American History

Introduction

The circumstances that surround people govern the decisions they make in future. Kriste Lindenmeyer has concisely illustrated the condition in which American children’s had to endure when growing up. 1930’s was a period when the world was going through the Great Depression. It was a moment of reflection for the whole nation.

Many have grappled with the meaning of freedom for a very long time. Actually, freedom stands for so many things. It for instance stands for the right to do things out of free will. Though freedom may mean being allowed to do what you want to do, it is not good for one to trample on other people’s lives.

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The Greatest Generation Grows Up

Freedom and children has been an issue worth reflecting. Children went through many trying moments at this particular time. For example, they were subjected to hostile working condition in plantation farms and factories to complement family earnings. This therefore made it possible for them to attend school. In other words many dropped out of school as a result. Disease and starvation greatly affected this segment since their parents or guardians were no longer able to afford the necessities like food shelter and clothing too[1].

The older generation did not view freedom as the younger generation. But as time went by one can feel that they may have learnt a few things. For instance at one time one can see parents took themselves as the ones who could decide what was good for their children. They hardly differentiated between adulthood and childhood[2]. That is why Lindernmeyer talks of parents letting their children to work on farms to supplement their income.

These political, economic and ideological factors had an impact on the way the generation understands freedom. For example we are told of how there was discrimination during this period. There was poor treatment of immigrant workers. As one grows up them we can see the children then learnt the vagaries of such discrimination[3].

This could be solved through legislative solution. People were also discriminated according to gender. We are told for instance that women were allowed to stay at home and take care of children alone[4]. But during this period they could be forced somehow to work to supplement income of the family as well. It is from this period that we see nowadays laws put in place stressing non-discrimination based on gender.

In a nutshell freedom could be seen by this generation as being able to live in a free and secure environment. The government could also come in here[5].The generation must also have grown to cultivate an identity with the state. During the great depression we saw how the government worked to alleviate the situation.

For instance, it was seen through electioneering period with which leader put across ideals they would pursue once elected. Such bordered on things like economy and social welfare in general[6]. For example universal healthcare was an idea highly pursued; though the New Deal failed to achieve it.

The state can help in identifying what is right, this generation might have discovered. One could see this from the way the state later on insisted on teenagers to remain in school. This showed a great relationship between the state and its children. This means that it is the duty of the state to protect such a segment. Besides, the state is expected to protect the masses by ensuring economic prosperity since failure to do this might lead to desperation of the masses, hence the suffering of the children as during the Great Depression.

Most social safety charities were overwhelmed. These charities included the Bohemian Charitable Association and the Jewish charity in Chicago[7]. The state was equally in deep trouble as it was unable to fund the overwhelming numbers of the needy. Banks and other organizations left their responsibilities to the government. This greatly caused a political anxiety as President Herbat Hoover came to symbolize failure. He dismissed any legislative measures to tackle the economy troubles that the nation faced.

The nomination of Franklin Roosevelt, a Democratic brought a new era in the United States[8]. Roosevelt promised a new beginning which he called ‘first New Deal’ for Americans. Under this were programs known as the ‘first’ and ‘second’ New Deals[9]. Roosevelt came up quite passionate about one relief program known as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).

In this one he had a firm belief that it would impact positively to the young men in cities and even the countryside[10]. Many were engaged in road construction and trails in the national parks. Some children even worked in factories after they had dropped out school.

One mother wanted money to save her cow so that her young children could have milk. Here we can see clearly the children of starvation that was lurking in the faces of children. During the farming crisis many faced such related challenges. However, the New Deal did not do much to help the rural poor.

We are told for instance that the price supports and price controls only benefited the landowning farmers but not the peasants. The landless subsistence poor were left out. The migrant Mexican workers, black and white sharecroppers and even the far most tenants were left out. One can only guess the impact of this state to their families and children in particular.

During the Great Depression children suffered a great deal since thousands of schools were forced to close down[11]. This was because there was not enough money to keep them running. Many children thus left schools. In fact many were going hungry and their parents could not afford clothes for even winter.

This means that hard choices had to be made. There were therefore modern policies that would govern the changing attitudes towards the children[12]. For instance, the responsibilities of the children were to be separated from those of the adults[13]. This meant that children were to be taken as children and shielded from the vagaries of adult responsibilities. Child welfare advocates majorly championed these.

The changing attitude towards the children played a major role towards making sure that the children grew up under a conducive environment. For instance Aid to Dependent Children Program took care of the children who were under sixteen years of age and by this children would still benefit whether they had parents or not. Thus, the caregivers were given some relief to take care of the children under their custody.

However, this amount was so little hence many still wallowed in abject poverty. Minorities and many blacks were segregated. In most cases, they were branded ‘immoral’ and therefore denied the needed aid[14]. Some segments of the society did not enjoy the freedom as enshrined in the new spirit of the nation[15]. The definition of those who deserved aid remained obscure and controversial.

The biggest question at the moment thus would be how this generation would have defined freedom. We know that during this period there were many challenges as the crisis played a big role in influencing the children and the youth. For example, children who grew up during this period can be said t be the first ones to experience the fact that it was also the responsibility of the government to protect its vulnerable members.

During this period, the state, as earlier seen, enacted legislation that protected and recognized the children and youth as being a distinct segment from adults.

I think the generation learnt that sometimes that freedom could be enshrined through regulations. But there could be some interesting exception. For instance if you give people freedom to do what they want before they reach age for decision-making. That is why Lindenmeyer stressed on the importance of education that time. Going to school is therefore important for the child and nation at large[16].

She gives the example of Cesar Chavez who worked alongside other children in the nation’s urban factories. The certain rights and requirements that were passed made sure that people could not infringe on others’ freedom to decent life like fair labor.

This generation might have developed expectations. For instance, government has the responsibility of shielding its citizens from any vagaries arising out of the economic situation that may be unfavorable. We saw how policies were developed to improve the livelihoods of the majority who were already suffering from the pangs of economic downturn[17]. Economic security should be what the bureaucrats should care for most as it has a lasting impact on many.

The expectations on work can be seen from what was happening in the labor market. For instance, there were challenges such as long hours of work, meager pay, employment of under-age workforce etc. This generation as it grew up may have expected that there be proper labor laws protecting mainly the worker[18]. Presently we have seen proper labor laws being enacted that cushion the employee from exploitation and general poor working conditions.

We were earlier told the type of segregation that touched on race, gender, ethnicity and even class. Lindermeyer, through various anecdotes, has illustrated how different groups faired on during the Great Depression[19]. She for instance shows a white boy playing with an erector.

This was in sharp contrast with what other minorities groups’ children were going through. We are equally told of how women were required to stay at home and sometimes-denied gainful employment in the pretext that theirs was to take care of the children. This generation that would vouch for equality[20]. This could be done through legislation.

Unlike the older generation, the ideal childhood could be seen as effort worth striving for. Since children are vulnerable to so many things, it is important that the state consider such a segment seriously through strict legislative measures.

Concisely 1930s is a period of seriously looked at protected childhood[21]. If such measures, as discussed, were not taken then the future generation could be doomed. The major step was recognizing childhood as a segment different from adulthood.

Bibliography

Boydston, Jeanne and others . Of the People: A Concise History of the United States, Volume II: Since 1865.Oxford: Oxford Univ Pr, 2010

Lindenmeyer, Kriste. The Greatest Generation Grows Up: American Childhood in the 1930s. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee Publisher, 2005.

McGerr, Michael and others. Of the People, Volume I: A History of the United States: To 1877 By James Oakes, – Oxford University Press, Incorporated, 2009

Kriste Lindenmeyer, The Greatest Generation Grows Up: American Childhood in the 1930s. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee Publisher, 2005, P.213
Kriste Lindenmeyer, The Greatest Generation Grows Up: American Childhood in the 1930s. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee Publisher, 2005, P.123
Jeanne Boydston and others . Of the People: A Concise History of the United States, Volume II: Since 1865.Oxford: Oxford Univ Pr, 2010,P.568
Kriste Lindenmeyer, The Greatest Generation Grows Up: American Childhood in the 1930s. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee Publisher, 2005, P.254
Jeanne Boydston and others . Of the People: A Concise History of the United States, Volume II: Since 1865.Oxford: Oxford Univ Pr, 2010,P.602
Kriste Lindenmeyer, The Greatest Generation Grows Up: American Childhood in the 1930s. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee Publisher, 2005, P.186
Kriste Lindenmeyer, The Greatest Generation Grows Up: American Childhood in the 1930s. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee Publisher, 2005, P.258
Kriste Lindenmeyer, The Greatest Generation Grows Up: American Childhood in the 1930s. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee Publisher, 2005, P.102
Jeanne Boydston and others . Of the People: A Concise History of the United States, Volume II: Since 1865.Oxford: Oxford Univ Pr, 2010,P.712
Jeanne Boydston and others . Of the People: A Concise History of the United States, Volume II: Since 1865.Oxford: Oxford Univ Pr, 2010,P.376
Jeanne Boydston and others . Of the People: A Concise History of the United States, Volume II: Since 1865.Oxford: Oxford Univ Pr, 2010,P.445
Kriste Lindenmeyer, The Greatest Generation Grows Up: American Childhood in the 1930s. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee Publisher, 2005, P.97
Michael McGerr and others, Of the People, Volume I: A History of the United States: To 1877 By James Oakes,- Oxford University Press, Incorporated, 2009, P.56
Michael McGerr and others. Of the People, Volume I: A History of the United States: To 1877 By James Oakes,- Oxford University Press, Incorporated, 2009,P. 453
Michael McGerr and others. Of the People, Volume I: A History of the United States: To 1877 By James Oakes,- Oxford University Press, Incorporated, 2009,P. 87
Jeanne Boydston and others . Of the People: A Concise History of the United States, Volume II: Since 1865.Oxford: Oxford Univ Pr, 2010,P.563
Kriste Lindenmeyer, The Greatest Generation Grows Up: American Childhood in the 1930s. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee Publisher, 2005, P.117
Jeanne Boydston and others . Of the People: A Concise History of the United States, Volume II: Since 1865.Oxford: Oxford Univ Pr, 2010,P.245
Kriste Lindenmeyer, The Greatest Generation Grows Up: American Childhood in the 1930s. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee Publisher, 2005, P.123
Jeanne Boydston and others . Of the People: A Concise History of the United States, Volume II: Since 1865.Oxford: Oxford Univ Pr, 2010,P.825
Jeanne Boydston and others . Of the People: A Concise History of the United States, Volume II: Since 1865.Oxford: Oxford Univ Pr, 2010,P. 563

American History

Introduction

This paper attempts to answer three questions regarding the history of America. These questions include motivations of New Englanders and Chesapeakes; causes of America Revolution; and the differences between Republicans and Federalists.

Colonists of New England and Chesapeake

The primary reason for emigration to America in the late fifteenth to early sixteenth centuries was frantic search for a new life beyond the oceans. However, the secondary reasons for this emigration differ from one party to another. The group that settled in New England, for example, had different motivations altogether from those of Chesapeake, Caribbean, and Restoration colonies.[1]

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The Puritan Separatists from England who had ideological commitments to the colonized land principally colonized New England, thus, perpetuating their religious practices there. To that extent, it can be inferred that their motive was religious freedom. The colonists’ dissatisfaction with the structure of the Church of England prompted them to call for the purification of the Church to be more congregationalis, hence the name Puritan Separatists.

They sailed to the America’s to freely practice their Puritan faith, settling in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620s before spreading to Maine, Connecticut, New Hampshire, et cetera. Given that their motivation was not economic, they copied much of the England’s economy with little variation. Accordingly, they relied on artisan-industries like shipbuilding, carpentry, and printing instead of growing staple crops in large scales.[2]

The early colonists of Chesapeake, on the other hand, were driven by economic motives to settle in the region, which included Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey. These colonists were looking for silver, gold, a cure for syphilis, a northwestern passage to Asia, among other valuables to sell in Europe and make profit.

Consequently, they ended up venturing into corn and tobacco growing in expanse plantations. Therefore, the region boomed with tobacco industry where plantation owners relied on cheap slave labor and/or indentured servants. In fact, slave trade became a leading business in this region due to high labor demands in the plantations. The thirst for economic prosperity was also replicated in the colonists who settled in the Caribbean and the Restoration colonies.

The different motivations of settlers in these two regions shaped their population composition, religion, economy, and politics. Whereas New England had white population, Chesapeake had black and white population with its economy based on tobacco industry. The former was content with its artisan-industry based economy and prioritized religion not profits as their counterparts.

Debates on the causes of American Revolution

The debate regarding the causes of the American Revolution takes two broad schools of interpretations from historians. While one school sees it as an ideological difference, the other considers it a result of economic phenomenon. In the writer’s perspective, arguments for economic causes hold much water compared to ideological standing.

According to Carl Becker, the revolution was a product of a two-pronged question of home rule and the person to rule at home.[3] His thesis formed the basis of economic arguments for the revolution that revolved around social and economic tensions. The prevalence of mob activities in colonial cities, economic pressures on colonial merchants, the growing aura of economic distress; combined with transformation of the American culture and society to catalyze the revolution.[4]

Other historians have argued that the changing aspects of the American culture brought increased interest in the experience of Native Americans, workers, women, and slaves who were marginalized; further stoking the embers of revolution. The writer thus, dismisses arguments of ideology because economic interests always takes precedence over ideological interests and that since the latter was at stake, it fuelled the revolution.

Differences between Federalists and Republicans

The point of dispute between the Federalists and Republicans was on side to support between the warring French forces and British forces. While Federalists wanted to support Britain, Republicans rooted for France using the Franco-American Alliance of 1778 as their basis. Federalists were avoiding war at all cost as a way of continuing the country’s economic growth. Britain was considered a trading partner that could not be lost. Republicans appreciated the help of France in gaining the American Revolution and wanted to reciprocate.

Republicans supported foreign policy issues and wanted the United States to firmly assert itself in the international arena. Federalists, on the other hand, strongly favored internal issues and especially a strong economy. Therefore, they supported commerce based on manufactured goods in contrast to the agrarian-based trade favored by the Republicans.

Moreover, Federalists enlisted, as party members, those who were rich and learned as opposed to Republicans who cared little about the economic and educational backgrounds of its members. Lastly, Republicans differed with the Federalists’ loose interpretation of the law, since they advocated strict interpretation. A case in point was the issues surrounding Alexander Hamilton’s proposal on the national bank.[5]

Conclusion

The different motivations of the early colonists who settled in America were reflected in the regions they occupied. The Puritan Separatists who sought religious freedom settled in what they called New England; while the group that settled in Chesapeake had economic motivation, embarking on large-scale tobacco growing.

Historians’ debate around ideological and economic causes of the American Revolution leaves the latter factors stronger in the explanation. The argument is that, ideology presupposes economic interests. Finally, the difference between Federalists and Republicans started because of loose interpretation of the Constitution, shaping the two parties in different ideological structures.

Bibliography

Brinkley, Alan. American History: A Survey, Volume 1. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2008.

Brinkley, Alan. “The Unfinished Nation: A Brief Interactive History of the American People.” The Unfinished Nation, February 14, 2011,

http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0072879130/student_view0/chapter5/where_historians_disagree.html (Accessed February 15, 2011)

The Chesapeake and New England Colonies. “A Comparison.” 123HelpMe.com. February 14, 2011,

http://www.123HelpMe.com/view.asp?id+23307 (Accessed February 15, 2011)

The Chesapeake and New England Colonies: A Comparison.123HelpMe.com. Retrieved on February 14, 2011, from: http://www.123HelpMe.com/view.asp?id+23307
Ibid. para. 4.
Brinkley, A. The Unfinished Nation: A Brief Interactive History of the American People. Retrieved on February 14, 2011, from: http://highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0072879130/student_view0/chapter5/where_historians_disagree.html
Brinkley, A. American History: A Survey, Volume 1. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2008.
Brinkley, op. cit. para 7.

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