The Evolution of modern US Society
The American society’s prehistory starts with people migrating to America from Asia. The ancestors of the present American natives were the Paleo-Indians and they were hunters and gatherers who migrated into the Northern region of America (Raphael, 56). Native people believed that everything in nature, for example, plants, animals and non-living objects such as rocks had spiritual power. Thus, farmers and gatherers had to follow certain rules and carry out specific rituals that demonstrated respect for the sacred world. The American continent was discovered by Europeans in 1492 whereby Spanish, English, and French colonial groups entered the New World (Raphael, 58). They acquired the discovered lands, which resulted to a change of the cultural and physical landscape of American society.
Europeans were industrialist and they valued personal wealth and success. In accordance with their Christian faith, majority of European people misinterpreted the biblical admonition to control the earth and take authority over it (Raphael, 61). From their point of view, any land that was not systematically utilized and irrigated was of no use. American colonization resulted to emergence of new customs, civilizations and finally states, which emerged as result of the union of indigenous American and European customs, peoples and organizations. The revolution of American society through European influence is manifested by structural designs, faith, food, the arts and mostly languages, the most prevalent being Spanish with 376 million speakers and English with 348 million.
The catchphrase, “No taxation without representation” was invented during the 1750s and it summarized a major objection of the American immigrants in the Thirteen Colonies (Raphael, 62). This was one of the main reasons that contributed to the occurrence of the Revolution. In brief, majority of those colonies supposed that, as they were not fully represented in the far-away British congress, any laws it approved concerning the colonists, for example, the Sugar Act were unlawful under the Bill of Rights. The creation of independent states in the New World commences with the Declaration of Independence by America in the year1776 but the Revolutionary War continued until 1783 (Raphael, 63). Slavery had a major role in the growth of new society’s economy following the American colonization by the Europeans. This is because, the cotton and sugar cane produced by slaves, turned out to be major exports for America and the Caribbean states (Raphael, 65).
Louisiana Purchase could possibly be the best contribution of Thomas Jefferson’s regime although it is apparent that he did not come into office with an intention of expanding the country. It was in 1800 when Spain relinquished the Louisiana region to France in the pact of San Ildefonso (Elman 563). Surprisingly, the land was equivalent to the size United States during that time. Through the purchase of the region, America increased its geographical size, obtained access to the resources of the wasteland and major channels for travel and trade. Moreover, the Louisiana region served as a kind of buffer region, keeping foreign authorities in Northern America at a far distance from the major population of America (Elman 565).
The 1828 elections for presidency brought a landslide win for Andrew Jackson. Jackson got nearly 70 % of the total votes casted in the Electoral College and popular contribution in the election increased to 60 % (Norton, Sheriff, Blight, & Chudacoff 230).The election of Jackson as the president represented the beginning of transformation of American politics. He became the first westerner voted president, in fact, the first president to come from a different state other than Virginia and Massachusetts (Norton et al., 231). He publicly declared himself as the defender of the ordinary man and alleged that their interests were always ignored by the aggressive general economic strategies of former heads of state. Jacksonian Democracy symbolized a provocative amalgamation of the finest and the worst characters of American society. On one side it was a bona fide democratic association that comprised of a principled democratic drive, but this dominant social critique was forever cast for the white man’s advantage (Norton et al., 233). This tragic blend of egalitarianism, male privilege, and ethnic prejudice continues to be a central feature of Americans way of life and to explore their connection in the past could help propose ways of prevailing over their persistent limitations in the future.
The Civil War which occurred in 1861 could possibly be the most significant incident in the history of American society (Hummel 21). The continued existence of the America as one country was at stake, and on the outcome of the war relied on the country’s capability of bringing to reality the principles of independence, impartiality, human dignity, and integrity. The election of Abraham Lincoln as the president in 1860 brought the long debate concerning the relative powers of the national and the state administrations to a climax (Hummel 23). At the time of his inaugural ceremony, six Southern provinces had separated from the Union and created their own union called Confederate States of America and later five more states followed. This resulted to an intense war involving Northern and Southern states that put constitutional regime to its severest test. After the lengthy period of war that lasted for four years, the Union was preserved, four million Black American slaves obtained their freedom, and the whole country was freed from the oppressive slavery (Hummel 25). This civil war can be viewed as the last, violent phase in a clash of two local subcultures and as the breakdown of a democratic political structure. It can also be viewed as the peak of many decades of social transformation and as a critical chapter in American ethnic history.
Following the rejection of Johnson’s plans by northern voters in the congressional vote Republicans in the parliament supported the Reconstruction of the South. Congress approved the Reconstruction Bill of 1867, which momentarily alienated the South into five military quarters and delineated how administrations based on general suffrage were to be structured (Norton et al., 236). The Act also stipulated the approval of the 14th Amendment by the southern region, which widened the description of citizenship, giving equal protection of the Constitution to ex-slaves, prior to joining the Union. Later in 1869, parliament endorsed the 15th Amendment which guaranteed citizen’s right to take part in an election. By 1870, every single member Confederate states had joined the Union and the regional constitutions were the most progressive in the county’s history during the time of Radical Reconstruction. The involvement of Blacks in southern civic life after 1867 was possibly the most elemental outcome of Reconstruction, which was basically an extensive experimentation in interracial democracy (Norton et al., 237). During this time, Blacks won election to southern state administrations and even to the American parliament. Some of other accomplishments of Reconstruction include the South’s first government-funded public school arrangements, more equitable taxation Acts and laws against tribal discrimination. After a century, the success of Reconstruction was revived at the time of civil rights pressure group of the 1960s, as Blacks fought for the political, economic and equal opportunity which they were denied for a long time.
At the start of the 19th century, United States was generally undeveloped and the biggest effect of the Industrial Revolution is that it transformed the country into a much more urban nation. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, America was a nation of small scale farmers residing in small communities (Norton et al., 238). It was an era when people were rather self-sufficient and essentially equal to one another in matters concerning economics. Industrial Revolution changed this way of life as more people started moving from villages to cities. Economic inequality became much more prevalent as some people turned out to be wealthy factory owners and others became poor uneducated employees. Afterward, in the 20th century American society underwent an enormous change. Transformations in the workplace reached throughout social strata and for those in the working class, the impact of the industrial revolution was more adverse.
Elman, Colin. “Extending offensive realism: the Louisiana Purchase and America’s rise to regional hegemony.” American political science review 98.04 (2004): 563-576.
Hummel, Jeffrey. Emancipating slaves, enslaving free men: a history of the American civil war. Open court, 2013.
Norton, Mary Beth, et al. A People and a Nation: a History of the United State, Volume I: to 1877. Cengage Learning, 2014.
Raphael, Ray. A People’s History of the American Revolution: How Common People Shaped the Fight for Independence. New Press, 2012.