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Class in America Post 1817

In: Historical Events

Submitted By wldman
Words 2384
Pages 10
History 266
Professor Schneider
August 22, 2012

Question 3: African American Life During Wartime War effects all members of a state, but as with most fluctuations of the norm, those most disadvantaged and underrepresented are often most affected. An often overlooked consequence of war is the fact that it throws together people from portions of the population which would never otherwise see such proximity. This has historically been at best a double-edged sword for persecuted minorities, African Americans being no exception. In the First World War, for example, African American units were grouped into segregated units under white officers, the majority relegated to often demeaning non-combat support roles. Their mistreatment at the hands of white officers and civilians alike was in some places so bad that it led to armed insurrection, as in Houston, Texas in August 1917. Here, they seized weapons and killed 17 civilians, whereupon the military sentenced 30 black soldiers to death and 41 others to life imprisonment.[1] Those African American troops who served in France, however, were shocked at the relative warmth of their reception. “The French government awarded the Croix de Guerre to the all-black 369th U.S. Infantry regiment, and 171 officers and enlisted men were cited individually for exceptional bravery.”[2] While this surely enlivened their hope and zeal for equality at home, it was just as surely a bitter reminder of their lack of same. As World War II approached, increased need for labor in the defense industry, combined with the mechanization of cotton harvesting, led to a migration of African Americans to cities in the North. Here, they were freed from the more overt segregation and oppression of the South, and in many cases able to vote.[3] The increased demand for labor did not immediately end the African Americans' unequal treatment, rather, it gave them the opportunity to fight it. As part of the “Double V” campaign, symbolizing victory both for America and its African American population, A. Philip Randolph began to organize a march on Washington for July 4, 1941. To head off what would be a terrible political blow, President Roosevelt met with Randolph, who demanded action “'making it mandatory that Negroes be permitted to work in [defense] plants.” [4] Roosevelt complied by issuing Executive Order 8802 on June 25, 1941, which outlawed discrimination in government and defense industry workplaces. He furthermore established a Fair Employment Practices Committee to insure compliance. [5] However, even these steps fell far short of alleviating the massive systemic discrimination against blacks in the American workplace. Earl B. Dickerson, an African American lawyer appointed to the Fair Employment Practices Committee by President Roosevelt, relates an incident detailing the tactics companies would use to skirt the Executive Order: “Lockheed had employed some twenty thousand people in the war effort. No negroes. Not until the morning of the hearing did they employ any.”[6] While he had established the committee, Roosevelt did not support its aggressive pursuit of contractors and government employers who discriminated against African American workers. “You must remember Roosevelt had to be pushed,” Dickerson says.[7] This is understatement; Roosevelt personally intervened on behalf of the Washington D.C. Streetcar system, postponing their hearing, soon after which Dickerson was removed from the committee. Roosevelt, it seems, did not like to be pushed.[8] African Americans endured the same fate in the military as in the workforce during World War II. Though they enlisted in greater proportion to their population than did whites, they were again relegated to non-combat support roles.[9] As the war progressed, and the shortage of men worsened, military regulations were relaxed and African Americans did see combat with distinction, serving as pilots, infantrymen, and in armored units. Even these units were segregated, comprised entirely of African Americans, and commanded by white officers. By the end of war, however, the army even scaled back its segregation of recreational facilities in an effort to improve morale.[10]

Question 6: The Rise of Conservatism The 1960s were marked by a liberalization of America both socially and politically, marked by the social and economic reform of President Johnson's “Great Society.”[11] “The Great Society,” somewhat like Roosevelt's New Deal, sought to bring federal assistance to great numbers of the poor and disadvantaged. Dubbed the “war on poverty,” this revolved primarily around education and job training.[12] In addition to this, Johnson sought to end racial discrimination with the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which made illegal discrimination in housing and job markets, as well as voter registration.[13] By the 1970s the momentum had moved against these ideals for several reasons. To begin with, as with all reform, Johnson's had angered many people. Johnson himself understood this; upon signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 he commented that “I think we just delivered the South to the Republicans for a long time to come.”[14] Many people were furthermore frustrated by the behavior of the youthful counter-culture, the protests of which had at times resulted in violent riots- such as at the Democratic Convention in Chicago.[15] Billing himself as a conservative candidate, capable of restoring order to the country,[16] and furthermore promising to end the increasingly unpopular Vietnam War and attain “peace with honor,”[17] Nixon took the 1968 election. Though he would end his presidency in disgrace, this marked the beginning of a period of Republican presidency and the advent of a social, political, and most importantly economic conservatism that pervades American to this day. Ironically, President Johnson's reforms and policies had largely achieved their goal- the percentage of the population living in poverty dropped from 20% in 1960 to 11% in 1975.[18] Nonetheless, these were increasingly cast aside by the burgeoning conservative movement. This was due in large part to an economic downturn, which caused Americans to look askance at tax money being taken from their pocket and give to others. This downturn was compounded by an embargo by OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, which led to a spike in gas and energy prices, and consequently other domestic goods such as food.[19] By Nixon's resignation, American's had lost confidence in both their economy and their government, which President Ford did little to alleviate.[20] Though a Democrat, Jimmy Carter was an outspoken fiscal conservative, and enjoyed support from many who would otherwise have voted republican. However, his administration was plagued by economic difficulty, and uninspiring, indecisive leadership which left the voters exasperated. “He had managed to discredit the liberal tradition of the Democratic Party even while distancing himself from it, making his presidency the symbol of a larger political collapse.”[21] This left the country primed for an inspiring and motivational speaking, which they found in Ronald Reagan. Where Carter had focused on a rhetoric of belt-tightening and moral restraint, Regan promised to renew American superiority. Towards this end he implemented his supply-side centric “Reaganomics,” which remains a political buzzword to this day.[22] It was during this period, under its greatest and most popular proponent, that the conservative movement reached its apex and left its two greatest marks on American society. The first was his “Reaganomics,” which centered on tax cuts and deregulation. Towards the first, he instituted the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, the largest tax cut in national history.[23] And towards the second goal, he rolled back regulatory power of everything from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Securities and Exchange Commission. These stances of lax federal oversight and low corporate and personal taxes continue to frame the espoused republican views on government. But perhaps even more important than his economic legacy was Reagan's social legacy. His destruction of the Great Society aid, coupled with his rollback in taxes, rewarded the individualistic philosophy which he espoused. It was during this period that young people began placing their economic interests over their social ones. As Rosabeth Moss Kanter said in a Newsweek article in 1984, “a lot of people are going into business who in the 1970s would have gone into public service.”[24] The article goes on to relate a young 25 year old Bostonian's comments on the 1984 presidential election: “Cook like Reagan 'for financial reasons,' but because of the Republican stance on abortion and other social issues she eventually voted for Mondale... 'I knew Reagan would win easily anyway... If I thought it was a close election, I might not have voted for Mondale.'”[25] Andrew Carnegie wrote that “it were better for mankind that the millions of the rich were thrown into the sea than [given to the poor] to encourage the slothful,”[26] justifying his absurd acquisition of wealth through a selective Christian ethos. Thanks to the modern conservatives, Carrie Cook need not veil her greed even so thinly.

Question 5: American Consumption By the latter half of the nineteenth century the nation began to make the transition from a smaller, localized and agrarian economy to an industrialized, consumer-based economy. The reasons for this are many-fold; advanced manufacturing led to the mass-production of goods, allowing for cheaply produced and cheaply bought products[27], the railways allowed for these new, cheaper goods to be transported throughout the country via mail-order services[28], the newly expanded federal government supplied a universal federal currency with which these products could be bought, and the rapid increase of paid wage labor in these industrial centers created a broader base of consumers for these rapidly growing industries.[29] The economic implications of this change were massive; American grew to be the world's foremost producer of goods by 1900, as our economy became increasingly international and export-driven.[30] But no less massive were the social implications, especially for the working class and middle class. The working class found themselves with wages and new, cheap, mass-produced product to purchase with them, while the middle class was now expanded by the management of these new, huge companies, where once it had been comprised of skilled artisans and small business holders solely.
The American Federation of Labor was one early organization which sought to deliberately harness these forces to improve the lives of its members. Accepting only skilled workers, the AFL formed early unions and bargained with businesses and industries for better wages, hours, and working conditions. The AFL saw the American way of life as guaranteeing prosperity and time for leisure to the average worker. While the skilled laborer had previously been defined by his vocation, in this new, industrialized economy he would have the opportunity to define himself by his hobbies and own interests.[31] Another social consequence of mass-production was mass culture- as products, food stuffs, and even entertainment in the form of radio were mass-produced for national consumption, so too did a national, unified culture develop.[32] Included in this was the growing immigrant population. Mary Antin tells of how here Americanization was confirmed through consumption: “in a dazzling beautiful palace called a 'department store,' we exchanged out hateful homemade European costumes... for real American machine-made garments, and issued forth glorified in each other's eyes.”[33] This allowed for the national identity many praised as a 'melting-pot.' As Theodore Roosevelt said, “our object is to not [sic] imitate one of the older racial types, but to maintain a new American type and then to secure loyalty to this type.”[34] The most important aspect of consumption, however, was the power it placed in the hands of the weak and disenfranchised. This power became a powerful weapon the hands of African American protestors during the Civil Rights movement, a power they exercised via boycotts and sit-ins.[35] On June 4, 1956, a federal court struck down Montgomery Alabama's policy of segregated busses, 11 months after Rosa Parks had been arrested for violating it, and the African American boycott of the service began.[36] Although only 10% of eligible southern people of color were able to vote due to practical rather than legal disenfranchisement, they had found a means of being counted which could not be taken from them in a capitalist economy.[37]

Antin, Mary. “The Promised Land (1912).” Supplemental Readings. (July 30, 2012)

Carnegie, Andrew. “Wealth.” Supplemental Reaadings. (23 July, 2012)

Dickerson, Earl B.. “The Fair Employment Practices Committee (1941-43).” Supplemental Readings (13 August 2012)

Faragher, John Mack and Mari Jo Buhl and Daniel Czitrom and Susan H. Armitage. Out of Many: A History of the American People 6th Ed., Brief Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc., 2006

Newsweek. “The Year of the Yuppie.” Supplemental Readings. (20 August, 2012)

Roosevelt, Theodore. “Hyphenated Americanism.” Supplemental Readings. (July 30, 2012)

Schneider, Rachel.
[1] John Mack Faragher et al., Out of Many: A History of the American People 6th Ed., Brief Ed., (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc., 2006) 575
[2] ibid.
[3] Rachel Schneider. August 15, 2012.
[4] John Mack Faragher et al., 663.
[5] ibid.
[6] Earl B. Dickerson. “The Fair Employment Practices Committee (1941-43).” Supplemental Readings (13 August 2012), par. 4.
[7] Dickerson, par. 9.
[8] Dickerson, par. 10-14.
[9] Rachel Schneider. August 13, 2012.
[10] Faragher et al., 666-667
[11] Faragher et al., 782
[12] Faragher et al., 780
[13] Faragher et al, 782
[14] Faragher et al., 787
[15] Faragher et al., 786
[16] Faragher et al., 787
[17] Faragher et al., 795
[18] Rachel Schneider. August 20, 2012.
[19] Faragher et al., 807
[20] Faragher et al.,
[21] Faragher et al., 810.
[22] Faragher et al., 816.
[23] Faragher, 816-817.
[24] Newsweek. “The Year of the Yuppie.” Supplemental Readings. (20 August, 2012) par. 13.
[25] ibid. par. 16.
[26] Andrew Carnegie. “Wealth.” Supplemental Reaadings. (23 July, 2012) par. 8.
[27] Faragher et al., 477
[28] Faragher et al., 478-479
[29] Rachel Schneider. July 23, 2012.
[30] Faragher et al., 477
[31] Rachel Schneider. July 23, 2012.
[32] Faragher et al., 603.
[33] Mary Antin. “The Promised Land (1912).” Supplemental Readings. (July 30, 2012) par. 5.
[34] Theodore Roosevelt. “Hyphenated Americanism.” Supplemental Readings. (July 30, 2012) par. 4.
[35] Rachel Schneider. August 15, 2012.
[36] Faragher et al., 603.
[37] Faragher et al., 742.…...

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...Social Science 101 Illegal Immigration One of the most controversial political issues of today is that of illegal immigrants from Mexico. Illegal immigration into the United States is a problem that should be stopped, as it is unfair to both Americans and to the people of the country from which they illegally immigrated. It is thought that the majority of illegal aliens residing in the U.S. are Mexicans (Anderson 55). Roy Beck clarifies the situation by stating, "The national consensus is that the United States should be a post-mass immigration country has included most leaders of business, religion, labor, academia, and social work." Illegal immigration from Mexico must be stopped by means of different policies and other methods of prevention, because the effects on both Mexico and the United States are predominately unfavorable. There are multiple policies and means of preventing illegal immigrants from entering the United States. Immigration laws are the catalysts of illegal immigration prevention. Proposition 187 is a tough immigration law clamping down on illegal aliens, used in California, the state with the most illegal immigrants. It doubled the number of boarder guards, made it harder for legal immigrants to bring their families over, not permitting as much political asylum and was harder on illegal aliens already here (DiConsiglio 3). NAFTA, officially, hasn’t reduced as much illegal immigration as had been hoped, but, it helped Mexico recover faster from......

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