The Transcontinental Railroad and Racism

The results obtained through the research of people affected by the transcontinental railroad was pretty mind boggling. Although it was not really that surprising to find out that so many people were affected in a negative way, it is very mind opening to know exactly how particular people were treated just for the sake of the railroad, the ideals of white society, and the exploitation of capitalism.

The results of this research were also very sad. It makes one appreciate just how simple life is in modern times. Chinese and Irish immigrants during the construction of the railroad in the 19th century were subjected to some of the most dangerous and grueling labor practices that would (hopefully) never be allowed now. From harsh weather and little pay, to 12 hour days six days a week, this makes even the most intense labor dispute now seem petty. However, it is easy to see how these same types of practices that took place during the 19th century sort of mutate and become what labor is made of today.

Admittedly, it is pretty shameful to see how Native Americans and African Americans were treated too. From railroads being rerouted around towns to relocation of indigenous people and massacres of innocent men, women, and children, the results of this research are somewhat scary. However, it does no  good to look back and think about what could have been. Instead it is beneficial to look back and learn from our wrong doings so we can move forward for the betterment of all people regardless of racial background. This is why research such as this is beneficial to the field of historical archaeology as well to the general public. Many different people are often misrepresented throughout history and this kind of research can help open other people’s eyes to reality. 

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