CP English 11
Unit 1: An American Dilemma
SB Practice: History of Race
Section: 11.1 11.2 11.3
1. Which leads me to add one Remark: That the Number of purely white People in the World is proportionably very small. All Africa is black or tawny. Asia chiefly tawny. America (exclusive of the new Comers) wholly so. And in Europe, the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians and Swedes, are generally of what we call a swarthy Complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only excepted, who with the English, make the principal Body of White People on the Face of the Earth. I could wish their Numbers were increased. And while we are, as I may call it, Scouring our Planet, by clearing America of Woods, and so making this Side of our Globe reflect a brighter Light to the Eyes of Inhabitants in Mars or Venus, why should we in the Sight of Superior Beings, darken its People? why increase the Sons of Africa, by Planting them in America, where we have so fair an Opportunity, by excluding all Blacks and Tawneys, of increasing the lovely White and Red? But perhaps I am partial to the Complexion of my Country, for such Kind of Partiality is natural to Mankind.
- Benjamin Franklin, “Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind” (1751)
2. Where shall we find unless in the European...that nobly arched head, containing such a quantity of brain...? Where that perpendicular face, the prominent nose and round, projecting chin?...Where the variety of features, and fulness of expression; those long, flowing , graceful ringlets; that majestic beard, those rosy cheeks and coral lips? Where that...noble gait? In what other quarter of the globe shall we find the blush that overspreads the soft features of the beautiful women of Europe, that emblem of modesty, of delicate feelings...where, except on the bosom of European woman, two such plump and snowy white hemispheres, tipt in vermillion?
- Charles White, famous British surgeon, 1799, Account of the Regular Gradation of Man
3. There is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race…. Negro equality! Fudge! How long, in the Government of a God great enough to make and rule the universe, shall there continue knaves to vend, and fools to quip, so low a piece of demagogism as this.
- Abraham Lincoln, text from multiple sources (1858-1859)
- David Hume, famous Scottish philosopher, 1766 :
5 - While we maintain the unity of the human species, we at the same time repel the depressing assumption of superior and inferior races of men.* There are nations more susceptible of cultivation, more highly civilized, more ennobled by mental cultivation than others, but none in themselves nobler than others. All are in like degree designed for freedom; a freedom which, in the ruder conditions of society, belongs only to the individual, but which, in social states enjoying political institutions, appertains as a right to the whole body of the community
- Alexander von Humboldt, a German philosopher, Cosmos (1849)
6. To our reproach it must be said, that though for a century and a half we have had under our eyes the races of black and of red men, they have never yet been viewed by us as subjects of natural history. I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the 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. It is not against experience to suppose, that different species of the same genus, or varieties of the same species, may possess different qualifications. Will not a lover of natural history then, one who views the gradations in all the races of animals with the eye of philosophy, excuse an effort to keep those in the department of man as distinct as nature has formed them? This unfortunate difference of colour, and perhaps of faculty, is a powerful obstacle to the emancipation of these people.
- Thomas Jefferson, “Notes on the State of Virginia” (1784)
Directions: Write a 1-2 sentence So Basically statement for each of the paragraphs below by the notorious Harvard scientist Louis Agassiz. Underline key phrases and sentences so that you are ready for Monday’s discussion on the beliefs of Dr. Agassiz. In particular, pay attention to his views on different races, where they come from, on education, on intermarriage between races, and on what the government should do about race in general.
1. It was in Philadelphia that I first found myself in prolonged contact with negroes; all the domestics in my hotel were men of color. I can scarcely expressed to you the painful impression that I received, especially since the feeling that they inspired in me is contrary to all our ideas about the confraternity of the human type, and the origin of our species. Nevertheless, I experienced pity at the sight of this degraded and degenerate race, and their lot inspired compassion in me in thinking that they are really men. Nonetheless, it is impossible for me to repress the feeling that they are not of the same blood as us. In seeing their black faces with their thick lips and grimacing teeth, the wool on their head, their bent knees, their elongated hands, their large curved nails, and especially the livid color of the palm of their hands, I could not take my eyes off their face in order to tell them to stay far away. And when they advanced that hideous hand towards my plate in order to serve me, I wished I were able to depart in order to eat a piece of bread elsewhere, rather than dine with such service. What unhappiness for the white race-to have tied their existence so closely with that of negroes in certain countries! God preserve us from such a contact!
2. What would be the best education to be imparted to the different races in consequence of their primitive difference, . . . We entertain not the slightest doubt that human affairs with reference to the colored races would be far more judiciously conducted if, in our intercourse with them, we were guided by a full consciousness of the real difference existing between us and them, and a desire to foster those dispositions that are eminently marked in them, rather than by treating them on terms of equality.
4. It seems to us to be mock-philanthropy and mock-philosophy to assume that all races have the same abilities, enjoy the same powers, and show the same natural dispositions...and that in consequence of this equality they are entitled to the same position in human society. History speaks here for itself...This compact continent of Africa exhibits a population which has been in constant intercourse with the white race, which has enjoyed the benefit of the example of the Egyptian civilization, of the Phoenician civilization, of the Roman civilization, of the Arab civilization...and nevertheless there has never been a regulated society of black men developed on that continent. Does not this indicate in this race a peculiar apathy, a peculiar indifference to the advantages afforded by civilized society?
5. Conceive for a moment the difference it would make in future ages for the prospects of republican institutions, and our civilization generally, if instead of the manly population descended from cognate nations the United States should be inhabited by the effeminate progeny of mixed races, half Indian, half negro, sprinkled with white blood… I shudder from the consequences. We have already to struggle, in our progress, against the influence of universal equality, in consequence of the difficulty of preserving the acquisitions of individual eminence, the wealth of refinement and culture growing out of select associations. What would be our condition if to these difficulties were added the far more tenacious influences of physical disability. Improvements in our system of education…may sooner or later counterbalance the effects of the apathy of the uncultivated and of the rudeness of the lower classes and raise them to a higher standard. But how shall we eradicate the stigma of a lower race when its blood has once been allowed to flow freely into that of our children.