Short Essays Major problems in American history

          Stephen Hahn essay argued about violence that existed between black and white in the southern during reconstruction of American politics. Hahn argued that, although the reconstruction act was meant to empower African Americans and slaves in the south, they still suffered in the hands of white men. He recounted that, “coloured speaker was killed three days,” (19). In addition, he also argued on the role of republican to resists reconstruction by denying people in the south to practise democracy. He acknowledges the role played by secretive group such as union league in protecting blacks and encouraging them to participate in voting. Moreover, he argued that the federal government played an important role in reconstruction by enacting reconstruction act that encouraged African Americans to vote and participate in politics but failed when it withdrew its troops in the southern thus allowing violence to continue.

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             Ending the war: the push of national reconciliation by David W. Bright 28

           David Bright argued less on violence and focused more on how reconciliation would have helped to end the war between whites and blacks in the southern. His argument is based on reconciliation, revisionists and remembrance in the south 1865 events. Blight focused on the conflicts that emanated during reconciliation period that took place after war and massacre that had ran for four years in the south. He argued that the federal government would have stopped violence and reconciled the southerners through enforcement of legislation that protected blacks’ civil rights. Moreover, he blamed republican and other political leaders such as Andrew Johnson who had put “enormous authority in the hands of whites in the south without any provisions of African American political or civil rights,” instead of carrying out reconciliation during reconstruction (29). The war in south ended when people gained desire to reconcile and to stop racial inequalities.

           The frontier as a place of ethnic and religious conflicts by Patricia Nelson Limerick

           Patricia Limerick focused on different races living in west and their potential to religious and ethnic conflicts due to diversity. Her argument was that, the introduction of new religion and immigration of people was the source of conflicts among the different groups of people that lived in the west. She viewed frontier as a way in which different races and different religious beliefs led to conflicts. African Americans, Asians, Indians, and Hispanics were seen as inferior people by whites. Moreover, conflicts existed between these ‘inferior’ groups. For example, Indians and Asians felt that they were more superior to blacks and were equivalents to white. Limericks argued that, “…were Indians and Asians better than blacks and were they more civilised?” (51). Therefore, frontier coupled to people’s diversity increased conflicts. As a result, the races that were regarded as inferior also reiterated resulting to heightened conflicts in the west.

The frontier as forefront of capitalism by Donald Worster

         Donald Worster argument was domination of minority in the society through economic and political achievements leaving the majority to suffer in poverty, which marked the end of free west that existed before the wars. He argued that “capitalism….demonstrates how domination results to domination of few people over the majority, (63). During reconstruction, war and conflicts were heightened and the economy of the west was poor. However, many whites exploited blacks and other minority in the society thus becoming very rich and commanding a significant part of the economy. Few people particularly whites exploited the natural resources such as water canals for example Mormons and arid areas to enrich themselves. In addition, they sold land thus degrading environment for their own benefits. At the end, white economy was dominated by private investor that accumulated profits and wealth for themselves leaving many people being poor.

Coming and going: Round Trip to America by Mark Wayman 86

             Mark Wayman argued about how immigration and emigration had destroyed the peasant villages, how it was hard to live with new culture of the new societies and the challenges that immigrants faced in America. Different migrants travelled with varied motives. Europeans travelled to America for seasonal work to make money while others migrated to America for permanent residents. Some migrants who came to America for working purposes could come and go. However, Wayman argued that the main reason for coming and going was due to changes in culture and high Americanization of programs and resettlement of natives. In addition, immigrants faced unemployment, poor living conditions, religious prejudice, racism, and language barrier thus staying for short periods in America. However, migration impacted positively to the economy of the society from “elevated trains, road networks and deep tunnels,” (80).

Permanently Lost: The trauma of immigration by Victor Greene 93

           Victor Greene argued about how immigrants in America suffered cultural loss and how they were exploited by whites. He recalled how different culture had different songs that identified them and their disappointment in foreign land. For example, Jews song, ‘Kusine’ expresses how Jew were happy during their first days in America and how mistreatments and exploitations led them to cursing American and the reason they travelled from their own home countries. Greene expresses the trauma of immigrants and their regrets wishing, “if this is how is America, it is better to go back home,” (97). This showed how Americans were brutal to new immigrants and in spite of their ambitions to work and make money in America it did not welcome them warmly. Many immigrants suffered, fell sick, and died in America leaving their families mourning without breadwinner. This traumatised many and hated America.

Gendering Imperialism: Theodore Roosevelt’s Quest for Manhood and Empire Gail Bederman 115

             Gail Bederman argued about how American men such as Theodore Roosevelt believed in their superiority over the rest of men in the world. Roosevelt argued that American men were masculine and strong while other men were “too weak, selfish or foolish,” (121). He started war between America and Spain to prove that white men were powerful. Moreover, he began to “exhort the white race to embrace a manly and imperialism as the form of high civilization,” (116). The American men ended up believing that racial dominance was coupled to a sense of manhood. Berderman viewed gendering as the cause of imperialism (inequalities between race and gender) and one of the causes of crisis in America that caused war and conflicts between different ethnic groups, gender, and religion. In fact, Roosevelt argument worsened reconstruction and harmonious living of people.

Racial Imperialism: America’s Takeover of the Philippines by Paul A. Kramer

            Paul A. Kramer argued about how American viewed Philippines as inferior people and the need to exploit then for their own good. The Americans wanted to show their dominance to the rest of the world by conquering Philippines and making them slaves. The move by Americans to initiate war with Philippines was “a question deeper than politics…it was racial,” Albert Beverage who was a republican senator of Indiana State declared. Therefore, racism led to American participations in wars and extending their rule to neighbouring countries. American white felt that they were the best human being and that they were supposed to rule the whole world since people living there were inferior. The mentality affected the growth and industrialization of America during the mid 18th century due to poor collaboration and relation with other countries.

Class, Gender, and Race at Home: The American Birth place of progressivism Michael McGerr 147

             Michael McGerr argued about how middle class people transformed their societies’ economy and that of America thus recounting progress. The middle class believed that in order to get the solution to American problems, individualism that was as a result of racism and gender in equality had to be dealt with. McGerr acknowledged the efforts of middle class people to unite societies so that all the people and societies could work with the objective of “social transformation,” (148). The move ensured that a society where there was equality was upheld could be built. The working together of different societies, race and gender saw the middle class improve their economy and move upward the social class narrowing the gap between the upper and middle class in the society. As a result, the economy was also improved and the progressivism was born through the efforts of middle class in America.

American Progressivism in the wider Atlantic world by Daniel T. Rodgers 155

               Daniel Rodgers argued that that the progressivism or achievements that America boasted did not come from them but was obtained from achievements of other regions of the world such as European region. Rodgers argued that progressivism was first experience in European countries such as London before crossing to America. Therefore, other nations were important to America and were it not for them it would have been difficult for it to learn and gain the experiences from their weaknesses and become what it was. America was able to learn about, “child labour protection, profits sharing, wages, and associations affiliated to workers and employers” (157). Other countries such as Germany and France taught America many on many aesthetic and political learning. The progress experienced in America borrowed ideas heavily from Europe without which its progress could not have been at par with the other world.

Woodrow Wilson: Egocentric Crusader by Walter McDougall 178

                Walter McDougall argued about how Woodrow Wilson advocated for his own ideas and embraced progressive unions because they suite his own beliefs on white man leaderships and the presidential system. Moreover, he gathered people and convinced them to follow and support his vision. McDougall asserted that Wilson loved and glorified power and he claimed it was an opportunity to make decisions and deliver Americans from their problems, which was for his selfish interests. Wilson called for wars against other countries such as Germany and Mexico so that he could be able to become more powerful. This affected the American populations and the living standards of people but he still pursued it to fulfil as a leader with power which was totally and egocentric move. Therefore, McDougall viewed Wilson as a leader who used his power to benefit himself and to convince people to follower his plans.

Woodrow Wilson: Father of the future by Robert A. Pastor 184

             Robert Pastor agued about Woodrow Wilson and his dedicated heart to see the life of Americans, the economy and the international relations would be improved. The main argument is that Wilson wanted to ensure that the war between America and other countries would be stopped. Pastor built the picture of Wilson as somebody who cared about the future of Americans and America at large. His caring heart made him to look like a father to many Americans as he wanted to “make the whole world safe and democratic,” (184). Wilson developed League of Nations plan that was meant to increase freedom, reduce trade barriers, improvement and adjustment of colonial claims. The plan would help in association of different regions in the countries that would enhance the trade and increase the living standards of people. However, Wilson great idea was faced with challenges due to lack of support from his own country, United States, which was supposed to be the initiator of the plan and extend to the other countries.

Sex and Youth in the Jaz age by Paul S. Fass 208

               Paul Fass argued on how youths engaged in social immorality in rebellion to elder to emphasise on what happen on youth at the wake of 20th century. Youths participated in sexual immoralities and other socially unaccepted behaviours such as smoking, getting drunk, and wearing mini-skirts. All these activities were against the moral requirements in the society. Consequently, women had started to gain equality in the society and they too participated in these activities. The era marked the revolution where the relationship between man and woman was strengthened though women were still criticised for their premarital sex in the society. Moreover, marriage became temporary and many youths could engage in marriage and separate after a while. The fashion drastically changed marking the era a new society that embraced new modernity. However, the era was marked by increased social evils and disrespect across societies, which was not the accepted code of conduct and behaviour of morally upright men.

Fundamental battle Modernism in the roaring Twenties Edward J. Larson 217

           Edward Larson argument was based on the conflict that existed between fundamentalists and modernist on the issue of evolution and creation of man. The fundamentalists argued that evolution should not be taught in school as it was two contrasting belief between education and religion. Political leaders such as William Bryan pushed for restriction of teachings on evolution and creation story as he believed that it “could interfere with the beliefs of any person” (222). Larson cited the evidence of the conflict between fundamentalists and modernism from the fact that a teacher that was found teaching the evolution in school was tried and jailed. The problem affected the education system in America in 19th century and some teachers even resisted the teaching on the history of religion. Other evolution teachings such as those of Darwin were resisted as they were thought to be evil and they were associated with war.

FDR advocate for the American people by David M. Kennedy 245

               David Kennedy argued about the important role that president FDR played in bring reforms and changing the way of life for many Americans. Thus, he was seen as somebody who advocated for the needs of American people. Kennedy compared between President Roosevelt and hover at the time of great depression. Kennedy acknowledges the important role that Roosevelt played in shaping the economy of America through legislation of laws that helped the country to withstand depression. For example he passed a bill that helped bank to fight with the crises and emphasised to people not to “dwell on issues that proved to be difficult to their lives.” (246). Americans recounted Roosevelt as a hero for his courageous acts to save the country and improve the lives of people. Although Hover had tried to improve people’s lives, it was Roosevelt that was seen to have a great impact on their lives and that of the country’s economy.

          FDR architect of ineffectual big government by Burton Folsom 254

          Burton Folsom argument was based on the achievements of Roosevelt though he concentrated more on his bad policies. Hence, the essay was a critic of Roosevelt policies. Folsom argued that rather than bringing an instant solution to the great depression, he prolonged the situation and the solution came when people had really suffered from the situation. Kennedy used evidence of different historians such as Richard Morris and Henry Steele Commager who criticised the act of Roosevelt. They argued that Roosevelt would have made better decisions than the ones that he made to address the issue of great depression. The new deal that Roosevelt advocated was meant to create more power and bureaucracy that blocked people from direct participation to the economy and politics. The new deal “was seen as a step to the right path” (255) but it was not the actual cure that would have helped end great depression. Therefore, Roosevelt appeared good to people because he helped them tackle struggles but to historians and Kennedy, it was selfish interest.


Cobbs, Hoffman, E., & Gjerde, J. (2007). Major problems in American history since 1985: Volume II. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.

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