History Reflective Essay on the present lifestyle of Americans

History Reflective Essay on the present lifestyle of Americans

This semester has been exceptionally informative to me. I have learnt so much new information concerning the past of this great nation that still dictates the present lifestyle of Americans and the world in general. Among the most interesting and informative subjects I have learnt in this course this semester include: The Roaring Twenties: The Rise of Wall Street and Madison Avenue, Revolutionary America and the Early Republic, Jacksonian Democracy and Manifest Destiny, Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Civil War, and Winners and Losers of the Gilded Age. the subjects have been useful in defining the history of America and progress towards overcoming racial discrimination and segregation. In this move, the subjects identity the basis of segregation and its drives in the wake of technological advancement.

The Roaring Twenties is a term that was mainly applied in the 1920s to refer to the unique cultural age in New York City and in other major cities (Derber 23). This term was more common in the U.S., Canada, and in the U.K. in the period of sustained economic prosperity. These were crazy years as the social, artistic, and cultural aspect of the people went through great dynamism. I have learnt that within this period normalcy returned to politics after the First World War, there was blossoming of the Jazz music, redefinition of the modern womanhood, and appreciation of the Art Deco. Economically, the period was defined by extensive dispersion and exploit of automobiles, motion pictures, telephones, electricity, and unparalleled industrial development. Rather than being agents of information, the media was focused on celebrities, more so sports heroes and movie stars, even as the major cities became grounded for their home and loaded with the new palatial cinemas and stadiums. For the very first time, women succeeded and had their right to vote. This era ended unfortunately in 1929 by the Wall Street Crash when the Great Depression set in, this brought along longer periods of gloom and hardship all through the universe (Derber 76).

From the class, I have been informed that the social and cultural features characterized cities such as Chicago, New Orleans, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Paris, and London, before spreading after the consequences of the World War I. The US pioneered in finance worldwide thus becoming unequaled with other nations such as in Germany. America came up with the Dawes Plan and the Wall Street greatly invested in Germany after Germany failed to manage war reparation to Britain and its allies. The American plan significantly solved the financial challenges as Germany finally repaid its reparations to the nations, which in turn used the dollars to sort out war debts to Washington. The effect was experienced, as financial challenges were long gone within half of the decade as prosperity set in.

Increased knowledge of the American history has been valuable to me as has guided me to understand why feelings of discontinuity are associated with modernity and breaking of traditions set previously. It has come to appreciate the fact that during this period, everything was perceived as feasible through advanced technology. There was an up rise of the innovative technology in the automobiles, media and in social sectors. Previous decorative frills in art were shed in favor in the practicality of the daily life and architecture. Learning history as defined with the period has compelled me appreciate the force behind the awakening of the citizens in fighting for their rights, appreciating life and technology and the need to conform to the modern period. This background information has been immensely informative to me as it underscores the reason why American felt good about themselves. This was the era when economically, America was stable, there was an advancement of technology in different fields, and culturally, music and art was gaining attention with the enhancements.

Due to its financial and social stability, one would assume that America was never colonized and had the best of times for advancements. This is conversely true as I came to learn in this subject. I have come to learn about the colonial, revolutionary, and the early republic period after going through some primary sources such as historical and genealogical society papers, public state archives, and periodicals (The Newberry 1).

From the subject of Jacksonian Democracy and Manifest Destiny, it is evident that the term ‘Jacksonian Democracy’ refers more to a contradiction of terms rather than a period when Andrew Jackson rose to power with the assistance of the Democratic Party (History.coma 1). I have learnt that the concept ‘Jacksonian Democracy’ is ambiguous and controversial, as it alludes to a range of democratic reforms that were preceded by the Jacksonian’s triumph. It was thus a period when an expansion of the suffrage to restructuring of the federal institutions was experienced, besides the connection of slavery to political impulse. Since the white supremacy was celebrated even as the Native Americans were subjugated, the ‘Jacksonian Democracy’ is perceived as a contradiction.

Andrew Jackson assumed reign as the seventh president of the United States of America in 1928 and came up with numerous changes in the history of America. Although it was a democratic, the associated concept to Jackson was mainly for the whites who were dominantly powerful, radical and exercised egalitarian ideals. The movement was made of a national coalition with its basis on the American Revolution, the Jeffersonian Democratic Republicans and the antifederalists of the 1780s and 1790s (History.coma 2).

The Jacksonian Democracy was a consequence of the social and economic changes in the early nineteenth century. Within the Northeast and the Old Northwest regions, there were great improvements in the transportation sector, while the cash-crop agriculture and capitalist manufacturing replaced the collapsed older yeoman and the artisan economy. Slave economy was revived by the cotton boom in the south and spread to the best lands within the region. There was seizure of the lands from the Native Americans and the Mixed Hispanics for the settlement of the Whites in the west. Though these changes were perceived as beneficial for the country, they opened up to the introduction of the unequalled society where the wealthy ruled and the poor became the victims. This becomes evident as very few, (mostly the white settlers) benefitted from the market revolution. I have therefore come to learn that though the reign of Jackson was defined by many firsts, it was a result of the tensions generated within the society. From the South, the nonslaveholders, and the assumed yeomen and tenants in the west looked forward for the new aspects of dependence that came with the spread of capitalism and commerce. The Jacksonian subjects tapped into the disaffections of the 1820-1830 and produced effective national party that advanced democratization of the national politics. They denounced the moneyed aristocracy and supported the common man, a move that generated the politicized American life that widened the electoral participation to incorporate the majority of the electorate. This was an encouraging move but the undoing of the group, because it became impossible to fight the issue of slavery after it became a small portion of the electorate that could not be removed without affecting the very egalitarian principles they group had pledged to uphold.

Lessons from the Jacksonian concept have been useful in understanding the basis of the American politics and in conceptualizing class justice and presumptions associated with the white supremacy. Although the democracy died in the 1859s, its legacy is still alive within the egalitarian aspirations and the class justice. The legacy according to me is the bulwark of a new Democratic party of the debt-ridden farmers and the immigrant workers in the South. This is apparent in the 1960s during the Second Reconstruction period when the Democrats were forced to consider the past of the party. In addition to this, at the end of the 20th century, the combination of the egalitarianism and racial prejudice that were central to the democracy still infected the American policies as it poisoned the best impulses with the worst inclinations.

The subject on abolitionist movement expounds on the variation between the abolitionist movement and the anti-slavery advocates. The major objective of the abolitionists was to liberate immediately all slaves and put to a stop racial discrimination and segregation, while the anti-slave advocates fought for gradual removal of the slaves (History.comb1). The free-soil activists sought to limit slavery to existing areas and emancipate its spread westwards. The main reinforcement of the abolitionists was from religion sectors of the Second Great Awakening that prompted people to fight for liberation on religious grounds. The idea was more prominent in the northern churches and politics from the 1830s, contributed to the religious animosity between the north and the south, and further developed to civil war. Attempts were made to immediately free all slaves and end racial segregation and discrimination. This was the main variation among the anti-slavery groups. The major two teams were however united in their beliefs, relations, and regard of the North as against them and their drive.

The abolitionists were dominant in the Civil war period although they did not cause the war itself. The group intensified the feelings of the natives by arguing that the society had become incompetent in managing slave power that dominated the political and economic arena. From the class sessions, I came to learn that even the female participated in the fight for emancipation of slave. For instance, I learnt that Angelina Grimke was among the influential people whose husband’s speech, Theodore Dwight Weld, notably called for the end of slavery. Others called for the confrontational tactics and strategies to manage bondage in American culture. These calls generated militant attacks on slave trade and vilified slaveholders as embodiment of evil. Using tales of oppression and violence, the black and white reformers argued how bondage violated the scriptural and American creed of equity and justice for all. These remarks by the abolitionists are illustrations of the practice in regions such as France and Great Britain.

Rather than living in harmony after the end of civil war and the rise of industrial and technological achievements, the American society was defined by the winners who are often few and the lowers that assume the majority population. This is a great lesson I learnt from the subject on “Winners and Losers of the Gilded Age’. I relate the lessons I learnt from the subject with the Darwinian Theory which states that only the fittest within en ecology survives the struggle of life. Darwinian Theory discusses about natural selection, a mechanical term that relevantly defines the struggle between the few rich and the poor majority during the 1990s boom that stretched all through.

During the 1990s, it was a common saying that philanthropy was the duty of the wealthy as political organizations supported the rich and utilized the votes, collusion, and patronage to retain power. During this period, corporate power was centrally placed in urban areas. Using the principle of the few winners, early industrialists, and capitalists justified their Lassais-Faire capitalism social stratification, and ruthless competition (Leohardt 2). Among the barons included John Rockefeller who owned an oil company and Andrew Carnegie who was behind the steel expansion. Losers on the other hand worked longer hours per day and earned low wages while enduring great risks for the winners. This tendency is present in this age where the symbols of boom are the ruthless robber barons during neither the Gilded period, nor the corporate raiders, but the young entrepreneurs who innovated internet companies and made millions for themselves. Rather than expanding the market for the greater good of everyone else, the innovators are building legends for themselves. Borrowing the concept from the Robber barons, the industrialists, and businesspersons are winners where everyone else is losers.


Works Cited

Derber Charles. Greed to Green: Solving Climate Change and Remarking Economy. New York:

New world Publishers. 2009. Print

History.com. “Abolitionist Movement.” 2009. Available at>


History.com. Jacksonian Democracy. 2012. Available at> http://www.history.com/topics/black-history/abolitionist-movement<

Leohardt David. “The Nation: Winners, Losers and Liars; The Long Boom’s Ugly Side.” New

York Times. 2002. Available at > http://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/12/weekinreview/the-nation-winners-losers-and-liars-the-long-boom-s-ugly-side.html<

The Newberry. American History – Colonial Period, Revolutionary Era, and Early Republic.

  1. Available at > https://www.newberry.org/american-history-colonial-period-revolutionary-era-and-early-republic<