The Racial and Class History of America from 1800 to 1850

1187 Words5 Pages
Back in the first half of the 19th century, the United States was experiencing drastic economic and social changes. It was a time that individual’s social class was largely determined by his or her racial identity, with the whites at the top of the hierarchy, playing dominant roles of the ambitious era, which was making an eager call for the Westward Expansion. The huge tracts of fertile land and abundant natural resources in the West drew more than much attention from the ever growing Eastern population. Many decided to go and seek economic opportunities westward. Thanks to the Industrial Revolution and the developments in public transportation, the large-scale migration was made possible. Besides people who were going westward, white manufacturers and handicraftsmen in the North also benefited from these social developments. For the first time, they were able to produce enough goods not only for their own subsistence but also for a great number of distant markets. On the contrast of the market revolution in the North, however, white planters in southern colonies were still relying heavily on their profitable “King Cotton” and thus relying on slavery, making no responses to social changes at all. The two clearly split economic systems did not only affect whites, but also other subordinate racial groups as well; for example, black Americans’ suffering under slavery, Native Americans’ forcible removal, and Mexican Americans’ experience of discrimination all have a lot to do with it. One of the predominant effects could be seen on African Americans’ miserable destiny. Throughout the Southern plantation system, probably in every acre of the field, the images of black slave labors picking cotton could be seen readily. At that time, cotton was a very profitable crop that was high in demand. Given that the Westward Expansion was advancing rapidly, more and more empty
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