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Reply to "Who is Black????"

I'll admit that I have not read every word in this thread. Nevertheless, I wanted to dive in and offer some perspective on your questions below.

Originally posted by IndependentMan:

_The Forgotten Cause of the Civil War inspires us to ask questions that most American historians are afraid to ask:_

_Would the Civil War have occurred if the existence of "white slaves" had not brought home to Northern citizens the great danger that slavery posed to a free society?

What does this mean? Many of our Founding Fathers understsood the great hypocrisy in their efforts to create a free nation, and yet still permit the existence of an institution built on the principle of human bondage. As you will recall Ben Franklin was an abolititionist. Others were against slavery, but were overwhelmed by the question of what to do with the slaves after emancipation. At that time in history there was no bi-racial country on the face of the earth. This fact was not lost on those that comtemplated this issue and whose first priority was the creation of a new country in America.

On the other hand, an inherant belief in the superiority of whites was rather commonplace.

The two races cannot live together on equal terms because of "deep rooted prejudices entertained by the whites - ten thousand recollections by the blacks of the injuries they have sustained - new provocations - the real distinctions that nature has made, and many other circumstances which divide us into parties, and produce convulsions which would never end but with the extermination of one or the other race."

WOW! Doesn't that sound like the most hardened white supremecist? Nope. None other than dear old Thomas Jefferson!

In any event, because of the volatility of the issue, the Founding Fathers chose to defer debate about it in effort to get back to it when the nation had been built and was (theoretically) strong enough to endure it. (Obviously it wasn't!!)

Why are racial mixture and mixed-race people relegated to the margins of American history when knowledge of their origins and legal status are essential to understanding the tensions between North and South that led to the Civil War?

Since most blacks are technically of mixed race, I'm not sure I understand your premise here. There is a reason why African America is a rainbow of colors.

Why is the anti-slavery movement presented to modern students as merely an altruistic concern for "blacks," with no mention made of the threat to all poor and working class "whites" and "free society" in general?

Any such presentation is both inconsistent with the facts and disingenuous. As noted by Jefferson's quote above, there was no "love lost" for Africans in America. There was deep concern and doubt about what exactly would occur after emancipation. Among most, though, there was a commitment to the principles of the American Revolution. The following, quoted from Founding Brothers by Joseph J. Ellis (p.88-89), demonstrates both the schizophrenia of many around this issue, but also the broad sentiment among many:

Jefferson's initial draft of the Declaration of Independence had included language that described the slave trade as the perverse plot of an evil English monarch designed to contaminate innocent colonists. Though the passage was deleted by the Constitutional Congress in the final draft, it nevertheless captured the nearly rhapsodic sense that the American Revolution was both a triumphant and transformative moment in world history, when all laws and human relationships dependent on coercion would be swept away forever. And however utopian and excessive the natural rights section of the Declaration ("We hold these truths to be self evident") might appear later on, in the crucible of the revolutionary moment it gave lyrical expression to a widespread belief that a general emancipation of slaves was both imminent and inevitable, the natural consequence and fitting capstone of a glorious liberation from medieval mores historically associated with the very British government that Americans were rejecting. If the Bible was a somewhat contradictory source when it came to the question of slavery, the Declaration of Independence, the secular version of American scripture, was an unambiguous tract for abolition.

If slaves could be "white," and legal "whites" could be partially "black," are they not part of "white" or European American history and populations and not just some "exotic" variety of "African Americans"?

Are you trying to make the argument that blacks aren't really black , they're white? I'm not sure where you're going with this and, more importantly, why.

The lack of respect for "mixed race" history within American history reflects the lack of respect for, and recognition of, mixed-race people in general.

I respectfully suggest that America's discomfort with "mixed race history" flows from America's general discomfort with the issue of race. Period. Since the "mixing" of races has always been a sensitive/sore issue from the times that slave owners raped their black women slaves (and produced children that obviously had the genes of their slaveowner) to now when we still live in a largely racist and segregated society, the issue of black and white relations is still not yet "solved" here.

Onward and Upward!