Source Question

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Source Question
Using your understanding of the historical context, assess how convincing the arguments in
Extract 1,2,3 are, in relation to social change in America in the years 1865-1890. (30)
Extract one gives a negative interpretation of social change within America in the years of
1865-1890. It’s main body of argument is directed towards the idea of racism playing a huge
factor of social change and how America has once been the land of the free and now the
land of discrimination. The extract also underlines the idea of “Agricultural vistas” becoming
“Factory laden urban ghettos”. Mass immigration was part of the significant demographic
change within America. The population increased massively between a fifteen year period,
which drew people into the expanding towns and cities in order to find work and settle
down. Most notably in cities such as Chicago where the population grew from just over
100,000 people to 1 million in a matter of years showed the true scale of urbanisation. This
mass immigration came at a price as it brought ethnic tensions and social conflict to major
cities. Events such as the Orange riots which took place in New York between 1870 and
1871 shows how social change impacted America in a negative way, because people were
becoming territorial of their lands/property’s. These riots led to 60 deaths between Irish
protestants and Irish Catholics, at their expense nothing was gained other than the
interpretation of disapproval towards immigration which trailed down south. The greatest
division of all America was that of the North and South. The North accepted the idea of a
free African-American to an extent, however the South disapproved the idea of a free
African-American in total but had to follow the constitution. Following the compromise of
1877, and the removal of ‘carpetbagger’ troops, racist Democrat governments dominated
the ex-Confederate states. These legislatures introduced ‘Jim Crow’ laws. These laws
enforced de jure segregation in the southern states. The Jim Crow laws helped to legitimise
the ‘white terror’ of terrorist groups such as the KKK and prevented social mobility for
African Americans through un equal access to education between races. In 1890, Louisiana
passed the Separate Car Act, requiring African Americans and whites to sit on segregated
compartments on public transport within the state. Louisiana congress argued this provided
‘equal but separate accommodations from the white and coloured races’. Unsurprisingly
however, black compartments were far inferior to those of whites, and this helped to
encode African Americans suppression within Southern Culture. The south “crawled the
injustices of segregation”, these laws helped cement the idea of America’s social change can
be viewed as negative between the period of 1865-1890.
Although it can be argued that the social changes in America in the years 1865-1890 can be
viewed in a positive way. With strong figures such as Booker T Washington who became the
most prestigious and influential spokesman for African-Americans during this period. He
helped built Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, which helped teach AfricanAmericans trades and professions in order to help support themselves. Washington believed
that the best interests of black people in the post-reconstruction era could be realized
through education in the crafts and industrial skills. He urged fellow African-Americans,
most of whom were impoverished and illiterate farm labourers, to temporarily abandon
their efforts to win full civil rights and political power and instead to encourage their
industrial and farming skills to achieve economic security. Blacks would thus accept
segregation and discrimination, but their eventual acquisition of wealth and culture would
gradually win for them the respect and acceptance of the white community. The
Homestead Act set in motion a program of public land grants to small farmers. This
was primary directed at the new freed slaves, to put in a claim for up to 160 free acres of
federal land. This helped promote social change within the south by allowing AfricanAmericans opportunity to emerge into society. To conclude I believe extract one is
somewhat convincing because there was mass amount of harassment towards minorities
and how American cities changed for the worse although with figures such as Booker T
Washington which tried to encourage blacks to stand up for themselves did show there was
somewhat positive social change within America.
Extract two highlights the idea that the standard of living for African Americans has
increased and that the Gilded Age was a success for them. It describes that ‘Education was
widely available for blacks’ and that there had never been ‘such opportunities for work and
land ownership’ this is true with figures such as Booker T Washington who was the most
influential spokesman for African-Americans during this period. He supported the
construction of the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute, which helped teach AfricanAmericans trades and professions in order to help support themselves. This is significant
because from an economical perspective this would be a huge enhancement for the
economy due to the fact that more people are becoming more skilled and educated which
can further the efficiency within America. Washington believed that the best interests of
black people in the post-reconstruction era could be realized through education in the crafts
and industrial skills. He urged fellow African-Americans, most of whom were impoverished
and illiterate farm labourers, to temporarily abandon their efforts to win full civil rights and
political power and instead to encourage their industrial and farming skills to achieve
economic security. Furthermore with the Homestead Act which set in motion a program
of public land grants to small farmers. This was primary directed at the new freed
slaves, to put in a claim for up to 140 free acres of federal land. This helped promote social
change within the south by allowing African-Americans opportunity to emerge into society.
So in context towards the question this is convincing in relation to social change in America
within the years 1865-1890.
However the evidence is overwhelming convincing that life for black Americans had not
been improved. With pressure groups such as the KKK which imposed fear towards the
African-American community throughout the gilded age. Incidents such as the Colfax
Massacre where In April 13th 1873, in the grant parish courthouse in Louisiana. Black Militia
(Freemen bureau) vs White League (KKK) had a harsh encounter with each other. The white
league stormed into a meeting armed with guns and shot and killed 150 black men and only
three white men died. Initially they got punished however later it was declared that it was
unconstitutional, this showed that the government weren’t prepared to stop these extreme
groups and that they can get away with whatever they wanted. So to in context of the
question social change did not happen in fact it can be argued that it got worse, Blacks in
the south had to take literacy tests, this was an obstacle to stop these freed men from being
able to vote in the south, to deny republican support within the south and keep the balance
of north being republican and south being democrat. These literacy tests were denying
freed men their 15th amendment, the redeemers thought this idea was a genius because
these newly freed slaves were unable to read or write. Additionally many methods such as
Sharecropping which is a system where the landlord/planter allows a tenant to use the land
in exchange for a share of the crop. In the South, after the Civil War, many black families
rented land from white owners and raised cash crops such as cotton, tobacco, and rice. In
many cases, the landlords or nearby merchants would lease equipment to the renters, and
offer seed, fertilizer, food, and other items on credit until the harvest season. At that time,
the tenant and landlord or merchant would settle up, figuring out who owed whom and
how much they owe him. Many black families were taken advantage of this method in other
words this can viewed as ‘Slavery without the chains’. This helps show that social change
within America for black African Americans wasn’t a positive one and in fact, this source was
not convincing at all although there were some positives social changes for the AfricanAmerican community.
Extract three is describing Westward expansion being key for the development of the
United states but it was done at a cost. This extract reflects on the ‘devastation’ brought
upon ‘to the native Indian population’. The Battle of the Little Bighorn is a key example
of how American gluttony got the better of them. Fought on June 25, 1876, near the
Little Bighorn River in Montana Territory pitted federal troops against a band of
Lakota Sioux and Cheyenne warriors. Tensions between the two groups had b een
rising since the discovery of gold on Native American lands. When a number of tribes
missed a federal deadline to move to reservations, the U.S. Army, including Custer
and his seventh Calvary, was dispatched to confront them. Custer was unaware of
the number of Indians fighting under the command of Sitting Bull at Little Bighorn,
and his forces were outnumbered and quickly overwhelmed in what became known
as Custer’s Last Stand. This was significant because Native Indians did not wish for
Americans to enter their land and take their gold it just shows the greed in which
America had. Native Indians would carry on being purged by west ward pressure until
there wasn’t enough of them to rebel. In context of the question the social change
which took part in the persecution of Native Indians is terrible because thousands of
people died. Although following from the point where westward expansion was a key
fundamental for the development of America can be seen from the railways. The
railways united the nation from the east coast to the west coast, this lead to mass
economic growth because with the discovery of more oil fields and gold reserves lead
to keen capitalists to capitalise on natures profits. With the more people becoming
wealthy they were able to employ more people which helped the country to reduce
unemployment, although this came at a social cost as working conditions were
deemed poor in the majority of factories. Furthermore the homestead Act lured
people west due the mass farmland available, the people that took this were
majority poor white families in search for a new beginning.
However it can be argued that the west wasn’t as economically important as the east
coast. The US prided itself with its financial services it offered in places like New York
and Boston, so therefore westward expansion was needed to an extent however the
US were not in need of all of its resources yet it was fine. If America would have
taken it slowly then the mass extinction of Native Indians could potentially not have
happened. American values were rejected by native Indians who did not wish to
adapt towards there ideology’s and beliefs which showed that it didn’t develop the
nation because they slaughtered people who didn’t want to adapt which defied the
idea of Abraham Lincolns view of America being free.
In conclusion I believe that this source is overwhelming convincing due the fact that
Americas westward expansion lead to an economic boom within the country however
it came at the cost of Native Indian oppression.
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