The Period from 1880’s to the 1920’s
The period between 1880’s marked a period of transition on the political, social and economic lifestyle among the people of America. Historians consider this period as a period of renovation and reconstruction of the American way of life. This is a period when America was in the struggle to build a nation after periods of colonialism and political oppression as well as the issues of slavery, racialism among other challenges. Slavery had taken its roots in the 18th century spreading up to the early 19th century. The period between the 1880s, therefore, witnessed a lot of conflicts which came from aspects of life causing the political, social, cultural and economic struggle. This essay seeks to analyze the conflicts that occurred during this term.
Racial conflict became prominent in the 18th and 19th centuries. Racialism was established in America by the colonialists who took the blacks to work in their farms as slaves. After abolition of the slave trade, a new racial order took place causing a lot of conflicts between the blacks and whites as well as between the abolitionists and the government. There were over 90% blacks living in the rural areas of the south who depended on the landowners for jobs in order to sustain themselves. These landowners considered them as inferior and mistreated them on the basis of their color; this led to the constant violent repressions and the rise of terrorism cases. These terrorism cases were perpetuated by the race proxies. The southern states passed bills that were expected to challenge the problem of racism which made up the 14th amendment that aimed at promoting equality while maintaining the color differences. The racial segregation was perpetuated by the political leaders of the time. Great examples of explicit racists were presidents Wilson and Taft (Homicide, Race, and Justice in the American West: 1880-1920, 30).
Many blacks were killed in the south while the scientific classes taught the students to differentiate themselves on the basis of color. The law forbade any form of interaction that would foster black and white mingling, for example, intermarriages among the various races were illegalized. Blacks lost all their political power as a result of the amendment on the laws to block them from reaching any political power. Laws became a weapon to disenfranchise the black immigrants. As a result of the political situation, many key events took place. The major reaction took place in 1919 when the whites led major riots that left the black cities such as Tulsa burnt down to ashes. Many blacks were attacked and killed during this bloody riot. Blacks responded through their rejection of Jim Crow, demand for reparations for their slavery among others. They responded through speeches, petitions while the north educated the blacks on the issues of citizenship (Higginbotham 210).
The labor sector was transformed during this time. The war had brutally destroyed the European economic systems, and there was a need to rebuild the destroyed economic systems. The veterans, therefore, responded by investing on the economy creating job markets which unlike the earlier periods embraced women and children. There were many companies in the construction industry that readily provided employment opportunities. This resulted in an inflationary boom of 1919 which caused distinct labor unrest. The labor unrest resulted in a series of strikes that hit the country. The 1919 strike became the turning point of labor conflicts. The laborers went on strike challenging the oppressive structures such as isolation, ethnicity, racism and divisions which undermined some laborers’ goals. Other movements such as the Red Scare came into the field challenging the striking workers as well as the American government the group had organized terror tactics and combative responses to the workers needs leading to the defeat of the labor unions. Generally, the 1920’s witnessed a series of revolts resulting from the workers and employer conflicts (Sklar 312).
The period between 1880’s and the 1920s witnessed the transformation of women. Introduction of new perceptions on women took shape during this period. This oversaw the passing of the suffrage amendment of the 1920. The new woman was defined by her strength, independence and accomplishment in life. She is educated and has a job that will earn her a living and freedom. The new woman sought her freedom and demanded equal rights that involved an unrestrained behavior, right to drink and even the right to smoke in public as well as demand for sexual satisfaction. Women sought for equality to men and expanded personal freedom. Women were allowed to participate in the political activities such as voting. This period experienced the rise on women consciousness which posed a threat to the male dominance in decision matters (Sorin113).
Conflicts that took place during the 18th and 19th centuries transformed many aspects of American lifestyle. There were booms in the economy, political struggles and adjustments; cultural crisis as a result of racism, family structure got transformed as a result of the women empowerment. Conclusively, the American history is marked by dynamic changes that took place in the 1880s to the 1920s. This period was full of adjustment and identity conflicts, and historians have, therefore, considered it as the age of crisis and transformation.
Higginbotham, Evelyn B. Righteous Discontent: The Women’s Movement in the Black Baptist Church, 1880 – 1920. Cambridge, Mass. [u.a.: Harvard University Press, 1997. Print.
McKanna, Clare V. Homicide, Race, and Justice in the American West: 1880-1920. Tucson: Univ. of Arizona Press, 1997. Print.
Sklar, Kathryn K, Kevin Bales, and Martin Bulmer. The Social Survey in Historical Perspective: 1880-1940. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1991. Print
Sorin, Gerald. A Time for Building: The Third Migration, 1880-1920. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. Print