Themes in American History: Capitalism, Slavery, Democracy

Final blog post “Reflation and Relief”- Eric Rachway

 Through the excerpt of “The Great Depression and the New Deal: a very short introduction”  the hyperfocus of chapter 4 “reflation and relief” touches upon the thirty-second president Franklin D Roosevelt and his New Deal plan issued in 1933. In the text, Author Eric Rachway, an American historian, and professor at the University of California perceives this writing piece as an explicit informative response to the conjunction of the Great Depression. At the beginning of the text, Rachway introduces the abstract of the American economy during the great depression implanting Roosevelts immediate response of ‘fixing’ America’s economy stating “when Franklin Delano Roosevelt took the oath of office as president for the first time on March 4, 1933, every moving part in the machinery of the American economy had evidently broken. Banks, farms, factories, and trade had all failed.”(Rachway,1). In this sole quote, Rachway issues a foreshadow within Roosevelt’s presidency as “good president” issued the negatives when first in office. Further in the text, Rachway issues Roosevelts agenda as “grew by experiment” analyzing that Roosevelt offered a fresh new start in the aspiring American economy. Moreover, Rachway announces the drop in American unemployment stating “the American economy grew at averaged rates of around 8 to 10 percent a year. Likewise, unemployment fell dramatically from its unconscionable 1932 peak. If merely curing the immediate Depression were the only New Deal goal, its policies of relief and reflation might, pursued vigorously and consistently, have proved sufficient to the task, and their evident success had much to do with the electorate’s willingness to support Roosevelt”(Rachway,2). This particular statistic really struck out inciting the immediate response of Roosevelt’s presidency, moreover, the government statistic of the drop of unemployment is impressive [considering the knowledge of the downfall of unemployment during the era of the Great Depression]. 


In continuation in Roosevelt’s radical immediate ‘New Deal plan’, “Roosevelt began by recusing the banks”. Through the process of his ‘New Deal’, Roosevelt issued an immediate stop in banks using gold as currency, later on asking Congress to ratify his action on stopping gold transactions. This initiated an immediate shutdown, thus providing the reader immediate action President Roosevelt initiates. 


As a result, In Roosevelt’s New Deal, Many reforms would be passed in the essence of restoring America’s economy. Much of them as we know now in History known as the Trading with the enemy act, The banking act 1933, ect. Particularly what I have gained in this reading is the social engagement President Roosevelt has effortlessly shown within his first few months in his Presidency.

Blog post #3- McPherson “The Revolution of 1890”

In the reading “The Revolution of 1860”, Author James McPherson, Introduces the famous abolitionist James Brown during the Civil War Era in the late 1850s. Throughout the intro of the excerpt, The reader is introduced to the Revolutionary Acts of James Brown. McPherson starts off with describing Brown’s idea of a raid into the Appalachian foothills of Virginia, where Brown would later move southward along the mountains attracting slaves to his banner. Later on, Brown would journey with 11 white followers to a community of former slaves in Chatham, Canada. Furthermore, in the excerpt, the reader is introduced to Brown’s belief, that in order to win the fight against slavery, violence must play in contrast. McPherson depicts Brown’s strategies by comparing the violence used in the 1850s, where the southwest won from Mexico solely through the threats of violence by southern congress. In more depth of Brown’s Belief, McPherson includes Brown’s singular phrase for his violence attack for the fight of freedom for the slaves where he states” Without shedding of blood there is no remission of sin”(McPherson 203) which comes Brown’s Favorite New testament passage (Hebrews 9:22). 


Furthermore, McPherson includes Brown’s efforts into creating the abolitionist group the “Secret six” ,The ‘Secret six’ Involves six men following the scheme of  Brown’s intended invasion of the South. The men involved within the group range from A young educator (Franklin B. Sanborn), A Philanthropist of upstate New York (Gerrit Smith),Transcendental clergyman (Thomas Wentworth Higginson), Leading intellectual light of Unitarianism (Theodore Parker), A physician of international repute for his work with the blind and deaf (Samuel Gridley Howe),and a prosperous manufacture (George L Stearns). McPherson empathizes with the occupations of these men, to give the reader a sense of group members’ community ties. In more depth, To include the the group members’ daily lives don’t necessarily involve the expectations of being apart of the Harper ferry’s invasion for abolishment of slavery, However, They were participants in the resistance to the fugitive slave law, where the particular reform brought most them together to later form the “secret six”. 


Brown’s intended invasion on Harpers Ferry was extinguished as a “suicidal mission” according to Fredrick Douglas, in where, Brown had assigned a guerilla warfare invasion on harpers ferry with only 22 recruited men to ignite his small army. McPherson translates Brown’s immediate plan by empathizing with Brown’s step by step blueprint on Harpers Ferry, However, This plan would only take Brown so far, McPherson states “It was almost as if he knew that failure with its ensuing martyrdom would do more to achieve his ultimate goal than any “success ” could have done”(206). McPherson issues a foreshadowing moment where the reader is introduced to the failed invasion in Harpers Ferry in 1859. Additionally, McPherson depicts a pessimistic outcome on Brown’s intended plan by rehearsing that agony did more in Brown’s favor, than success of his ultimate goal.

All in all, McPherson includes Lincoln’s victory on his presidency as a prologue factor of the abolishment of slavery which would later pass as a law (13th amendment). McPherson recognizes “whether or not the party was revolutionary, Antislavery men concurred that a revolution had taken place”(233), identifying that though not all reinforcements of abolishment had succeed in grace, However, all acts of abolishment made a impact (factor) into the reform of the 13th amendment. 






Blog post #2 Nikole Hannah- Jones

Award winning author Nikole Hannah- Jones makes a remarkable impression of the topic of Slavery; Translating the 1619 project. With the lenses of an African American.Jones mentions the genesis of slavery. Jones states” In August 1619, just 12 years after the English settled Jamestown, VA … The Jameson colonists bought 20 to 30 enslaved Africans from English pirates… Those men and women who came ashore on that August day were the beginning of American Slavery.” Thus furthering, The evolution of International slave trade in The Americas. As Jones voices for the slaves; It is also of interest to know that the African Americans “Grew and picked the cotton…was the nation’s most valuable commodity accounting for half of all American exports and 66 percent of the world’s supply”. Moreover, Jones Informs the reader that America’s greatest profitable trade was manufactured by slaves. 


Further in the text, Jones touches on the topic of ‘The history of the world’s greatest democracy’ claiming “The United States is nation founded on both an ideal and a lie” she explains this theory by a vivid demand amongst the constitution that “All men are created equal””endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights”. However, Jones mentions how independence from the English wasn’t applied to the thousands of Black Americans of the midst. Which voiced aggression towards to constitution being written vaguely during the time of slavery. 


In cognitive, Jones gives the reader an illustration of impacts for Slavery in the Americas during the time of American Revolution and prelude of independence for the 13 colonies. To further the discussion about African American slaves in American democracy. Jones mentions “The Constitution protected the “property” of those who enslaved black people” which is reflecting on the fact that Slaves were viewed as property therefore, It gave black slaves absolutely no right to ‘Life,Liberty and the pursuit of happiness’.  All in all, despite the amount of reinforcement of American independence. None of these constitutional rights applied to Black people solely because the founding father were Slave owners themselves. Therefore, only a commendation for white men.

“the endemic racism that we still cannot purge from this nation to this day.”

Capitalism (James Fulcher)

In the beginning of the reading Fulcher starts off with the genesis of capitalism. Starting in the 17th century he mentions the English Europeans trade with the East India company. He states the amount voyages the English took in order to gain some kind of profit. However, along the way and during the process the English had taken much losses in whereas, their method of transportation had been demolished along with many working men dying which cost them more of an investment than their actual profit. Amongst the English’s trade with the East Indians also came competitors to decrease their chances in profit and economic status. Once they noticed, they decided to monopolize their trade Between the 3rd world countries, in order to control their limits of production. Thus explain how capitalism started its form.

During the time of the Late 18th century and early 19th century Fulcher announces the discovery of  James M’Connel and John Kennedys success in capitalism by monopoly. He states the huge investments these two scots have high risked in order to receive a initial amount of 1,770 Euros. However, during the years of the industrial industry of cotton, Both M’Connel and Kennedy exceed their profits due to the exponential increase of labour workers. This was called ” Industrial capitalism”where Fulcher states”conflict over wages became increasingly organized.”(Fulcher,6) Furthermore, Fulcher mentions how “Leisure was all the creation of capitalism”(Fulcher,8) where labor workers had days off to spent their money and will amongst other pastimes that involved the industry of railroads to be in common use, that also started to become monopolized.

Thus towards the end of the reading Fulcher explains that “Capitalism involves the investment of money to make more money” Interestingly enough he mentions “Capitalist Production depends on the exploitation of wage labour, Which also fuels the consumption of the goods and services produced by capitalist enterprises”(Fulcher ,18) In speculation this particular stuck out because throughout the events the same occurrence has happen. Where the poor work for the rich to become wealthier. Along with Markets with competition generated fluctuations of capitalism, which also plays a role in product and consumption for Capitalism.