Survey Of American History Essay

2072 words - 8 pages

Over the course of American history many radical movements have forever changed the historical landscape of the United States of America. Since the beginning of American history, radical movements have played an important role in bringing about change in U.S. society and the U.S. relationship with other countries. They have also experienced major failures and defeats. Major concrete achievements and failures of radical movements have been present in changing the mainstream of the society since the end of WWI. Radical movements such as, labor/socialism, women’s rights, civil rights and peace have played a significant role in the development of U.S. politics and society and forever changed the past, present and future of the United States of America. The Labor/Socialism movement, supported mainly by the lower classes was a prominent radical idea that manifested itself into American society around the conclusion of WWI. “The very fact that the Soviet Union, the revolutionary successor to Imperial Russia, was the first country to establish a Communist political and economic state was a major threat to the United States” (Brown 4). Influenced by the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, the Socialist movement gained momentum from oppressed workers and thus managed to successfully run hundreds of candidates around the nation for several decades. “The Socialist Movement was painstakingly organized by scores of former Populists, militant miners and blacklisted railroad workers, who were assisted by a remarkable cadre of professional agitators and educators” (Zinn 340). Socialism became extremely popular especially due to its endorsement by writers like Mark Twain, W.E.B. Dubois and Upton Sinclair as well its representation by Eugene Debs. With the emergence of the "New Left", the Socialist Party of America quickly embraced itself as an opponent of mainstream American politics and successfully advocated for the rights of laborers. These radical movements led to mass demonstration and protests; “Seattle workers had a radical tradition. During the war, the president of the Seattle AFL, a socialist was imprisoned for opposing the draft was tortured, and there were great labor rallies in the streets to protest. The city stopped functioning, except for activities organized by the strikers to provide essential needs” (Zinn 377). Episodes like these happened throughout the country as radical calls for new labor laws dominated this time period. While the roaring twenties would keep the capitalist ideals at the forefront, it would take a catastrophic event such as the Great Depression for the socialist and labor movements to experience true progress. The Old Guard republicans, especially Hoover, believed that the depression was caused by cyclical fluctuations in the market and inefficiency as well as the idea that those affected by this economic downturn were not the responsibility of the federal government. The New Deal era of the 1930s marked a major turning point in...

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