A New Voice in Economic Decision-Making

Table of Content

Throughout history, the role of the Federal Government has changed. The Federal Government has made changes to better America as a whole. Although at times it did not seem like things were getting better, but worse. These changes in their role were most present during the Reconstruction, Gilded Age, Progressive Era, WWI, The Great Depression and the New Deal, WWII, Cold War- the 1950s, and Cold War- 1960s.

The Reconstruction Era revealed that black Americans did not receive the freedom they deserved during the Civil War, therefore a change had to be made. This involved land reforms. The failure of land reform landed black Americans back where they began, working for white Americans. Bureau divided forty acres of land and sold it to former slaves for rent. But, in 1865 President Johnson declared all land to be returned to the former owners, the whites (Foner, Give Me Liberty! page 562). Black Americans protested this, they said, “we have not bettered our condition from the days of slavery- you will see, this is not the condition of really free men” (Foner, Give me Liberty! pages 562-563). Unfortunately, this did nothing and blacks’ often returned to work on their former white-owned plantation, but as sharecroppers, with slightly better working conditions and wages, due to government intervention. This agreement, fortunately, allowed blacks’ a share of the crop at the end of the season. As well as, giving blacks they’re craving for independence from white control and the white owners’ want for disciplined workers(Foner, Give me Liberty! page 97). Although this did make working slightly better for blacks’, this also contributed to the continuation of poverty, due to no land distribution taking place(Foner, Give me Liberty! page 95). Sharecropping ultimately did nothing to increase the freedom of blacks from the landowner. As such, sharecropping did little to enhance the newfound freedom of former slaves. The Black Codes were another set of laws passed that regulated the lives of black Americans. Foner states on page 570 of Give me Liberty!, “These laws granted blacks certain rights such as legalized marriage, ownership of property, and limited access to the courts.” With these new rights, they still has many restrictions and they were now forced into annual labor contracts with landowners, as well as children were now being allowed to be hired by landowners. However, they were still restricted from voting, limited in fields of employment and land ownership, and denied full access to the legal system. These codes were somewhat helpful but still limited freedom for Black Americans. Overall, the failure of land reform drove blacks back to their former white plantation owners for work and displayed a sense of betrayal by the government for any improvement in black workblacksownership.

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In the 1900s many states wanted to keep blacks out of politics and took away their right to vote. With this, the 15th Amendment was created, but many states still did not allow blacks voting rights. This also led to an increase in segregation of whites and blacks. If blacks were to challenge this they would face “…political and legal power against them as well as, violent reprisal”(Foner, Give me Liberty! Page 655). Blacks also still struggled with acquiring jobs, Forner states, “… while planters, merchants, and industrials prospered the region as a whole sank deeper and deeper into poverty” (Foner, Give me Liberty! page 649). Blacks are still not getting the job opportunities, or if they do receive them they are under poor conditions and low wages. As new laws were put into place, prison populations rose and they began renting out mainly black convicts for work. These convicts were in for minor crimes but faced large punishments. This provided the private businessmen with giving with cheap labor (Foner, Give with me Liberty! page 649). There were some economic opportunities for blacks in the Upper south “…mines, iron furnaces, and tobacco factories employed black laborers and a good number of black farmers managed to acquire land”(Foner, Give me Liberty! page 649). were, blacks were still aton the bottom of the social pyramid.

The Gilded Age was an important time for Americans due to the modernization as well as for Indians who benefited from the Dawes Act. Foner states companies page 596 of Give me Liberty, “Spurred by private investment and massive grants of land and money by federal, state, and local government, the number of miles of railroad track tripled between 1860 and 1880 and tripled again by 1920, opening vast new areas to commercial and creating a truly national market for manufactured goods.” This allowed for easier travel and allowed trains to travel on other companies’ rails. Theof aggressive government investment in the railroads, it allowed for an expanding market with mass production, mass distribution, and mass marketing of goods, which were needed for this modernization of America (Foner, Give Me Liberty! page 596). This leads to the Plessy versus Ferguson case, which The decision in this case ultimately meant more segregation of blacks and whites. Tharsis case rose to the supreme court of Louisiana where an 8-1 decision was made that segregated facilities were not discriminating they were “separate but equal”(Foner, Voices of Freedom page 53). This meant that whites would have their bathroom, schools, water fountains, lines, railroad cars, and more. But, these places were not always equal, more often blacks got the worst of it. John Harlan was one of the first few people who voiced his own opinion of tis. He strongly did not agree with what the court decided on. Harlan stated that “…our Constitution is color-blind” (Foner, Voices of Freedom page 53). . He also stated that this was against our 13th amendment rights and called it a “badge of slavery” (Foner, Voices of Freedom page 53). Overall, this was his way of saying the government only saw color not real people, not and    t treat everyone equally, as they should. This case was one-way in wha toe no all Americans experienced changa e in the same way.

The Progressive Era brought a new voice in economic decision-making the making right in the 1900s. This movement was defined as, “… a political movement of individuals and groups who hoped to bring about significant change in American social and political life” (Foner, Give Me Liberty! page 683). During the Progressive Era, women were fighting for suffrage. The National American Woman Suffrage Association fought for the right to vote (Foner, Give Me Liberty! page 712). This was a mass movement taking place across the entire country. By 1900, women were allowed to vote in elections for school issues in more than half the states (Foner, Give Me Liberty! page 712). Although they accomplished giving the women the right to vote in some states, the movement continued to grant women the right to vote in all states and on more subjects other than school. Margaret Sanger was a believer in rightthe and  for , women to antibodies of body their bodies of body, which lead to the Prohibition Amendment. Sanger’s fight was a recogofprogressivenized part of history during the proProgresaggressive,sive, ofaggressive   Era, but laws slowly changed in some states, but in others birth control was still unavailable to women (Foner, Give Me Liberty! page 705). Women now began to fight in the Progressive Era. They fought to end prostitution, which led the government to disperse birth controlperiodirth-control (Foner, Give Me Liberty! page 741). Prohibition gained momentum in the 19th century. “Women reformers hoped Prohibition would protect wives and children from husbands who engaged in violence when drunk or who squandered their wages at saloons (Foner, Give Me Liberty! page 742). This led the government to pass the Eighteenth Amendment which, “…prohibiting the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquor” (Foner, Give Me Liberty! page 742). The government is taking control to keep the states from making their own decisions, using their increased role and power in the United States.

World War I was a periodwhere, period whewherretakewhether w wherewhe the government tightened on the rules they were putting into motion. “For the first time since the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, the federal government enacted laws to restrict freedom of speech” (Foner, Give Me Liberty! page 742). The government also banned interfering with the military draft as well as false statements that could affect the success of the military, the government eventually charged 2,000 people for violating these laws (Foner, Give Me Liberty! page 743). America during this time saw a drastic increaincrease in itsinseinits of government control. This led to a tighter government control called Coercive Patriotism. The government imprisoned those who criticized the American flag (Foner, Give Me Liberty! page 743). This is because patriotism is associated with support for the government, by imprisoning these people you were getting rid of all individuals who were disloyal to America. The government was exerting its power over Americans to show that unfaithfulness would not be allowed and there would be punishment.

The Red Scare was from 1919-to takeas1920 and was “…a short-lived but intense period of political intolerance inspired by the post-war strike wave and the social tensions and fears generated by the Russian Revolution” (Foner, Give Me Liberty! page 760). All events tak place during this time, like the steel strike, were to make people believe they were a worldwide conspiracy theory (760). The fear led general A. Mitchell Palmer to raid radical and labor organization offices. During this, the a and time they arrested more than 5,000 people and deported hundreds of immigrants (Foner, Give Me Liberty! page 760). Palmer’s actions brought “a and a new appreciation of the importance of civil liberties” in the 1920s, the response was negative as multiple terrorist attacks, strikes, and setbacks for labor organizations broke out (Foner, Give Me Liberty! page 760). Overall, the strikes and revolution were real causes and the fear of the return of communism was an imaginary cause of the Red Scare, thus leading the government to exert its itits lower-paying power and get out those who posed a threat to America.

The New Deal programs contributed to the stigma of blacks because lower-paying likeower-payinglike they were already a large majority of the people who received welfare. Black Americans werelower-payinglikepaying like were lower onaonelike power usually in lower paying jobs relying on likeon welfare, and not making as much money like most other Americans. However, “…the majority of black workers found themselves confined to the least generous and most vulnerable wing of the new welfare state” (Foner, Give Me Liberty! page 836). Most blacks were not able to collect Social Security so they were dependent on this aid, and some believed they were becoming too dependent on it (Foner, Give Me Liberty! page 836). This stigma eventually drove a wedge between the whites and blacks. In Voices of Freedom, document 144 states, “They think that we have only to wait in silence for the white people to settle the problem for us; and finally and predominantly, they think that the problem of twelve million negro people, mostly poor, ignorant workers is going to be settled by having their more educated and wealthy classes gradually and continually escape from their race into the mass of the American people, leaving the rest to sink suffer, and die” (Foner, Voices of Freedom Page 184). ThisexhibitsThis exhibitpayingexhibiting like is not a problem for the black people, it is the whites and how society looked at the blacks. The stereotype was that blacks were not as smart as others and could not make the money to support themselves without government welfare. Overall, the white population was looking down on the blacks for using the necessary aid from the government to live, rather than helping. This demonstrates how the government is contributing to helping all Americans, in any circumstance.

In the Documentary “Hard Times” they explain the causes of the Great Depression, who it affects and how it affects them. Multiple things lele to the depression. The Hoover was the President for most of the Depression. He tried many things to help like using federal government money to manage issues, the National Credit Corporation, reconstruction of finance corporation, and loans to county, city, and state governments to create jobs. Many people did not think Hoover was good in a crisis and assis1932 elected Franklin Roosevelt. He promised forceful action to help the economy. He issued bank holiholidaysassistday to allow them time to get their hands on assets to move money around to meet the needs of the depositors without completely shutting down. Also, established Federal deposit insurance which he hoped would influence bankers to be less reckless with their money. Next, he provided money. to state and local emergency agencies so they could assiswitassistand assist andassist people during unemployment. The most important thing Roosevelt did was inject confidence and optimism into the US that they would get out of the Great Depression.

World War II was a time for the American Government wheexhibitswhencorporations President Roosevelt’s four freedoms were a large impact on the government’s role changing. Roosevelt founded the idea of “freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear” (Foner, Give Me Liberty! Page 850). The four freedoms were the rights of every American and displayed traditional American values. World War II also allowed the U.S. government to take a larger role in international affairs and and economic development of the South and West (Foner, Give Me Liberty! Page 852). This leads to the Office of War Information “…created in 1942 to mobilize public opinion, illustrates how the political divisions generated by the New Deal affected efforts to promote the Four Freedoms” (Foner, Give Me Liberty! Page 866).

Cold War- 1950sthe exhibits: Brown vs. Board of Education, Conformity (What is it and how did the federal government enforce it? HUAC), Truman Doctrine, Loyalty and Disloyalty- McCarthyism (page 917), suburbanization (how did the federal government facilitate this?- page 939 GML; be sure to explain limitations as well- segregation), Eisenhower’s Modern Republicanism.

Nixon says ‘the fact that our people can say and do anything they want about a government official, the fact of our elections, as the voting machine in outou exhibit illustrates, every voter has a free choice between those who hold public office and those who oppose make ours a true people’s government’ (248). This also shows how America had freedoms during the Cold War.

During the Cold War, Americans did debate several issues and rights the most important being Civil Rights and Voting Rights. Martin Luther King Jr. was the leader to get these rights for blacks. He states in document 169, ‘ We have waited more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights’ (Foner, Voices of Freedom Page 270). Blacks were fighting for rights, that whites were given. These included the simple right to vote, hold a job, go to public places, go to school,  theandandthen andright lowering because lowerof and right rrightthe igh to be treated equally Foner, Voices of Freedom Page 279). King began a voting rights campaign that quickly spread. They began to march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama but were shown violence from authority figures in a nonviolent act Foner, Give Me Liberty! Page 985). The Government ad to quickly take action which led to Congress passing the Voting Acts Right of 1965. Black southerners gained the right to vote and regained suffrage they lost (Foner, Give Me Liberty! Page 986). African Americans during this time were being withheld from basic Civil Rights that Americans are/should be given, which the government noticed. They were on an uphill battle to gain these rights. The Cold War was a dark time for African Americans who were trying to claim their basic Civil Rights in the United States.

Throughout history, the role of the Federal Government has increased. These changes in their role were most present during the Reconstruction, Gilded Age, Progressive Era, WWI, The Great Depression, the New Deal, WWII, Cold War- 1950s, and Cold War- 1960s. Each periodcontrolledthe the government-controlledledthe more aspects of America before holding the rightrightrightright right right right the rightthe majority themajority of the control.

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A New Voice in Economic Decision-Making. (2022, May 15). Retrieved from


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