Monday, April 6, 2009

African Americans

While the United States was beginning to develop, conflict between the individual states was the cause for division among America in 1861. When several of the Southern states broke away from the Union the Civil War was starting to fuel. From there one of the most bloody wars in American history took place when the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter, the Federal military base in South Carolina. Through all of the battles and deaths, one of the greater aspects of the war was the courage and involvement of African-American soldiers and sailors of the Union army.

In 1861, the United States Navy needed an astounding number of people in order to blockade hundreds of miles of Confederate coast with not many troops. Due to a shortage of sailors, the Navy had to rely on a large number of African-Americans to fill these ranks. Luckily for the Navy, African-Americans have had experience in sailing on ships dating as far back to the Revolutionary War.

African-Americans only represented a small percentage of the Navy’s manpower in 1861, but the exact number can subjected to a lot of debate. Research throughout the 1900’s conducted by different sources ranges the numbers somewhere between nine to twenty-five percent. These numbers equal about 10,000 to 32,000 soldiers. The exact could never be found due to the fact that navy documents never classified sailors by race, weird for the amount of racism going on at the time.

Not only did sailors play a big part in the Civil War, so did soldiers. Not including the Union Navy, about 180,000 African-Americans served in the Union Army. Since white soldiers believed black men lacked the courage to fight, blacks were given the chance to show whites the amount of courage they possessed, giving them a chance for equal rights. Until 1962, Abraham Lincoln feared letting African-Americans into the military. He thought the already prejudice Northern whites might be stirred even more. The fact that he could weaken the more powerful Confederate army by freeing slaves and letting them into the army made him change his mind. This was known as the Emancipation Proclamation.

Although, more than eighty percent of black Union soldiers were from Confederate states, almost all commanding officers were white. More than seventy of one hundred and ten blacks who had superior positions were still harassed until they resigned. This racial prejudice sometimes sprang understandably from white soldiers refusing to take orders from black superiors. Blacks did not only face discrimination in these type of forms. African-American enlisted men received ten dollars a month, three dollars less then any white soldier. Blacks also had an additional three dollars docked off of their paycheck for a monthly charge to provide them with clothing. Eventually pay for African-Americans was increased to normal wage; this was only for men who were free at the start of the Civil War.

Not only were the colored discriminated by the pay they received, but they suffered more than their white comrades. African-Americans were often given inferior weaponry and were almost assigned to the most unhealthy positions. Blacks lost almost 29,000 men to disease alone, nine times as much as were lost due to wounds. It never mattered where black regiments were assigned because they always had to put up with inferior medical facilities and care.

The role of the African-American sailor and soldier can be put into comparison in terms of which situation was better for a colored man. Blacks in the Navy were treated much better. A lot of this had to do with the integration of white and blacks Navy members. The original reason for the two races not being segregated was that it would be out of the question to leave a vessel full of African-Americans alone. It was feared that they would try to get away. Living in close quarters with each other led blacks and whites to learn respect for each other and keep their prejudices to themselves.

Unlike black soldiers, sailors of opposing race received the same amount of pay. Plus there was numerous amounts of benefits being in the Navy. Sailors received “prize money” for the capture of Confederate merchant ships. These prizes were extremely helpful. A sailor could receive several years full of wages by obtaining prize money for captures. Blacks in Navy crews also had standard uniforms and equipment, unlike Negro Union soldiers. Also, Navy crews could be given more equipment and or clothing at any time because there was a superior amount of supplies. Lastly, medical care was lacking in the army. While the army lost about one in every fifteen recruits to disease, the navy only lost about one in every forty crew members.

The reason for my paper being solely focused on African-American involvement with the Union is because the Confederacy found it difficult to assign a meaningful role to a black or a slave in a major war. Confederates refused to enlist them as soldiers but they were often used to be put to other tasks. These tasks included building fortifications, expanding river defenses, repairing rail networks, and assistance in manufacturing. The only time blacks were used in the Confederate army was when states started to secede. Governments of the states had no other choice but to enlist all eligible men to fight due to their primary obligation being to protect their citizens.

African-Americans were involved in some big battles. They had to succeed in these to show that they had the courage to fight well. The first attack by Negro soldiers was in the battle of Island Mound. The 1st Kansas Colored Volunteers made this attack, they were a group of African-American soldiers. This same group took part in the battle of Port Hudson at a battle at Honey Springs. In the latter Union troops ran into a strong Confederate force. Eventually after a long and bloody two hour siege, the Confederates retreated and the 1st Kansas were within fifty paces of the Confederate line.

African-Americans were prominently known for their attack on Fort Wagner, by the 54th Massachusetts in 1963. They volunteered to lead the battle. Although they fought with all their hearts, they ended up having to retreat due to brutal hand to hand combat. At Fort Pillow, over 2500 Confederates were led to attack on a Union fortification held by only about 600 men. Almost all of the Union troops were massacred after being led down into a crossfire perpetrated by the Confederates. The most heroic action performed by a group of African-Americans was during the Battle of New Market Heights. When Union troops were pinned down by Confederate fire, the troops courageously attacked the artillery fire. There were a tremendous amount of casualties suffered, however, of the sixteen Medal of Honor awards given to Negroes during the Civil War, fourteen of them were received by troops in this battle.

There were many other battle in which blacks were involved in, for they participated in every major battle in 1864 with the exception of Sherman’s Invasion of Georgia. All of these situations showed how much courage African-Americans really had during the Civil War. Not only during battle, but being treated unfairly on a day to day basis. Especially for soldiers, they had to put up with tremendous amounts of discrimination in the army, even while having superior positions. At a time where if an African-American was not a slave it was treated like one anyways, blacks had a lot of guts and courage for stepping up and succeeding in the Civil War.

You can order a high-quality custom essay, term paper, research paper, thesis, dissertation, speech, book report or book review from our professional custom writing service. We have employed more than 700 highly qualified Ph.D. and Master's academic writers to provide students with professional academic writing help. Feel free to contact our company right now!


During the 1600’s, monarchial systems were changing. This was called the Age of Absolutism. Absolutism, the political situation in which a monarch controls all aspects of government, became the type of government in France, under the rule of Louis XIV. Louis XIV was a model of absolute rule. Louis XIV achieved royal absolutism and helped France become the most powerful nation in the world during the 1600’s. His ideas and actions made him be a model of absolutism. Some ideas and actions praised his significance, these included; taking the sun as his symbol, claiming the “Divine Right of Kings,” and having morning and evening ceremonies called, “La levee”. He also had excessive power to control the people and economy. The system of mercantilism, expanding territories, never having the Estate General meet and building Versailles represented how much power and authority he obtained. He created a strong army, gave the nobles special privileges and revoked the Edict of Nantes, which insured his policies would be followed and to eliminate turmoil.

Louis XIV, a Slavic emperor (czar), took absolutism to extremes by claiming himself as a servant of God, known as the “Divine Right of Kings.” This encouraged absolutism. People believed that when you claim the “Divine Right” you power comes directly from God. The French obeyed the Czars orders, fearing that if they didn’t, God would punish them. Louis XIV was known as the “Sun King,” due to the fact that he took the Sun as his symbol. The Sun was the center of the Solar system, as Louis XIV was the center of French life and he is necessary to the survival of France. An event which symbolizes his importance and reflects absolutism was the “La levee.” The “La levee” is a ceremony that occurs in the morning as the Czar rises. At night the ceremony is repeated but in reverse. Nobles competed for the privilege to assist the king, which showed utmost authority over them. By showing his importance through actions and ideas, the French obeyed Louis XIV ordinances leading up to him becoming an absolute power.

Power is an aspect which Louis XIV had. Louis XIV strengthened his own office while weakening the General Assembly of France. Not once did he call the Estate General to meet during his reign. The Estates General is a group of representatives from all 3 classes: nobles, clergy and townspeople. Therefore, the people didn’t get a chance to give their opinion. The czar, ruling an absolute monarch, made sure the people had no power. Colbert, Louis XIV organizer, promoted mercantilism and encouraged overseas trade, which helped to expand territories and increase power. A tariff, or a tax on imports, was then used to make money. The mercantilism policy made France the wealthiest state in Europe. Meaning, the King had control over all aspects of government, from economics to foreign policy, as is the definition of an absolute monarch. If the wealth increased, the power of Louis XIV increased too. There’s a saying, “ Keep your friends close but keep your enemy closer.” This is exactly what the King did by Building the Palace of Versailles. This became the perfect symbol of his wealth and power. Acting as both his home and of the government, it housed 10,000 people, which consist of nobles, bourgeoisie, and peasants. By having his workers live with him, he was able to keep and eye on them, control them and prevent any type of rebellion against him. The circumstances he went through increased his wealth while increasing his power.

One more action that Louis XIV took was to insure loyalty and to eliminate any form of rebellion or threat. He provided nobles with special privileges such as not having to pay taxes and being given the best jobs. Some jobs given were in the government, army or church. He did this to insure loyalty of the nobles. He also created a strong army. This army encouraged him being an absolute ruler because he used the army to insure the policies were being carried out and to put fear in the peoples eyes, knowing that if they didn’t listen to his rules they’d have to deal with the consequences. The army protected the Czar and controlled the people. Another action taken was the revoke of the Edict of Nantes. He took away religious freedom from the Huguenots (French protestants). This encouraged absolutism because it insured religious unity and eliminated the Protestant threat.

Based on his thoughts and actions, during the seventeenth century, Louis XIV is the epitome of absolutism. The actions and ideas of Louis XIV both reflected and encouraged absolutism. These helped him to gain power, symbolize his importance to society and to insure his policies. He ruled for seventy two years and wrote a book for his heirs on how to be an absolute monarch. The book insured that this type of government would last beyond his death. Louis XIV was a model of an absolute ruler.

You can order a high-quality custom essay, term paper, research paper, thesis, dissertation, speech, book report or book review from our professional custom writing service. We have employed more than 700 highly qualified Ph.D. and Master's academic writers to provide students with professional academic writing help. Feel free to contact our company right now!


Discrimination is the action of distinguishing one person over another as to benefit someone and to disadvantage the other. As a result of discrimination, a person’s human rights are compromised, leading to conflict and tension. Human rights are fundamental rights that are universally regarded as being possessed by all persons inherently. Such rights include a right to life, a right to fundamental freedoms and a right to be treated equally. It is necessary to protect human rights in order to ensure the dignity and worth of all people. The aim of human rights movements is ensure that the law protects these inherent rights and the legal protection is upheld.

The international community has recognised the need to protect human rights since the horrors of the Holocaust in Germany in World War II and as a result, several international agencies have been established in the cause to protect human rights. International rights are those that are recognised internationally as being fundamental rights of people, no matter what nation-state they belong to, or even if they are stateless. Unfortunately, international rights are not as enforceable as domestic rights unless if the international law has been incorporated into domestic law. Therefore, the actions of international agencies are non-legal until they are domestically recognised by a nation state. International agencies, which have been established in attempts to protect human rights, include the United Nations (UN), Amnesty International (AI) and Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The United Nations (UN) is an international forum with its prime function is to promote respect for “human rights” and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion and act as a global security. Its main role is to alert participating governments and the world community to the daily reality that the standards of human rights are too often ignored or unfulfilled and to be a voice for the victims of human rights violations everywhere. Its role is also to press the international community to take the steps that can prevent violations, including support for the right to development. Since 1945, the protection and promotion of international human rights has been UN’s major preoccupation. Over the years, UN has developed a whole network of mechanisms to ensure the primacy of human rights and to confront human rights violations universally. These mechanisms have been non-legal mechanisms as they are not legally recognised until a nation state ratifies and incorporates the mechanism into its domestic law.

One of the United Nation’s main non-legal mechanisms is the collection of intergovernmental bodies dealing with human rights. The main policy-making body dealing with human rights issues within the UN is the Commission of Human Rights (CHR). It has the power to make studies, prepare recommendations and drafts international treaties and resolutions relating to human rights. It also investigates allegations of human rights violations by countries, individuals, groups or NGOs and handles communications relating to them. Another charter-based body that has been established within the United Nations to protect and promote universal human rights is the General Assembly.

The establishment of declarations was also another non-legal mechanism developed by the United Nations to protect international human rights. The United Nations Charter 1945 was a document established as a treaty to bind all members of the United Nations. It has, as one of its fundamental purposes, the promotion of respect for human rights contained in its articles. The provisions of the UN Charter were created to bind member states to observe and respect human rights domestically and internationally. The Universal Declaration of Human rights was slightly similar as it was a document created by the United Nations in 1948. The declaration is not a statement of law but rather a comprehensive list of civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights of all human beings. It has been established to bring international recognition of human rights to be treated equally. Many countries have incorporated the provisions of these declarations into their laws and constitutions. International covenants and conventions only have the force of law for the States that ratify them. The United Nations has various non-legal mechanisms in order to carry out its functions such as the establishment of charter-based bodies and declarations. In the global context, its main area of success in the protection of human rights is by the resolution of tensions before they develop into conflict and the aid for humanitarians after a conflict. Unfortunately, its effectiveness has been very limited in fighting conflict.

Amnesty International (AI) is another example of international agencies which aim to promote and protect human rights. AI was founded in 1961 and is now a worldwide movement of international citizens who campaign for internationally recognised human rights. It works independently from governments, political ideology, economic interest or religion and its main function is to “undertake research and action focused on preventing and ending grave abuses of the rights to physical and mental integrity, freedom of conscience and expression, and freedom of discrimination, within the context of its work to protect all human rights.” It campaigns on issues of human rights such as the freedom of all prisoners of conscience, ensures fair trial for all political prisoners and recently, opposes human rights abuses committed by non governmental bodies and private individuals.

In order to achieve its key functions, AI operates with several non-legal mechanisms as it does not have the power of law to enforce its beliefs. AI’s main non-legal mechanism is researching human rights violation issues and publishing reports to inform the news media so that the concerns are publicised domestically and internationally. AI’s ability to inform the public of concerns allows it to mobilise the public to put pressure on governments and others with the influence to stop the abuses. Activities to pressure the governments include public demonstrations, letter writing, human rights education and fundraising concerts. AI’s other non-legal mechanism in promoting and protecting human rights is to support programs that help people learn about human rights and how to defend them. In educating and campaigning, Amnesty International presses governments to ratify and abide by international human rights treaties and to strengthen international human rights standards.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) is the largest human rights organization based in the United States and was first started in 1978 as Helsinki Watch. It is composed of more than 150 professionals including lawyers, journalists, academics and country experts. Human Rights Watch’s main function is to promote public awareness of universal human right abuses in order to increase recognition of human rights in bother the international and domestic spheres. It does not have legal enforcement and therefore its non-legal mechanisms are to research and investigate human rights abuses in all regions of the world and publicise these issues into local and the international media. In using publicity, HRW aims to embarrass abusive governments in the eyes of their citizens and the world. If possible, it then meets with the government officials to urge changes in their policy and practice in order to protect human rights within that nation. Human Rights Watch also addresses issues in women’s rights, children’s rights and the flow of arms to abusive forces. By using publicity, HRW press governments and international financial institutions to incorporate human rights concerns into their economic development strategies. HRW functions similarly to Amnesty International, its main differences being that AI addresses a narrower set of abuses and has a larger number of memberships.

The United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have been very effective in promoting and publicising the protection of human rights but there have been many limits that restrict these agencies from increasing their effectiveness in protecting human rights internationally. The main limit for all international agencies, especially the United Nation, is the lack of enforcement mechanisms. Most treaties created by international agencies are optional, rather than compulsory, therefore the laws and covenants associated with the treaty is not legally recognised and enforced until a nation state incorporates it into the domestic law. Individual nations do not feel the need to report complaints to international agencies due to lack of enforcement mechanisms resulting to slow resolution of conflict. Another reason for the failure for enforcement mechanisms is that there is no global army to enforce the international laws onto each nation state and therefore it is up to the nation’s will to comply with the treaties. The failure of the international agencies to enforce human rights is evident in bloodshed that followed the East Timorese vote for independence in 1999.

The second limit to the effectiveness of international agencies in promoting human rights is that not all countries are party to human rights treaties and therefore not all countries are obliged to protect human rights within its own territory. For example, Rwanda has not been a party to human rights treaties and therefore its government did not feel obliged to protect human rights in the civil battle between the tribal groups of the Tutsis and the Hutus. As a result, campaigns by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch made no effect on the resolution of conflict in Rwanda, leading to the breach of many unrecognised human rights. A significant factor in limiting the effectiveness of independent international agencies such as Amnesty International is the lack of funding. Many international agencies are independent of governments and therefore depend on public donation for funding. Unfortunately, many human rights organizations suffer from a chronic lack of funding, resulting to a lack of resources and a decrease in its effectiveness.

The final main factor which limits the effectiveness of international agencies is the selectivity of international agencies in promoting human rights. As there are usually various conflicts occurring at one point in time, international agencies only target some human rights violations, ignoring the “less important” human rights conflicts. The United Nations, especially, has been criticised for its selectivity as it investigates certain causes for political reasons while ignoring others. Political bias has been a major reason for the selectivity and therefore political bias has to be demolished so that international agencies have greater effectiveness in promoting and protecting international human rights. Most conflicts regarding human rights should be dealt with the same degree of importance so that “smaller” conflicts do not expand into larger conflicts.

Although it is recognised that international law is not as effective as domestic law, it is evident that the significance of international agencies are increasing. International agencies have the ability to pressure governments to stop conflicts or solve tensions but there are still several limits in its effectiveness such as the selectivity of issues and the lack of enforcement mechanisms. However, the creation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 has allowed an opening for the enforcement of human rights and universal recognition of the need to promote and protect human rights. If the international agencies are able to find a resolution to overcome its limits, global security and peace will someday be achieved.

You can order a high-quality custom essay, term paper, research paper, thesis, dissertation, speech, book report or book review from our professional custom writing service. We have employed more than 700 highly qualified Ph.D. and Master's academic writers to provide students with professional academic writing help. Feel free to contact our company right now!