Native Americans form an ethnic group only in a very general sense. In the East, centuries of coexistence with whites has led to some degree of intermarriage and assimilation and to various patterns of stable adjustment.
Colonial period[ edit ] Historians in recent decades have explored in microscopic detail the process of settling the new country and creating the social structure.
Southern colonies[ edit ] The main themes have been the class system of the plantation South. These include the plantation masters and their families, as typified by the Byrd family. The plantation elite in gen regions of the Chesapeake, with some attention to South Carolina as well.
The region had very few urban places apart from Charleston, where a merchant elite maintained close connections with nearby plantation society. It was a goal of prosperous merchants, lawyers and doctors in Charleston to buy lands and retire as country gentlemen.
Charleston supported diverse ethnic groups, including Germans and French, as well as a free black population.
Beyond the plantations yeoman farmers operated small holdings, sometimes with a slave or two. Missionaries commented on their lack of religiosity. The plantation areas of Virginia were integrated into the vestry system of the established Anglican church.
By the s a strong tendency to emulate British society was apparent in the plantation regions.
However the growing strength of republicanism created a political ethos that resisted imperial taxation without local consent. Led by Virginia, the Southern Colonies resisted the British policy of taxation without representation, and supported the American Revolution, sending wealthy planters George Washington to lead the armies and Thomas Jefferson to declare the principles of independence, as well as thousands of ordinary folk to man the armies.
The frontier itself was egalitarian as land ownership was available to all free men. Second deference faded away as frontiersmen treated each other as equals.
Third the frontiersmen forced new levels of political equality through Jefferson Democracy and Jacksonian Democracy. Finally the frontier provided a safety valve whereby discontented easterners could find their own lands. Historians now agree that few Eastern city people went to the frontier, but many farmers did so; before the America had few cities, which were mostly small, and the vast majority of people were rural.
According to the Turner modelthe social structure of the East was similar to the familiar European class-based structure, while the West increasingly became more socially, politically, and economically equal.
Hundley who in had defined the Southern middle class as "farmers, planters, traders, storekeepers, artisans, mechanics, a few manufacturers, a goodly number of country school teachers, and a host of half-fledged country lawyersdoctors, parsons, and the like.
Owsley argued that Southern society was not dominated by planter aristocrats, but that yeoman farmers played a significant role in it. The religion, language, and culture of these common people created a democratic "plain folk" society. Stephanie McCurry argues, yeomen were clearly distinguished from poor whites by their ownership of land real property.
Yeomen were "self-working farmers," distinct from the elite because they worked their land themselves alongside any slaves they owned.
Ownership of large numbers of slaves made the work of planters completely managerial.Teacher-created and classroom-tested lesson plans using primary sources from the Library of Congress. Research Assignment: Describe American Ethnic History (Essay Sample) Instructions: Write a thesis statement in the beginning of the essay Breadgivers offers a look at the experience of a Jewish immigrant woman in the early s and s.
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Click on a Library, Publishing Partner, or Series link below to view all titles in that collection in series order. Founded in , the JACCC is the largest Asian American cultural center of its kind in the U.S.
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