Abolition in the US - Essay Example

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Historically,the concerns over civil rights have much to do with the ongoing efforts to eliminate inferior legal status of the minorities,particularly African Americans in the US.The first step on this unbelievably long route was abolition of slavery…
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ABOLITIONISM IN THE US 2007 ABOLITIONISM IN THE US Historically, the concerns over civil rights have much to do with the ongoing effortsto eliminate inferior legal status of the minorities, and particularly African Americans in the US. The first step on this unbelievably long and difficult route was abolition of slavery. The origins of abolitionist movement in the US can be traced back to the late 18th century: the American and French revolutions that occurred at that time separated by only a decade played the key role in its onset and further development. Both revolutions strongly relied on the concepts of equality between people and their right to live free and the protestant Christian morality (Wood, 1998; Doyle, 2002). Therefore, advocates of the early abolitionist movement believed it was wrong to maintain the artificial inferiority of non-white groups promoting the ideas of emancipation.
While the earliest form of abolitionism in the US were rather mild and did not achieve any significant results except for the 1808's abolition of the slave trade with Africa, the later stage of the abolitionist movement that emerged in the 1830s was more powerful and called for an immediate end to slavery. The basic ideas underlying this later movement remained exactly the same as at the earliest stage: the common nature and origins of all human beings, the natural right to freedom, and the immorality of forced labor (Temperley, 1980). These ideas are vividly illustrated by one of the most famous artifacts of that epoch, namely the Wedgwood medallion featuring a kneeling chained slave and a slogan "Am I not a man and a brother"
After several decades of struggle the abolitionist movement achieved peaked when the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution outlawed slavery, while the Civil Rights Acts of 1866 provided minorities with 'the same right to make and enforce contracts ... as is enjoyed by white citizens ... " (Civil Rights Act, 1866). Other Civil Rights Acts passed in 1870, 1871, and 1875 provided African Americans with the right to sue and be sued, witness, hold personal property, heir, etc., and the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed all citizens of the country equal legal protection: the clause dealing with equal protection of the Fourteenth Amendment commands that no administrative entity would reframe persons or deny them of the advantages for being members of a racially lesser section (Nowak and Rotunda, 1995).
Although the abolitionist movement reached its nominal goal, its ideas continued to have huge influence on the social life in the US over the next several decades. Thus, the history of feminism in the US is directly linked to the abolitionist movement. In the lat 19th century women of the United States initiated an organized campaign for equal status with men with Elizabeth Cady Stanton being the leading theoretician of the women's rights movement. Her famous book 'Woman's Bible', published in 1895 - 1898, criticized what Stanton called the male bias of the Bible proclaiming the ideas of gender equality in all spheres of life.
And finally, the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s also drew heavily on the same ideas the abolitionists did aiming to reduce inequalities between legal status of the majority and minorities, men and women. The civil rights fighters in the 1950s required elimination of segregationist laws in education, employment, politics, etc. Their efforts resulted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which made it illegal to discriminate minorities and women in employment, discharging, compensation, or terms, conditions, and privileges of employment. Employment agencies were legally banned to discriminate between applicants which automatically obliged Labor Organizations all over the United States rework their system of members' classifications because in the old system members were classified depending on their race, color, religion, sex, and ethnical origin. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) was also established under this document (The Civil Rights Act, 1964; Title VII). The document also prohibited discrimination for reason of color, race, religion, or national origin in places of public accommodation covered by interstate commerce: restaurants, hotels, motels, and theaters.
Civil Rights Act of 1964, PL 88-352 02JUL64
Doyle, William, Oxford history of the French Revolution, 2nd ed., Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Temperley, Howard, "Anti-Slavery as Cultural Imperialism" in Christine Bolt and Seymour Drescher, eds., Anti-Slavery, Religion and Reform: Essays in Memory of Roger Anstey, Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1980, pp. 335-50.
Nowak, John E., Rotunda, Ronald D , Hornbook on Constitutional Law, West Publishing House, 1995
Wood, Gordon S., The Creation of the American Republic, 1776-1787, The University of North Carolina Press, 1998. Read More
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