Someof the modern world Americans believe that their country’s historyas representing a story of inevitable increasing freedom andopportunity for growth and expansion. To a greater extent, such abelief is founded on the ideals and values defining America’spolitical structure. The core values and ideals that have beendriving America, or that people hope would drive the country, includeequality, democracy, unity, and diversity among others. In addition,the belief that American history represents a story of inevitableincreasing freedom and opportunity may have also been founded on theAmerican dream. Within the American dream exists the same ideals andvalues which defines the country’s political structure. However,the most important component of the American dream is the declarationthat everyone has an equal opportunity to prosper, and experience anupward social mobility through dedicated work. The values and ideals,as well as the country’s ethos facilitate the belief that theAmerica’s history is a story of inevitable ever-increasing freedomand opportunity. Therefore, this paper seeks to provide an analyticalreview of the adversities and steps taken to attain any and/or formsof freedom and opportunity of African Americans and White Womenduring the Colonial Era.
AfricanAmericans Arrival to the United States
Thearrival of over 11 million African Americans in the United States bythe end of the 19thCentury was facilitated by the role played by the Portuguese in theexistence of slave trade. Despite the existence of slave trade beforethe 1472, increased slave trade involving Africans began vigorouslyafter the involvement of the Portuguese. In 1472, the Portugueseplayed important roles in slave trade, by negotiating the firstformal slave trade agreement, a deal that also included gold andivory. This agreement paved way for increased slave trade, whereAfricans were taken from their countries and taken to Europe toexploited. These activities were instrumental I the arrival of theAfrican Americans to the United States as slaves.
Forinstance, in 1503, the Portuguese and Spanish brought Slaves fromAfrica to the Caribbean and Central America to work in the gold mineswhere previously the Native Americans worked. Africans provided acheaper and less resistant option compared to the Native Americanswho worked in the mines. There was no doubt that the Portuguese weredeeply involved in slave trade and fuelled the fact that the wealthypeople could advance their economic interests by forcing Africans towork in their mines and agricultural sites. American colonies pickedthe trend, and became actively involved in slave trade. Forinstance, slave trade trends had arrived in Jamestown in 1619,facilitated by the Dutch. The fact that Slave trade provided cheapand non-resistant labor facilitated the increased interest ineconomic growth by the wealthy individuals.
WhiteWomen’s Arrival to the United States
Jamestownsurvival is a permanent settlement area was facilitated by thearrival of Englishmen who were not discouraged at the possibility offacing hardships in a new land. Among those who dared to stay in astrange land were two women: Mrs. Forrest and her maid Anne Burraswho arrived in Jamestown in 1607. Mrs. Forrest was the wife of one ofthe settlers in Jamestown, while Anne Burras was later married in theregion, thus providing the first recorded marriage in Jamestown in1608. Anne Burras was one of the few women to have witnessed thedeadly famine and the massacre of the Indians which took place in theregion. Jamestown was saved from famine when one of the colonialists,John Rolfe managed to successfully establish tobacco cultivation.
Theregion became stable once again following the increased tobaccocultivation, thus attracting more settlers into the region. As aresult, more settlers came from London at the beginning of 1618following the headrights offered by the London Company involved inthe settlement, as long as people could manage to pay for their owntrips to Jamestown. The headrights was a strategy adopted by thecompany to motivate people to settle in Jamestown. The strategyinvolved providing incentives, including 50 acres of land for thesettlers who paved their way to the region. However, the headrightswere later revoked for women on the basis that women who held largetracks of land could advance their economic interests, thusdiscouraging them from marriage. The London Company wanted women toget married and give birth to children who would become the citizensof the region by birth. Therefore, the company brought in more womensettlers of elevated social positions to Jamestown to become thewives of the unmarried male settlers in the region.
AfricanAmerican’s Experiences with the Colonists within the Period
SinceAfricans were brought in to advance the economic interests of thecolonists by providing cheap labor, life for them implied workingfrom sunrise to sunset everyday with little food and poor livingconditions (Slave Lives and Slave Codes, 2016). Poor livingconditions also meant poor shelter, tattered clothes, and dirtyliving places. These harsh conditions paved way for tropical diseasesamong the African American population. For instance, working inplantations without proper gear exposed African Americans to bitesfrom insects, including malaria-causing mosquitoes. The misery of theAfrican American under colonialists was enhanced by the establishmentof the slave codes. These codes were policies which permitted slaveowners to retrieve their slaves from Free states without any officialpermission from the governing authority.
Theimplication of the introduction of slave codes was that slavesAfrican Americans were treated as properties rather than human beingswho deserved equal rights and freedom as others (Slave Lives andSlave Codes, 2016). As a result, African American lacked the right tofight for their rights because slavery was deeply rooted in thegoverning process of the United States at the time. Overseers werealso used to manage the activities of the African Americans at theirplaces of work. The usage of overseers to maximize the productivityof slaves further complicated the lives of slaves with colonists.These overseers were allowed to use any means possible, includingwhipping the perceived lazy slaves to work hard and increaseproductivity.
WhiteWomen’s Experiences with the Colonists within the Period
Acritical analysis of the experiences of white women with colonists inJamestown reveals that they were dominated by men. The governingprocesses were dominated by men, who apparently also designed andimplemented the policies which dictated the duties designated for menand women. For instance, the headrights incentive that was meant toattract everyone to settle in Jamestown was later revoked for womenon the basis that it would discourage them from getting married. Thismove implied that London government perceived women’s roles asdomestic (Colonial Women, 2016). They were expected to give birth andraise their children. This view was further enhanced when the LondonCompany brought more women from London to become wives of theunmarried male settlers in Jamestown. In fact, the governmentprovided longer contracts and benefits to women who became pregnant.
Given the government’s obsession with children, women weresometimes forced to bear close to eight children (Colonial Women,20160. In addition, some of them were forced into marriage whileyoung. Given that the governing process was dominated by men, womenwere denied rights and freedom to choose what they wanted to doregarding work and marriage. For instance, women were denied theright to vote, hold public offices or serve as juries in thegovernment (Colonial Women, 2016). Denying women such rights waseffective for men who wanted to control and dominate them, and usethem to establish permanent settlement in Jamestown among otherplaces within the United States. The inequality between men and womenfurther led to the establishment of formal agreement binding women tobe servants of men. In other words, white women were more-or-lesstreated as slaves by their male counterparts.
AbolitionistsMovement and White Women’s Suffrage
Thismovement was formed on the basis of the America’s ideals, values,and ethos. It included both the Whites and Blacks of all socialstatuses who were focused on eradicating slavery and racialdiscrimination in the United States (Abolitionism, 2016). Theybelieved and maintained that all people are equal before the Creator.As a result, the movement sought to end slavery in the United Statesbased on that belief. The abolitionist movement also sought to endracial discrimination following the fact that a greater percentage ofthe slaves were Black Americans as opposed to other races. Thismovement caused the Northern and Southern states to oppose the nationduring civil war (Abolitionism, 2016). These states declared thatthey would pull from the United States union. Among the issuesfuelling this opposition was abolitionist movement’s stand againstslavery in the country.
Theabolitionist movement’s primary tactic for achieving its objectivesincluded getting as many people as possible to reject slavery andracial discrimination. Eventually some slaves became free throughlegal means when slavery was abolished in 1865 (Abolitionism, 2016).However, other slaves chose to escape from their masters to findsafer zones to hide. In the process, slaves who wanted to head forthe Northern states such as Canada used the Underground Railroad as ameeting place, a passage, and safe haven (Abolitionism, 20160. On theother hand, White women had started a human rights movement to opposethe unfair dominion of men over their lives. The abolitionistmovement and women’s suffrage were closely related because most ofthe women leaders in the movement began from the abolitionistmovement. The state of gender discrimination was deep to an extentwhere even within the abolitionist movement women were locked out ofimportant leadership and decision making positions. As a result,women’s human right movement largely advocated for equal rightsbetween men and women with regard to freedom to choose, education,education, and political rights.
Followingthe success of the abolitionist movement, the state of Tennesseeabolished slavery in 1865. Within the same year, the RepublicCongress passed a bill which sought to protect African Americansagainst slavery and exploitations by higher social class members ofthe country. In 1866, the Congress enacted the first Civil Rights Actin 1866 which focused on defining citizenship, and giving all peopleequal rights irrespective of their diversities. The enactment of thisbill gave the African Americans the right to vote in Washington,something that signified a major step in the creation of freedom andopportunities within the United States.
Followingthe human rights movement by the White women, Elizabeth Blackwellbecame the first woman physician in the United State, something whichwas not possible before the movement (Important Dates in U.S. Women`sHistory, 2016). At the same time, Susan B. Antony tried to vote,while Elizabeth Cany ran for a government office for the first timein the history of the United States (Important Dates in U.S. Women`sHistory, 2016). Several years later, an African American became thepresident of the United States. Moreover, a white woman has won theprimary nomination for Presidential elections under the DemocraticParty. The history of the United States represents a story of anation that has been guided by its ideals, values, and ethos.
Abolitionism.(2016). U-s-history.com. Retrieved 5 June 2016, fromhttp://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h477.html
ColonialWomen. (2016). Landofthebrave.info. Retrieved 7 June 2016, fromhttp://www.landofthebrave.info/colonial-women.htm
ImportantDates in U.S. Women`s History | Scholastic.com. (2016). ScholasticTeachers. Retrieved 5 June 2016, fromhttp://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/important-dates-us-womens-history
SlaveLife and Slave Codes [ushistory.org].(2016). Ushistory.org. Retrieved 7 June 2016, fromhttp://www.ushistory.org/us/27b.asp