A Historical Journey through the American Conscience: The Public and its Courts

1564 WordsJul 11, 20187 Pages
America has long taken pride in being a nation of idealism and of freedom. Still, while these values have remained constant, other areas of the American mindset have evolved repeatedly over the brief course of America’s history. Nothing could illustrate this change more than the complex, developing, relationship between American citizens and their criminal justice system. Each era of American history shows the mindset of its time through the courts. From the extreme Puritans, and their deeply spiritual, irrational cases, to the politically charged events of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and forward into the hodgepodge of contemporary justice, one can read the American conscience by examining the criminal cases at its forefront.…show more content…
He violently abhorred the peculiar institution of slavery, and decided to take bloody action against it. Then, subjected to a trial of questionable legality, Brown was soon executed by the citizens of his state. That state, Virginia, is an integral part of the case, in that it was Southern, and thus harsher on him as an abolitionist (albeit a gross misrepresentation of abolitionism as a whole). As a “controversial and disturbing” figure, historians count Brown’s bold actions among the multitudes of reasons for the Civil War. More significantly, the South’s vehement protection of slavery, juxtaposed with the North’s denial, represented the deep schism between the two regions. America’s halves were clearly beginning to value very different things. At this point, the contradicting opinions themselves bear little meaning; the main issue is the discrepancy itself. The separate mindsets, as illustrated in the court cases, or lack thereof, in each region, would almost break the Union. Thankfully, however, the determination to maintain unity prevailed in the end. It was not until many years later that political difference reared its ugly head. In 1951, nearly one hundred years after Brown’s case, the Cold War was in full swing. Conspiracy theories and tales of espionage abounded in an effort to reject communism’s enticing offerings. One such story was true: that of Soviet spy couple Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. The duo was

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