Research Paper On America's Identity

Decent Essays
America’s Identity What a person, community, or nation can tolerate depends on where one looks in their history. America was founded on the idea of freedom, and major shaping of the American identity can be found when that freedom or the unalienable rights that accompany it are threatened. This was a large portion of the mid-1800’s to mid-1900’s. The American identity in the first half of the 20th century was one of devotion fueled by individual efforts to achieve and preserve a fair society, and was derived from international and domestic developments that pushed the definition of ‘justifiable’. During the early stages of the woman’s suffrage movement, Elizabeth Cody Stanton prepared the “Declaration of Sentiments”, arguing…show more content…
In 1857, the South had a total surplus production of around $220,000,000, and, defended James Henry Hammond, had found a class fit “… to do the menial duties, to perform the drudgery of life.” (Cotton is King). Attempts to end slavery through use of violence ensued. Such was the case with John Brown and the 22 men he seized the armory at Harper’s Ferry with (John Brown). The operation was not a success, and Brown was found guilty of treason. When speaking in front of a courtroom in West Virginia one month before his execution, he stated his submission should it be “… deemed necessary that [he] should forfeit [his] life for the furtherance of the ends of justice.” (John Brown). Brown acted, in spirit, as Frederick Douglass would have considered the fire needed to eliminate slavery. Violence in the name of freedom appeared again, during WWI, but with a very different definition. America hesitantly entered WWI, and according to President Woodrow Wilson, fought for “… the ultimate peace of the world and for the liberation of its people.” Justifiable in theory, the consequences it had on America were contradictory to the country’s foundation. The Espionage Act, while it could be seen as an attempt to preserve a fair society through the protection of American freedom, violated the unalienable right of freedom of speech. Passed in 1917, it promised a $10,000 dollar fine and 25 years in jail to those convicted of obstructing the draft (The Toll of War notes). However, a display of devotion came with socialist Eugene V. Debs, who was sent to jail after being convicted under the Espionage Act. While there, he ran for president and received nearly one million votes (The Toll of War notes). He didn’t see WWI as a fight for democracy, and instead acknowledged that “The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the
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