Sample History Paper on The Quest for Freedom in American History

The United States of America has a long history inundated with key moments, actions and decisions which continue to shape modern-day America. American history is strife with numerous accounts of wars; both revolutionary and civil, resilience in the face of challenges, innovation and invention, and an overriding desire for freedom, equality, and social justice. Throughout American history, one constant notion is prevalent and that is the American citizens’ hunger, need and quest for freedom, liberty, equality, and social justice. For years now, American communities, more so the minorities, have always struggled for an end to racial discrimination, freedom and social justice

Indigenous Red Indians Quest for Freedom in Pre-Colonial America

The pre-colonial period in America is concerned with the major historical events in America before the year 1600. America, before the 1600s, was made up of numerous small indigenous tribes such as the Apache, Cherokee, Navajo, and Sioux. The majority of these indigenous tribes were of the Red Indian folk. The indigenous American tribes are responsible for the development of the Mississippian culture along the Mississippi and River Ohio. This period saw the Norse Seamen commonly known as the Vikings led by Leif Ericsson land in Newfoundland, an island off the east coast of North America (Towle 98). Later in 1492, Christopher Columbus who was heavily financed by Spain made a voyage to the New World and ‘discovered’ the Americas. Columbus’s voyage in the Americas was later followed by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon who landed on the coast of Florida.

Following both Columbus and Leon’s discovery of the Americas, numerous European nations scrambled for territory in North America. The Spanish became the first European nation to make permanent settlements in America in Saint Augustine, Florida, and Santa Fe (Towle 112). Upon having a permanent settlement, the British dominated and subjugated not only the indigenous Red Indian populations but also the foreign settlers of Spanish, French and German origins. In 1607, the British founded a London Company that was focused on the economic exploitation of America. In a desperate bid to safeguard their territorial integrity, independence and freedom from foreign domination the indigenous Red Indians waged war on the invading European populations. The resistance of the Red Indians morphed into the American-Indian Wars which almost led to the annihilation of the American indigenous population (Rodney 175). The Red Indians’ population further suffered major setbacks as their interaction with the Europeans exposed them to deadly smallpox a disease they had no resistance to.

Quest for Freedom in Colonial America

Colonial America is the historical period ranging from the late 1600s to 1799. The British, through shrewd economic activities and decisions, were able to impose their influence in the American colonies. They soon exploited their economic power to impose political domination over all America with the signing of the Mayflower Compact. Other American colonists such as the Spanish, the Dutch, Germans, and French later adopted British customs and culture making British the colonial masters of the whole of America. In 1619 the first African slaves were shipped into America them being the product of the insidious Trans-Atlantic slave Trade (Rodney 213). The African slaves were considered and treated as chattel with no rights being advanced to them. The slaves were important to the British interests in the Americas as they were a source of cheap labor in the gold mines and agricultural plantations.

In early 1700s, a revolutionary religious movement termed the Great Awakening spread throughout Britain and its thirteen colonies in America. The Great Awakening was led by George Whitefield, John Wesley and Jonathan Edwards revolutionary priests who wanted to create a theological concept of religious revival and salvation that transcended denominational boundaries (Gruver 276). The Great Awakening fostered the need for individual thought which largely attributed to the clamor for American Independence. In 1754 the French and Indian war commenced pitting Britain against France. Britain won the seven-year war, therefore, possessing most of France’s North American territories strengthening its dominance over America (“U.S. History Timeline”). The war made most of the American population resent the British even further and the clamor for independence was heightened in 1765 when the British Government imposed the stamp act on American colonies.

In 1774 progressive American leaders and delegates meet in Philadelphia to constitute the First Continental Congress which sought to seek American Independence from Britain. The leaders of the congress were Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, and Samuel Adams. With most of the American populations feeling disenfranchised by the colonial British government they started agitating for a war of independence to free them from the reigns of the British. In 1775, the American Revolution war begun between Britain and the thirteen British colonies in America led by George Washington (Conway). With the war raging on the thirteen colonies agreed to the United States Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1774. In 1776, the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia and a year later approved the official flag of the United States and the articles of confederation the first American constitution (Wilmeth and Curley 98). American independence was a big achievement for the American people in terms of freedom, equality, and social justice.

Quest for an End to Slavery in Civil War and Reconstruction Period America (1850 – 1899)

With American independence secured America focused its attention on economic and infrastructural development in addition to territorial expansion. Thomas Jefferson defeated John Adams in the 1800 presidential election to clinch the presidential seat. That same year President Jefferson authorized the Louisiana Purchase from France which almost doubled the size of America (“All-American History Quiz”). In 1812, American Congress called for the implementation of the American System Plan which meant spending money on improving American infrastructure, expanding the nation’s base of production and strengthening its banking sector (Towle 242). This stimulated the rapid growth of the nation’s economy with numerous factories and cities sprouting across the country. The almost rosy development of the country was however challenged by the ubiquitous nature of slavery more so in the Southern States of America. Slavery was still rife in the country with the Black African slaves treated no worse than animals. The issue of slavery sharply divided the nation into two diametric sides with the North having a staunch anti-slavery stance and the South a vicious pro-slavery stand.

Soon the slavery debate took a turn when American northerners and southerners started killing one another in Kansas over slavery disputes. In 1860, Republican candidate, Abraham Lincoln was elected president. Being a staunch anti-slavery supporter, his victory prompted many southern states to leave the Union with the intent of forming the Confederate States of America (Wilmeth and Curley 42). This prompted the American Civil War of 1861 between the progressive Union forces of the North against the conservative Confederate forces of the South. In 1863 the Union Army won the Battle of Gettysburg with President Lincoln issuing the Emancipation Proclamation freeing the southern slaves. The civil war ended two years later in 1865 when the leader of the Confederate soldiers General Robert E. Lee surrendered. The end of the American Civil War brought with it an end to the insidious policy of slavery in America.

African-American Struggle Against Social Injustice In 19th Century America (1900 – 1990)

The 19th century encompasses the Progressive era, Great Depression, World Wars and the Cold War in America. During the Progressive era, America made massive unprecedented strides in the spheres of global economics and politics. In the early 1900s, the rate of technological advancement and mechanization was unprecedented in the history of America. Numerous jobs were created and the country’s economy was booming until the 1929 Wall Street Crash that was a harbinger to the Great Depression. The effects of the Great Depression were acerbated by a widespread increase in racism against the African-American community.

The African-American community is a minority community in the United States had always been subjected to inhumane Jim Crow laws, brutal racism and inequality in terms of allocation of economic opportunities since the end of slavery in 1865. The African-American community started mobilizing and forming political organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, NAACP, formed in 1909 (Murphy 278). The African-American political organizations such as NAACP were formed to agitate and lobby for an end to institutional racism and the scrapping of the illegal Jim Crow laws in America. In the Cold War Era, most of the African-Americans were more politically conscious and began demanding in earnest for their civil rights. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X became the faces of the African-American community with each using diametric strategies to agitate for the advancement of not only civil rights but also human rights to the African-American community. By the end of 1965 the African-American community had been advanced human rights, the illegal Jim Crow laws abolished and institutionalized racism outlawed.

American history is full of innumerable activities, achievements, decisions, failures, and successes. A thorough study of American history uncovers the underlying quest of Americans whether White, Black or Indian for freedom and social justice. The need for an egalitarian and just society cuts across the struggles not only of the indigenous American-Indians, the African slaves, the colonized White Americans but also the racially discriminated African-American community.

 

 

Works Cited

“All-American History Quiz.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., https://www.britannica.com/quiz/all-american-history-quiz

“U.S. History Timeline.” Infoplease, Infoplease, https://www.infoplease.com/history/us/us-history-timeline

Conway, Stephen. “A Military History of the American Revolution, 1754–1783.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of American History, Apr. 2016, doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780199329175.013.264

Gruver, Rebecca Brooks. An American History. Addison-Wesley Pub. Co., 1981.

Murphy, Paul C. Since 1776: A Year-by-Year Timeline of American History. Price Stern Sloan, 1988.

Rodney, Walter. How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Howard Univ. Press, 1982.

Towle, George M. The Nation in a Nutshell: a Rapid Outline of American History. Kessinger Pub., 2005.

Wilmeth, Don B., and Jonathan Curley. “Timeline: Post-Civil War to 1945.” The Cambridge History of American Theatre, 1999, pp. 24–106., doi:10.1017/chol9780521651790.003