Themes in American History: Capitalism, Slavery, Democracy

Blog Post #4 Rauchway

In the fourth chapter of his book, Rauchway notes that the American economy is “clearly broken” and explains how President Franklin D Roosevelt handled the economic crisis. FDR’s plan to solve this crisis was called the ‘New Deal’. Roosevelt’s plans and programs such as the Emergency Banking Act which forced banks to stop transactions and gold. Later on, Roosevelt increased the value of gold and it “put American banks in a much more stable position, increasing the money supply to the American economy.” President Roosevelt also declared bank holidays, all of his efforts were acknowledged and as a result “Capitalism was saved in 8 days”. To decrease unemployment rates and to give young men meaningful jobs, congress created the Civilian Conservative Corps (CCC).  “A young man could join the CCC, sign over a significant chunk of his wages to his family, and head out for a camp,” the corps was also beneficial because it focused on preserving the nation’s crops and forest (page 5). These new changes gave Americans hope and peace of mind in hopes of never having an economic crisis again. 

History seems to be repeating itself in recent years, because of the pandemic America was in an economic crisis, it may not have been as big as the great depression but to some families it was. We know receiving government aid as stimulus checks and I wondered if the same idea and method were used during the Great Depression. Through research, I found that in the New Deal plan President Roosevelt did give out direct cash grants or loans to individuals, firms, and local governments (David C. Wheelock). Our former President Trump and Current President Biden may have used the New Deal plan as a guide or suggestion as to how they should rebuild the American economy and can see what worked and did not and what changes they could make to make it practical and effective in today’s society. 

Blog Post- Brown


The Reconstruction Era’s main goal was to restore the participation of the southern state in the Union. A major problem arose due to the new system of harsh labor that was supposed to be used to restore the economy and provide jobs for newly freed slaves. Joshua Brown displays the true lifestyle of families during the Reconstruction Era. Although new legislation was passed (13th, 14th, 15th amendment, both Civil Rights Act) as stated before a new form of slavery was birthed, the freed slaves now had to find jobs and homes for the family and build their life although they did not have access to these resources. 

Brown shares that mine strikes were starting but the depiction of those protesting by Becker was blaming them for their difficult life. “He blamed the destitution of mining families on a “spirit of lawlessness’ produced by ignorance, alcoholism, and sloth.” Becker also describes the family roles at the time, calling the father lazy while the mother does all the real labor (Brown 132-133). 

My interpretation of this message is that miners should not even be on strike, the father described seems as if he does not care for his family’s well being because instead of working he is “carousing with his boon companions,” while his “starving children” think this may be their last meal. This story is conveyed to the readers that the Irish immigrants are lazy. While I was reading, I thought, why does he portray these specific groups of people in that light? Obviously, families go through struggles but were immigrant families the majority of those who had it this bad? I also wonder how the writer would describe the average ‘American’ family, would he describe the father in that negative way without an explanation as to why he feels that striking is the best option for him at this point? This piece was especially interesting because it gave me a different perspective on strikes and protest, I believe that those acts of disapproval over issues are crucial and necessary but in that family’s case was it that crucial and necessary for your children to almost starve? 

Blog post #2- Nikole Hannah Jones

Nikole Hannah Jones challenges the rooted idea that democracy in America is thanks solely to the founding fathers. Jones effectively illustrates the inhuman passage black people had to face coming to America during the Middle Passage, against their will. Thanks to the enslaved black people, America grew valuable and profitable crops like cotton and “transformed lands” which benefited greatly to the growth and expansion of America. From the profits America received from the labor of black people, they were able to be debt-free paving the way for capitalism to flourish. Jones argues that America’s success was not possible because the founding fathers were a good team but because they abused and forced black people into harsh labor and to fight their battles for them. 

Jones uses Crispus Attucks death to further her point that “America wasn’t a democracy, until Black people made it one”, explaining that his death allowed other people to enjoy freedoms and liberties that his own couldn’t, he was a martyr for America. It put the start of the American Revolution into a new perspective for me, the purpose of the revolution was to gain independence from Britain yet they were doing the same thing to people, holding their independence, freedom, and liberty hostage. The fact that one of the first people to die for America’s independence did not even have independence is unjust. 

This reading is exposing the reality that America is portraying a false narrative of the truth. There is still racism, prejudice, and discrimination in this country, trying to overlook the historical reality of the root of these issues is unscrupulous. Many Americans are ignorant of the full truth of the democracy of America, their patriotism and even nationalism are founded on the abuse of black people. This article makes me wonder what other important historical information is being watered down? 

Blog Post #1 Fulcher

From the text, written by Fulcher, we gain a deeper understanding of the history of capitalism, the pros and cons, and its lasting effects on society and the economy. There are different forms and types of Capitalism; they each affect how the world operates. Futcher describes the three forms with a detailed historical background to explain his points. We first are made aware that capitalism sparked in the early 1600s with Merchant capitalism which is one of the early forms of capitalism. Merchant capitalism established international competition. Futcher then explains the second form of capitalism, Capitalist production, by illustrating how James M’Connel and John Kennedy blossomed in the cotton industry. Within this industry came harsh labor conditions which lead to strikes and protest movements. Lastly, Financial capitalism- investing in things such as stocks, which has grown in popularity over the years.
Futcher concludes with how each form of capitalism “involves (s) the investment of money to make a profit”. (page 14) Recently there has been a peak of interest in stock markets, investing, and learning more about the economy in general. It is interesting to see how capitalism and trading goods grew from the 1600s to now and all of the changes that have occurred all the way. What’s fascinating to me in the chapter is how the concept of employees started, from abused wage laborers, who were mainly children, to paid and protected employees. Of course, there are still unfair jobs but it is not as much as before. One key difference is that people are not working in harsh unfair conditions for long periods. There are now laws and organizations preventing business owners from doing so. Back then you were just a slave getting paid the bare minimum. All of these roles are significant to the growth of capitalism. How can we continue to change the rules of capitalism?