First half of the 20th century

Despite Constitutional guarantees, Southern blacks were now second-class citizens and were subordinated to the whites, though they still had limited civil rights. In 1896, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution permitted separate facilities and services for the two races, so long as these facilities and services were equal. Promptly there were set separate, but unequal facilities for the blacks.

Laws enforced strict segregation in public transportation, schools, sports, and even cemeteries. Poll taxes were enacted, in order to exclude the blacks and poor whites from voting. Often, the Blacks accused of minor crimes were sentenced to hard labor and violence was perpetrated against them. Although blacks were legally free, they were still treated very much like slaves.

During this period, the United States was becoming the world's leading industrial power. The Panama Canal was built in 1904 - 14, and it increased the U.S. influence in Central America.