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The most oppressed groups in American society during the first half-century of the republic

On gaining the independence, the US got a chance to develop a totally new state different from the traditional European monarchies which oppressed liberties and basic human rights. The founding fathers attempted to lay the foundation for a democratic state and, in a way, the US became a democratic, though the formal democracy of the US failed to protect numerous groups within American society which suffered from the oppression and discrimination from of the dominant group. In this respect, women, Native Americans, African-Americans, both slaves and freed African Americans, were the most severely oppressed groups. In fact, during the first half-century of the republic, these groups were inferior to the dominant group of the American society – white males. In actuality, either group was oppressed and discriminated. Their position was quite difficult, but the position of African-American slaves was particularly unbearable since the liberation of the US from the British domination brought no benefits to them at all and their position remained unchanged.
Among all the groups mentioned above, white women were probably in the best position because even though their position in society and family was inferior to men they could still lead a normal social life, without restrictions in their movement throughout the country. In this regard, other groups were practically deprived of such an opportunity (Norton, 145). The restrictions concerning the movement and settlement were particularly challengeable for Native Americans, who inhabited the continent before the arrival of white colonizers. However, the latter physically eliminated a considerable part of the native population and settled the rest of Native Americans in special reservations, where, though they could still live in accordance with their cultural norms and traditions, but they could not take a respectable position in the white American society, which dominated in the US at the epoch.
At first glance, freed African-Americans were in a better position since they had got personal freedom and formally they were free to move anywhere they wanted to, but, in actuality, they could settle only in the areas where they could earn for living (Watson, 210). Their position was really desperate because they had got personal freedom but economically they could not compete with the dominant white group. As a result, freed African-Americans were doomed to the life in poverty and they could not change their position.
However, slaves were in the most desperate position compared to all the other groups. In fact they had no rights at all and, what is more, they were treated by their white masters as commodities, tools which slaveholders used at their will. As a result, slaves were forced to work hard. They did not have a normal family, at any rate, children could be separated from parents at any moments as well as a husband could be separated from a wife. Even such traditional concepts as family, husband or wife are relative in regard to slaves (Norton, 188) because only their relations depended on the will of their masters but their life was a toy in masters’ hands.

Works cited:
Norton, A. A People and a Nation. New York: Touchstone, 1999.
Watson, D. The US in the 19th century. New York: New Publishers, 1999.


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