During 1865-1925, the United States experienced the eras of Reconstruction, Gilded Age, progressivism, industrialization, and the surge of immigration. As a result of the Civil War, the slave system was destroyed. Settlement of land was accelerated. All this contributed to the rapid expansion of the U.S. domestic market and, thus, greatly accelerated the development of capitalism in the United States. It laid the foundation of social equality and the end of discrimination in American society. Nevertheless, despite economic growth and rights expansion, some groups of people such as former slaves, Native Americans, and Jewish immigrants were excluded from freedoms during 1865-1925.
As a result of the victory of the North, the 13th Amendment was adopted. It provided the abolition of slavery on the federal level. The 14th Amendment also contributed to freeing slaves. It defined U.S. citizenship, guaranteed citizens’ protection laws, and abolished discrimination against freed slaves in the elections. The 15th Amendment decided that the right to participate in elections would not rely on race.
However, in the southern states, the constitutional solution of racial problems did not mean the complete elimination of racial discrimination. Everywhere, one could see signs of whites’ superiority. There was an illegal practice of segregated education, as well as prosecution of mixed marriages. Outdoor terror against blacks was deployed by an organization under the ominous name ‘Ku Klux Klan’. African Americans were subjected to lynching. Due to illiteracy and fear of violence among former slaves, they signed sharecropper contracts such as a contract between Schmidt and Wagener, which were aimed at keeping them poor. Thus, legal democratic changes did not ensure real equality for all Americans before the law in some states, mainly in the South.
Assimilation of Native Americans
The period from 1776 to 1924 is one of the most dramatic for the indigenous people of the United States. Since the emergence of this state on the political map of the world and till the adoption of the law on Indian citizenship in 1924, the legal status of the indigenous people changed depending on trends in the domestic U.S. politics.
In the first 30 years of the 19th century, the institutionalization of relations with indigenous peoples in the American society reached a point when, on the one hand, the Indians were considered as officially independent nations and, on the other hand, Indians were seen as a real hindrance to the development of the country. At the appointed time, the federal policy towards Indians was based on a number of principles: the USA had exclusive rights to trade with indigenous tribes, only Americans had the right to establish trading posts and military garrisons, and only the U.S. courts were arbiters in disputes not only between whites and Indians but in territorial claims of different tribes. Thus, it can be concluded that federal intervention in the tribal sovereignty only intensified, the dependence of Indian government grew, and collective rights and freedoms that were guaranteed by agreements and contracts became a formality.
In the second half of the 19th century, the growth of the population in western states, invasion of whites into the Aboriginal territory, and corruption in the Bureau of Indian Affairs complicated the relations with indigenous nations. A controversy about providing the status of the U.S. citizens to Indians received a significant resonance in the American society in the mid-19th century. On the wave of democratic changes in the U.S. after the Civil War, the society was split on the issue of the legal status of indigenous peoples. The lower part of the American political elite supported efforts of certain religious communities (both Protestant and Catholic) to Americanize Indians. The U.S. policy on the indigenous population after the Civil War suffered from uncertainty and inconsistency.
The policy of assimilation reached its peak at the turn of the 19-20th centuries. Being deprived of any legal possibility to resist state policies apparatus and understanding the actual military advantage of Washington, most indigenous peoples had to take the path of assimilation. Moreover, the pressure of the authorities became more powerful and diversified. Opening schools for Indian children displayed the assimilation policy regarding indigenous peoples. Principles of teaching in these schools were based on complete forced immersion in American cultural standards and stereotypes. Much more serious were physical bullying and humiliation.
At the time of giving citizenship to all representatives of indigenous peoples who were born in the USA in 1924, many Indians already had this status. These dramatic changes in policies towards Indians allowed to acquire all rights and freedoms on an equal basis with others, while not abandoning their home and keeping their traditions. The reason for providing them with U.S. citizenship was the lack of prospects for an effective public Indian policy on the conditions of uncertainty of their status.
The history of the American people is a story of immigration marked by a wide ethnic diversity. The United States of America, the land of religious liberty, has always attracted the sympathy of the Jews of Europe. The main thrust that laid the foundation for the rise of anti-Semitism in the USA was mass immigration, which began after 1865, i.e. after the Civil War. Eastern European Jews were a part of a powerful flow of people who poured to America from Eastern and Southern Europe. They faced social inequality and discrimination in various fields of life.