Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Antebellum Slavery

As our history class progresses further into history, we begin to learn more about social issues in the early 19th century, one of which is slavery. For the past weeks we have been looking into slavery and asking ourselves three questions: “How did slavery become economically entrenched in American society by the early 19th century?”,  “How does a system of slavery based on race affect human dignity?”, and “What human characteristics does such a system tend to ignore?”.

Upon analyzing a secondary source entitled Cotton is King, we discovered that in the late 18th century, people actually thought that slavery was declining due to the fact that many slaves were able to escape their masters, and 10,000 slaves were freed in the ten years after the enactment of a law allowing private manumissions in Virginia alone. However, slavery was about to receive a boom in society due to the invention of a machine called the cotton gin. Invented by Eli Whitney, the cotton gin was a machine that made it easier to separate seeds from cotton. However, it increased slavery because while it was easier to remove the seeds from the cotton, it required two people to operate it, causing a boom in slavery. This aided in entrenching slavery in society because the cotton gin, being operated by two people, caused a boom in slavery, and further making it necessary to society.

In early 19th century America, the race-based system of slavery greatly altered society’s idea of human dignity. It made whites completely disregard that blacks were in fact human as well. Those who fought against slavery while not slaves were ostracized from society, being labeled as criminals while they were simply nonconformists.

While slavery is no longer present in the U.S., the long standing menace of racism still stands. While progressing towards tolerance of all races in the U.S., we must continue to make progress in the fight against racism.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Women's Reforms of the Mid 19th Century

As our history class continues to move forward in history, we have begun to learn about the social reforms of the mid 19th century. One such reform was the women’s reform in which women demanded equality to men. Within our exploration of this topic, we are trying to answer two essential questions. First, we must analyze society’s reactions to women’s demands for equality.We must then look into today’s society and determine whether it still reacts differently towards men and women.

The reactions society had to women’s demands for equality were either very positive or very negative. There was very little neutrality within this topic. Some of the best examples of society’s reactions to women’s demands for equality come from newspaper articles written in response to a convention held at Seneca Falls that’s goal was to help promote women’s equality. There were fewer positive responses than negative, however the positive responses prove to be much more compelling and morally correct than the negative responses. One such positive response was written in an article by the North Star Newspaper. Within the article, it is stated that “A discussion of the rights of animals would be regarded with far more complacency by many of what are called the wise and good of our land, than would be a discussion of the rights of women.” What this means is that a reform for the rights of animals would be more welcome than a reform of the rights of women. This article is for women’s rights, exposing society’s ignorance towards the rights of women. However, the Oneida Whig Newspaper was very against the convention at Seneca Falls and begs the question, “If our ladies will insist on voting and legislating, where, gentlemen, will be our dinners and our elbows?” This portrays women more as tools than people, a major flaw in the mid 19th century.

While women’s equality to men has become much more relevant today, problems still remain. Something as simple as a shampoo commercial could point these flaws out and an advertisement by Pantene does just that. It points out how many times women are perceived differently than men, and how men’s actions always seem more justified than women’s. This is what society must work against and fight. While it may not happen at once, we must continue to battle the inequality of men and women.