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Politic of USA (реферат)


A great many changes took place in the Americas from 1800 to 1870. The United States more than doubled in size, and its government was set on a firm base. This allowed the country to become strong. Latin America, or Central and South America, won independence from European rule. But traditions established under colonial rule remained strong. So despite strong efforts, democracy did not develop. In all, the 70-year period was a time of both great promise and great hardship.

A strong spirit of reform swept through the United States during the late 1800's and early 1900's. Many Americans called for changes in the country's economic, political, and social systems. They wanted to reduce poverty, improve the living conditions of the poor, and regulate big business. They worked to end corruption in goverment, make government more responsive to the people, and accomplish other goals.

During the 1870's and 1880's, the reformers made rel­atively little progress. But after 1890, they gained much public support and influence in government. By 1917, the reformers had brought about many changes. Some reformers called themselves progressives. As a result, the period of American history from about 1890 to about 1917 is often called the Progressive Era.

During the Expansion Era, many Americans came to believe that social reforms were needed to improve their society. Churches and social groups set up charities the poor and teach them how to help them­selves Reformers worked to reduce the working day of laborers from the usual 12 or 14 hours to 10 hours.

Prohibitionists — convinced that drunkenness was the chief cause of poverty and other problems — persuaded 13 states to outlaw the sale of alcohol between 1846 and 1855. Dorothea Dix and others worked to improve the dismal conditions in the nation's prisons and insane asy­lums. Other important targets of reformers were wom­en's rights, improvements in education, and the aboli­tion of slavery.

The drive for women's rights. Early American women had few rights. There were almost no colleges for women, and most professional careers were closed to them. A married woman could not own property. In­stead, any property she had legally belonged to her hus­band. In addition, American women were barred from voting in almost all elections.

A women's rights movement developed after 1820, and brought about some changes. In 1833, the Oberlin Collegiate Institute (now Oberlin College) opened as the first coeducational college in the United States. Some men's colleges soon began admitting women, and new colleges for women were built. In 1848, New York passed a law allowing women to keep control of their own real estate and personal property after marriage. That same year, Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stan-ton organized a Woman's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, N.Y. The convention issued the first formal appeal for woman suffrage (the right to vote). But nationwide suffrage did not come about until 1920.

Education reform. In the early 1800's, most good schools in the United States were expensive private schools. Poor children went to second-rate "pauper," or "charity", schools, or did not go at all. During the 1830's, Hornce Mann of Massachusetts and other reformers began demanding education and better schools for all American children. States soon began establishing pub­lic school systems, and more and more children re­ceived an education. Colleges started training teachers for a system of public education based on standardized courses of study. As a result, schoolchildren throughout the country were taught much the same lessons. For ex­ample, almost all children of the mid-1800`s studied the McCuffey, or Eclectic, Readers to learn to read. These books taught patriotism and morality as well as reading.

The abolition movement became the most intense and controversial reform activity of the period. Begin­ning in colonial times, many Americans — called aboli­tionists — had demanded an end to slavery. By the early 1800's, every Northern state had outlawed slavery. But the plantation system had spread throughout the South, and the economy of the Southern States depended more and more on slaves as a source of cheap labor.

The question of whether to outlaw or allow slavery became an important political and social issue in the early 1800's. Through the years, a balance between the number of free states (states where slavery was prohib­ited) and slave states (those where it was allowed) had been sought. This meant that both sides would have an equal number of representatives in the United States Senate. As of 1819, the federal government had achieved a balance between free states and slave states. There were 11 of each.

When the Territory of Missouri applied for admission to the Union in 1818, bitter controversy broke out over whether to admit it as a free or slave state. In either case, the balance between free and slave states would be upset. But in 1820, the nation's leaders worked out the Missouri Compromise, which temporarily maintained the balance. Massachusetts agreed to give up the north­ern part of its territory. This area became the state of Maine, and entered the Union as a free state in 1820. In 1821, Missouri entered as a slave state, and so there were 12 free and 12 slave states.

The Missouri Compromise had another important provision. It provided that slavery would be "forever prohibited" in all the territory gained from the Louisiana Purchase north of Missouri's southern border, except for Missouri itself.

The Missouri Compromise satisfied many Americans as an answer to the slavery question. But large numbers of people still called for complete abolition. In 1821, Benjamin Lundy, a Quaker, pleaded for gradual aboli­tion in a journal called The Genius of Universal Emanci­pation. William Lloyd Garrison, a fiery New England journalist, opposed even gradual abolition. Garrison de­manded an immediate end to slavery. He founded The Liberator, an important abolitionist journal, in 1831. Many blacks who had gained their freedom became im­portant speakers for the abolition movement. They in­cluded Frederick Douglass and Sojourner Truth.

The growing strength of the abolition movement raised fears among Southerners that the federal govern­ment would outlaw slavery. Increasingly, the South hardened its defense of slavery. Southerners had always argued that slavery was necessary to the plantation economy. But after 1830, some Southern leaders began arguing that blacks were inferior to whites, and there­fore fit for their role as slaves. Even many Southern whites who owned no slaves took comfort in the belief that they were superior to blacks. As a result, Southern support of slavery increased.

Cultural change. After 1820, the wilderness seemed less and less hostile to Americans, increasingly, society glorified the frontier and nature. The public eagerly read the novels of James Fenimore Cooper, which described Indians and pioneers as pure of heart and noble in deeds. Ralph Waldo Emerson and other American phi­losophers praised nature as a source of truth and beauty available to all people, rich and poor alike.

The years of expansion see important so­cial changes. By the mid-1800's the United States had expanded westward across the North American continent. This era of expan­sion brought with it other profound changes in American society.

With new territory and a growing popu­lation, the nation needed better transportation systems. In the early 1800's workers built hun­dreds of miles of canals to link the valleys of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers with the Great Lakes and the Atlantic coast. Along these water routes, canal boats carried manufactured goods to the West and raw materials and agricultural products to the East. Railroads also developed during this period. Thousands of miles of track were built between 1820 and 1850.

Early reform efforts included movements to organize laborers and farmers. In 1886, skilled laborers formed the American Federation of Labor (AFL) — now the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). Led by Samuel Gompers, this union bargained with employers and gained better wages and working conditions for its members. Farmers founded the National Grange in 1867 and Farmers Alli­ances during the 1870's and 1880's. These groups helped force railroads to lower their charges for hauling farm products and assisted the farmers in other ways.

Unskilled laborers had less success in organizing than did skilled laborers and farmers. The Knights of Labor, a union open to both the unskilled and skilled workers, gained a large membership during the 1880's. But its membership declined sharply after the Ha/mar­ket Riot of 1886. In this incident, someone threw a bomb during a meeting of workers in Haymarket Square in Chicago, and a riot erupted. At least seven police offi­cers and one civilian died. Many Americans blamed the disaster on the labor movement. The Haymarket Riot aroused antilabor feelings and temporarily weakened the cause of unskilled workers.

The drive for woman suffrage became strong after the Civil War. In 1869, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton founded the National Woman Suffrage As­sociation. The Territory of Wyoming gave women the right to vote the same year. Soon, a few states allowed women to vote, but only in local elections.

Early reformers brought about some changes in gov­ernment. In 1883, their efforts led to passage of the Pendleton, or Civil Service, Act. This federal law set up the Civil Service Commission, an agency charged with granting federal government jobs on the basis of merit, rather than as political favors. The commission was the first federal government regulatory agency in the na­tion's history. In 1884, Democrats and liberal Republi­cans joined together to elect Grover Cleveland Presi­dent. A reform-minded Democrat, Cleveland did much to enforce the Pendleton Act.

The Progressive Era. The outcry for reform in­creased sharply after 1890. Members of the clergy, so­cial workers, and others studied life in the slums and re­ported on the awful living conditions there. Educators criticized the nation's school system. A group of writers—called muckrakers by their critics—published exposes about such evils as corruption in government and how some businesses cheated the public. The writ­ers included Upton Sinclair, Lincoln Steffens, and Ida M. Tarbell. Increasingly, unskilled workers resorted to strikes in an attempt to gain concessions from their em­ployers. Often, violence broke out between strikers and strikebreakers hired by the employers. Socialists and others who opposed the U.S. economic system of capi­talism supported the strikers and gained a large follow­ing.

These and other developments caused many middle-class and some upper-class Americans to back reforms. The people wondered about the justice of a society that tolerated such extremes of poverty and wealth. More and more, the power of big business, corruption in gov­ernment, violent strikes, and the inroads of socialism seemed to threaten American democracy.

As public support for reform grew, so did the politi­cal influence of the reformers. In 1891, farmers and some laborers formed the People's, or Populist, Party. The Populists called for government action to help farm­ers and laborers. They gained a large following, and convinced many Democrats and Republicans to support reforms. See Populism.

Reformers won control of many city and some state governments. They also elected many people to Con­gress who favored their views. In addition, the first three Presidents elected after 1900—Theodore Roosevelt, Wil­liam Howard Taft, and Woodrow Wilson — supported certain reform laws. These political developments re­sulted in a flood of reform legislation on the local, state, and federal levels.

The reform movement flourished under Wilson. Two amendments to the Constitution proposed during Taft's Administration were ratified in 1913. The 16th Amend­ment gave the federal government the power to levy an income tax. The 17th Amendment provided for the elec­tion of U.S. senators by the people, rather than by state legislatures. The Clayton Antitrust Act of 1914 struck a blow against monopolies. It prohibited corporations from grouping together under interlocking boards of di­rectors. It also helped labor by making it impossible to prosecute unions under antitrust laws. In 1914, the government set up the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to handle complaints about unfair business practices. The many other reform measures passed during Wilson's presidency included the Underwood Tariff Act of 1913, which lowered a high tariff that protected American business from foreign competition.

The role of American women changed dramatically during the 1920's. The 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which became law on Aug. 26, 1920, gave women the right to vote in all elections. In addition, many new opportunities for education and careers opened up to women during the decade.

Modern life and social change. Developments of the 1920's broadened the experiences of millions of Americans. The mass movement to cities meant more people could enjoy such activities as movies, plays, and sporting events. Radio broadcasting began on a large scale during the 1920's. It brought news of the world and entertainment into millions of urban and rural homes. The automobile gave people a new way to get around — whether for business, or to see far-off places, or just for fun. Motion-picture theaters became part of almost every city and town during the 1920's. They became known as dream palaces because of their fancy design and the excitement and romance that motion pictures provided for the public. The new role of women also changed society. Many women who found careers outside the home began thinking of themselves, more as the equal of men, and less as housewives and mothers.

Change and problems. The modern trends of the 1920's brought about problems as well as benefits.

Many Americans had trouble adjusting to the imper­sonal, fast-paced life of cities. This disorientation led to a rise in juvenile delinquency, crime, and other antisocial behavior. The complex life in cities also tended to weaken the strong family ties that had always been part of American society.

The 18th Amendment to the Constitution, called the prohibition amendment, caused unforeseen problems. It outlawed the sale of alcoholic beverages throughout the United States as of Jan. 16, 1920. Large numbers of otherwise law-abiding citizens considered prohibition a violation of their rights. They ignored the law and bought liquor provided by underworld gangs. The sup­plying of illegal liquor, called bootlegging, helped many gangs prosper. In addition, competition for control of Ube-lucrative bootlegging business led to many gang wars.

Roosevelt, recovery, and reform. Early in the Great Depression, Hoover promised that prosperity was "just around the corner." But the depression deepened as the election of 1932 approached. The Republicans slated Hoover for reelection. The Democrats chose Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In his campaign, Roosevelt promised government action to end the Great Depression and re­forms to avoid future depressions. The people responded, and Roosevelt won a landslide victory.

Roosevelt's program for recovery and reform was called the New Deal. Its many provisions included pub­lic works projects to provide jobs, relief for farmers, aid in manufacturing firms, and the regulation of banks. A solidly Democratic Congress approved almost every measure Roosevelt proposed. Many new government agencies were set up to help fight the depression. The agencies included the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA), both of which provided jobs; the Farm Credit Administration (FCA), which extended credit to farmers; and the Social Security Board, which developed the social security sys­tem.

The New Deal helped relieve the hardship of many Americans. However, hard times dragged on until World War II military spending stimulated the economy.

Roosevelt's efforts to end the depression made him one of the most popular U.S. Presidents. The voters elected him to four terms. No other President won elec­tion more than twice. Roosevelt's New Deal was a turn­ing point in American history. It marked the start of a strong government role in the nation's economic affairs that has continued and grown to the present day.


The industrial growth that began in the United States in the early 1800's continued steadily up to and through the Civil War. Still, by the end of the war, the typical American industry was small. Hand labor remained widespread, limiting the production capacity of indus­try. Most businesses served a small market and lacked the capital needed for business expansion.

After the Civil War, however, American industry changed dramatically. Machines replaced hand labor as the main means of manufacturing, increasing the pro­duction capacity of industry tremendously. A new na­tionwide network of railroads distributed goods far and wide. Inventors developed new products the public wanted, and businesses made the products in large quantities. Investors and bankers supplied the huge amounts of money that business leaders needed to ex­pand their operations. Many big businesses grew up as a result of these and other developments. They included coal mining, petroleum, and railroad companies; and manufacturers and sellers of such products as steel, in­dustrial machinery, automobiles, and clothing.

The industrial growth had major effects on American life. The new business activity centered in cities. As a re­sult, people moved to cities in record numbers, and the cities grew by leaps and bounds. Many Americans amassed huge fortunes from the business boom, but others lived in extreme poverty. The sharp contrast be­tween the rich and the poor and other features of American life stirred widespread discontent. The discontent triggered new reform movements, which — among other things — led to measures to aid the poor and control the size and power of big business.

The industrial growth centered chiefly in the North. The war-torn South lagged behind the rest of the coun­try economically. In the West, frontier life was ending.

America's role in foreign affairs also changed during the late 1800's and early 1900's. The country built up its military strength and became a world power.

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