Discussion Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in the 19th Century

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Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in the 19th Century 

I would like to choose Women as a the group to focus on for my final project

Prepare: Read Chapters 1, 2, and 3 of your textbook and explore the Alien Menace article thoroughly, viewing all of the links. You are not required to answer the questions on the website, only to consider them. Choose the group that you plan to focus on during this course and in your Final Project. You must choose from the groups listed below:

  • African Americans
  • Native Americans
  • Women
  • Immigrants
Reflect: Reflect on the discrimination based on race, gender, and ethnicity that was common in American society during the last half of the 1800s. Think about how this discrimination was justified. Consider the particular challenges and opportunities that each group confronted during this period and the strategies they used to navigate them. Focus specifically on the group that you chose for your Final Project. How did your group fit into the dynamics of this period? 
Write: Based on the chapters in your textbook and the required exhibit, answer the following:

  • Why was the last half of the 1800s a time of conflict over the meanings of citizenship in relation to race, ethnicity, and gender?
  • Explain the challenges faced by your chosen group.
  • How did your chosen group work to secure their places in the social and political hierarchy?

Your initial post should be at least 250 words in length. Be sure to mention your chosen group in the subject line of your post. Provide specific examples to support your points. Your references and citations must be formatted according to APA style as outlined by the  Writing Center.

Learning Outcomes

This week students will:

  1. Analyze American social conflict related to race, ethnicity, and gender during the last half of the 19th century.
  2. Identify ways that Americans attempted to secure their place in the social hierarchy of the last half of the 1800s.
  3. Explain how different groups of Americans responded to the rise of big business and industrial capitalism.
  4. Summarize the socioeconomic changes which the United States experienced in the last quarter of the 19th century.


By 1877, the United States had weathered the Civil War and Reconstruction. Although there was a concerted effort on the part of Northern Republicans and African Americans to establish social, political, and legal equality for African Americans, that effort largely failed, leaving African Americans as a distinct underclass, facing segregation and discrimination in all facets of life. However, African Americans were not the only group struggling under the weight of inequality. American women were also fighting to be recognized as full citizens, pushing for the right to vote (suffrage) as well as legal and social independence.

The last half of the 1800s also saw the rapid expansion of industrial capitalism. New forms of business arose that allowed a few prominent men to grow exceptionally wealthy on the backs, so many Americans believed, of exploited workers and farmers. More than perhaps any other industry, the railroad business aroused the fears and resentments of many Americans, who deplored its financial prospects and it’s seemingly corrupt influence over American politics. Native Americans on the Great Plains suffered greatly from the expansion of railroads, but farmers in the region, too, saw it as an enemy and organized against it as the Populist Party in the 1890s.

The economic expansion attracted huge numbers of immigrants. Fleeing poor economic prospects and violence and hoping to find their fortunes in the United States, the immigrants instead often found dirty and over-crowded tenements, dangerous working conditions, and wages that were too low to survive on. The immigrants of this period differed from those in the past in their countries of origin as well as in religious beliefs and cultural practices. Viewed with hostility by many Americans, the new immigrants of the late 19th century also found themselves struggling against discrimination to establish themselves in their new homeland. 

This week, we’ll look at the challenges faced by African Americans, Native Americans, women, and immigrants as they worked for equality and the chance to enjoy the promised opportunities of American society. We will also examine the Industrial Revolution of the late 1800s, considering the social, cultural, and economic outcomes of such a radical upheaval.


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