Between the two viewpoints of Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Du Bois about improving the lives of black Americans after the Civil War, the superior opinion is held by W.E.B. Du Bois. While Washington's plan holds merit in that it supports the idea of working together with Southern whites to improve each other as well as raising themselves through self-improvement, the rest of his message supports extreme black subservience. This harms the concept of black equality by supporting an attitude which encourages political, social, and economic complacency as a lower class. Du Bois, on the other hand, supports black self-reliance, and the idea that African Americans must strive for their own political and social progress. Du Bois' strategy is ultimately superior due to the fact that it addresses how the Southern whites will not work to improve the lives of African Americans, and that this improvement can only come from hard work on the part of African Americans to raise themselves through education and labor and to protect their rights as citizens. The idea that ultimately makes Du Bois' plan more effective is the acceptance that although cooperation with Southern whites is beneficial for both parties, it is ultimately up to African Americans to improve themselves in society and politics.
Colorado Ceasefire activist Tom Mauser's presentation of gun violence and regulation was both well founded and researched. He mostly focused on the issues of gun sale regulation and how far gun rights should and actually do extend to the American people.
The most important points of Mr. Mauser's talk primarily revolved around the ease at which one can acquire a gun without going through a background check, despite legislation requiring potential gun owners to pass a background check when purchasing a firearm. This is the result of a loophole within the legislation, making background checks only mandatory if buying from a licensed gun dealer, such as gun stores. Checks are not required when buying from unlicensed sellers at events such as gun shows or when buying from neighbors and over the internet. I saw this as the most important point in Mauser's argument because it acknowledged the fact that although steps have been made towards gun regulation, they have been made half-heartedly, and Mauser also brought up that although it is impossible to catch people planning to commit a crime with a gun for the first time, we can still take steps to prevent known criminals from obtaining firearms. Mauser also brought up the strong point that even though criminals could still easily acquire guns either over the internet or through the black market, it is fatalistic and wrong to just give up on all regulation altogether, as this regulation could prevent at least some portion of criminals from acquiring firearms.
One thing that surprised me from Mr. Mauser's presentation was his acknowledgment that different groups of people own and desire guns for different reasons, and also the logical way he presented his arguments against certain groups. He did well to avoid the "holier than thou" approach which many people on his side obtain, rather pointing out logical solutions and answers to issues related to guns. He acknowledged that groups such as hunters own firearms as a hobby, and have owned them for many years, and noted that we should not ban all guns, and prevent people such as hunters from pursuing their hobby, simply because others use guns in either illegal or irresponsible ways. It also surprised me that he addressed that it is ludicrous to assume the US government could take away all guns from its citizens, primarily due to the sheer amount of guns in the US.
One thing that I wish he had addressed a bit more was how many gun deaths were classified as gang violence. The reason for this is that although a gun certainly makes many crimes easier and leads to easier violence, I believe that gang violence is caused not by guns but by the underlying socio-economic climate of the community and that attempting to regulate guns across the country will not reduce violence in these communities by any noticeable amount due to the accessibility of firearms not being the cause nor being necessary for violence in these areas.
One point that made me think of gun control in a new way which Mr. Mauser brought up was how polar the two sides seem on the issue. Most people can only hear and see the side that is entirely pro-guns and deregulation or the side that is so anti-gun they want them essentially banned. Mr. Mauser addressed how he and many others are more moderate, not wishing for guns to be banned but rather for guns to be regulated a bit more. This made me reconsider how much guns have become a partisan issue, and much like many other partisan issues, has evolved into such a polar conflict that nearly no action is taken with regards to it due to the extreme levels of disagreement.
I was very impressed by Mr. Mauser's presentation and considered it both intelligent and sensible. He took a moderate stance which mostly goes unheard in both our legislatures and our media, and as a result proposed many new solutions and ideas which I at least had never really heard or considered. Although I may disagree with some points of his, it is hard to argue that he did not introduce very smart insights into the field of gun control and regulation.
I write to you today with a heavy heart and an agitated conscious. I have always considered myself an advocate of the people, man or woman, white or black, but what I have just learned has opened my eyes upon the disparity between the treatment of slaves and freemen such as ourselves. Fortune has seen me born into a well-to-do family of New York, and as such the faculties of slavery were known but not truly grasped by my mind. However, I recently read the works of one Frederick Douglass, particularly his "The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass", which has revealed to me the barbarity of this old institution.
For one, the extent to which slaves are deprived of not just the unalienable rights of our great nation, but those rights so basic that even beasts can boast them, sickens me to the core. The rights I am referring to are those of family, particularly Douglass' account of how he was taken from his mother at nearly twelve months old, deprived of true motherly contact. I believe that this practice infringes on not only our liberties but our very nature as communal beings. No beast, bird, or any other creature that stalks the earth can boast such a barbaric practice. In this regard, slaveholders have taken a step to reduce their very worth as men, treating other humans worse than beasts, and the fact that this occurred not in the South, but in our belovéd New England sickens me all the more.
Douglass discusses that slaves are torn from their friends and family often, severing any true ties which may develop between men of the same circumstance, and further reducing a slave's ability to experience the virtues we Americans hold so dear. What concerns me is the role which the faith plays into this depravity. While I consider myself an intellectual of sorts, personal history inclines me to believe in the power of faith, however upon reading of the corruption of morals and doctrine used to justify the institution of slavery I begin to question if the side of the pious is also that of the virtuous. To display such hypocrisy, espousing morals of familial ties and virtuous action while at the same time depriving fellow men of these ties and performing wicked acts upon them displays a weak character unfit to lead anything, much less the faith.
Slavery's continued existence has shown the corruption of values not just within the slaveholders, who deprive men of rights basic to all life, but also within our very society, as even the supposedly righteous figures in our country, such as those of the faith, see fit to deprive slaves of the rights which they then espouse as key to righteous and happy existence. Although I long espoused the abolition of the barbaric institution of slavery, Douglass' novel has acted to give an account of slavery too vivid to ignore, and one which is instrumental in raising awareness for our cause.
Although many believe that the American identity was forged by the time of the Revolution and that the colonists fought as an American people, this is not the case. While the colonists had developed a sense of unity as a single polity, many still considered this polity as rightfully part of the British Empire by the time of the Revolution. The economies of the colonies, as well as the new culture which grew place in the colonies, had worked to unite the colonists through shared experiences and beliefs, creating a stronger sense of unity. Finally, the colonists had started to develop differing opinions with regards to representation, freedom, and rights from the British, resulting in a division between the two groups that would eventually lead to the Revolution. By the eve of the Revolution, the colonists had developed a strong sense of unity and identity as a single entity as Americans but had not entirely shed their identity as British subjects, which caused conflicting attitudes towards revolution to arise.
By the eve of the Revolution, most colonists had begun to see all the colonies as a distinct and united polity, but many still considered it as a rightful part of the British Empire. One major event which caused the idea of a united colonial identity to grow was the French-Indian War, or, as it was known worldwide, the Seven Years War, which was fought from 1754 to 1763. In North America the conflict started as tensions rose between the French and British colonists over land claims, mainly over the fertile Ohio River Valley. To ensure their claim the French built forts along what they considered the border, claiming the Ohio River Valley for themselves. This led to retaliation by the colonists, who sent out militia forces to take the land for themselves. After several skirmishes along the border war broke out in full, with the British sending troops to aid the colonies in the war. This event united the colonists as it tied them together under a single conflict, with every colony being affected by the war and participating in it, creating greater bonds between the colonists. These bonds also resulted in the colonists starting to consider themselves as a single entity, rather than many different colonies with different backgrounds and politics, as now they were connected through the war. This growing sense of political unity is the cause of the next major unifying feature of the colonies, the Albany and Continental Congress. Between 1754 and 1776 the colonists formed several congresses consisting of representatives from each colony to discuss issues which affected all of them so that they could reach a consensus. They addressed factors such the Intolerable Acts, taxes and laws levied against the colonies following the Boston Tea Party to punish and coerce the colonies. The Continental Congress worked in organizing protests and demonstrations across all the colonies. This clearly indicates the American sense of unity by the eve of the Revolution, as they began to address political problems as a united entity. The unity was clearly displayed in American politics and media, appearing in Benjamin Franklin’s famous “Join or Die” drawing for the Pennsylvania Gazette (Doc. A), depicting a snake divided into 8 pieces, each of which representing a part of the American colonies. Drawn in 1754, the sketch shows that even at the beginning of the French-Indian War the Americans were started to see themselves as a distinct group from the British and other colonies. Laws such as the Intolerable Acts also demonstrated how the British regarded the American colonies as a single entity too, as the British response to acts in Boston was to coerce all the colonies as though they were one community. British Parliamentary member Edmund Burke, an avid supporter in ending the American Revolution through reconciliation rather than force, wrote in notes which he had prepared for a speech to Parliament in 1776 that one could not “Govern America as you govern an English town” (Doc. B). He treats America as a single political entity so far removed from England by “a mighty Ocean” (Doc. B) that it cannot be administered by Parliament, and must rather operate autonomously within the British Empire. Even the British Parliament saw America as a single entity rather than several divided colonies. The American political unity also allowed for the furtherment of the American identity, with Americans beginning to regard themselves as being defined politically by their colonial roots, with their own political background and allegiances towards the colonial America, not the British. Despite this growing sense of political identity and unity, the Americans had not yet forged a political identity that was completely separate from Britain, and even on the very eve of the revolution most Americans believed that they should remain as part of the empire. In John Dickinson’s “Declaration for the Causes of Taking up Arms”, commissioned by the Second Continental Congress in 1775, John discusses the reasons for Americans taking up arms against the British in what would become the American Revolutionary War. He refers to the colonies as the “United Colonies of North America” (Doc. E), showing their new identity as the colonies and not British, while at the same time stating that the colonists do not intend to establish “independent states” (Doc. E) from Great Britain. The declaration discusses how the Americans wish to see the current political order remain, with Americans as a distinct part of the empire, rather than breaking political bonds altogether. Despite having a very strong political sense of identity and unity as Americans on the eve of the Revolution, most Americans still associated themselves as British subjects.
Another factor which contributed to the rise in an American identity and a stronger unity among the colonists was the economic relationships and similarities that had begun to form in the colonies. One major economic factor which tied the colonists together was the effects of British mercantilism on colonial economies and society. The British passed many laws with regards to their colonies in an effort to follow the mercantile economic theory of reducing national imports and maximizing national exports for the country as a whole. The colonies were seen as a source of raw materials not found in England, which could be sent to England for manufacturing rather than importing raw materials from elsewhere. Laws included the Navigation Acts, which restricted colonists from trading directly to foreigners, forcing them to first sell their materials to England for manufacturing first. Laws such as these were largely opposed by the colonists, as it reduced their trading potential to only one nation and laws were also passed to reduce the manufacturing capabilities of America, which was also largely opposed. All this led to greater unity among the colonists, as each shared in the injustice of these acts, which tied them all together. Another economic factor that united Americans and helped form their identity were the protesting that occurred to oppose the Stamp Act, Townshend Duties, Sugar Act, and the Tea Act. Nearly all colonists found these laws as unbearable, despising the idea of finally being taxed directly by Parliament after so many decades of neglect while still not having actual representation in Parliament, and in response, many colonists banded together to protest against these acts as well as boycott certain British goods. This aided in forming strong bonds between Americans, who again could bond over shared grievances and a common cause, but also aided in forming the American identity as one which opposed taxation, and many other forms of government, without representation. In response to these protests and boycotts, and especially to the Boston Tea Party, Parliament passed the Coercive Acts, or, as the colonists knew it, the Intolerable Acts. These acts resulted in Boston being blockaded from trade by the British until the radical revolutionaries’ spirits were broken. At least five colonies sent aid to relieve Boston, as recorded in documents recording the donations sent for the relief of Boston, and not all colonies were from New England, with colonies such as South Carolina sending a “shipload of rice” (Doc. G) to aid the inhabitants of Boston. The aid sent by other colonies clearly demonstrates an existing unity between the colonies in 1774 and 1775, when the provisions were delivered, as colonies from different regions such as New England and the Carolinas all sympathized with the inhabitants of Boston and desired to aid them. By 1774 colonists from all walks of life and all regions shared a sense of unity with other colonists, enough to aid each other in times of need. Economic events and factors such as organized protests and unanimous opposition to mercantile policies show that the Americans had developed a relatively strong identity and unity by the eve of the Revolution.
A major factor which drove the development of a strong and united American people and identity was the development of a unique culture with social bonds. Culturally the American people were a melting pot of many different ethnicities, leading to a multicultural people. Hector St. John Crevecoeur, a French-American writer, wrote in his Letters from an American Farmer, written in 1769, that the American is a “new man” (Doc. H) who as an American leaves “behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners” (Doc. H) as he creates a new identity different from his European forefathers. The American identity was one which had a diverse background but was built in spite of it. The identity threw off differences entirely, and although they never forgot their place of origin, they identified with their new home instead. This new identity developed its own views on everything from religion and government, further separating the American identity from its European relatives. Crevecoeur writes that Americans have forgotten “that mechanism of subordination” (Doc. H) which allowed for them to submit beneath European monarchs and autocracy. This, along with the American view regarding actual representation over virtual representation, which grew as a result of the American form of government in most colonies consisting of legislatures using actual representation, meant that the Americans had a cultural identity which held very different values from Britain and most of Europe at the time. The colonists had a stronger sense of individual rights and representation, with the idea of republicanism being very popular with colonists on the eve of the Revolution, as expressed in documents such as Common Sense by Thomas Paine. This unique cultural identity aided in uniting the colonists before the Revolution as it allowed for them to unify behind their shared ideals of freedom and equality. Richard Henry Lee, an American statesman from Virginia known for supporting full independence from Britain in the Second Continental Congress, wrote in a letter to his grandson Arthur Lee in 1774 that “all N. America is now most firmly united and as firmly resolved to defend their liberties ad infinitum” (Doc. C). The colonists were able to justify their rebellion and attract new members as they were simply defending rights which had been ingrained in their culture for decades and this acted as a unifying factor across the colonies even before fighting began as it justified acts such as the Boston Tea Party. However, not all Americans shared this attitude towards natural rights regarding freedom and representation. American clergyman Mather Byles wrote to fellow minister Nathaniel Emmons, an ardent Patriot, and author Arthur Wentworth Hamilton Eaton that he would rather be “ruled by one tyrant three thousand miles away” (Doc. D) than by “ three thousand tyrants not a mile away” (Doc. D), demonstrating a lack of faith that a government with actual representation in the colonies was any better than a monarchy. This demonstrates that the American identity revolving around freedom and personal liberty was not entirely accepted and unified. Although many colonists were united by the new cultural identity which they had formed in America, there were still colonists who believed that British rule was adequate and acceptable, showing that they had not entirely shed their identity as British subjects.
By the eve of the Revolution, the colonists had developed a strong sense of unity and identity as a single entity as Americans but had not entirely shed their identity as British subjects, which caused conflicting attitudes towards revolution to arise. The colonists had developed a united political identity of their own, but many still thought it appropriate to stay within the British Empire. The colonists had developed shared feelings with regards to the economic standing they held in the British Empire, opposing mercantilism and direct taxation from Parliament. They had also formed a unique culture in America, one built on an ideology which held freedom and representation in high regard, and this allowed for the colonists to unite behind the concept of restoring their rights which they saw as being infringed upon by the British, although many still saw British rule as acceptable. The development of differing identities within a single state would occur again prior to the Civil War in America. The Southern and Northern parts of America developed different identities socially, economically, and politically, causing much tension in the country and again starting a war during which one part attempted to break from another, only in the Civil War the rebels lost. Politically the Southerners were Democrats, supporting the ideals of strict constructionism and slavery, while the North were at first Whigs and then after their dissolution in 1854 they became Republicans. The North was pro-business and industry, opposing the Southerner’s agricultural leanings. Economically the North was centered around factories and manufacturing, while the South was more agricultural, causing a division in ideals and identity. Socially the North was more urban, while also supporting equality between classes and races. The South was rural, strongly class divided, and pro-slavery. All of these factors show that the North and the South had developed into stark contrasts of each other, and as a result of a Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, being elected and attempting to pass laws limiting slavery in newly formed states the South attempted to split from the United States to form a new nation. The factors behind the Civil War mirror the Revolution in many ways and show that identity and unity are key factors in a country’s stability and structure no matter the time period.
American Progress, an 1872 painting by John Gast, is a good representation of American Agrarianism and how it shaped the attitude of Americans and their concept of Manifest Destiny. The image reflects the attitude of farmers such as Jefferson, and his belief that as the righteous and virtuous people, it was the right of farmers to continue to expand across what would eventually be the American West in order to spread their lifestyle. The American people were spreading out so that they too could leave the cities and become farmers, who were considered the better and less corrupted people. They were spreading the ideals of self-sufficient farmers on the backs of families and hard working people, and although they were followed by urban advancements such as railroads and eventually cities (as seen behind the wagons), the initial advancement into this new land was done by the farmers. This also displays the ideals of Salatin, as the small farmers were advancing to gain new land so that they could provide for themselves and their neighbors as the yeomen farmers had, and not relying on others for their sustenance. It is a perfect merger of the ideas of American agrarianism and Manifest Destiny, showing how America grew on the backs of small farmers and families who provided for themselves without the corruption of city life.
Linkage Activity About Virginia and Bacon's Rebellion
During the 17th century, the colony of Virginia was founded by the London Company in the hopes of finding gold to mine as the Spanish had in South America. Instead of finding gold, they discovered that they could cultivate tobacco in Virginia, a plant native to the New World that was addictive, and sell it for very large profits back in the Old World. This discovery led to a need for more labor, as the act of growing tobacco is very labor-intensive, which in turn led to many rich colonists using indentured servitude to satisfy their labor needs. Indentured servitude in Virginia involved paying to send Europeans to Virginia to work for a certain number of years with no pay, and when their term was up they would be free men, however even while being indentured servants they were able to bear arms should the need arise to defend the colony. As more and more indentured servants were shipped to Virginia, some even being Africans, and the number of this landless class grew, tensions began to arise between the wealthy plantation owners and the discontent indentured servants until finally, in 1676 Bacon's Rebellion erupted with hundreds of previously indentured servants taking up arms against the wealthy class in an effort to free themselves from their contracts, however they failed after their leader Nathaniel Bacon died and British soldiers arrived to quell them. After this rebellion, the wealthy plantation owners knew that having a class of white servants who could also bear arms could lead to further rebellions, and thus decided to turn to slavery, and especially the enslavement of Africans, as Africans did not have the right to bear arms and were thus much less of a threat to the wealthy class, which caused the rise of slavery in the Virginia colony and the shipment of Africans to the New World.