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