America was founded on the principle that every man was created equal and each had their own right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. However, the social construct of race created a nation that saw only one kind of people as the man referred to in our Constitution; whites. Since the dawn of slavery in this nation over 350 years ago there has been an unspoken understanding about the social hierarchy by which this nation's people would abide, and the limitations of access to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that some groups could not exceed. In 1863 Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation that dismembered slavery in the United States, however, centuries later, the ghost of slavery still remains in the form of racism. Though racism within our institutions is much more transparent now than it has been historically, it is still very prevalent and very much a deterrent to non-whites in America.
Thus, systems like Affirmative Action that encourage ethnic and gender diversity have been embraced by schools and employers alike in order to "even the playing field" and rectify centuries of social disadvantage by working harder to accept or hire those who have been historically disadvantaged. This paper is an examination of the history and evolution of Affirmative Action in the United States of America.
In light of the Civil War, with south as a recovering portion that was occupied by union troops until 1877 (because of reconstruction), United States legislation reflected a northern sympathy for the plight of the newly freed slaves in the south. The controversial Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 that freed all slaves in the border and secession states (which lead to the Northern victory in the civil war due to their overwhelming manpower) was an obvious about face in...