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From 1800 to 1830 in particular, race took on a new reality as Americans, black and white, reacted to postrevolutionary disillusionment, the events of the Haitian Revolution, the rise of cotton culture, and the entrenchment of slavery. Dain examines not only major white figures like Thomas Jefferson and Samuel Stanhope Smith, but also the first self-consciously "black" African-American writers. These various thinkers transformed late-eighteenth-century European environmentalist "natural history" into race theories that combined culture and biology and set the terms for later controversies over slavery and abolition. In those debates, the ethnology of Samuel George Morton and Josiah Nott intertwined conceptually with important writing by black authors who have been largely forgotten, like Hosea Easton and James McCune Smith. Scientific racism and the idea of races as cultural constructions were thus interrelated aspects of the same effort to explain human differences.
In retrieving neglected African-American thinkers, reestablishing the Europeanintellectual background to American racial theory, and demonstrating the deep confusion "race" caused for thinkers black and white, A Hideous Monster of the Mind offers an engaging and enlightening new perspective on modern American racial thought.
1 The Face of Nature1
2 Culture and the Persistence of Race 40
3 The Horrors of St. Domingue 81
4 The Mutability of Human Affairs 112
5 Conceiving Universal Equality 149
6 Black Immediatism 170
7 The New Ethnology 197
8 Effacing the Individual 227