Social Darwinism

Social Darwinism

The struggle for a free country with different races and cultures, joined together with inalienable rights, was considered by early historians and social scientists to be a relevant theory. In reality, a type of melting pot slowly began to emerge in America that coated over the races with a unique type of cultural relevance.

The Revelation of religious society in America was slowly being intertwined as a rocky marriage born of ideas from the social Darwinism of men such as Herbert Spencer.Reformers on both sides raised questions about established conditions and their ideas on reforming society. Some saw the Gilded age as a time of the survival of the fittest, others saw a great divide rapidly forming between the masses. While the wealthy class was becoming far richer, the working class began to take on the social stagnation of a population without a true goal (Divine, 2002, p.627-28)

At first, Southern politicians began to war with each other over how to reform it, then how to redeem it through commercial and industrial interest that vied for control over agrarian groups. The dreams of a reformed South slowly cast a pall over the once bright dream of the enslaved. Share cropping and credit deals forced families to return to a type of servitude that charged extortionate prices for goods they bought on credit. The facade of good jobs and better homes was shattered as the promised allure of streets paved with Gold was washed away in a tide of political and business ventures that left Chinese immigrants underpaid on a railroad to hell (Divine, 2002, p. 518).

The social movement saw men such as Henry McNeal Turner propose black emigration to Africa. Although emigration became a popular movement among blacks most refused to give up hope of an eventual equality in America. The Erie Canal, and the rapidly expanding railroad opened previously uncharted Indian land to communities bent on finding their fortune in gold and land. In order to open up more land, the government started programs that stripped the Indians of their land through means of killing off their precious buffalo. The symbolic American melting pot killed certain Indian groups also to the brink of extinction. The Indians are said to have been killed in various genocide acts in early America and later. The social dysfunction that white society felt about the Indians caused some truly appalling moral judgments (Divine , 2002, p. 535).

Morals were devised from the strict code of Victorian morality copied from the British queen of that time. These moral prescribed a strict standard of dress, manners and sexual behavior. Kids were said to be seen, but not heard. Older boys and girls were chaperoned. Men like Theodore Roosevelt espoused the virtues of being pure publicly. The church often set the tenor of the entire community as people gathered for their church services. In the late 1880’s most people were of protestant persuasion, the rest were of Catholic membership. Moral groups campaigned in politics for prohibition, as well as a end to corruption in politics. (Divine, 2002, p. 615).

Moral fortitude was not all lost as Physician Alice Hamilton helped establish a link between jobs and disease. The previous stigma of women staying at home was replaced with women and child in dire need of social reform. As women began to cry for a women’s suffrage movement, adaptation became common place as women struggled with a new identity crisis. Artisans were replaced by machines that could sew clothes far faster than home placed workers. People had to move to larger communities in order to keep pace with the loss of their previous livelihoods. Uriah S. Stephens founded A secret fraternal order arose called the Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor . Unlike other unions this one included women. Eventually labor unions lead to eight hour jobs and abolition of child labor (Divine, 2002, p. 594).

The rise of cities had some good benefits for those in labor as Industry opened up opportunities for more consumer goods at cheaper prices. Education opened the way for more opportunities for the masses, leading to Louis Pasteur’s recent discovery of that germs cause infections and the new field of microbiology. (Divine, 2002, p.585). The minorities struggled to assimilate into the American culture. Jewish people, as well as other minorities, adopted certain dominant American cultural ways in order to escape prejudice and discrimination. This Assimilation model worked well for those who could blend better than other more visible foreigners, such as the Japanese and Chinese. Speaking English was an advantage for those who learned the native language of America (Macionis 280). Euro ethnic groups were assimilated by gaining more money, as well as being incorporated into the expanded middle class white status. (Macionis & Benokraitis 244).

The struggle for a free country with different racial groups and cultures, joined together with inalienable rights, was considered by early historians and social scientists to be a relevant theory. In reality, a type of melting pot slowly began to emerge in America that coated over the races with a unique type of cultural relevance. Considerable numbers of individuals broke out of their cultures and appeared to merge, but in reality the Melting Pot never really happened. Deterrents to the melting pot process were not only race, but often religion also played a part. For example, the Zionist Jew dreamt of his Jewish homeland even while living in America. In every generation the thought that a single American nationality will become totally assimilated from the varying origins, religions, and political outlooks, never seems to occur. Different status and character seems to forever keep our nation willfully separated from the one final smelting. Perhaps this is the beauty of our county. The checks and balances that comprise our democratic government serve to mirror the differences of our multicultural nation. This prevents dictatorships and monopolies. Our founding fathers saw the danger of a government that was not balanced by controls (Glazer &Moynihan 290) .

The strangers and sojourners needed the protection of the American laws to give each minority group their chance at the American dream. Minority cultures never gave up all of their cultural identities completely. American culture became symbolically shaped into a Behemoth, a multifaceted cultural montage that made it unique to the entire world. Perhaps Edward Bellamy’s dream of a society in which greed and poverty no longer existed seems unreal, but our nation is farther along than some (Divine, 2002, p. 629). The achievement of a cultural melting pot where everyone surrenders their cultural ideas, religion, and ideologies for the assimilation of all, could never be. That would be the death of our great nation .Maybe another revolution would redirect our values to a more united America. People sometimes have to rediscover the goods things in life by going through the tempest. The black man, as well as the European, has defended this nation since its foundation. They are strangers no more (Steinfield 343).

Works Cited

Glazer, Nathan, and Daniel Moynihan. Beyond the Melting Pot: The Negroes, Puerto
Ricans, Jews, Italians, and Irish of New York City. Massachusetts: M.I.T, 1963.

Macionis, John J. Society: The Basics. New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc. 2004.

Macionis, John J and Nijole V. Benokraitis. Seeing Ourselves: Classic, Comtemporary,
and Cross-Cultural Readings in Sociology. New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc.

Steinfield, Melvin. Cracks in the Melting Pot: Racism and Discrimination in American
History. California: Glencoe Press, 1970