There have been several booms and busts in the history of the United States. Did the events that took place during this period play an important role in shaping the future of the country? This essay discusses them chronologically starting with the emergence of modern America (1865-1890), then the reform empire (1890-1920), followed by the isolation to world power (1920-1960), and lastly, the change from a superpower to a global nation to prove that the booms and busts shaped the present day America.
1865 - 1890: The Emergence Of Modern America: From Reconstruction to an Industrial Power
Restoration of the union after the Civil War
Former victims of slavery were restricted by black codes. These were laws enacted to control their movement and to make them submit themselves to their owners or employers. However, the main reason why these legislations were passed was to make the freed slaves obedient workers of their slave masters. The black people were even required to pay a fee to get jobs. The people started to protest and claimed that they only wanted their freedom, and special privileges were not one of their grievances(Pearson Education, 2009). Their freedom was achieved several decades later after a series of protests.
American Civil Rights
African Americans participated in a series of events to advocate for social justice and the right to vote. There were demonstrations especially in the south, where slavery was most common. With the help of the white community the African Americans challenged their fellow black Americans to participate more in American politics and its economy. All this activities took place between the years 1964 and 1970, but had initially started in the 17th century.
A series of non-violent activities forced the government to give a response. This culminated in the achievement of equal voting rights in 1965, removal of barriers to immigration, and equal housing.
Closing the frontier
Occupation of the western regions of the country meant that there was never going to be a frontier line. The Indians were pushed towards the western regions at a very fast rate, and the uninhabited land was becoming scarce. After 1865, the Americans demanded land, commerce, adventure, and gold (CMH, 2005).
The native Indians were losing land, which was their main livelihood; civilization caused the extinction of wildlife, and the Indians were forced to fight back. However, they were limited in their ability to fight the Americans, and most of them were killed in the process.
The industrial order
As the country became industrialized, many people sold their land and lived in the city. There was Immigration of people of all walks of life including Italians, Germans, Chinese, and the Irish. The number of slums increased, and the quality of life reduced due to lack of employment. Towards the end of the 19th century, Jacob Riis documented poverty in New York City trough the use of photos. He held that people needed to expose their living conditions so that they could solve them collectively (NPR, 2005).
1890 - 1920, Reform and Empire
Populism, segregation, and integration
Towards the year 1887, the government started to change its legislations and policies. The government partitioned and sold the natives’ land to the white Americans. The land owned by the natives decreased drastically. The aim of these actions was to civilize the Native Americans (Mavspace, 2013).
In the late 19th century, the United States of America were emerging to be a superpower in the monetary and naval spheres. Big companies left the country to set up other branches of their businesses in other countries. The country was experiencing social problems, which was the motivation to expand their economical activities to other countries (Mavspace, 2013). The countries that were under the control of the US included Cuba, Philippines, and Mexico.
The Progressive Era
This was a period when big strides were made towards improving the welfare of the employees. The working conditions improved and the safety of workers was protected by new legislations (NPR, 2013). Because of the reforms that were initiated during this period, citizens now enjoy benefits such as reduced working hours and insurance covers.
The War to end all wars
This was started off by World War I. In the year 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia. The US was supposed to be neutral in the events that were happening in Europe. However, the relationship with the Germans was becoming tenser by the day. Germans offered to support Mexico against the USA, and this led to the declaration of war by President Woodrow Wilson (Pearson Education, 2009).
1920-1960: From Isolation to the World Power
This was a period of post-war disillusionment, various prohibitions, and the Great Depression. The 1920’s was a period of extreme happiness in the United States. People were wealthy and able to afford luxuries such as movies, cars, and other forms of recreation. In this period, steam was replaced by electricity, better methods of producing goods were introduced, the standards of living of the citizens improved, and the economy was doing well (Mavspace, 2013).
However, the 1930’s was a period of great poverty brought about partly by the meltdown of the stock market. People were forced to live in slums and to borrow food. President Frederick Delano Roosevelt introduced a plan that sought to contain the situation and the new deal was appreciated by many for saving Americans from abject poverty.
The Good War
Albert Einstein wrote a letter to Franklin Roosevelt to inform him that researchers in Germany were developing a nuclear weapon. However, he decided to complete the manufacture of a nuclear bomb before the Germans would do that. Einstein regretted sending the letter when it was launched in Japan. The bomb ended war between nations when all countries made an agreement to hold fire.
The Cold War begins
After World War II, the US became a superpower, but the Soviet Union sought to challenge their superiority. The world was described as bipolar as the US and the Soviet Union differed mainly because of their stands on capitalism and communism (Mavspace, 2013).
Factors that led to the cold war include the nuclear disarmament, control of post war Europe, and financial aid.
1960 - Present: from a Cold War Superpower to a Global Nation
Civil rights movements and acts in Congress (1960’s)
The civil rights movements were initiated by African-Americans, including former slaves in order to get social justice. They were influenced by RnB songs, which were used as anthems in their rallies. After a long period of demonstrations and activism, equal voting rights and other rights were granted to African-Americans and women.
Ronald Reagan introduced policies referred to as Reaganometrics that called for lower tax rates, money, and a free economy. This led to an improvement of the economy and reduced inflation.
Ronald Reagan gave the speech ‘tear down his wall’ while making his way to a meeting in Italy. The Berlin Wall was erected by East Germany to curtail movement and West Germany which upheld democracy, was against its erection. He sent troops to Europe in anticipation of war but was later advised against increasing the tense relationship between West and East Germany. East Germany opened up the wall and the phrase ‘tear down the wall’ has been considered to be the main reason behind the fall of the Berlin wall.
September 11 attacks
These were four separate attacks that killed about 300 people. Four planes were planned to hit different spots in the USA. Two brought down the twin towers, one destroyed the Pentagon, and the fourth missed its target.
Al-Qaeda was blamed for the attacks. At first, they denied any involvement but later owned up. They said that the reason for the attack was their position on the Israeli-Palestine war, installment of part of the American army in the Middle East and sanctions slapped on the Iraqi people. The US responded by initiating the war on terror and Bin laden was captured and killed in the year 2011.
Barrack Obama was the first African-American to become the president of America. Born to a Kenyan father and American mother, he was elected as a president, and this created a feeling of hope among all American citizens.
The election of Barack Obama as president has been regarded as a belated success of the civil rights movements of the 1960’s and the 1970’s. Equal voting rights for black Americans and women coincidentally enabled barrack Obama and Hillary Clinton to vie for the presidency.
America started as a country that limited the rights of women and African-Americans, but came to recognize them after the Civil War. The government seized land from red Indians to start off the capitalism ideology. Other minor events from 1865 to the present day have influenced the social, political, and economic practices of the country and instilled the American culture to all citizens.