HIS 204: American History Since 1865
Prof Carl Garrigus
May 16, 2010
The Historical Progression of African Americans
America in 1857 was a “Nation on the Brink.” Relationships between the Northern and Southern states had been strained for decades. During the 1850's, the situation exploded. The Compromise of 1850 served as a clear warning that the slavery issue—relatively dormant since the Missouri Compromise of 1820—had returned. African Americans existence in America has been a disaster ever since they have been here. Every avenue of their cultural, economic, literary, political, religious, and social values has been violated to no avail, and then only until the early 60s were there noticeable changes. Between 1865 and 1876, life for African Americans was nothing but sadness and hardships. Two social issues they faced were discrimination and slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 freed African Americans in rebel states, and after the Civil War, the Thirteenth Amendment emancipated all U.S. slaves wherever they were. As a result, the mass of Southern blacks now faced the difficulty Northern blacks had confronted--that of a free people surrounded by many hostile whites. Even after the Emancipation Proclamation, two more years of war, service by African American troops, and the defeat of the Confederacy, the nation was still unprepared to deal with the question of full citizenship for its newly freed black population. The Reconstruction implemented by Congress, which lasted from 1866 to 1877, was aimed at reorganizing the Southern states after the Civil War, providing the means for readmitting them into the Union, and defining the means by which whites and blacks could live together in a non-slave society. The South, however, saw Reconstruction as a humiliating, even vengeful imposition and did not welcome it. After the Civil War, with the protection of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution and the Civil Rights Act of 1866, African Americans enjoyed a period when they were allowed to vote, actively participate in the political process, acquire the land of former owners, seek their own employment, and use public accommodations. Opponents of this progress, however, soon rallied against the former slaves' freedom and began to find means for eroding the gains for which many had shed their blood (Edwards, 2007). The U.S. presidency is a meaningful domain in which to explore perceptions of discrimination for at least three reasons. The first reason for exploring children’s views about the presidency concerns the centrality of work to gender and racial differences in American society. There are significant gender and racial differences in workforce participation, occupational roles, job status, and income. Research indicates that children are aware of many of these differences from an early age. The presidency is an especially compelling example of gender and racial stratification within the workforce because all 43 of the individuals who have held the position have been European American males. Because children understand the presidency and other political roles to be occupations, their views about the role that gender and race/ethnicity play in the presidency may be indicative of their broader patterns of thinking about the role of gender and racial discrimination in the workforce. Furthermore, the presidency is important to examine because it is arguably the most prestigious occupation in the world and is unique in its scope. In contrast, children are aware that all adult American citizens are eligible to vote and that election outcome, therefore, represent the judgments of large, representative segments of society. The second reason for exploring children’s views about the presidency concerns the importance of democracy and civic engagement. The presidency represents the pinnacle of American...