When the United States formed their Republic in the 18th Century, the notion of citizenship was restricted to White Land-Owning Men. In some measure, idealism was a healthy part of the new government, but self-service was certainly part as well. The advantage for the Americans, was that their own reluctance to advance their own ideals was no worse than the intransigence in Europe and Asia. It also helped that the Americans were willing to work together beyond state boundaries, where the other continents still fought wars over tariffs and trade disputes.
Whatever one thinks of the man as a politician, it is beyond debate that Andrew Jackson was a man of strong will and mind. The same fellow who invited the whole of the city of Washington to visit the White House upon his inaugeration, practically compelled the creation of a party to oppose the staid party of George Washington, and began the balancing act which has driven American politics ever since. The next upheaval came with Lincoln, the avatar of the party of true reform, the Republicans. While he meant to save the Union as his ultimate goal, Lincoln destroyed Slavery in the process, and began the forced acceptance of Equal Rights on a broader level.
Civil Rights in the United States has come a long way, but historically it is still very much in its infancy. To be male, white, and own property in the United States is still a clear advantage, culturally. Counter-culture is successful as a niche market, but the real money and power still comes from the same historical base. It’s why every President has been white, male, and a landowner. It’s why the image of American power still looks like something the founding fathers could have predicted. Overall, however, the dominance of power and money is becoming dependant on collaboration and mutual objectives by separate cultures.