Thursday, January 22, 2009

Chapter 18

Transformation is a sign of growth, whether it is for better or for worse.  Truthfully, the United States has been constantly changing but the goals of the citizens have remained pretty consistent throughout history.  Battles are continually fought for power, equality, and peace.  In fact, the title of our textbook applies perfectly to summarizing the transformation of the United States.  
After the Civil War, the United States entered into a new era.  An era that was rather unfamiliar and strange at first.  No one knew how to react to the abolishment of slavery or the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  The society was put to a test.  As slavery became a trend of the past, the new trend was migrating to the West.  It was believed that the West would open up new opportunities and allow the country to grow economically, socially, and politically.  In fact, the railroad system allowed the West to industrialize and introduce new occupations, such as mining and ranching.  
New cultures were attracted to the opportunities the United States had to offer.  Who could resist the sounds of "Gold Rush?"  Chinese people started flooding the West.  Therefore, rather than discriminating against African Americans, the negative attention turned to the Chinese.  In fact, the Chinese Exclusion Act was one of the first pieces of legislation to ban a group of people.  Truth be told, the Chinese did not plan on spending the rest of their lives in the United States; it was just a chance to earn money.  Rather than enjoying the perks of the Gold Rush, the Chinese ended up slaving over the construction of the railroad system produced by the Union Pacific.  Perhaps the country was making progress but change was not necessarily bringing happiness.  
The culture of the United States was changing.  Now the spotlight turned on the cowboys and American Indians.  Mexican cowboys were being overpowered by corporations while the American Indians had to give up the fundamental aspects of their heritage/culture.  Christianity started dominating the United States and English was the language of choice.  Perhaps there was a time when the land of the free seemed rather disappointing.  Once again, African American were fighting for respect.  During the 19th century, the phrase "separate but equal" because rather popular.  The battle against segregation was yet to be won.  No one ever said transforming a society's mentality was an easy task; everything takes time and patience.  

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