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

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Overview

A timeless classic and award-winning work on the history of race relations in early America.

"[A] rare thing: an original contribution to an important subject. In helping us understand today's racial crisis, Jordan has ideally fulfilled the historian's function of investigating the past in order to enlighten the present."--The judges for the 1969 National Book Award for History and Biography
"A massive and learned work that stands as the most informed and impressive pronouncement on the subject yet made."--C. Vann Woodward, New York Times Book Review

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"One of the most important historical works of the past 40 years, contributing to the cultural shift in white thinking that made possible the election of Barack Obama."
— Gordon S. Wood, Wall Street Journal

A massive and learned work that stands as the most informed and impressive pronouncement on the subject yet made.

C. Vann Woodward, New York Times Book Review

[A] rare thing: an original contribution to an important subject.

The judges for the 1969 National Book Award for History and Biography

This monumental study is a tremendously important block, fascinating and appalling, of American social and cultural history.

The Phi Beta Kappa Senate award committee for the 1968 Ralph Waldo Emerson Award

A monumental work of scholarship.

Publishers Weekly

White Over Black will stand as a landmark in the historiography of this generation. . . . A brilliant achievement.

Richard D. Brown, New England Quarterly

C. Vann Woodward
A timeless classic and award-winning work on the history of race relations in early America. "A rare thing: an original contribution to an important subject. In helping us understand today's racial crisis, Jordan has ideally fulfilled the historian's function of investigating the past in order to enlighten the present."

The judges for the 1969 National Book Award for History and Biography. "A massive and learned work that stands as the most informed and impressive pronouncement on the subject yet made."
New York Times Book Review

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Pt. 1 Genesis 1550-1700
I First Impressions: Initial English Confrontation with Africans 3
II Unthinking Decision: Enslavement of Negroes in America to 1700 44
Pt. 2 Provincial Decades 1700-1755
III Anxious Oppressors: Freedom and Control in a Slave Society 101
IV Fruits of Passion: The Dynamics of Interracial Sex 136
V The Souls of Men: The Negro's Spiritual Nature 179
VI The Bodies of Men: The Negro's Physical Nature 216
Pt. 3 The Revolutionary Era 1755-1783
VII Self-Scrutiny in the Revolutionary Era 269
Pt. 4 Society and Thought 1783-1812
VIII The Imperatives of Economic Interest and National Identity 315
IX The Limitations of Antislavery 342
X The Cancer of Revolution 375
XI The Resulting Pattern of Separation 403
Pt. 5 Thought and Society 1783-1812
XII Thomas Jefferson: Self and Society 429
XIII The Negro Bound by the Chain of Being 482
XIV Erasing Nature's Stamp of Color 512
XV Toward a White Man's Country 542
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, 1790 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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