White Over Black: American Attitudes toward the Negro, 1550-1812 / Edition 2

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2012 Hard cover 2nd Revised ed. Very Good. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 696 p. Contains: Halftones, black & white. Published for the Omohundro Institute of Early American ... Hist. Read more Show Less

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In 1968, Winthrop D. Jordan set out in encyclopedic detail the evolution of white Englishmen's and Anglo-Americans' perceptions of blacks, perceptions of difference used to justify race-based slavery, and liberty and justice for whites only. This second edition, with a new foreword by Christopher Leslie Brown, reminds us that Jordan's text is still the definitive work on the history of race in America in the colonial era. Every book published to this day on slavery and racism builds upon his work; all are judged in comparison to it; none has surpassed it.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
White over Black remains a signal achievement in American historiography, a rich analytical and stylistic bequest to early American scholarship.—William and Mary Quarterly

This monumental study is a tremendously important block, fascinating and appalling, of American social and cultural history. . . . Though the study was begun years before the current civil rights agitation, it is quite indispensable for a full appreciation of the realities and wellsprings and the dilemmas of the contemporary struggle.—The Phi Beta Kappa Senate award committee for the 1968 Ralph Waldo Emerson Award

White Over Black will stand as a landmark in the historiography of this generation. Its richness and insight, its sensitive, penetrating analysis of the unspoken as well as the explicit, its union of breadth with depth, make it a brilliant achievement.—Richard D. Brown, New England Quarterly

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Winthrop D. Jordan (1931-2007) taught history at the University of Mississippi. His books include Tumult and Silence at Second Creek: An Inquiry into a Civil War Slave Conspiracy and White Man's Burden: Historical Origins of Racism in the United States.

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Table of Contents

Foreword Christopher Leslie Brown vii

Foreword Peter H. Wood xvii

Preface xxvii

Acknowledgments xxxv

Part 1 Genesis 1550-1700

I First Impressions: Initial English Confrontation with Africans 3

1 The Blackness Without 4

2 The Causes of Complexion 11

3 Defective Religion 20

4 Savage Behavior 24

5 The Apes of Africa 28

6 Libidinous Men 32

7 The Blackness Within 40

II Unthinking Decision: Enslavement of Negroes in America to 1700 44

1 The Necessities of a New World 45

2 Freedom and Bondage in the English Tradition 48

3 The Concept of Slavery 52

4 The Practices of Portingals and Spanyards 56

5 Enslavement: The West Indies 63

6 Enslavement: New England 66

7 Enslavement: Virginia and Maryland 71

8 Enslavement: New York and the Carolinas 83

9 The Un-English: Scots, Irish, and Indians 85

10 Racial Slavery: From Reasons to Rationale 91

Part 2 Provincial Decades 1700-1755

III Anxious Oppressors: Freedom and Control in a Slave Society 101

1 Demographic Configurations in the Colonies 102

2 Slavery and the Senses of the Laws 103

3 Slave Rebelliousness and White Mastery 110

4 Free Negroes and Fears of Freedom 122

5 Racial Slavery in a Free Society 128

IV Fruits of Passion: The Dynamics of Interracial Sex 136

1 Regional Styles in Racial Intermixture 137

2 Masculine and Feminine Modes in Carolina and America 144

3 Negro Sexuality and Slave Insurrection 150

4 Dismemberment, Physiology, and Sexual Perceptions 154

5 The Secularization of Reproduction 164

6 Mulatto Offspring in a Biracial Society 167

V The Souls of Men: The Negro's Spiritual Nature 179

1 Christian Principles and the Failure of Conversion 180

2 The Question of Negro Capacity 187

3 Spiritual Equality and Temporal Subordination 190

4 The Thin Edge of Antislavery 193

5 Inclusion and Exclusion in the Protestant Churches 198

6 Religious Revival and the Impact of Conversion 212

VI The Bodies of Men: The Negro's Physical Nature 216

1 Confusion, Order, and Hierarchy 217

2 Negroes, Apes, and Beasts 228

3 Rational Science and Irrational Logic 234

4 Indians, Africans, and the Complexion of Man 239

5 The Valuation of Color 252

6 Negroes Under the Skin 259

Part 3 The Revolutionary Era 1755-1783

VII Self-Scrutiny in the Revolutionary Era 269

1 Quaker Conscience and Consciousness 271

2 The Discovery of Prejudice 276

3 Assertions of Sameness 281

4 Environmentalism and Revolutionary Ideology 287

5 The Secularization of Equality 294

6 The Proslavery Case for Negro Inferiority 304

7 The Revolution as Turning Point 308

Part 4 Society and Thought 1783-1812

VIII The Imperatives of Economic Interest and National Identity 315

1 The Economics of Slavery 316

2 Union and Sectionalism 321

3 A National Forum for Debate 325

4 Nationhood and Identity 331

5 Non-English Englishmen 335

IX The Limitations of Antislavery 342

1 The Pattern of Antislavery 343

2 The Failings of Revolutionary Ideology 349

3 The Quaker View Beyond Emancipation 356

4 Religious Equalitarianism 361

5 Humanitarianism and Sentimentality 365

6 The Success and Failure of Antislavery 372

X The Cancer of Revolution 375

1 St. Domingo 375

2 Non-Importation of Rebellion 380

3 The Contagion of Liberty 386

4 Slave Disobedience in America 391

5 The Impact of Negro Revolt 399

XI The Resulting Pattern of Separation 403

1 The Hardening of Slavery 403

2 Restraint of Free Negroes 406

3 New Walls of Separation 414

4 Negro Churches 422

Part 5 Thought and Society 1783-1812

XII Thomas Jefferson: Self and Society 429

1 Jefferson: The Tyranny of Slavery 430

2 Jefferson: The Assertion of Negro Inferiority 435

3 The Issue of Intellect 440

4 The Acclaim of Talented Negroes 445

5 Jefferson: Passionate Realities 457

6 Jefferson: White Women and Black 461

7 Interracial Sex: The Individual and His Society 469

8 Jefferson: A Dichotomous View of Triracial America 475

XIII The Negro Bound by the Chain of Being 482

1 Linnaean Categories and the Chain of Being 483

2 Two Modes of Equality 486

3 The Hierarchies of Men 491

4 Anatomical Investigations 497

5 Unlinking and Linking the Chain 502

6 Faithful Philosophy in Defense of Human Unity 506

7 The Study of Man in the Republic 509

XIV Erasing Nature's Stamp of Color 512

1 Nature's Blackball 512

2 The Effects of Climate and Civilization 513

3 The Disease of Color 517

4 White Negroes 521

5 The Logic of Blackness and Inner Similarity 525

6 The Winds of Change 530

7 An End to Environmentalism 533

8 Persistent Themes 538

XV Toward a White Man's Country 542

1 Emancipation and Intermixture 542

2 The Beginning of Colonization 546

3 The Virginia Program 551

4 Insurrection and Expatriation in Virginia 560

5 The Meaning of Negro Removal 565


XVI Exodus 573

Note on the Concept of Race 583

Essay on Sources 586

Select List of Full Titles 610

Map: Percentage of Negroes in Total Non-Aboriginal Population, 1700 615

Index 617

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2003

    The Politics of Exception, Negation and Exclusion Based on Fears of White America

    Winthrop D. Jordan investigates the attitudes of white Europeans toward Blacks during the early period of European and African settlement in the American colonies in his book, White Over Black: Attitudes Toward the Negro 1550-1812. From the first contact of the English with Africans until slavery became a duplicitous, yet profitable American institution, the relationship between the two races has been a process of evolution. Jordan¿s book clearly demonstrates how slavery was not a preconceived notion, but developed slowly through the politics of exception, negation and exclusion, based on fear and racial posturing, sexual stereotyping, prejudice, and self-doubt. Jordan contends that when the English first looked upon Africans, they were deeply affected by what seemed to them to be the manifestation of evil. While the light-skinned English took pride in their own concept of self as beauteous, pure and virtuous, they saw the opposite in the dark faces of the Africans. The untamed and robust African lifestyle, various modes of undress and unabashed heathenism, elicited English comparisons of Africans to wild beasts, convincing them that this was a people cursed by God. In spite of these first English impressions, Jordan goes on to show how racism was not the singular driving force behind the lower social position assigned to Blacks. He believes that racism was a system of social organization developed concomitantly with economic managerial schemes that placed them on the lower rung of society. In other words, the view of European racial supremacy became increasingly more vicious as agrarian economies became more entrenched in, and reliant on slavery. Black subjugation was then, part of a pre-determined social organization based first and foremost on the attempt to fulfill national and individual material needs. The creation of the complicated labor system which became increasingly dependent on human bondage, made the profile of the potential slave quite important. Since English law prohibited the indefinite enslavement of Christians, the English definition of who could be enslaved gradually shifted in the 1640s from non-Christians to non-Whites. Blacks were viewed as outsiders, set apart in their dark and savage strangeness; a people who could be defined as `natural¿ slaves. The tenets of the practice of racism and slavery both served to contradict the ideals of republicanism and the principles of the American Revolution. By alluding to this fact, Jordan subtly raises important questions about the character of national and international politics that emerged as a result of the master-slave relationship. This relationship can be viewed today in a larger sense in the mirror concept of American political authority, the quest to control those that we fear, and to behave as a `master¿ race on a global scale. Conversely, during the events that led to the American Revolution, Black slaves saw their own desires for freedom linked to the freedom-fight of the colonists. Yet, the extreme stratification practiced toward Africans on the plantations of the south and in the cities of the north, was adversative to such ideals and principles. Such hypocritical attitudes, conduct, and public policy on the parts of our forefathers, are in direct opposition to the premises of our hard-won revolution, as well as the high esteem in which we hold our cherished liberty. The author draws much of his opinion from historical, political, economic, social, and cultural perspectives of Blacks and Whites, as well as from various religious groups, allowing readers to see how different racial attitudes have developed over time. The book, set down in six chronological parts, also offers some reflection on Thomas Jefferson's attitudes toward slavery and Blacks, suggesting that he was emblematic of white American society in the ways in which his deep-seated racist notions were hidden within

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