Background History Of American Racism Essay

1068 words - 5 pages

Background History of American Racism

I. Early foundations:

A. Great Chain of Being: God’s ordained natural order

| |GOD | |
| |Angels, etc. | |
| | | |
|Reason=civilized |Man: WASPPM* |Preserve this to preserve harmony and |
|Natural leaders ...view middle of the document...

Founding Fathers’ positions:

1. Declaration of Independence 1776

“We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights, among these life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

“…(he) has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.”

2. Jefferson’s, Franklin’s, Congress’s and Henry’s feelings about race:

From Jefferson’s Notes on Virginia, ch. 14 (1784):

The first difference which strikes us is that of colour. ...the difference is fixed in nature…. And is this difference of no importance? Is it not the foundation of a greater or less share of beauty in the two races? Are not the fine mixtures of red and white, the expressions of every passion by greater or less suffusions of colour in the one, preferable to that eternal monotony, which reigns in the countenances, that immoveable veil of black which covers all the emotions of the other race? Add to these, flowing hair, a more elegant symmetry of form, their own judgment in favour of the whites, declared by their preference of them, as uniformly as is the preference of the Oranootan for the black women over those of his own species. The circumstance of superior beauty, is thought worthy attention in the propagation of our horses, dogs, and other domestic animals; why not in that of man?….
….Comparing them by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me, that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior, as I think one could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid; and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous.

Ben Franklin
from Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind:

“And while we are…Scouring our Planet, by clearing America of Woods, and so making this Side of our globe reflect a brighter Light to the Eyes of Inhabitants in Mars or Venus, why should we in the Sight of Superior Beings, darken its People? Why increase the Sons of Africa, By Planting them in America, where we have so fair an opportunity, by excluding all Blacks and Tawnys, of increasing the lovely White…?”

Naturalization Act of 1790 (Congress):

That any alien, being a free white person, who shall have resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States for the term of two years, may be admitted to become a citizen thereof….

Patrick Henry written to an antislavery Quaker…

“Would any one believe that I am a Master of Slaves of my own purchase!? I am drawn along by the general inconvenience of living without them; I will not, I cannot justify it. However culpable by conduct, I will so far pay by devoir to virtue as to own the excellence and rectitude of her precepts and yet...

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