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The period 1820 to 1940 marks a time of an incredible influx of immigrants into native America. America was no longer a Native American territory but also attracted other immigrants who included the Irish, Chinese, Japanese, Jews, and Mexicans. It is during this period that America was going through the industrial transformation underlined by the decline in use of skilled artisans to manufacture and instead there was a significant rise in manufacturing industries (Globalyceum, 2015). This period carries with it the emergence of the division of labor of unskilled workers that was supplied by the immigrants and provided for cheap, affordable labor. This paper aims to explore whether the American industrialization and subsequent expansion were built on the back of a suffering immigrant population who provided the labor that was necessary for the attainment of industrialized status (Takaki, 2008).

Native Americans are a sharp contrast to the rest of the groups that were living in the United States in the period 1820 to 1940 as theirs was not an immigrant experience, but they were the original inhabitants of the nation. Native Americans were referred to as ‘the Indian problem’ by white reformers who regarded themselves as friends of the Indians (Takaki, 2008). But this strategy of knitting close relationships with the Indians was viewed as reserved and slowed down the intended allotment and assimilation. It is in the quest to assimilate and allot the Native Americans that the Dawes Act was enacted (Globalyceum, 2015) This Act sought to emancipate Indians by making them citizens of the United States and transforming them into real property owners. The assets that they owned included tracts of land given to them by the federal government and were tied to an alienable condition that prohibited sale for 25 years (Takaki, 2008). Indian assimilation was done through the white man civilization. Civilization was enacted by the abolition of tribes upon the claim that it was perpetuating habits of “nomadic barbarism and savagery” and led to the Indian way of living in idleness, frivolity, and debauchery. Indian ownership of common land meant that Indians lacked selfishness, a much-desired quality for civilization. This prompted a need to make Indians individual land owners so as to make them ‘independent and self-reliant.’ Setting up Indians as individual land owners was an intelligent strategy as the ‘friends’ of the Indians bought land parcels next to Indians and gradually the Indians picked up the white man’s way of doing things (Takaki, 2008). [Click Essay Writer to order your essay]

A civilization which loosely promoted assimilation was further accelerated by the Indian Removal of the Five Civilized Tribes from the South to West of the Mississippi River. Under the fire of a young politician Andrew Jackson who ultimately became president, civilization was measured by Indian graves (Globalyceum, 2015). He argued that the massive death of Indians was inevitable and the moral consequence of civilization. Jackson was an avid discourager of philanthropy. He argued that even in philanthropy, nobody could wish to see the nation restored to the state it was found in. He defined a good man as one who would prefer to see a country studded in cities, towns and prosperous farms to a country with a few savagery people. It is in his era as president that he uprooted seventy thousand Indians (Takaki, 2008).

Assimilation took a different turn when following the reservation system. Reservation followed removal. The forceful removal of Indians by Andrew Jackson from their ‘useless’ forests so as to push them into becoming farmers was a move under the guidance of the Thomas Jefferson (Globalyceum, 2015). The idea for removal was to deprive the Indian chiefs of the power they now possessed and reduce them to plain citizens. Jackson then proposed to preserve this ‘much-injured’ race. He advised the Indians to move to the West, towards Mississippi feigning a father to them to protect them from mercenary attacks (Takaki, 2008).

The Indian New Deal offered a glimpse of hope for Indian salvation. The Indian New Deal spearheaded by John Colier who in 1934 served as the Indian Affairs Commissioner in the government of Franklin D Roosevelt was centered on the spirit of the communion of the Indians that was so fondly termed as, “The secret of life” ( Globalyceum, 2015). The New Deal halted the allotment program that was the culmination of the Indian Reorganization Act. The allotment was eroding away the Indian way of life by whose hallmark was communism as it advocated for individual holdings and was proving fatal to the Indian tribe organization. The Reorganization Act was signed into law by Roosevelt although the final draft had no provision for the preservation of culture. Instead, it removed the allotment program and allowed the Indian tribe purchase of land parcels with the backing of federal funding. The New Deal touched on Indians on Reservations who could now be allowed to set up local self-governments (Takaki, 2008). With these local governments, tribe efforts could be restored. The New Deal was the commencement of the Indian journey to salvation. [Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]

The Native Americans refused to be cowered down and would persistently resist efforts of assimilation and allotment. They desired to remain knot together as tribes and did not want to adopt the White Man’s way of working. As such, there was a series of rebellions called the Indian Wars. The Puritan error thoroughly disliked the Indians. They termed their way of life as a degeneration of vices. To the Puritans, the Indians were lazy wretches and would soon pass this onto their children (Globalyceum, 2015). Besides that, they lacked a form of governmental organization and therefore operated in a lawless society. The Indians although less powerful to the white man’s military would occasionally hit back. Most remarkably in the Fort Mines where two hundred white soldiers had been killed. Andrew Jackson hit back ruthlessly at Mississippi in what was called the Battle of the Horse Shoe Bend in March 1814 (Takaki, 2008). In this battle, the Red Sticks, who were a part of the Creek Indian tribe and were keen on frustrating the efforts of the expansionists, were thwarted and efficiently brought to an end the Creek War that was an inevitable result of Jackson’s killing of nearly 800 Indians (Takaki, 2008).


In yet another resistance effort, the Indians under the influence of Wovoka the Paiutes called for Indians everywhere to dance the Gosh dance (Globalyceum, 2015). He convinced them that as they danced and wore ghost shirts, the garments would protect them against bullets. Wovoka’s mission had been fueled by his hatred for the white man, and he garnered a lot of support with the ghost dance metamorphosized into a fad. A distress call made from Pine Bridge to Washington prompted an army to arrest the ghost dancers who were disturbing the peace. It is in this exchange of force and resistance that Chief Sitting Bull was killed leading to Chief Big Foot’s attempt to flee and subsequent capturing of the chief and women and children from his tribe (Globalyceum, 2015).

African Americans were the minority of the immigrants into the United States. An influx of which was charged by slave trade where Africans captured in wars or raids by enemy tribes were sold off as slaves with the first shipment of slaves arriving Virginia (Takaki, 2008). These groups of immigrants were used in plantations after the insurrection of discontent workers in 1676. They provided for free labor on the British plantations and subsequently the nation built up an appetite for slaves. African Americans worked in deplorable conditions, were unpaid and dehumanized as property up until the civil war which was termed by Abraham Lincoln as the ‘scourge of war’ finally put to a stop the African American two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil (Globalyceum, 2015).

In the expansion of the American industrial economy, African Americans found themselves in a preferred treatment even without any remuneration. The Irish were given the more dangerous and hazardous work as compared to the African Americans who were seen more valuable as they were property. After the Bacon Rebellion, African Americans won ‘favor’ with the white farm owners who initially preferred to work with people from their homeland. The white people influx was a product of the kidnapping or illegal sale off into the United States (Takaki, 2008). Work on the plantations began early in the morning and before daylight. Slaves were awoken by a horn that would be blown just before it was light. This blow meant that the slaves needed to get up and prepare cooking for the day. Another would be blown at good daylight followed by inspections into the household of slaves to ensure that they had indeed gone to the plantation (Globalyceum, 2008). Africans on large plantations were a disadvantaged lot as they were severely exploited, and sometimes the landowner refused to get additional labor and so they would be overworked. The smaller scale planters were easier to work with as the amount of work required to be put into the farms was a lot less.


Slaves, such as David Walker who was born to a slave father and a free mother and subsequently adopting the status of his mother understood that slavery could only be ended in violence (Globalyceum, 2015). The stereotyping of slaves led to racial degradation and poverty that severely reinforced prejudice. Social labeling for the black man as ‘immature, indolent and good-for-nothing’ birthed a breed of whites who were certain that the black man was intellectually inferior.  But contrary to the belief of the white man on intellectual incapability, slaves shrouded a form of affection and connection with their masters to plan retaliation without arousing any suspicion. Thousands of slaves would become fugitives to escape stereotyping and go up North (Takaki, 2008). Slaves would occasionally plan docile insurrections and catch their masters off guard; they would then abuse farm equipment and machinery and treat farm animals with so much brutality they would be disabled.

Southern slavery was somewhat the ‘elite’ kind of slavery. After the civil war, the slaves of the south were transformed from the property into freedmen. They now had a form of remuneration in the form of wages as they worked on the land of their former masters and a share in the crop harvest (Takaki, 2008). In the North, slaves were living in deplorable conditions and utter nightmare as detailed by Delany. In the North, slaves were inferior and dependent economically. This lot of slaves lived in self-hate and an overwhelming inferiority complex. Delany argued that blacks had been so oppressed by the white people that they involuntarily helped perpetuate the conditions (Takaki, 2008). In the South, however, slaves had the upper hand where the political scene was dominated by the planters who thoroughly influenced the breakout of the civil war. In the North, some of the African even Americans served in the army to restore the union.

The Western states of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, were significant exporters of livestock and seed grain to the East and the South. The export was heavily dependent on the East’s manufactured goods. The Southern States produced fiber for textile mills in the East and purchased food from the West (Globalyceum, 2015). The most strategic Market Revolution was cotton because it was an independent variable even in the structure of trade both internal and international. Western and Eastern demands were heavily dependent on income received from Cotton trade.  For the cotton export sector to bud land appropriation in the state of Indiana was important and so was the subsequent expansion of slaves. Enslaved Africans were tasked to pick cotton (Takaki, 2008). This need to increase slavery was coming at a time when slavery and the slave trade was being pushed to end.

The 13th, 14th, and 15th constitutional amendments were all in a bid to give land to the freedmen. Radical Republicans understood the need to give land to the freedmen (Globalyceum, 2015). The freeing of the black men meant emancipation and needed to be accompanied by land distribution. The Republicans even advocated for the awarding of land to the freedmen from tracts of the planters. The Fifteenth Amendment by General Sherman set aside large sections of the Georgia and South Carolina that were to be distributed to the black people (Takaki, 2008). The fourteenth amendment was meant to bar states from denying privileges, rights and opportunities to any to any group based on color and race. Only the thirteenth and fourteenth amendments were passed into law (Globalyceum, 2015).[“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]

In conclusion, the problems across the immigrant groups were varying in intensity. The Irish could claim that they performed the hazardous duties while the African Americans could argue that they were enslaved and starved and lived in deplorable condition. On the other hand, Native American could claim they were forcefully removed from their parcels of land and forced into assimilation.
All immigrant groups suffered immensely, and it is only the nature of the problems that is different. However, the magnitude of the problems, the struggle to be recognized as equals cuts across all the groups making it difficult to grade the groups based on political and social strife.
However, it is correct to say that America’s industrialization was built on the back of immigrants who provide for cheap labor that transformed America’s economy from an agricultural based economy into an industrial economy.

American history unit essay texts. (2015). United States: Globalyceum.

Takaki, R. T. (2008). A different mirror: A history of multicultural America. Boston: Little, Brown & Co.

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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