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American History Essay


The slavery in the New World began as early as in 1619, when first slaves came to Northern America, on the territory of Virginia. Slaves mostly were used as a cheap labor force on plantations, where white servants refused to work due to hardship. Slavery was not an occasional event; its culture was formed for years. Slaves had no rights and were the property of a white owner, despite there was a set of laws that granted the slaves the right of marriage, holding property and the access to freedom. However, there was an attempt to free them. Nathaniel Bacon was first to propose the freedom to slaves and Indians. However, this key event ended in a more frequent transfer to slaves’ labor force used on the plantations, the legal way to the freedom (claiming for liberty in the court) was closed and led to the formation of a strong slave society.

Slavery grew, and most of the slaves were brought from Africa (almost 7.7 million from 1620). The American Revolution and the liberty movement became key events for slavery history. After the revolution, the South stayed old-fashioned, enslaved, and the North strived for changes. Despite the fact that many slaves were freed after the Revolution, their status hardly distinguished from that of slaves: they had no right to vote, property, right to marry, etc. The liberty movement grew; in the 1800th, a large number of slave revolts began to take place. Amistad, New Orleans, Virginia, Charleston events were the beginning of the struggle for freedom. The best-known slave rebel was Nat Turner, and he was the last active rebel in the South.

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With the formation of the Colonization Society, the struggle for the right to be American in slaves began to empower since they were sometimes forced to move to the colonies. Here, the abolitionist movement began. They had the new vision of America and popularized the ideas of personal freedom. It broadened; white and black abolitionists popularized their ideas (famous Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe). Finally, it reached the highest position to win the approval of the Northern authorities.


In early US history, women were not considered free individuals. They had no right to vote, they were dependent firstly on their families, and then on their husbands. The role of a woman in the life of a state was negligible. The public sphere was available to women, but the authorities were not. Thus, they took part in the reformist activities. The start of the abolitionist movement encouraged women to fight for their rights, as well. In 1834, women of New York organized one of the first women communities, Female Moral reform Society, after which women were resented in hundreds of public societies.

The Grimke sisters, Maria Stewart, and Dorothea Dix were the first women who began a reformist movement in the early 19th century. In 1848, in the town of Seneca Falls, NY, the first conference on women’s rights was held. Elizabeth Stanton and Lucretia Mott made The Declaration of Sentiments, which was adopted by the Congress referring to the Declaration of Independence, and stated that men and women have equal rights to vote, professional activities, higher education, divorce and custody of children after it. The movement was international; women all over the world were craving for their rights. The main rule of the early feminist movement included the freedom of self, i.e. the ability to control life by a woman herself: work, vote, speak, make reforms and other rights that mean personal freedom for modern people.

Imperial Rivalries

From the very beginning of their existence, European colonies in America were the subjects of the imperial rivalries. The perspective to broaden the territory of the empire and to expand the influence was very attractive to Spain, England, the Netherlands and other great countries of that time. It was a constant battle for controlling the larger territory and, thus, enriching the empire. England strived for the control over the Atlantic trade, other considered colonies an important source of wealth for the “motherland.” The importance of developing the colonies was most appreciated by England. It built the ships, opened new settlements, and attracted the settlers. All this was done in order to become the greatest country in the world and earn the sphere of influence.

Other empires noticed the growth and strengthening of the British Empire on the American continent. For example, Spain, in the middle of the 18th century, also decided to expand its territory and settled Texas as an answer to French activities on the Mississippi River. It also settled the Pacific Coast from San Diego to Los Angeles. France was still the greatest rival to Britain as on the mainland and on the American continent. French emigrants settled along the Mississippi River and in New Orleans. However, the population growth of British settlers was anyway greater.

Such rivalries continued to the very beginning of the colonies’ struggle for independence. Here, the rivalries comprised not the desire to expand the influence, but to keep it. However, the empires initially gave too much freedom to the colonies.

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America is famous for its struggle for liberty. However, the notion and understanding of freedom in America’s early history were different. For slaves it meant to rule their own life; for revolution movement members, it meant freedom from “mainlands”; for democrats, it meant freedom of personality, etc. The notion of freedom changed with time and the change in historical circumstances America faced.

For American Slaves, freedom meant as much as life itself since they did not have control over their life. For Olaudah Equiano, a slave who was three times sold and then purchased, his freedom, and freedom in general, meant not to belong to anybody. However, if he lived at the beginning of the 19th century, the notion of liberty would be different for him. Here, with the abolitionist movement appearance, freedom is the liberty for all black slaves in the Southern States. As can be seen, the notion becomes wider.

For the other side, for Indians as native Americans, freedom meant to save their homes from colonists. For them, freedom was to feel free from foreign invasion and do not resist it. Since at the beginning of the 19th century, the movement for human rights was starting, they, perhaps, would support it.

As for Southern authorities, such as John Calhoun, freedom firstly meant democracy. He, as a representative of the Democratic Party, would probably stand for human rights. However, as the adherer of slavery, in 1842, he would probably define freedom as the ability to decide on various questions inside a particular community without any “high” approval.

Finally, for women the changes happening in society also meant freedom. With the abolitionist movement, they started to perform the reformist movements. Thus, for women being free meant to have the same human rights as men did. In other words, it meant to be equal. They, like slaves, struggled for the liberty of the whole womankind and had a broad aim. Perhaps, with time, the notion of freedom would not change for women since no matter in what country and under which authorities, they wanted to be free from men’s nurturance.


During the period from 1819 to 1861, sectionalism may be defined as two notions; first, as a mild separation of the states from their mother countries, and second, as a division of the country in the pre-war period. However, it is more important to define the differences between regions that led to the split of the country and the Civil War.

Sectionalism first appeared as the desire to separate from empires at the beginning of the 19th century. After the Monroe Doctrine, sectionalism became a nation-wide notion and was regarded as patriotism. Later, it turned into arguments between states.

From the very beginning, Southern and Northern states differed. Southern states were mostly agrarian, they related to plantations, old slave system and were calm and peaceful. Here, the reformist movement was not as popular as in the Northern states. North, in turn, was industrial and highly developed. People there adhered to changes and reforms. With time and the development and rise of the reformist movements on the North, the differences between the two parts of the country grew, as well. The main issue of the difference between the South and North was slavery. Debates in Congress concerning slavery and the Fugitive Slave Act were the turning points of the deeper tension between the two parts of the country. Newer and newer details appeared during the debates. It seemed that there was nothing the Congress would agree on at that time. The Kansas-Nebraska Act became a turning point on the way to the Civil War since it gave the states the freedom to make their own decisions and deepened sectionalism in other states.

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The Southern democrat Bosley would tell that the country is rather healthy. The previous state of the country, which is slavery, plantations and no reforms, relation to agriculture is the best way for the country to develop. The election of Lincoln in 1860 would mean that the South have no right to vote for the country’s future. The country is divided due to the fact that the states do not want to give freedom to states. This is what divides the country: every state should decide on important questions on their own. The future of the nation should be guided by each state separately; the federal government has no right to command in the Southern states, according to President Buchanan.

The Northern democrat Sudley, in turn, would tell that the country is sick. It is separated, and there is no national spirit, and due to historical events, the parts of the country have different views on the social life. The secession of Southern states from the Union in 1860 showed that the changes are to be done to cure the country. The country is divided by slavery and different views on the industry. Plantations are in the past, and they do not have a future. The future of the nation should be guided by the whole nation together; even though the South seceded, the country is still one. According to Lincoln, the country should take off the gloves and work.

The abolitionist Brand would probably say that the country is in a transient position. Every event taking place in 1860 only makes matters worse. The country should get rid of slavery, which is separating it, find a common denominator and make a deal of solving every problem as a Union. According to William Goodell, the central right is the right to self-ownership. Thus, the country should strive for every individual’s personal freedom.

Finally, the republican Cyrus would probably say that the country is ill, and the election of Lincoln would cure it since he is thinking about the well-being of the whole country. The country is divided by several factors, such as different traditions, different views, but the main problem is slavery since it violates human rights. According to John C. Fremont, further steps should be made not only to limit further expansion of slavery but abolish it altogether.