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The History of Violence in the United States


The history of violence in the United States is quite complex and continues to cast its shadow today. Several events took place that reshaped people’s experiences and the policies different leaders made. The late-19th century stands out as one of the bloodiest periods in this country’s history. This paper uses the occurrences recorded between 1850 and 1900 to describe how violence reshaped conflicts.

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Violence and Conflicts

From 1850, the United States experienced numerous unrests that reshaped the actions and decisions different leaders made. For instance, many workers engaged in strikes to demand better working conditions and competitive wages. A good example is the railroad strike that was recorded in 1877 (Shi 579). The Haymarket Affair is another occurrence that was intended to support such striking employees. It led to the infamous Haymarket Massacre that left several people dead and others injured. Workers who lived in devastating conditions engaged in violent protests throughout the 1890s. These unrests and violent tactics compelled different states to request for the National Guard to provide the needed protection.

During the same period, armed settlers engaged in conflicts with the native populations. Such clashes began much earlier in the 17th century (Shi 582). Most of the European powers and colonists acquired native tribes and encouraged them to engage in violence and warfare activities against each other. The intended aim was to support the expansion of colonial land and settlements. By the 19th century, most of these conflicts had become local (Shi 734). The primary issues of contention included land division, use, and freedoms. Such wars resulted in the death of many native citizens and the deportation of local tribes.

The implemented Jim Crow laws led to unprecedented violence in the United States since the whites engaged in actions intended to oppress and prevent minorities from realizing their maximum potential. In the Southern States, such laws promoted racial segregation and led to the institutionalization of educational and social disadvantages for most of the African Americans (Shi 576). These laws forced more victims to respond using different forms of violence. These developments reshaped the history of the country and made the period one of the bloodiest in the country’s history.

The concept of American imperialism became more pronounced from the mid-19th century since Americans wanted to expand their territorial possessions and civilize other people across the globe. However, such ambitions attracted the attention of other countries and powers, thereby forcing them to intervene. The result was that violence would become the primary force for shaping emerging conflicts. At the local level, the country was keen to engage in missions that would transform the experiences of native populations in different parts across North America. Most of these ambitions intended to expand the American empire triggered numerous cases of violence (Shi 603). Such events also claimed the lives of many innocent lives and compelled political leaders to implement superior policies that would prevent similar occurrences in the future.


The above discussion has identified the late-19th century as one of the periods characterized by violence and conflicts. Due to the nature of such events, aggression appeared to be the leading principle that created the best conditions for increasing disagreements. The recorded labor conflicts, Indian wars, the concept of the American Empire, and the introduction of Jim Crow regulations worsened the situation by encouraging more people to act violently. Consequently, such developments and occurrences redefined the country’s future policies and laws.


Shi, D. E. (2018). America: The essential learning edition (2nd ed.). W. W. Norton & Company.

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