The political history of the United States of America (USA) is one that is full of political turmoil, upheavals, and revolutions. Modern American history begins with the early settlers who came to this land in the hope of a better life. Like the Pilgrim Fathers, many European settlers came to America to flee the persecution they faced in their homelands. Thus, America soon became a land of diverse cultures, faiths, and beliefs.
Moreover, there were economic differences and differences in ideologies amongst the settlers. All of these resulted in numerous political upheavals like the American Civil and the Civil Rights Movement. But it was these political upheavals that shaped modern American politics.
Some of the historical incidents that shaped American politics and the essential features of the American political thought processes are as follows:
The early settlers of America were considered colonizers, and they had to pay exorbitant rates of customs duty on the items that they imported from European countries. For example, they had to pay a very high import duty to the East India Company for the tea that they brought to America from China. Dissatisfaction against these high rates of duty and payment of taxes without having an elected representative in the British Parliament all led to the incident known as the Boston Tea Party. The Boston Tea Party incident that started as a political movement led by the mercantile class, but soon became symbolic of America's struggle for Independence. The refusal to pay tax to the British Crown started a series of events that will later be on termed the American Revolution or the American War for Independence. This e set the groundwork for the American political thought, which is based on equality, equal rights, and removal of a brutal and tyrannical form of governance. American political thought is pro-democracy. Political thinkers had often opined that the feudal and monarchical system of governing a nation is harmful to the economic and social growth of the country. A democratic form of government is dependent on the participation of the common man in the politics of the nation. It is essential to ensure the socio-political and economic well-being of a country. The American political thought process, too, strongly believes in this philosophy. The history of American politics is full of incidents that renew faith in democracy and a free-market economy.
The American Civil War was fought between the Confederate States and the Union. The Confederate States primarily consisted of the Southern American States, like Louisiana, Alabama, and Texas. These states and some more seceded from the Union when the Northern States of the Union abolished slavery. This secession was perceived as an act of revolution, as was the attack on Fort Sumter. It was the swift military retaliation by Lincoln that ensured that the Northern States won the revolution. However, the American Civil War had an everlasting effect on American politics. For the first time, the idea that all men are born equal and that they should enjoy equal rights came to the forefront. Economists, social thinkers, and political theorists had always opined that discrimination and segregation of any kind could prove to be detrimental for the health of a nation. Thus, the African American citizens of the country, for the first time, realized that they too could demand equality. Thus, civil war laid the foundation for the establishment of an egalitarian society.
This was a struggle, and a movement carried out by the African American citizens of the USA. Civil Rights Movement went on for decades and was an agitation against the discrimination, segregation, and disfranchisement faced by Black Americans. The Civil Rights Movement exemplified what a stood for. The Founding Fathers of the nation believed that all men are born equal. They should be allowed to pursue happiness without any fear of persecution. But the John Crow laws went against this ideology. For example, according to these laws, Black Americans were not allowed to use specific public amenities and facilities. They were not allowed to enter public places, which were reserved exclusively for White Americans. These laws legalized segregation and discrimination. The Civil Rights Movement was against these discriminations and exclusions. It was not before the Fifteenth Amendment to the American Constitution that Black Americans received equal rights like the right to vote. However, despite the Amendment, the agitation continued as there were many other segregations faced by the Black Americans. The Civil Rights Movement sought to change the American mindset and make people realize that equality and egalitarianism were the philosophies on which the nation was built. Thus, denial of fundamental rights and human rights to a specific section of the society and racial slur went against the spirit of the American political thought process.
The American political thought is firmly grounded in the laying down of a republican and democratic form of government. This notion goes back to Abraham Lincoln's famous Gettysburg Address, where he spoke of the establishment of a government of the people, for the people and by the people. This lays down the American political philosophy that the government should work towards people's welfare. Despite being a pro-capitalist country, the protection of the well-being of the American people is always the primary objective of all governments. This has been since and before the time of Lincoln. The country's political thought is grounded in tradition, but at the same time, it is quite progressive. Thus, although the state holds on to its traditional culture, yet its political philosophies are modern and progressive.
The American history of politics is both rich and inspirational. Moreover, the American history of politics has also helped to shape the political thought processes of other nations as well.
The political upheavals that the USA has undergone and its subsequent emergence from these, to establish itself as one of the leading economies is inspirational for other countries.
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Apr 16, 2020