Question 1. Evolution of Women's Place in Society
The roles, responsibilities, and status of women evolved greatly from the colonial era to 1877. Laws in the British colonies in North America assumed that women had few legal, political, and social rights as compared to men. Womens social, economic, and political roles started changing in the 1800s, following the feminist reforms in the decades leading to the Civil War. These reforms planted the seeds of todays women rights. This essay will discuss the evolution of womens place in society from the colonial times to 1877.
During the colonial times of America, women played an important role that influenced the significant economic progress of American society. Thus, womens experiences and roles varied based on the colonial period, race of people, and geography. Thus, colonial America had three main groups of women, namely European, African, and Native Indians who had different influential roles in their family and community. Colonial society ascribed domestic and familial roles to women. Thus, during the colonial era, European women performed traditional roles such as cooking, weaving, and raising children. They also were engaged in manual labor by working in the fields and tending farmlands. Most immigrants to colonial America, including women, were initially indentured servants who had arrived in the continent to seek better lives in the lucrative colony. Most immigrants, including Africans, completed their contracts and obtained a legal status in colonial society. The evolution of female slavery in the USA forced European women to go back to their household chores. At the same time, female slaves, who worked in the fields, were an investment to plantation owners. As for Black women, in the colonial era, they were chattel, having no marital rights and control over their children. On the other hand, a White womans identity and living conditions in American colonies depended on the paterfamilias. Such a woman had no right to vote or serve as a judge. White women lived within the confines of their assumed natural and social roles and stayed away from legal and political arenas. A married White woman could not enter into business contracts, own property, and bring forth lawsuits. Nevertheless, women contributed significantly to the development of American economy despite the restriction of their social, economic, and political roles. They demonstrated their diligence and resilience by overcoming hardships associated with the hard work in the fields, raising children, and being the backbone of their homes. The middle-class European and African women participated in the social and moral welfare activities that supported the less fortunate groups since the Plantation era (Locke and Wright 15). Prior to the Civil War, women increasingly participated in feminist reforms. The advocates of womens rights sought the right of women to own property, have custody of children, and divorce abusive husbands. Their influential roles materialized as they began working in national organizations that fought for womens rights in American urban society.
Thus, colonial laws greatly restricted womens social, economic and political activities. Womens early attempts to engage in economic and political activities were a threat to the social order of that time. The Reconstruction contributed to the reevaluation of womens roles within the nation and in their local communities. At the same time, top advocates for womens rights demonstrated their great political efficacy and potential radical shift by supporting the disenfranchised groups.
Question 2. Impact of Immigration in the 19th Century America
The dominant element of the belief in the integral superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race and accelerated nativism influenced immigration in the United States. The tide of nativism among Americans fueled the emergence of native movements that rebelled against the Roman Catholic immigration and others. Thus, xenophobia manifested by these Americans led to the formulation of racial discrimination laws. This essay will assess the impact of immigration in the 19th century America, including the treatment of European and Chinese immigrants and the xenophobic sentiment in American society.
The immigration to the UA began with the Spanish settlers as well as the French and English settlers in the 16th century. However, the 19th-century immigration significantly contributed to the political, economic, and social changes in the country (Locke and Wright 18). Thus, immigrants transformed the United States into a powerful economy, as they were a source of new indentured and cheap labor. However, the exponential economic progress in the nation did not discourage the political and labor organizations from rallying against immigration by regarding the foreigners, particularly the Chinese, as a degraded race. Thus, nativist movements that included the American party, the Immigration Restriction League, and the anti-Asian movements in the West sought to eliminate the undesirable immigrants from the nation. Congress passed the legislation based on literacy tests that established a quota system to restrict immigration. This system favored the European immigrants while prohibiting immigration from Asia, particularly China. The enactment of the Chinese Exclusive Act of 1882 contributed to the significant persecution of the Chinese immigrants (Locke and Wright 18). The Chinese, who had settled in the United States following the Industrial Revolution, worked as laborers in the mining industry and on the transcontinental railroad. They received unfavorable wages in comparison to the white workers who received better salaries. Thus, The Chinese Exclusive Act prevented immigration and naturalization based on race. The Quota Act prohibited the Chinese workers from settling in the USA while excluding the well-educated European immigrants. Furthermore, the immigration Act denied inalienable legal rights and legal status to migrant workers. The Anti-miscegenation laws imposed restrictive policies that outlawed interracial marriages between the Chinese men and Caucasian women. The miscegenation laws prohibited the reunion of families of numerous Chinese men who had settled in the United States. The proponents of anti-Catholicism and nativism resented Catholic immigrants whom they did not consider as fully Americans based on culture and status. Such xenophobic sentiments made the traditionalist Americans embrace racial ideology and anti-Semitism, thus leading to the fear of foreigners. This resentment towards immigrants and the belief in the integral superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race led to the calibration of highly restrictive immigration policies to discourage immigration into the USA.
Summing up, the 19th century immigration brought people from different backgrounds into the USA. The concept of white supremacy and black inferiority subjected many immigrants in the United States to significant oppression. European immigrants received better treatment in comparison to the people of color. The civil rights legislation victories marked the freedom of many slaves, following the end of the Confederacy.