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Essay: United States History from 1607 through 1877

Within the scope of this research, we will assess the contours of United States history in a period of 1607-1877 as well as elaborate on the effects of race, liberalism, and territorial expansionism on the historical process. The contours of US history at the given period are quite distinctive, which is partially explained by the rapid pace of development that America had taken on from the very beginning. Within a short period of time, the country had experienced a number of great changes and established itself as one of the most significant global forces.

The political systems of the American colonies, although having a lot of substantial drawbacks, were nevertheless democratic. The founders realized that men are not endowed with the right of equal status by another of the same status, but rather by a creator which then equalizes all men everywhere at all times. This fact made the American mind a new political creation.

Rationally following the recognition of equality among all men of the human species was the fact that legitimate government could only arise from the consent of the equal beings. Prior to this time government was always seen as something in which some men were entitled by social status, or what they would call divine right, to rule over or govern others. By the acceptance of the above recognition of equality the justification of one man’s natural right to rule over another falls.

James Otis states in The Rights of the British colonies Asserted and Proved, that no man has the right to govern another without consent of the governed because God is the only monarch in the universe, “who has a clear and indisputable right to absolute power; because he is the only one who is omniscient as well as omnipotent”. (Taylor, 1997) The Founders of America realized that men were equal in their inherently selfish nature as well. The idea of universal equality had been embedded in American’s minds as seed.

This seed naturally began to grow and expand by the mechanism of reason into such ideas about legitimate government and, consequently, liberties that the governed retained within that government. Thus, the government of the American colonies was democratic, with only one aspect that did not fit into that fully democratic picture – the representative government. Madison shows that in a representative government people, eventually, begin to act unjustly if there are no safeguards against such. (Taylor, 1997)

Westward expansion that is devoted so much time in the American history did not have positive effects on the lives of African American people. Racist legislation and nativism were not restricted to the gold fields of California. African Americans and other people of color had to contend with discriminatory laws and policies in virtually every aspect of life.

Although lawmakers had failed in their attempts to ban black entry to the state, the legislators attempted to deter people of color by erecting a bulwark of laws that deprived them of civil rights and left them vulnerable to exploitation. Denied citizenship, they could not legally homestead public land; they were forbidden from voting, holding public office, giving court testimony against whites, serving on juries, sending their children to public schools, and using public transportation. (Taylor, 1997)

While post–Civil War legislation provided African Americans with the beginnings of legal relief, their daily reality revealed that de facto and de jure segregation and discrimination would continue to make them vulnerable to violence and exploitation. African Americans of the nineteenth century conducted their struggles in an environment where politics had long been conditioned by race and ethnicity They would be compelled to carry their fight into the twentieth century, when succeeding generations would devise new strategies to overcome both old obstacles and new ones.

The American history for the period discussed above can teach contemporary citizens a lot of valuable lessons. The issues of race and diversity are of profound significance, as well as the ideas about expanding one’s influence and becoming a global superpower. Almost three centuries covered by this time period had shown to the American people that democratic values should be strived for in order to become a successful country that is ruled by government supported by the country’s people.

Taylor, P. In Search of the Racial Frontier. New York: Harper Collins, 1997.