Saturday, February 24, 2007

Division in the U.S.?

The 1920's, known as the Roaring Twenties, was a period that consisted of significant inventions and cultural innovations. Harlem was the center of attention during this time. African American creativity was expressed, a new means of transportation was created, and America was introduced to a more contemporary lifestyle. However, divisions within the U.S. existed due to certain changes that occurred. The 1920's was a representation of social and cultural discord amongst Americans because many people's comfort zones were invaded which caused them to observe an aspect of life that wasn't their own. Rural versus urban areas, religion versus science, and natives versus immigrants were all examples of how the U.S. experienced domestic divisions.

The distribution, sale, and consumption of alcohol was made illegal by the 18th Amendment and enforced by the Volstead Act. The fundamentalists, or the "drys", supported this new law because they believed this product caused broken families, poor health, and other negative effects. However, the "wets", or the urban area residents, perceived drinking as a provocative lifestyle. Protestants opposed their way of living because they were so used to their own way. Urban women, known as "flappers", defied rural women's principle of a woman's behavior. Therefore, a disagreement divided the two areas due to their perception of how life should be lived.

A wide separation of religion and science existed during the 1920's and still exists in the new millennium. The Scopes Monkey trial in 1925 was an example of the conflict that arose between the two. John Scopes, a Tennessee teacher, was arrested for teaching his students about evolution. William Jennings Bryan was the prosecutor and Darrow was Scopes's attorney. The court ruled against Scopes, but the verdict was later overturned. Christians saw this case as a method to prevent people from questioning how creation began according to the book of Genesis in the Holy Bible. Not only was Scopes's actions illegal, but they went against someone else's belief. Once again, a conflict between two distinct groups has been given rise to because their own perceptions of life.

The natives of the U.S. and immigrants possessed a major division during the Roaring Twenties. The 100 percenters were those who considered themselves a 100% American. They attempted to protect the U.S. from all foreign influences. An isolationist policy was their goal for America. Several legislations were passed in order to limit immigration. The Literacy Test Act (1917) required all foreigners to take an exam consisting of the English language or their native tongue. The Emergency Quota Act (1921) limited southern and eastern European immigrants. The Immigration Act (1924) restricted immigrants by receiving only 2% of each nationality in the 1890 census. The Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) limited Asian immigration. Nativists were so concerned about American life being interrupted by strangers. So, they took drastic actions to assure that this would not occur. Nativist anxiety gave rise to another major conflict between two different walks of life.

To conclude, the fear of change for many Americans during the 1920's was the main reason why this country experienced such discord and chaos. When a group of people are immune to a specific way of living for a great period of time, transitions are difficult . Spiritual, political, and moral beliefs were the central points within these divisions. Therefore, these distinct groups involuntarily defended them.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Kyra Martin
AP U.S. History
Period 2
DBQ Essay
Neutrality or Partiality?

The U.S. never was neutral due to the fact that they were always assisting the Allies from the very beginning. The word neutral means to be impartial. However, America still chose to take a side in the war which was the Allies. The U.S. took specific actions that caused others to perceive them as a nation that went against prior established policies of neutrality. Relationships were formed between Britain and the U.S. America also served as a “lookout” for the British nation. Because of their interaction with Britain, their neutrality seemed unrealistic.
Prior to War World 1, the U.S. established a policy of neutrality. This policy mandated not to lend money to the Allies or any other nations and to remain outside of all situations that would cause the country to express any impartiality. However, the U.S.’s actions showed some people otherwise. Hugo Munsterberg, a professor at Harvard University, stated that he felt America acted the complete opposite way of what their policy stated. He believed the British were allowed by the U.S to blockade trade with Germany. Britain seized contraband goods which was a violation of international law and America’s neutrality. Still, the U.S. didn’t make any moves in order to prevent Britain’s violations. In addition to Munsterberg, Robert Lansing, secretary of state at the time, also reflects on how America assisted the Allies by permitting British violation. He wrote about Britain intercepting neutral ships and shipping them to British ports. The ironic thing about this situation is how the U.S. didn’t intervene and restore the country’s “neutrality.” The actions taken by America in this incident showed how their policy was established in vain and its words were trite.
Relationships between Britain and the U.S. were formed before and during the war. New York’s American Customs Inspector reported that America’s Lusitania carried 5468 cases of ammunition consigned to Britain. America was supplying the Allies with weapons to defeat the Central Powers in the war. An economic investment was made by U.S. capitalists to support the Allies’ war effort. J.P. Morgan was given permission by the U.S. government to extend $3 billion of credit to Britain and France. However, if the Allies lost the war, U.S. bankers would lose a great amount of money that could possibly cause the nation’s economy to suffer. The sinking of the Lusitania by a German U-boat was an incident that caused President Wilson to threaten to cut off relations with Germany if they didn’t place a restriction on their warfare which cost American lives and their shipping. America’s actions were contradictory because they allowed Britain to violate a law without any consequences, but gave Germany an ultimatum for their behavior.
America also served as a “lookout” for the British during the war period. The New York Times published a notice from the Imperial German Government to warn Britain and its allies of Germany’s plan to destroy any ships passing their war zone flying Great Britain’s flag. The U.S. used this propaganda to express their support for the Allies side within the war. By doing so, America’s neutrality was not shown as intended in their policy. How can a nation express impartiality by taking sides? Warning a specific country in the midst of a conflict of their opponent’s plans is not a way to show neutrality.
To conclude, the U.S. wasn’t neutral to begin with. Their actions contradicted the words stated in their policy of neutrality. The formation of special relationships, warning a country of its opponent’s strategies, and behavior that is contrary to an established law all are associated with partiality. Choosing sides within a conflict is not an action that reflects neutrality. Therefore, the U.S. couldn’t have possibly possessed the characteristic of being neutral.