credo which encouraged American expansionists to conceive that the free rather than the meek would inherit the earth (Weinberg 129). The principle of this Manifest destiny, which became synonymous of territorial expansion, actually became even more convincing because American early settler, merchants, and messengers or missionaries were already on the move to far distant areas of North America. John L. O'Sullivan's first uses of the phrase Manifest Destiny in 1839 responding to the population movements that was already underway in Texas and in the Oregon Country.

It was such a bright idea and a very successful “brainwash” to both soldiers and the territory being engulfed by the United States. Can you imagine someone, pretending to be totally harmless, knocking at your door telling you he or she is offering you democracy, education, freedom, education and the likes? It sounds too good to be true, but that was the concept of the manifest destiny, the idea that Senator Douglas used in 1851, when he proposed Nebraska to be a “territory” (Boyer 404).

Although destiny and mission have a pedigree that predates the United States itself, it was not until the early nineteenth century that profound changes in American life were combined with the idealism of the nation's revolutionary beginnings and with currents of European Romanticism to produce a popular romantic nationalism that gave new meaning to the idea of progress (Haynes and Morris 3).

No matter what campaign it was done before in order to promote smooth colonization by the United States, there was always more to it than what the popular belief is. As I see it, although Manifest Destiny was easier to grasp and be understood and be seen, there would always be the specific and stronger motives behind the territorial expansion: political, economic and religious side to it.

4. Define progressivism and detail how and why this movement developed. (Be sure to discuss

progressive activity at the local, state, and national levels.)

Progressivism was a series of cultural and political responses to industrialization and its by-products (Boyer 479). It was a period that has taken its name from the American Progressive Party (1912-1924) and at the same time the name was taken from a common feeling that the earlier part of the 20th century was attentively directed on a sound body of democratic transformations that altered significant features of the American political system.

Progressive movements were both visible locally and in state level. In fact, the progressive movement began with grass-roots campaign at the local level from New York to San Francisco (Boyer 481).

Some of the local events and reforms related to progressivism include the following:

a. Reform of the political process – succession of political reform spasms in New York City when Protestant clergy rallied against Tammany Hall;

b. The 1907 shooting of the original prosecutor in San Francisco against Abe Reuf but he and his cronies eventually got convicted with Hiram Johnson as the new prosecutor. Johnson becoming governor of California and later the senate. He also introduced profit-sharing in his factory, established playgrounds and kindergarten and lodging for homeless transients:

c. Laws on utility rate regulation, equitable taxation and public ownership of utility companies; and

d. Various municipal reforms: political issues, immigration issues and public (municipal) services.

On the state level, following are some of the progressivism happenings:

  1. Institution of secret ballots to prevent manipulation of elections;
  2. Adoption of “direct primary” where party members and not leader select candidates for public office; and
  3. Various voter reforms: inaugurating the processes initiative, where voters can instruct legislature to consider a specific bill; referendum where voters can enact a law; and recall petition where voters can remove official from office by gathering enough signatures.

The period of progressivism has long been hailed for its democratic idealism, its governmental innovations, and its quest for social justice. “ (Southern 42). Although most of the reforms, especially in terms of voting and politics were eventually get manipulated again, it is such a beautiful feeling that American never stopped the quest for improvement and be the land of freedom.

Works Cited

Boyer et al. The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People. Sixth Ed. Boston/New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2009.

"Ghetto." The Columbia Encyclopedia. 6th ed. 2009. Questia. Web. 18 July 2010.

Haynes, Sam W., and Christopher Morris, eds. Manifest Destiny and Empire: American Antebellum Expansionism. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 1997. Questia. Web. 18 July 2010.

Lipartito, Kenneth, and David B. Sicilia, eds. Constructing Corporate America: History, Politics, Culture. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. Questia. Web. 18 July 2010.

Southern, David W. The Progressive Era and Race: Reaction and Reform, 1900-1917. Wheeling, IL: Harlan Davidson, 2005. Questia. Web. 18 July 2010.

Weinberg, Albert K. Manifest Destiny A Study of Nationalist Expansionism in American History. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press, 1935. Questia. Web. 18 July 2010.

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