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Account of the race relations in the new world

Table of Contents

The answer can be found in the long and complex history of western Europe and the United States. It is that history—influenced by science, government and culture—that has shaped our ideas about race. When European colonists first arrived on North American shores beginning in the 1500s, the land was already inhabited by Native Americans.

The Spanish, French and English encountered frequent conflicts with indigenous people in trying to establish settlements in Florida, the Northeast area bordering Canada, the Virginia colony, and the Southwest.

By the 1600s, English colonists had established a system of indentured servitude that included both Europeans and Africans. They were no longer servants who had an opportunity for freedom following servitude, but instead were relegated to a life of permanent slavery in the colonies.

In the 1770s, English colonists in the U. But while the colonists battled the British for independence, they continued to deny Africans their freedom and withhold rights to Native Americans.

Ironically, one of the first casualties of the Revolutionary War was Crispus Attucks, a runaway slave of African and Indian parentage. Before the idea of race emerged in the U. European scientist Carolus Linneaus published a classification system in System Naturale in 1758 that was applied to humans. Thomas Jefferson, was among those who married the idea of race with a biological and account of the race relations in the new world hierarchy. Jefferson, a Virginia slave owner who helped draft the Declaration of Independence and later became President, was influential in promoting the idea of race that recognized whites as superior and Africans as inferior.

Jefferson wrote in 1776 in Notes on the State of Virginia, "…blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind. In the 18th and 19th centuries, scientists, influenced by Enlightenment philosophers, developed a system of categorizing things in nature, including humans. Although Carolus Linnaeus was the first to develop a biological classification system, it was German scientist Johann Blumenbach who first introduced a race-based classification of humans, which established a framework for analyzing race and racial differences for the next hundred years.

Among those who espoused the multiple species theory, or polygeny, were Philadelphia physician Samuel Morton and European scholar Louis Agassiz. Their work was popular in the mid-19th century.

On Views of Race and Inequality, Blacks and Whites Are Worlds Apart

The most prominent scientist who believed in monogeny, that all humans were one species, was Charles Darwin. Some, like plantation doctor Samuel Cartwright tried to explain the tendency of slaves to runaway by coining the term, drapetomania, and prescribed whipping as method of treatment.

Though there was resistance to slavery in both the U. The abolitionist movement of the 19th century sought to humanize the plight of African slaves in various ways, to influence political power and public opinion.

The resistance to slavery and the image of Africans as sub-human can be found in protest hymns like Amazing Grace, which was written by John Newton in 1772 in response to the horrors he witnessed working on an English slave ship. The 19th century also marked a period of widespread racialization—not just of African Americans—but of Native Americans, Mexican Americans and Chinese Americans as well.

Much of the racializing of non-Europeans, and even the Irish, served an economic and political purpose. African slavery, for instance, provided free labor and added political clout for slaveholding states in the South.

Taking Native American land and belittling Native American cultures was made easier by defining Native people as savages. At the end of the 19th century, the U. This time the immigrants were southern and eastern Europeans and their presence challenged ideas about race, specifically who was white and who was not.

Unlike earlier European immigrants who were mostly German, Scandinavian and Irish, these newer immigrants were Polish, Italian and Jewish, and brought with them customs and traditions that were different from their European predecessors. They were often the victims of discrimination. At the beginning of the 20th century, African Americans migrated north for factory jobs that opened up during World War I and to escape the violence in the South. Between 1889 and the early 1920s, roughly 50 — 100 lynchings a year took place in the U.

Even in the North, blacks encountered racism as they competed with whites for jobs. Louis, Tulsa, Detroit and Chicago among others—were the sites of major race riots from 1915 to the early 1920s.

During the Depression, some race scientists sought to justify economic and social inequality by attributing certain characteristics such as criminal behavior, work ethic and intelligence to race, account of the race relations in the new world a theory of genetic inheritance.

In other words, you were poor or a criminal or less intelligent because it was in your genes. This idea was the basis for eugenics.

Charles Davenport, the director of the Eugenics Records Office, was among the scientists who promoted these ideas. The eugenicists' expert testimony was influential in getting Congress to pass the Immigration Act of 1924 and provided the social framework embraced by Nazi Germany. These categories and the demographics associated with each group would be used to limit immigration as well as provide the statistical data to analyze racial discrimination in the U.

The 1950s and 60s were a time of enormous social change in the U. Discrimination and institutional racism were being challenged at every turn. To some extent, the racial and social hierarchies that had long been accepted were being contested. And perhaps more slowly, attitudes about race and racial difference were beginning to change. The way we view race and ethnicity today is far more complex than the simple categories in the first U.

In fact in the 2000 census the "mark one or more" standard allowed for 63 possible racial combinations, reflecting the diversity of the country. By the year 2010, the U. That means we will probably have to reconsider the term race, and whether it is relevant to describing who and what we are.