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Vincent Prior
AP American History
Quiz #14

"Exploitation and mistreatment of African Americans and Native Americans takes a new tragic direction during the Gilded Age. In this instance, the government takes a far more active role."

    The gilded age was a period in the History of the United States. One in which there was the appearance of all good things, however, under the surface lay a country distraught by some very real problems. Problems including some based on bias against races, including African Americans and Native Americans. However, the government which was on the surface dealing with these problems in an attractive way was not truly resolving them.
    The African Americans were subject of many discriminations, most of which were commonplace in the society of the day. Those who believed in white supremacy wanted to keep the role of freedmen very small within society. While many of these problems were created and acted upon by only private individuals, the Federal Government was unable to stop this and furthermore may have contributed to it.
    The government allowed such regulations as the Jim Crow laws to go into effect, thus keeping power of the vote in Caucasian hands by way of white written qualifications to vote. The Supreme court also weighed heavily on the rights of blacks. They made such determinations as those in Plessy vs. Ferguson which seemed to go directly against the legislation which had been passed regarding a Blacks right to equality both socially and economically. This included the Negro's right to vote and the protection of this right.
    The Federal government, and less individuals had a hand in the blatant disregard for the humanity of Native Americans. They did not do this as discretely as with the Blacks. In the case of Native Americans, the government took a far more active, public, role.
    The most noticeable way in which the Native Americans were discriminated against was by way of western land grants and actions associated with these. The land grants were needed due to the development of the west via technology like railroads. Much of this "free" land was occupied by Indian tribes which had inhabited it for thousands of years. The federal government now came into these areas and asked them to completely relocate. If they refused to allow them to steal their land they were forcibly removed by means of the United States Army. The U.S. government seemed to value the land more than the lives and needs of the Native American people, and in fact they did.
    The Gilded Ages was only so for those who had received it on the right end, namely those who were well-off to begin with. However, those who were less fortunate and happened to be a member of a minority group were not as lucky, they were the "base metal below" the "dazzling surface."