The American population has gone through trying moments in their attempts to achieve economic stability. Many movements were formed to fight for the rights of the vulnerable sources. Some of their leaders were killed while others were forced to flee the country. The two books “Voices of Freedom: A documentary” and “Give me Freedom: An American History” by Foner bring into limelight the struggles towards the current level of civilization.
The main purpose of the two primary sources is to reveal some of the struggles that immigrants faced in an attempt to establish themselves in the American society. Although slavery had been abolished, racial discrimination was still rampant. This forced Sacco and Vanzetti to stand-up and fight for people’s rights. “The Sacco-Vanzetti case laid down some of the fault lines beneath the surface of the American society in the 1920s” (Foner, “Give me Liberty” 780. At this period (1920-1932), revolutions were on-going with different groups fighting for better rights. For instance, the immigrants felt that they were not being included in decision making process. On the other hand, women groups wanted more female representation in the top positions. Labour unions were fighting for better rights for their members. The two sources depict an era of uncertainties
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The two sources highlight some of revolutions in the business and political platform that shaped the world we have today. For instance, they trace back the innovations in the automotive industry and men who changed the world and the way people conduct their business today. “That great man was no longer a pioneer like Lincoln, nor a railroad magnate like Hill Type, but a genial primaire Henry Ford” (Foner, “Voices of Freedom” 138). This marked a new form of civilization that was characterized by competition and the recognition of human rights. Therefore, the era became a blueprint of democracy and self-rule. In addition, mass production and civilization shaped the American society. However, this did not come easily. Instead, the source reminds the current generation of the civil liberties that the ancestors went through to achieve te rights and freedom that people enjoy today. The sources were produced in an environment that was characterized by limited freedom of speech and press. However, Foner was determined to share the information and struggles with the future generations despite the imminent threat that faced them from the government which was cracking on the dissenting voices in an attempt to maintain the status quo.
The two sources play an informative role by explaining the emergence of consumerism and individualism culture. “Consumer goods of all kinds proliferated, marketed by salesmen and advertisers who promoted them as ways of satisfying Americans’ psychological desires and everyday needs” (Foner, “Voices of Freedom” 783). This marked the beginning of unethical practices as businesses tried to meet the increasing demand for consumer goods. In addition, people shifted away from societal values and started focusing on improving their personal welfare. This is important in understanding the root cause of some of the social vices that affect the society today. Nevertheless, there were some positives such as equal voting rights for all citizens and women empowerment. “The ratification of the constitutional amendment barred states from discriminating voters because of sex” (Foner, “Voices of Freedom” 160). Moreover, more women joined the corporate world thereby, changing the family structure in the society.
The primary sources pinpoint an era at which there was the emergence of a strong judicial system which enforced the civil liberties. These historical events are significant in enlightening the young generation of the struggles that the American society went through in their quest for a civil society. This will be significant in encouraging them to safeguard the gains made while also addressing some of the issues that remain unresolved such as racial discrimination and immigration.
- Foner., Eric. Voices of Freedom: A Documentary History. 5th ed., W.W. Norton, 2017.
- Foner, Eric. Give Me Liberty!: An American History. 5th ed., W. W. Norton & Company, 2017.