Lack of Opportunity

Olivia Island, Madi Kater, Max Carlson, and Kojo Idun

Reconstruction Era

  • Segregation - the separation of people based on their race or religion. This was a main factor with the lack of many American's opportunities. Especially after the Civil War, when the U.S. was still building their nation up again, and millions were readjusting to the new way of life.
  • Black Codes - laws that prevented black men from getting jobs in the South. The Black Codes were one of the biggest setbacks for African Americans in U.S. history. There were close to no jobs available for black men in the South.
  • Jim Crow Laws - laws that allowed racial segregation in all public facilities in the South. This means that any public environment is permitted to be separated by race.
  • Plessy vs. Ferguson - 1896 Supreme Court decision that permitted public racial segregation, as long as it was "separate but 'equal'". Although it is somewhat of an step for equality between races, being separate doesn't eliminate any racial tension that was still present after the court case.


  • monopoly - a compony that completely dominates another industry or business.  In 1868, the first U.S. oil company was created.  Between then and 1900s, the Rockefeller's Standard Oil Company dominated all oil companies in the U.S., making it the monopoly of oil companies.
  • Social Darwinism - a theory that the most successful businesses are led by the wealthiest and higher class men.  Whether the people believed in this or not, there were lower standards on the less profitable businesses, and less opportunity for them.
  • Robber Baron - a term aimed at wealthy businessmen of the century.  These men would pay extremely low wages, and then sell for extremely high prices.  They got the name "robber" because they were essentially robbing their workers and investors from their work.

Through Ellis Island and Angel: The Immigrant Experience

  • Chinese Exclusion Act - Americans did not allow an abundant amount of Chinese immigrants into the United States.  This act passed by Congress in 1882 states: "skilled and unskilled laborers and Chinese employed in mining" must get permission from the Chinese government to immigrate.  It caused many setbacks for the Chinese, and less opportunity to be fulfilled.
  • Americanization - some patriotic groups feared that allowing so many new immigrants into the United States would put their jobs on the line in replace for the newcomers.  Discrimination against immigrants rose because of the tension of this idea.
  • Nativism - the belief that Americans born in the U.S. are superior to immigrants.  Along with americanization, nativism cost many immigrants the simplest of jobs, as well as places to live.

Progressive Era

  • "Grandfather clauses" - laws that limited voting to only African American men whose father or grandfather had the right to vote in 1867.  With the literacy tests, it was obvious that white men tried every loophole to prevent black men from voting.
  • Literacy Tests - the tests that had to be taken to prove you could read and write before voting. Americans knew that after African American men were given the right to vote, they could restrict their opinions by putting limitations on who actually had a right t vote. Since most AAs of this time could not read, nor write, they could not vote.

American Imperialism

  • Platt Amendment - amendment that allowed U.S. to intervene on Cuban affairs. Although this did help the U.S. with setting naval bases, most of Cuba did not fully welcome the foreign troops.
  • Spheres of Influence - region where one nation controls the trading rights of other nations. In 1890, after the "Opium Wars" with Europe, China lost many of their most successful trading ports.
  • Protectorate - a nation that has exclusive control over another country. The U.S. had power over many of the Pacific Islands during the American Imperialism era, making it hard for the other countries to have any independence.
  • Yellow Journalism - papers written with little to no factual information, with “eye-catching” headline. They often included the minority of news, and usually changed people's views on society, based on the misleading headlines. This was popular in the 1890s when U.S. was at war with Spain, and they needed the public's support.

World War I

  • Selective Service Act - (Selective Draft Act) a law passed by Congress in 1917 to create a national draft.  It was passed for a compulsory enlistment of people to serve for World War I.  This took away the opportunity for other jobs for men because the whole country were in desperate need for recruiters.

1920's Social Changes

  • Quota system - a system on which there was a limit on how many immigrants could enter the U.S. from any given country.  There was less of an opportunity for the immigrants who couldn't get into the U.S. because of this act.  They had to wait a long period of time before they could finally start a new life in the U.S.
  • Ku Klux Klan - a group of extremely racist members that oppose almost everyone that are not a part of them.  They are violet towards Catholics, Jews, immigrants, and African Americans.  Therefore, many citizens were nervous for walking the streets.

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