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Virginia Luxuries Is A Painting

Virginia Luxuries is a painting that illustrates the massive power between the whites and black slaves. It demonstrates what white masters committed against their slaves. The white masters, also known as the slave owners, had the authority over their slaves. On the left side of the painting, the white man is kissing the black woman as the other white man on the right side is shown as aggressive, about to hit the half-naked black woman. They easily took advantage of black women by abusing them. This picture is a great example that shows the unequal positions between masters and slaves.

Democracy in America, published by Alexis de Tocqueville, described three races in the United States that reflect unequal power relationships. The first race he mentions are the whites which he states that they are “superior in intelligence, in power and in enjoyment” (Tocqueville). This proposes the whites are pleased with their race and are in power over the other two races known as African Americans and Native Americans. Tocqueville noted that the African Americans lost everything they had, such as their freedom, culture, and family. This made them feel inferior of themselves. However, the Native Americans case were unique in relation to Africans since they never surrendered the whites, yet they were isolated from their land. His opinion of them was that their lives was easy before the whites came. Both the African Americans and the Native Americans were being taken advantage and oppressed by the whites. Both races were being mistreated like animals and but their punishments were different.

Tocqueville made predictions in his publication stating the futures of the three groups of people. One of his predictions is the civil rights movement along with the civil war. African Americans were still being enslaved when Tocqueville made this observation in 1830’s. In the Democracy in America, he dedicates the issue of the African American race in which he describes the origins of slavery and their future. “The Negroes may long remain slaves without complaining; but if they are once raised to the level of freemen, they will soon revolt at being deprived of almost all their civil rights; and as they cannot become the equals of the whites, they will speedily show themselves as enemies” (Tocqueville). He mentioned that once the Africans are freed, they will demand all the same rights as the whites which will ultimately cause a conflict. For the Native Americans, he predicted that “the Indian nations of North America are doomed to perish, and that whenever the Europeans shall be established on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, that race of men will have ceased to exist”, in other words, they will disappear since they lacked their desire to become civilized.

After analyzing the Democracy in America, Tocqueville had a fairly accurate idea of his predictions for the future of the races. He knew that a civil war would occur which has become a constant conflict since we still see discrimination and unfair treatment until this day. However, Tocqueville prediction on the Native Americans being wiped out was not accurate. There were some Indian tribes still in existence but the majority of their tribes, customs and religions were destroyed. For the white race, they became a proud of themselves by having an enormous diversity of cultures and living in a land of freedom.

‘The Discord”, created by F. Heppenheimer, illustrates the relationship power between males and females, fighting over who gets to keep the pair of pants, in other words, fighting for their rights. The first relationship of power presented in the painting is the men. The men on the left of the painting side, who are not wearing pants, prohibit the women to become free by lowering them into society and taking away their opportunity to be educated. Next, the two women represent other women that had to fight and who were still fighting for their equal rights. -The young girl symbolizes the significance of fighting for her rights because she will become a fighter for her generation. The women on the far right side encourages her partner to gain the pair of pants since it seems that she is wearing pants under her dress. This shows how important it means to her to gain her rights. Lastly, God will become the relationship of power. He tells both sides that they have the right to keep the pants. The painting clearly shows how they feel about their fight over the power of one another. The man in the center states “Rather die! than let my wife have my pants” (Heppenheimer). The men want to have the authority over the women and they mention that a man should always be the ruler. However, the women do not agree with this statement and they say that “Woman is born to rule and not to obey these contemptible creature called men!” (Heppenheimer). Women only wanted to gain fair treatment not be mistreated.

The Declaration of Sentiments reveals the gender relationships that occurred in the nineteenth century. The Declaration of Sentiments is a document that outlines women being denied certain rights, for example, “access to education and employment, gave husbands control over property and wages of their wives and custody of children, and restricted them the home” ( Forner, 467). While women were given these restrictions, men were given more opportunities which was unfair for women. Elizabeth Stanton, who is known for granting the right to vote, angrily states that all women should be given rights because they are all created equal. “it is demonstrably the right and duty of woman, equally with man, to promote every righteous cause” (Document 3). Men were the ones in power over everything they own including their wives which made them superior to women. They poured out their frustration by using the words “He has compelled her” to state that women were being overpowered by males and the control they possessed. The only task they were permitted to do is stay home and take care of their families

To this time period, I can slightly agree with the sentiments because women are still trying to strive for equality. For example, women who have the same jobs as men, get paid less. Women fight for being a leading candidate for president. Many men and women do not vote for a female candidate because of their gender. People still trust that men only have the power to do everything.

Abraham Lincoln gave his viewpoint on the issue of slavery and racial equality in his Peoria speech and the Fourth Debate with Stephen Douglas. In the Peoria speech, he expresses his hatred of slavery and how it’s impacting the nation. He felt that the expansion into the territories was wrong and the institution of slavery was unfair to the American citizens. He argues that the slaves were being treated as animals and not humans. He clearly understood how slavery functioned in America. Lincoln’s action was to “free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia” (Lincoln). Nonetheless, settling them was extremely difficult since there was no infrastructure to help them establish themselves to Africa.

During the Fourth Debate with Stephen Douglas in 1858, Lincoln stated that he did not want to make the African Americans and whites equal when it comes to social and political issues. Once Lincoln felt that the institution of slavery was wrong, he noted that there is a difference between the two races on how the whites have more authority than the blacks. No American citizen realized that the blacks should have equal rights as the whites and neither did he, but that should not mean that the “negro should be denied everything” (Lincoln). Lincoln believed that every citizen in the United States should be allowed to be around the whites, without enslaving one another. However, Lincoln believed that blacks should not be given the right to vote as well as a government job or participate in politics. He cited his opposition to equality between the whites and black races by stating “I will say that I am not, no ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races” (Lincoln). He viewed the races as discrete and believed that they could never have the capacity to become equal in terms of socially and politically.

After analyzing the two documents, I believe that Lincoln was playing politics. Since he was on the campaign trail, he began to change his viewpoints. He had agreed that slavery was an evil institution but he left racial quality out of the question. It could have been possible for him to change his mind about the issue of slavery, depending on how he wanted to influence others. However, his number one priority was to save the Union. “Lincoln was willing to compromise with the South to preserve the Union” (Forner, 506). He had opposed popular sovereignty since it perpetuates slavery and expands territories where they do not belong in which it becomes a danger to the Union.

The Civil War had officially ended in 1865, which brought an end to slavery in the southern states. This was accomplished through Lincoln signing the Emancipation Proclamation. The proclamation announced that “all persons held as slaves within the rebellious states are, and henceforward shall be forever free” (Lincoln). Since it only applied to a few slaves, the United States needed to fully abolish slavery in all states, leading to the creation of the three Reconstruction amendments which dealt with the questions of liberty and equality.

In the thirteenth amendment states the abolishment of slavery. The end of the war signified legal equality for blacks and whites, thus the constitution was forced to include this adjustment. Lincoln guided and controlled the amendment since he wanted slavery to end. The amendment additionally permitted other amendments about rights and freedom to be passed. The fourteenth amendment gave citizenship to everyone who was born in the United States, including African Americans. This implied that all American citizens, as well as former slaves were given equal protection simply like the white citizens. It also granted Americans more freedom. For the fifteenth amendment, it stated that the right to vote cannot be denied based on race, color or previously being a slave. It ensured that all African Americans had the right to vote.

By the 1870s, the three reconstruction amendments rise questions and crises of liberty and unequal power relationships but they have different meanings for the people that lived in the U.S. The white slave owners that lived in the South believed that liberty meant having control over their slaves. Once the issue of slavery was resolved and freedom was gained, conflicts between the whites and blacks were exacerbated since the slave owners no longer had control over their slaves, feeling that they lost a sort of liberty. For women, they felt denied liberty since they were not allowed to vote and did not have the same rights as the men. This is when Elizabeth Stanton and Susan B. Anthony step in to hold a convention named Seneca Falls in which they spoke about the issue of women rights and equality.

For the unequal power relationships, whites held authority over Native American Indians. When slavery ended, the whites continued to dominate over the society even though all African Americans were freed, the whites still felt superior over them. Men were still in power and had more rights than women. The fifteenth amendment gave voting rights to freed slaves, but it still did not allow women to vote. The power the whites had over the Native American Indians was much worse due to new territories being added to the nation and having the whites continue to take land and their freedom from them. Therefore, while the reconstruction laws were to bring equality and freedom, there were still issues that occurred with race relations, until the Civil Rights Act was created in the 20th century.

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