A Political History of American Inequality

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Tourgee stated that the Reconstruction policy was a complete fail. He said in the attempt to unify the nation and the attempt to secure rights for the colored race was a fail. He believes that if the government would become more involved in this issue it would have a better chance of being solved. It almost seemed as if the government were doing the bare minimum to try to resolve this problem. They began to create black codes that were restricting the rights of formerly enslaved people. Tourgee’s way of fighting back was by holding political meetings where he denounced these black codes. He also began to edit for the “Union Register” where he would write about equality. One of the remedies he suggested was when he was apart of the “Loyalist Convention”. While he was in this group he told congress to take stronger measures to counteract President Johnson’s reconstruction policies.

The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands helped thousands of former slaves and needy white people in the South and D.C. after the Civil War. In this war, homes and lives were destroyed. The Freedman Bureau helped to solve these problems and created new economies. This lasted from the years 1865-1872. The goal was to help these freed slave transition back into society and their new freedom. Over the course of the Freedman’s Bureau it provided aid for over 4,000,000 freed slaves.

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W.E.B. DuBois was born on February 23, 1868 in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. He was an American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, and author. Despite the segregation of African Americans at the time, he was the first African American to earn a Ph.D from Harvard in 1895. A big part of his life was being a civil rights activist. He often criticized the government for not creating a sense of equality. One of the thing Du Bois is well known for is when he challenged Washington for not demanding equality of African Americans, even though it was granted by the 14th Amendment. He was one of the co-founders of the National Association of the Advancement of Colored People in 1909. He later died in Ghana on August 27, 1963 at the age of 95. When DuBois means by this is that we will never be able to fully be equal if we keep looking at the color of people’s skin. He is trying to be pathetic in this writing to try and get people to notice it. He is saying that if we don’t pay attention to the problem that are happening now that we will continuously be haunted by them throughout the 20th century. Some examples that he used as the Jim Crow Laws, Platt Amendment, and the Chinese Immigration and segregation laws. In my option I do believe that it is still relevant for the 21st century.

In the 20th century when you think of racial segregation you mainly think of African Americans. Since 9/11, the targeted race of this racial segregation is Arabs or Muslims. Still to this day, in some neighborhood, African American, Asian-Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and immigrants of all colors are constantly competing for limited resources. Although our society in American isn’t perfect when it comes to these issue you can try to have a positive outlook on this. If you look at other countries around the world there are riots and violence surrounding the topic of race. The reason I say this is still relevant is due to the situations these minorities are in. Many of these people are left without jobs, little education, and unsafe streets. I feel that by using this a guide it could help to fix these remaining issues in our society.

W.E.B. Dubois felt there were many great achievements that came along with the Freedman’s Bureau. This was one of the first steps towards equality. For the most part, he welcomed the advancements and goal that came along with the Bureau. The one thing he didn’t like about it was the disorganization of power and money. Dubois understood the fact that this wasn’t a perfect plan, but he appreciated the effort and progress that came from it. Overall, I feel as if the greatest achievement in Dubois eyes was the education. Because of this Bureau, young African American kids were given the opportunity to attend elementary school with other children in the South.

Two important provisions of the 14th Amendment are The Citizenship Clause and The Due Process Clause. The Citizenship Clause, granted citizenship to All persons born or naturalized in the United States. I feel this provision was so important due to the fact that it granted all persons born in the United States citizenship. This included former slave who had been freed after the Civil War. Including this in the 14th Amendment was a huge step towards equality of all races. The Due Process Clause, declared that states may not deny any person “life, liberty or property, without due process of law”. This is saying that no state can make or enforce laws in which abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States. It also gives all citizen will receive fair treatment through the court system and under the laws. This made sure that if you found yourself in court that you, not matter how much money you have, will have representation and that the trail will be fair.

There are many ways that the 14th Amendment still impacts our society today. The main example that come to mind is the case of University of California vs. Bakkle, which occurred June 26, 1978. In this Allan Bakke, a white man, went to the Supreme Court in regards to his denial from the University of California Medical School at Davis on two separate occasions. The university sets said 16 spots for applicants that are minorities, but these two years the 16 applicants had much lower test scores than Bakkle and still were enrolled in the university. Bakkle felt it was unfair that he was denied from a school due to his race. The Supreme Court ruled that this use of strict racial quotas was unconstitutional and they ordered that the university admit Bakke. Even though the ruling was that it was a strict use of racial quotes that race still could be used as one of the factors in the admissions process.

The Dawes Act was a federal law intended to turn Native Americans into farmer and landowners. They government provided cooperating families with 160 acres of land for farming or 320 acres for grazing. The purpose of this act was to provide these Native Americans with land that would become beneficial for the government. The main goal of the Dawes Act was to have Native Americans give up their tribal ways and become more “American”. Some ways the government made this change is by forcing Native Americans to change their names, learn English, cut their hair and wear traditional American Clothing.

Overall, the main purpose of this act was to weaken the role of tribal government and to force Native Americans act as individuals. This act did provide Native Americans with land to be able to grow food and make an income, I think it did more harm than good. This act caused these Native Americans to strip of their identity and to become more “American”. Although it was said that these Native Americans were given this land, in order to receive it, you had to individual enroll as a member of a tribe. The US government was in charge of deciding who was a member of these tribes, which was done in a very discriminatory way. Once these Native Americans were given this land they were able to do whatever they wanted with it. This resulted in a bunch of this land being sold, which resulted in less Native American lands. All in all this caused a downfall to the structure of tribal society and forced these Native Americans for act as individual, not as a tribal collective.

Henry Grady was born on May 24, 1850 in Athens, Georgia. He was an American journalist and orator who helped to put the Confederacy and Union back together after the Civil War. Grady had many speeches about how he promoted industrialization and crop diversification as a means of regrowing the South. With his influence, he promoted a New South program, Southern industrial growth, white supremacy, and diversified farming. He later passed away in Atlanta, Georgia on December 23, 1889 at the young age of 39. The point of this speech was to urge Southerners to abandon it longstanding agricultural economy for a more modern economy. These more modern economies were grounded in factories, mines, and mills. Textile mills and tobacco factories were very popular in the South at this time. When this plan for a New South was introduced you could see that it was starting to fail. Due to this, income in the South was down forty percent less than the national average. In more rural areas poverty was still a major issue into the twentieth century.

The responses of Washington and DuBois were complete opposites when it came to the Jim Crow legislation. W. E. B. DuBois believed that political and social equality has to come first before African Americans before they could be viewed at as equal in the economy. DuBois felt extremely angry towards this Jim Crow legislation. He vociferously attacked the Jim Crow laws and practices. In 1909, Dubois helped to form the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). This group helped to fight against the Jim Crow laws. They fought for the abolition of segregation, open and equal access to education and employment for African Americans. Dubois published The Souls of Black Folk, which was a collection of essays assailing Washington’s strategy of accommodation, in 1903.

Booker T. Washington felt as if fighting against Jim Crow laws would be unsuccessful. He thought was that segregation would disappear on its own if African American would improve their lives and get better jobs (which was almost impossible at this time due to segregation). Although he had these believes, he secretly fought against these laws. He did this by writing letters in code names and protecting African Americans from lynch mobs. I do feel as if some could view Washington’s speech as a compromise. The reason for this is because he was still accepting social segregation, but felt as if African Americans and whites needed each other and that they should act in a way that allowed them to coexist.

Another reason that people view this as a compromise wa due to what he had to say about education for African Americans. He felt that vocation education, gave the opportunity for economic security, was more valuable to them than social advantages, higher education, or political office. Looking at this I can see both sides of this argument. I can see why Washington would say this would be more beneficial for them because this allowed African Americans to be trained for better jobs and eventually make more money, but this isn’t the case for all African Americans. Many people do wish to be able to advance in education or be able to be in political office.

The Homestead Act was done to reassure western migration by giving settlers and freed slaves 160 acres of public land. If you were to accept this land you were expected to pay a small fee and you were required to live on the residence for five years. 15,000 homestead claims were established by the end of the Civil War, and many followed. By the end over 1.6 million individual claims were approved, which was 10 percent of all government help property. The main purpose was to bring people to the West to explore and settle in this new land. I think there two main groups of people that supported the Homestead Act. The first group was the US government. This is because they wanted to expand more towards the West but knew it was dangerous. They came up with a smart plan to get these lower income families and freed slaves the opportunity to own land. With doing this the government would be getting a small fee for each person that took this land. It was a two in one of the government because they were getting people to explore the west and getting a fee from them as well.

The second group I think supported the Homestead Act was these settlers and freed slaves. This gave them the opportunity to start over and make a new life for themselves, with the cost of a fee. I think the main group who would have opposed of the act was Native Americans who were living in the West. These settlers were about to take their homes away from them and either force them to act more “American” or kill them. One reason that I feel people may have opposed it was the fact that the government may have been taking advantage of these low income people. They knew that these people would not be able to continually pay this fee for the land and they wouldn’t make any profit off of any food they were selling on their land. Eventually this would give the government the opportunity to take these settlers land and claim it as their own.

Although there were both pros and cons when it came to the Homestead act, I feel it was very successful. This was the first step to the main spread of colonies all over the continental United States. The Homestead Act was the first instance in which the government was giving public domain to individuals of any race. A very important thing that came out due to the Homestead act was the Railroad act which was signed July 1, 1862, only 2 months after the started of the Homestead act. These railroad made it easier for people travel from the east to the west. I would even say that it was one of the most significant events that happened following the reconstruction area.

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A Political History of American Inequality. (2022, May 13). Retrieved from


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