Blacks in America’s Formative Wars: Racism from Without and Within

(Editor’s Note: This is a college essay I finished in 2006. It’s one of the better papers I wrote during college. I hope you get something from it.)

African-Americans have been fighting for the United States since the term “American” was created.  What is more incredible is that Black Americans have consistently died for people who hate them and a country that ignores their needs.  Throughout our nation’s early military history and beyond, African-Americans have gone to war to prove their worth and gain the rights denied to them while enduring racism from friend and foe alike.

Race and Racism

Race is a social construction used by people to classify humankind into easy to differentiate groups.  While it would be possible to develop a system of race based on anything from eye color to fingerprint type, skin color was chosen, probably due to the fact that it is recognizable even from long distances.  Racism, however, is more difficult to define.  Some define racism as the idea that race determines ability or the belief that one race is superior to another.  The definition advocated by Dr. Tatum explains racism as “prejudice plus power.”1  Tatum believes that prejudice needs institutionalization before it becomes racism.  In this fashion, only those who benefit from racism can be racist.  While this is a delicate topic, the racism endured by Black soldiers was so blatant that no argument about semantics is necessary.

Nathanael Greene & the Formation of the American Republic

(Editor’s Note: This is a college essay I finished on 11/10/05. It’s one of the best papers I’ve ever written and it’s about one of the most unappreciated and underrated figures in American History. I hope you get something from it.)

At first glance, Nathanael Greene appears to be a most unlikely candidate for savior of a fledgling nation.  His father scorned formal education.  He walked with a limp and had problems with one eye.  He was also given to asthma attacks that would keep him awake all night. Most damning of all was his Quaker background. In spite of all these perceived defects, Nathanael Greene was the man who the embryonic United States needed to secure its liberties and guarantee independence.  Without General Greene, the ideas advanced by more intellectually perceptive patriots would not have had a country in which to take root.  Nathanael Greene’s ideology leading up to, and role during, the American Revolution created an ardent patriot who led with action rather than prose and a nationalist who was bound to be discouraged by some of the conditions following the war.