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United States History Since the Civil War Essay

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Updated: Mar 19th, 2020

The Foreign Policy Dangers of the 1930s

The era that is the 1930s is synonymous with the Great Depression, a period of hard economic times that was being experienced in the US and the entire Western economies. Common to these economies were the conflicts that were being experienced among individuals in society. These conflicts were manifested along economic, social, political, cultural, and religious fronts.

For instance, in the US, it was during this epoch that class conflicts emerged. The build-up to this was that while the lower-class was affected by the then recession, their upper-class counterparts remained unaffected. Whatever sparked this conflict was the way the former flaunted with their wealth at the expense of the latter’s predicament. The upper-class was opposed to President Roosevelt and his New Deal Programs which were viewed by the former as a handout exercise extended to the lower-class. The conflicts between these two groups were so serious to the point that war always emerged, e.g., the Memorial Day Massacre that left many people dead. Such conflict was also witnessed in Russia before the 1930s, dubbed as the Russian Revolution, and was the panic of the upper-class who feared a culmination to the same.

Nonetheless, this would never come to happen. On the political front, the aggression meted towards the incumbent, President Hoover, at the backdrop of the economic recession by the then dominant figure, Roosevelt, was enough to make him claim the presidency. The cultural conflict was largely seen among races. To this, discrimination against African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans was seen on recruitments, breeding conflicts that eventuated in the formation of Workers Project Administration (WPA), a body tasked to quell discrimination.

To economies, e.g., German, the Nazi government proceeded with its aggression (anti-Semitism) against the Jews. Discrimination against Jews in this state was far-reaching. This was more pronounced during Hitler’s reign when he imposed laws that barred Jews from accessing education, better employment, healthcare, and he initiated segregation between the Aryans and the Jews.

Student Response

To this response, I am in support of the student’s opinion since I believe the social aspects of life that might have resulted to the conflicts among individuals in the society are a manifestation of failed government institutions. I believe with the right institutions in place, and with the government’s commitment, a state can stem such conflicts. For instance, the racial conflict pitting the Whites against the Blacks in the US typifies a failed social institution. Basically, before Roosevelt reign and his New Deal Program, his predecessors’ eras were synonymous with racial discrimination with Ku Klux Klan meeting violence against Blacks. The Blacks were being lynched at the hands of this sect, and the gang also mobilized the Whites against foreigners who were viewed as a threat to their job security. With Roosevelt ascendancy to power, he commissioned the famous New Deal Programs which functioned to decimate social conflict. In effect, many Blacks and Hispanics later enjoyed relatively equal job opportunities with their White counterparts, and lynching of the Blacks reduced with the passage of the Anti-lynching Bill in the year 1937. As such, the previous governments’ failures were the reason that individuals rose against each other.

As for the Nazi government, the conflict was bred from the helm of power, with Hitler, the then President, an architect of all the atrocities meted on the Jews. Had Hitler been fair to the Jews, the witnessed holocaust would never have happened. Hitler engendered a society that was hostile to the Jews, by initiating laws that relegated the Jews to the lowest rank of the social ladder.

World War Again

The WWII began in the year 1939, and to a majority, this war is believed to have been sparked by the aggression meted to the Poles by the Germans. Nonetheless, the causes of this are rather intricate. In the beginning, there was the Treaty of Versailles that was to be ratified by Germany, a villain of WWI, in the build-up to a peace process in the post-WWI. This was crafted by the then US President, Woodrow, dubbed as ‘The 14-point plan.’ The details of the treaty were that German: ought to accept the guilty clause, should offer reparations for the damages caused, should be disarmed, and that they should adhere to the territorial clause that commissioned it to return repossessed territories. This did not augur well with the Germans perhaps because they were in economic doldrums then. As such, unhappy with the treaty, the people chose to bring Adolf Hitler to power, an antagonist to the treaty.

In earnest, Hitler started expanding its army against the provisions of the treaty. This transpired at the back of Britons’ knowledge who envisioned this as a step towards stemming communism that was spreading like a bushfire. On the contrary, Hitler’s mindset was that of an expansionist notion. As such, he acquired territories, defying the treaty until when he invaded Poland (1939) when the war started.

Also, another thing that triggered the war was the failure of the appeasement policy, which was meant to alleviate Germany off the harsher conditions of the Versailles Treaty. Hitler took advantage of the policy to extend with his expansionist policy at the expense of its neighbors.

Moreover, the failure of the League of Nations was the reason that was WWII. The reasons that led to its failure were that: it was not joined by the entire group (Russia and the US did not join), it had limited power against aggressive states, it had no forces, and it took long to respond. In a manifestation of its failure, the League of Nations failed to quash Japan’s aggression on China. This would later culminate to a war pitting the US and Japan in 1941(Jones 45).

Student Response

While I agree with the student as regards the causes of WWII, I feel that the Versailles Treaty was just a plan of action meant to avert a recurrence of another war. As such, it was not one of the causes that were the reason for WWII. Had the plan been taken seriously, then we wouldn’t have witnessed another war (WWII). The loopholes of the treaty emerged when the stakeholders offered an olive branch to German. To this end, they started forming appeasement policies that alleviated Germany the gravity of the penalties imposed upon them. These sympathies were taken for granted by Hitler, who extended with his vice of territorial acquisition devoid of fear. With the aforementioned literature, it is clear that the stakeholders of the treaty, including the French and the Britons, were the reason that was WWII. They failed to stop Germany to act within the limits of the treaty.

The Post-World War II Cold War

As a student back in the 1950s, whatever would be crossing my mind then would be that I am living in an insecure community and that my future is not guaranteed. I feel that my life is insecure. I feel threatened by the fact that some innocent people might be mistaken for communists for their stunt on ‘Progressive’ ideologies. As such, they would suffer unfairly for a genuine course. With the threats of an imminent atomic bomb attack, I would choose to remain indoors or within the shelters meant to shield one from atomic bombs. I would never go to school, and if I had to, I would have to carry along my atomic bomb shelter as a precaution. Whatever would be important to me then is that I conform to the government’s calls lest I fall a victim of mistaken identity (communist). I believe my parents would have been involved in the Cold War by acting as police informers on suspicious characters.

Student Response

My opinion concerning how the people ought to have acted in the 1950s is similar to that of the student. Nonetheless, I believe conformity wouldn’t be a cure for communism (Towle 23). In essence, this would play to the advantage of the communists. They would mask themselves in this while at the same time, sell their ideas underground. Ideally, this environment would engender a favorable niche for espionage, thus exposing the US to security risks. Community policing as was the then situation was the only option the government would employ to expunge communist ideas. However, with strict and vigilant border entries, the communist threat wouldn’t be a threat within the US.

Post-War Conformity in the 1950s and the Seeds of Change

My respondent in my interview is an African-American businessman who had firsthand experience with the events as were unfolding back in the 1950s. He was born back in 1940. By then, my respondent was a student at a local school in the State of New Jersey. His parents were working on a Whiteman’s firm, a textile factory. During this period, whatever was crossing my respondent’s mind was that he was being assimilated to a Whiteman’s way of life in the name of conformance. My respondent thought that some of the demands stipulated by the federal government for conformity were exorbitant to the African-Americans and Hispanics. Moreover, racism was deeply engrossed within the American Whites, and this bred conflicts (e.g., Rosa Parks’s case). Whatever they owned as a family was a dog. In school, he was working hard to earn a decent earning in the future to realize the American Dream. As my respondent looks back, then he feels that the desire for conformity played a big role in his life. He feels that he was working towards achieving the American Dream. As such, he worked harder to own a television set and other items to be on par with the Whites. Moreover, this shaped his culture to be like that of a Whiteman.

Student Response

My opinion concerning how the student has reported a correspondent back in the 1950s is that the response was accurate to the then situation. I thought it would be wise for the student to mention that the African-Americans took drastic actions towards efforts fronted to stop racism. The student ought to have mentioned Rosa Parks’s case scenario to stress how serious racism had anchored itself deep into the American soil.

Reform and Revolution in the 1960s and the 1970s

As an American citizen, I think that given a chance to demonstrate I would protest against gay marriage. Gay marriage functions to dilute our social values. It is against the biblical teachings, and it weakens the institution of marriage. Marriage, as stipulated in the Holy Book is the union between opposite sexes of the human race. In effect, legalizing gay marriage would be going against the wishes of the Maker. Leviticus 20:13 states that the “penalty for homosexual acts is death to both parties” (Taylor 406). Also, when the institution of marriage wanes, then it means that loopholes are created for other abominable acts, e.g., interspecies marriage. Gay marriage has jeopardized traditional marriage, and as such; it has become an uphill task for the parents to explain to their children how same-sex marriage is feasible. Ideally, the children that are born from this society are a confused lot. Moreover, gays make poor parents since in the union at least one partner could be having a child. The child, in this case, might suffer stigmatization from the opponents of gay marriage.

For my case, I have never had a chance to protest against this issue. Nevertheless, if I were to be given a chance, I would choose a peaceful demonstration that would not encourage the destruction of properties and spark a confrontation with the law enforcers.

Student Response

As for the student’s response, I am of a contrary opinion. I wouldn’t support a blanket ban on gun ownership, but I would support a discriminate ban on the same. Essentially, there are individuals who are vulnerable because of their wealth and fame thus; since the state cannot offer bodyguards to all, their security would be guaranteed by the possession of a gun. To people at low risk of being attacked, a ban would be appropriate.

Conservatism and Domestic Events

My previous respondent’s feedback towards life experience back then between the years 1965 and 1985 is one punctuated with lots of regrets. To him, life was unbearable. This was an era when the US was hit by a series of inflation (The Great Inflation). The first cycle spanned for seven years from the year 1965 to 1972, with a peak of 6.4%. The next one lasted from the year 1972 to the year 1977, having peaked at 12.2%. The final one, with a peak of 14.6%, spanned from the year 1978 to the year 1985. This was a consequence of a domestic policy gaffe. This period also covers an era when the US attacked Vietnam in the year 1965. This war was partly the reason that was the ensuing inflation.

During this period, my respondent can hardly forget the series of protests fronted by Dr. Martin Luther Jr. that led to a change in the political landscape. He recalls the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the passage of the Voting Rights Act back in 1965. My respondent believes that the change that much of the US went through this period was good since most African–Americans came on board effacing discrimination and segregation. Moreover, he believes that the conservative intervention in the late 1970s and 1980s was good because it upheld the Christian values and supported the rule of law.

Student Response

My opinion concerning the student’s response to the specific people or events that impacted on his respondent’s life back then is that he was inaccurate. I don’t believe Space exploration impacted on the life of the respondent. That was just a major event that happened back then, and as such, he has not stated how this affected the respondent’s life. Comparatively, my respondent’s feedback is accurate in the sense that he specifies how the revolution fronted by Dr. Martin Luther Jr. led to the realization of the voting rights that he continues to enjoy hitherto.

Conservatism and Foreign Affairs

The internet has revolutionized the world in the later part of the twentieth and the twenty-first century, connecting people from far and wide. In essence, the world has become a ‘global village.’ In fact, since its inception, the world has been globalized further relative to the era preceding its inauguration. The internet is vital in the world today, and recently, it is hard to imagine life without it. For instance, in my case, I use the internet to communicate with my friends who are abroad with ease. Social network sites, e.g., Twitter and Facebook, are affordable and fast. Moreover, the internet forms a significant part of my education since I use it for research purposes. I have interacted with people from the US, Asia, and Africa via the internet, and when I am connected to the internet, I feel like I am part of the worldwide web because we share our feelings instantly.

Student Response

While I concur with the student’s response with regards to the usefulness of the internet in the world that we live today, I feel that the worldwide web is limited to the developed and some developing economies. It can be sometimes difficult for some developing countries of whom the level of illiteracy is alarming and still struggle with initiating this due to poverty. As such, we cannot access information from every quarter of the world, and faster as the student puts it.

What Now?

Indeed, the lessons as chronicled in the ‘History of the United States since the Civil War’ are a manifestation of the order in which the events rolled out in a systematic manner from late 19th century to-date. For instance, ‘Week 6’ lesson focused on the ‘Progressive Reforms and Reformers.’ As such, reforms in this lesson were initiated along three fronts that include Populists, Progressives, and Socialists. In essence, while Populists focused on the needs of farmers, urban working population and the rural dwellers, Progressives efforts were to bring these reforms to the national arena. On the other hand, Socialists struggled to foster good relationships among people, businesses, and the federal state. In the build-up to this lesson, the previous one (Week 5) was calling for these reforms. ‘Week 6’ lesson is a build-up to the next (Week 7) which dealt with US’s involvement in the WWI after putting its house in order owing to a series of reforms. In this lesson, the US was seeking international recognition.

Student Response

My opinion with regards to the student’s response is that he/she was accurate in his response. The student has chronicled the events as they unfolded from the lessons in Weeks 8, 9, and 10. Nonetheless, contrary to what the student has reported, the New Deal Program was not that successful.

Works Cited

Jones, Howard. Crucible of Power: A History of American Foreign Relations from 1945. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2009. Print.

Taylor, Kenneth. The Living Bible. New York: Oxford University Press, 1971. Print.

Towle, Philip. “Cold War”: The Oxford History of Modern War. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. Print.

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