Friday, January 23, 2009

Two Steps Forward, Two Bigger Steps Back

After the Civil War, the United States experienced great transformations into a more modern society. The United States transformed their economy through major improvements in transportation, increased mining activity, and industrialization in both the west and the south. These major advancements completely changed the United States. For example, the completion of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 provided a major increased the movement of people across the United States and also increased the movement of goods across the Untied States.
Even though the United States transformed so much towards a more modern society, during this time period the United States engaged in very “non-modern” activities towards minorities. First, during the construction of the transcontinental railroad, Chinese immigrants were discriminated against. The Chinese came to the United States because of the Opium Wars in China but also because of the lure of a better life for them. The Chinese experienced intense discrimination because they were not planning on permanently staying in the United States and their culture is completely different from the United States western culture. In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act passed legally forbidding Chinese immigration. Also, the African American community experience intense discrimination after the Civil War. The Jim Crow Acts and Plessy v. Ferguson legally solidified African Americans as second class citizens.
The treatment of immigrants and African Americans demonstrate that the United States did not transform completely into the modern society that she is today. The transformation was focus on the improvements of industries but the transformation did not include the minorities becoming equal to whites. During this time period, the Untied States took two steps forward by improving their industries, but also took two huge steps back in their treatment of minority groups. Even today, there is still racial discrimination occurring towards African Americans and immigrants; however, the United States has come a long way from the discrimination the minority groups felt after the Civil War – it just took the United States a very long time and we are still not done transforming our current society.

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