The United States & The Indian Diaspora
By: Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth, Esq.
The United States’ history is not as long or culture-rich as the history of India, Guyana, or Trinidad. It is noteworthy, still, for its role as leader of the world and as part of the Indian diaspora.
The United States’ history begins with the Native Americans. The North American continent was first inhabited 12,000-15,000 years ago. The tribes spanned from the Pacific to the Atlantic Coasts. In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. He set out for the Northwest Passage route to India. He never found the alternate route but he did bolster interest in further exploration of the Americas.
In 1607, the English set up its first lasting colony named Jamestown (located in present–day Virginia). No one knows what happened to the first colony in Roanoke. Their settlement was empty when the Jamestown settlers arrived. The only potential clue was a carving that said “CROATOAN.” The two prominent theories are that they either merged with the local Indian tribe or they were completely killed off by the local Indian tribe.
The British established 13 colonies along the North American east coast. The colonies eventually rebelled against the Crown when the British imposed a stamp tax. The colonies did not agree with the cost and, more importantly, that they had no representation in the legislature. They did not want taxation without representation. As a result, the colonists declared independence in 1776 and fought for the same in the Revolutionary War. The British army’s bright and comparably expensive red coats made it easy for the colonial militia armies to pick them off in warfare. The colonists won the war and named themselves the United States of America.
About 100 years later, the country faced another major war. This time it was at war with itself. The Civil War lasted from about 1861-1864. In a nutshell, the northern states sought to abolish slavery. Their move was based on part altruistic and part economic motives. The southern colonies refused to do away with slavery. In fact, they were so insistent that they were willing to fight a whole war to continue such inhumanity. General Robert E. Lee led the Confederate Army against President Lincoln’s northern Union army led by General Ulysses S. Grant. The Civil War was the largest loss of American lives with 600,000 soldiers being killed. The war ended in 1864 when Lee surrendered and President Lincoln delivered the Emancipation Proclamation.
After this, the enslaved were technically free per the 14th Amendment to the Constitution but the former enslaved Africans and descendants would experience continued discrimination and injustice. The Reconstruction Era occurred immediately after the war. During this time, white southerners banned Blacks from their establishments and areas, lynched Blacks, and denied Blacks access to voting and the courts. About 100 years after the Civil War, a social reform gained momentum with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It became a federal crime to discriminate against a person on the basis of their race. The “separate but equal” segregation mentality was no longer sanctioned by the government. In the 2000s, the nation’s racial issues were highlighted with the rise of videos showing police brutality and murders of African Americans. The videos would lead to another social revolution to reinforce that Black lives matter.
Many Indians in Trinidad and Guyana made the United States the next stop on the Indian diaspora journey on their quest for better opportunities. Their past and challenges are not the same as the Natives, African Americans, or other U.S. immigrants. Nevertheless, these groups should all remember that, in adverse times, they are genetically built to overcome any ocean of challenges just as their forefathers continued to do.
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Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth, Esq. is a trial-winning business and trademark attorney. She primarily helps new and small businesses with trademarks, formation, and name clearance searches. She writes articles on the importance of trademarks, trademark law updates, and also West Indian history (with an emphasis on India, Trinidad, Guyana, and the United States).
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