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Autor: anton 31 October 2010
Words: 991 | Pages: 4
Ethical issues; meaning conforming to good morals, actions, or right principles of conduct, are problems that we encounter almost every day. Thinking about the word ethics brings to mind a controversial issue such as abortion, prejudice, or equalization of human rights. Goods ethics also means the simple things like telling the truth, avoiding cheating and manipulation of others, obeying the law, helping others, and doing what is morally right according to the standards set by our society. While taking United States History, the class encountered women's suffrage, slavery, child labor, and much prejudice against others of diverse ethical and religious backgrounds. Although the people of the set time period may not have viewed them as being morally inapt, today's society knows that such behavior is unacceptable.
The role of women in Early America
Before the 1800's women were bound to the homes and farms and maintained a structured home, while the men worked. Women did not receive equal rights nor did they vote or hold office. Respectable women were married and confined to being homemakers. During the 1860's women found more occupations, such as shop clerks, teachers, "type writers", and some even worked in the industrial fields. In the 1920's when the nineteenth amendment was passed, women became eligible to vote.
Today in the modern world women's suffrage still exists in the Mid-East and other countries, but the United States considers it unethical and unfair. Women have equal rights and equal access to employment, property, and education. Although today we consider the undermining of women cruel and wrong, that was the norm and a tolerable part of every day life.
During the late 18th and early 19th century child labor was a popular resource for employment. It was inexpensive and easy to obtain. In December 1790 the first American factory began production. The machines were tended by a labor force of nine children, the work was simple and the pace was slow. This labor pattern continued for several decades.1 Most workers in the early textile factories were women and children. They were employed because the machines needed less skill to be operated and the shortage of labor made it necessary to tap into unexploited resources. By the early 1820's about half of the cotton textile industry relied on employees under the age of 16. Most of the people of this generation considered this a good thing. They reasoned that the work was easy and that it kept youngsters busy at useful tasks and provided their families with extra income. Child labor in the 1850's differed from that of the 1820's. The pace of the machines had become much faster and the working environment more dangerous. After the labor unions began, the rights of children in working environments became an issue. In 1900 about 1.7 million children under the age of 16 were working full time. In 1904 the National Child Labor Committee was organized, and obtained laws in nearly every state banning the employment of young children and limiting the working of the older ones. In 1916 the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional.
Slavery in America
The first African blacks were probably brought to English North America by a Dutch ship to Jamestown in 1619. Early records are vague and incomplete, so it is not certain if they were freed or treated as indentured servants.2 In the south slave labor predominated from the beginning. The first quarter of the eighteenth century saw an enormous influx of Africans into the southern colonies, for whites would not endure into back breaking labor. The South Carolina Negro Act of 1740 denied slaves "freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, freedom to raise food, to earn money, or to learn English."3 The blacks had no civil rights, and no rights to hold office or cast votes. The rights of black Americans were suppressed until the Civil Rights Movement began. "Separate but equal" began to arise after the Plessy vs. Ferguson case in 1896. Resistance of the black Americans encouraged the Civil Rights Act of 1957. On Friday, December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks went on her historical bus ride.
A long historical ride brought the African American people from where they were to where they are today. Although slavery is abolished the prejudices and injustices still exist. Determining whether all Americans will live freely amongst each other and openly get along is a feat I cannot say. I can say that people do deserve to be treated fairly and equally no matter their age, sex, or ethnic background.
The Right to Vote
As seen in the above scenarios many Americans only gained the ability to vote in the recent years. Women and people of other ethnicity were not deemed citizen enough to vote or hold office. The 14th, 15th, and 19th amendments laid the ground for the America that we know today. Without those inalienable rights restored America as we know it would have suffered from lack of diversity.
In conclusion, the ethical issues we face today have always played a role in humanity. It may have taken centuries for most Americans to draw these conclusions, but some people in our country and others still think they are acceptable. Maybe if America continues to fight for the rights of people, in this unjust world, we will shine a positive light on the areas where these unethical issues are still practiced.
Carnes and Garraty, The American Nation: 11 edition,2003
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