All Americans are proud of living in a democratic society because it gives them the best possible rights and freedoms of living in a diverse community. Our citizens are proud to live in the US because they value their democratic rights. However, not everyone raises thoughts about the history of such social change, its social causes, and consequences. In this sense, it is important to investigate the historical processes, which are associated with the establishment of democracy. Thus, this paper investigates the history of democracy in America through the analysis of historical events as well as their causes and consequences. Moreover, it considers various documents, which discuss the issue and reveal critical details leading to social changes towards building a democratic community. This analysis increases the awareness of the importance of historical studies as well as enhances the understanding that building of democracy took a significant period of time and is associated with social tensions. As a consequence, in the case people consider this fact they would treat the democratic improvements with increased respect and defend the attempts of ceasing their freedoms by individuals or the government.
What is Democracy?
First, it is important to define democracy and discuss its basic characteristics in order to avoid mistakes when analyzing its history. Thus, scholars argue that the term democracy is of a Greek origin and incorporates two notions, which are demos people, and kratos to govern. Its translation is Government of the People or later defined by Lincoln the government of the people, by the people and for the people. Therefore, it means that the governing bodies of the democratic communities consist of the people, which represent and defend the interests of peoples interests. In this sense, a democratic community is different from monarchy, where there is a rule of a single person with the family transition of power. Similarly, it is different from dictatorship, where a single individual monopolizes the power and governs often without a reference to the needs of the community. Furthermore, one of the modern notions of democracy is a system of governance in which rulers are held accountable for their actions in the public realm by citizens, acting indirectly through the competition and cooperation of their elected representatives. Additionally, democracy is founded on the two basic principles, which guide the communities and assure equality. They are the principle of individual autonomy and equality. The first one suggests that no individual should be the subject to rules imposed by the others. In its turn, the second principle assures the equal share of opportunities to influence decisions, which affect the society.
Furthermore, democratic countries can have a different actual realization of the democratic principles. One of the basic differences in this sense is the principles of their government. Thus, there are presidential, federal and parliamentary democracies. The first ones, such as Russia, Romania and France, have the president as the leading governing power in the country. Parliamentary democracies, such as the UK, Slovakia or Spain, give preference to the collective choices of the government. Lastly, the federal governmental structure can be observed in Germany, where each federal element has its own governing body.
At the same time, it is critical to state that the presence of the democratic system does not guarantee that the democratic principles are actualized. For instance, poorer people may have actual weaker voice power, the interests of women and racial minorities may be less presented and so on. Thus, democracy is not the ideal state, which endlessly grants all freedoms to everyone. Some of the scholars even argue that democracy is a word for a phenomenon, which does not exist in reality. However, it is critical to define that the benefit of the democracy in comparison with other social structures is that it allows people to participate in social changes. In contrast, Stalinism during the middle of the 20th century in the former USSR was the example of a personal autocratic rule, which severely restricted social freedoms. This was achieved by means of concentration of the governing power and control of all critical institutions including the police, army and mass media in the hands of the dictator. As a result, the former USSR knows times when millions of people were repressed because of political views, sent for correction labor to Siberia for a lifetime. One of the most famous corrections was GULAG, a prison camp system, which emerged in the Soviet Union after 1929. The researchers claim that from the time between 1931 and 1953 3,788,234 people were arrested for counter-revolutionary activities and sent there, among which 786,098 were shot. Therefore, democracy is a real benefit for the society because it allows people deciding on their lives and the life of their community without social restrictions. Nevertheless, this system works only in the case the citizens are active to participate in the validation and assurance of their rights. As is defined by the scholars, democracy is a code of behavior, an attitude and a state of mind. Thus, it is critical for the citizens of the democratic community to be aware of their citizen needs and the requirements for controlling the assurance of their freedoms. This statement is approved by the history of democracy in the US during which people fought for their citizens rights during several centuries.
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The History of Democracy in the US
The analysis of the history of democracy in the US demonstrates that this country passed through numerous events during which the citizens demonstrated their will to live in the equal community. Modern democracy in the US is validated through democratic elections, the rule of law, constitutionalism, free and independent media, the overall culture of democracy and respectful civil relations. However, one should state that several centuries ago the situation was drastically opposite, and even there were laws, which directly restricted civil freedoms of the community members.
The initial change of the governing principles and the birth of a totally new country started in the 18th century. One of the milestones at that time was Boston Massacre of 1770, which demonstrated the controversy of the feeling of the Americans against their British patrons . Being one of the precedents before the American Revolution, it demonstrated that the people, who lived in America, wanted more freedoms regarding their citizenship. Furthermore, the period from 1774 to 1820 was a time, when revolutionary changes took place all around the country. Thus, the First Continental Congress of 1774 identified the policy of becoming independent from the rule of Britain. Despite the process was initiated as a legal change, the occurred revolution demonstrated that the critical social changes require severe non-political instruments. Actually, it was the first time when the citizens of America took weapons fighting for their independence. Later, the establishment of Constitution of 1787 highlighted a basic framework of a democratic community. Thus, it formed a republic, which balanced between the national government and the states. At the same time, despite the adoption of The Bill of Rights, there was one issue, which has been a plague for the country throughout its struggle to democracy. This phenomenon was racism, which was legalized in Confederate states. One of the examples of such legalization was the proclamation of the constitutional state of racial segregation . At that time slavery was considered a benefit for the community and led to the fact that the social changes regarding this issue were painful.
Furthermore, the issue of slavery ended in 1865 at the end of the Civil War, when the South was defeated. However, the society was still reluctant to introduce significant constitutional changes regarding racism. Moreover, there were specific social groups, which resisted the processes of democracy adopted towards the African American community. One of the examples of these groups is Ku Klux Klan, which was formed in 1865. This group aimed at the establishment of the control and domination of the white populations by means of violence and terror. Additionally, the anti-African American attitudes were partially legalized as a consequence of the adoption of Jim Crows laws. One of the examples of the restrictions introduced by them is their adoption I Virginia. Thus, there were required segregates schools, separate railroad cars on the basis of racial difference, prohibition of international marriage, and the creation of white-only communities. Thus, despite the adoption of Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, which granted freedoms for African American slaves, their civil rights were restricted. However, even some of the representatives of African American community gradually realized that the adoption of 14th and 15th amendments of the Constitution assure their freedoms. Thus, the case Plessy v. Fergusson involves a situation when an African American sued a railroad company of Louisiana for racial discrimination. The reason for this was that the conductor called the police and got Plessy off the train after he refused from coming to the colored section of the railroad car. Thus, the power of the community was gradually growing, which assisted it in fighting for democracy in the 20th century.
The Recent History of Democracy in the US
Furthermore, there is a need to say that one of the most significant achievements in the domain of democracy in the US occurred in the 20th century. Thus, the beginning of the century is associated with the changes of labor right defense. For instance, such organizations as Womens Trade Union League, International Ladies Garment Workers Union, African American Niagara Movement and other appeared. Their initial aim was the defense of the civil and labor rights of women and African Americans. However, the analysis of the historical facts and recollections of people associated with them indicates that the racial question prevented the US from becoming a country assuring equal democratic rights and freedoms. Among these documents are letters, interviews, publications and documents. For instance, one of the black officers participating in the World War II claims that the return of the African American troops from war led to certain social changes. The major claim of African American individuals was that their rights should be assured because I paid my dues over there and Im not going to take this anymore over here. In this respect, one of the most active organizations was the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, which collected the controversial racial cases and handled them to President. Similar claims of the representatives of African American community took place during and after the Vietnam War. Furthermore, one of the issues was a factual life threat to African American individuals in the middle of the 20th century. For example, Hampton, Fayer and Flynn describe a case when a fourteen-year-old African American boy was killed in Englewood. Similarly, they claim that this was just one example of numerous cases of lynching and shooting African Americans on the racial basis.
Furthermore, there is a need to say that despite democracy is a social state, reference to it as a mental social framework is more relevant. The reason for it is that the most significant democratic changes were preceded and caused by cultural and social factors. Thus, similar to the social claims of the case Plessy v. Flynn, the African American soldiers back for wars, there were other precedents, which changed the social attitude towards racism and democracy. One of them was the case of Muhammad Ali, an individual, which has become a famous boxer and rejected his American name and Christianity. Being one of the most famous African American individuals in history, he was the example that African Americans can bring fame to the country. Similarly, one the of the most significant events was the speech by Martin Luther King. Who claimed that there is a need for breaking social inequality. As a result, the social changes initiated by the influential celebrities and African-American organizations led the way to the assurance of democratic rights of African Americans. As a result, the solution of the racial questions is one of the most critical benefits of the history of democracy in the US.
Summarizing the presented information, that paper concludes that the history of establishing of democracy in the US is associated with numerous social struggles, which lasted for centuries. The analysis of the definition of democracy indicated that this social framework requires a persistent participation of people in the decision upon their lives and the life of the state. The vivid example of this is the history of the US. Thus, from the beginning of the democratic processes involving separation from the British Empire, the Civil War, and other social events, the democracy has been associated with the racial question. It is clear that the African American community was fighting for the validation of its civil rights and freedoms. The social tensions associated with racial segregation started with the abolishment of slavery and the adoption of Jim Crows laws. However, even after significant constitutional changes the society required time in order to change culturally and mentally. This fact highlights the statement of the scholars that democracy is more a state of mind than just a social framework. As a result, the gradual change of the attitude towards the racial question and the rise of personal responsibility opened the way for modern democracy and racial equality in the country.