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Violence, the American Creed and the Rulling Class - Essay Example

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Name Instructor History 131B Date Violence, the American Creed and the Ruling Class The United States of America as a country has historically been rooted in the ideals of democracy and individual freedom. From the moment when America’s founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence, they acknowledged that the country was to be established on the grounds that all men were created equal and deserving of the chance to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…
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Violence, the American Creed and the Rulling Class
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Violence, the American Creed and the Rulling Class

Download file to see previous pages... The following essay forwards the thesis that the American Creed, either wholly or in parts, has historically been used by the elite ruling class of whites for their own gain, primarily as an ideology used to explain and excuse the use of violence to oppress other racial minorities in the process of consolidating power for their own gain. Evidence for the use of the American Creed in this manner is easily seen in several instances in American history, most notably from the end of the Civil War to the time of World War I, a period of time from the 1860s to the 1920s. The essay will take a chronological approach in the discussion while pointing out the specific use of violence with regards to preserving the power of the ruling class. The essay will use three particular instances in American history when the American Creed was used as a justification for racial violence against three separate races: the post-Civil War Reconstruction and violence against the former black slaves, the period of the Western frontier and violence against the Native Americans, and finally the excessive violence and torture used on Filipinos by American soldiers during the Filipino-American War. The essay’s first example of the misuse of the American Creed occurs after the Civil War. America entered into a period termed as the Reconstruction, during which white Southerners secured amnesty from then President Andrew Johnson and after taking an oath of allegiance were restored their political and property rights (sans slave ownership) prior to the Civil War. Many blacks who were formerly slaves had found themselves freed as a consequence of the war, and legislation headed by politicians such as Massachusetts senator Charles Sumner and Pennsylvania representative Thaddeus Stevens were making it so the blacks were granted political rights equal to whites.1 However, racial hatreds and the belief that black people were inferior to whites led to those legislations eventually being disregarded in all but name and the prevalence of discrimination, racially-motivated violence, and segregation. In a bid to seemingly uphold these laws of equality, the concept of “separate but equal” was devised, with the facilities and services for blacks being highly inferior to non-existent. To enforce this “separate but equal” rule, an oppressive system based on violent reprisals for breaking social hierarchy was informally established. It became common for blacks who had violated the established hierarchy by speaking or acting out against the whites to end up dead either through beatings or at the hands of a lynching mob.2 Indeed, lynching became a common occurrence which continued well into the middle of the 20th century. In the first example, the portion in the Creed pertaining to equality is put into play. The “separate but equal” ruling allowed the ruling whites to keep their distance from people they viewed as being lesser than them while upholding the equality referred to in the Creed. Anyone trying to bridge the separation was seen trying to break the equality, disrupting the Creed and therefore deserving of punishment and violent reprisals. Following the Reconstructio ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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