Summary of the Argument of
The Invention of the White Race

by its author, Theodore W. Allen

(Part Two)

 

Book Cover: InventionXI

One Mother Country; two systems of social control

     85. Whatever the members of the Board of Trade in England may have thought about the unresponsive, illogical, and seemingly disingenuous124 reply eventually sent to them by Virginia Governor Gooch, they decided, as they said, to let the matter "lye by." We do not know whether any member of the Board commented on the difference between Gooch's policy of "fixing a perpetual brand" on African-Americans, and his especially bitter rejection of those born of an English father or mother, on one hand, and the policy of the West Indian planters of formally recognizing the middle-class status of "colored" descendant (and Afro-Caribbeans who earned special merit by their service to the regime). Nor did Governor William Gooch allude to that matter in his reply. But it is question that goes to the heart of the matter of the invention of the white race.

     86. In the British West Indies generally the free colored included "shopkeepers, and...owners of land and slaves." In the trade in non-sugar commodities with the North American colonies, many free colored merchants traded directly with captains of cargo vessels. In Barbados, the energy and initiative of freedmen hucksters in meeting bond-laborers on the way to market and ships just arriving in the harbor, were able to control the supply of produce and livestock to the general public. They were likewise involved in supplying the sugar estates with essentials that could not be got from England. Indeed, this proved a route to sugar estate ownership by occasional foreclosure on a bankrupt creditors.125 Within three years after the repeal of the prohibition of freedmen acting as pilots, they had nearly monopolized Jamaica's coastal shipping.126

     87. In 1721 the Jamaica Assembly took a positive view of such trends, as it turned its attention to the problem of unsettled lands becoming "a receptacle for runaway and rebellious negroes." It occurred to them to establish a buffer zone between coastal sugar plantation regions and the mountainous (and Maroon-infested) interior, by offering free homesteads to laboring-class settlers and their families. Among the beneficiaries were to be "every free mulatto, Indian or negro" who would take up the offer, and remain on the land for seven years. Each was to have twenty acres of land for himself, and five acres more for each slave he brought with him.127 Perhaps some of those homesteaders served in the "companies of free Negroes and mulattoes" who were employed effectively in the First Maroon War, ended with the 1739 Treaty of Trelawney Town binding the Maroons to capture and return runaway bond-laborers.128 By the early 1830s, "free blacks and coloreds" owned 70,000 of the total of around 310,000 bond-laborers in Jamaica.129

     88. When the militia system based on the European ex-bond-laborers proved a failure, the sugar bourgeoisie relied on the British Army and Navy to guarantee their control, while at the same time recruiting free persons, black and white, into the militias as an auxiliary. In Barbados, as in Jamaica, by the 1720s, freedmen were required to serve in the militia, even though they were denied important civil rights.130 The British Army and Navy, however, weres subject to many demands because of the almost constant world-wide round of wars with France that would last for 127 years, from 1688 to 1815. In the decisive moment--the coming of the French Revolution and the Haitian Revolution--when all hung in the balance, more extreme measures were required, for then the British in the West Indies were confronted with "blacks inspired by the revolutionary doctrine of French republicanism," and were "forced to conduct operations against large numbers of rebellious slaves in the rugged and largely unknown interiors of their own islands" of Grenada, St. Vincent and Jamaica.131

     89. The internal and external dangers were so critical that the British supreme commander on the Caribbean was forced to conclude that, "the army of Great Britain is inadequate to...defend these colonies," without an army of Black soldiers. Eight West India Regiments were formed, composed in small part by freedmen, and partly of slaves purchased by the army from plantation owners; but more were acquired directly from Africa.132 However, "[i]t was clear that the continued existence of the West India Regiments depended upon establishing the black soldier as a freedman," and, indeed, in 1807 it was so declared by Act of the British Parliament: the bond-laborers who entered the British Army by that act became freedmen.133 But the logic of the policy represented a major violation of the principle of denial of social mobility of the oppressed group.134 Many of these soldiers when discharged settled on plantations as free persons.135

     90. In the meantime, thoughtful observers had begun to advocate the advantages to be had from a positive attitude toward freedmen in general. Consider the advice put forward by four authoritative English writers: Edmund Burke, in 1758; Edward Long, in 1774; the Reverend James Ramsay, in 1784, and George Pinckard in 1803.

What if in our colonies we should go so far as to find some medium between liberty and absolute slavery, in which we might place all mulattoes...and such blacks, who...their masters...should think proper in some degree to enfranchise. These might have land allotted to them, or where that could not be spared, some sort of fixed employment....[T]he colony will be strengthened by the addition of so many men, who will have an interest of their own to fight for.136

Edward Long argued similarly:

Mulattoes ought to be held in some distinction [over the blacks]. They would then form the centre of connexion between the two extremes, producing a regular establishment of three ranks of men. [He stressed training of mulatto apprentices:] [T]o serve a regular apprenticeship to artificers and tradesmen would make them orderly subjects and defenders of the country.... [and he perceived a possible added benefit to the employer class:] But even if they were to set up for themselves, no disadvantage would probably accrue to the publick, but the contrary: they would oblidge the white artificers to work at more moderate rates....137

     91. Reverend Ramsay, too, also limited his proposal to mulattoes. The girls should be declared free from their birth, or from the time the mother became free. Male mulattoes should be placed out as apprentices "to such trade or business as may best agree with their inclination and the demands of the colony," and should be freed at the age of thirty. He was persuaded that, "By these means....a new rank of citizens, placed between the Black and White races, would be established." They would be an intermediate buffer social control stratum since, "they would naturally attach themselves to the White race..., and so become a barrier against the designs of the Black."138

     92. George Pinckard, had served several years as a surgeon in the British expeditionary forces in the Caribbean, and he looked favorably on the prospect of gradual reform leading to abolition of slavery in the West Indies. What Pinckard suggested anticipated Charles James Fox's prescription for social control adaptation in Ireland from racial oppression to national oppression, namely, "Make the besiegers part of the garrison."139 Pinckard argued for the social promotion of a "considerable proportion of the people of colour, between the whites and negroes." The installation of such a middle class, would save Britain a great expenditure of life and treasure. This middle class would soon become possessed of stores and estates; and the garrison might be safely entrusted to them as the best defenders of their own property."140

     93. In 1803, John Alleyne Beckles, Anglo-Barbadian member of the Barbados Council, denounced the limitations on property rights of freedmen and warned of the danger to social control in the continuation of such restrictions. Bestowing full property rights on the free "colored," he argued,

will keep them at a greater distance from he slaves, and will keep up that jealousy which seems naturally to exist between them and the slaves; it will tend to our security, for should the slaves at any time attempt a revolt, the free-coloured persons for their own safety and the security of their property, must join the whites and resist them. But if we reduce the free coloured people to a level with the slaves, they must unite with them, and will take every occasion of promoting and encouraging a revolt.141

     94. Such ruling-class insights recognized the link between concessions to the freedmen and the maintenance of control over the bond-laborers who, in the late 1770s outnumbered the total free population of Barbados by nearly three-and-a-half times, and by nine times that of Jamaica.142 As members of the militia that quelled the 1816 bond-laborer revolt in Barbados, "the free coloureds were reckoned to have conducted themselves 'slightly better' than the whites."143 In Jamaica in the First and the Second Maroon Wars, the mulatto militia justified the expectation that they would be a "powerful counterpoise...of men dissimilar from [the Maroons] in complexion and manners, but equal in hardiness and vigour," capable of "scour[ing] the woods on all occasions; a service in which the [British Army] regulars are by no means equal to them."144 As the struggle to end slavery entered its critical stage, there were freedmen who supported the cause of the bond-laborers, but they were the exceptional few.145

     95. By the late 1770s, in Jamaica 36 percent of the free population was composed of persons of some degree of African ancestry; on the eve of Emancipation, in 1833, they were a 72 per cent majority. In Barbados in 1786, only 5 per cent of free persons were persons of African ancestry; in 1833 they were 34% per cent.146 Although this increase in the freedmen population brought added forces to the intermediate social control stratum against the bond-laborers, it conversely became a major factor in the final crisis of the system of chattel bond-servitude, coming as it did in the larger context of the Haitian Revolution, in which the role of the free colored had been decisive, and the rise of the abolitionist movement in England. The "increasing wealth and numbers of the coloreds as well as their importance in the militia made it more difficult for the Assembly to deny them their rights."147

XII

In the Chesapeake: The Maroon threat, plus

     96. The contrast between the denial of the legitimacy of class distinctions among African-Americans in continental Anglo-America and their deliberate inclusion in the intermediate social control stratum in the Anglo-Caribbean, did not arise from differences in the characteristics of the respective ruling plantation bourgeois elites. Both were tiny minorities of the population of monocultural colonies, the largest owners of lifetime bond-laborers and of the best land, as well as controllers of the export trade, and credit, and they held a corresponding dominance in political and legislative affairs.

     97. In the eighteenth-century Chesapeake colonies the social power structure was dominated by the gentry, a leisure class comprising 5 per cent of the Anglo-American men,148 persons whose wealth, however gained, was such as to relieve them of any economic need to engage in productive work. These "great planters," writes Aubrey C. Land, "...never formed more than a fraction of the total community of planters, something like 2.5 per cent in the decade 1690-1699 and about 6.5 per cent half a century later."149 From their ranks came those who actually occupied the posts of political authority.150 Over the period 1720 to 1776, 630 men held seats in the Virginia House of Burgesses. Of this number, 110 dominated the proceedings of the House by virtue of their committee positions in that body. Of that 110, three out of four each owned more than 10,000 acres of land. With regard to the extent of their holdings of lifetime bond-laborers, it has been found that eleven held more than 300 each; 25 held from 50 to 300; 25 held from 50 to 300 each; and 22 others held more than ten.151

     98. In such circumstances, it is not surprising to find Colony authorities expressing apprehension over the problem of social control. In 1719, Governor Spotswood, in the wake of a recently frustrated rebellion of African-American bond-laborers, warned against relying on language differences among bond-laborers to insure rebellion by such workers; "freedom," he said, "wears a cap which can, without a tongue call together all those who long to shake of[f] the fetters of slavery"152 Although the attempt of African bond-laborers to establish a free settlement at the head of James River in 1729 was defeated, Governor William Gooch feared that "a very small number of negroes once settled in those parts, would very soon be encreased by the accession of other runaways," as had happened with "the negroes in the mountains of Jamaica...."153 In 1736, William Byrd II, member of the Colony Council, and former Deputy-Governor, expressed fear for the future of the existing Virginia social order, in view of the rapidly increasing proportion of African-American bond-laborers. He, too, had Jamaica on his mind, worrying "lest they [the lifetime bond-laborers in Virginia] prove as troublesome and dangerous...as they have been lately in Jamaica....We have mountains, in Virginia too, to which they may retire safely, and do as much mischief as they do in Jamaica." Open revolt might occur; there were already 10,000 African-American men capable of bearing arms in Virginia, he noted, and warned that "in case there should arise a Man amongst us, exasperated by a desperate fortune he might with more advantage than Cataline kindle a Servile War."154 In 1749, Virginia Council members Thomas Lee and William Fairfax, favored discouraging the importation of English convicts as bond-laborers. They cited former Governor Spotswood's allusion to freedom's cap, and warned that increasing the number of convict bond-laborers in Virginia, "who are wicked enough to join our Slaves in any Mischief...[which] in all Probability will bring sure and sudden Destruction on all His Majesty's good subjects of this colony."155

     99. Obviously, the small cohort of the ruling elite must have a substantial intermediate buffer social control stratum to stand between it and "great disturbances," or even another rebellion. Like the capitalist enclosers of the peasant's land in sixteenth-century England, the men for whom the plantation world was made needed an effective intermediate yeoman-type social control stratum.

     100. In the eighteenth century, nearly half of the European-American adult male population were landowners. Forty percent of these were employers of bond-labor.156 This nearly twenty per cent of European-American adult male population was equal in number to around thirty percent of the number of African-Americans in Virginia. Such a proportion of bond-labor holders to lifetime bond-laborers would supply a middle class of small property owners sufficient to constitute an adequate social control stratum under normal condition.

     101. At the same time, however, half of European-American men were not landowners, and sixty per cent of the those who were landowners did not own bond-laborers; rather they were, willy-nilly, put into competition with bond-labor. It was socially and economically almost impossible for persons in these categories to become owners of bond-labor. Aside from the prevailing poverty among such planters, there was the operation of the general tendency of centralization of capital to reduce the number of competitors, not to increase it. Aubrey C. Land's analysis of Maryland estate inventories found that three-fourths of the planters (tenants as well as owners) fell into the £0-to-£100 category in the 1690-1699 period.157 Although the proportion of planters in the £0-£100 group had declined by 1740, it still made up more than half the total.158The poverty of most of the non-owners of bond-laborers was such that, "Between investment and consumption [they] had no choice....they could not invest from savings because [they] had none." Far from becoming owners of even limited-term bond-laborers, they were likely to leave their heirs penniless.159 Land concludes with a historically significant finding: the majority of the planters were "not the beneficiar[ies] of the planting society."160

     102. Here, then, is the key to the understanding the difference between Virginia ruling-class policy of "fixing a perpetual brand" on African-Americans, and the especially bitter rejection of those born of an English father or mother, on one hand, and, on the other, the policy of the West Indian planters of formally recognizing the middle-class status "colored" descendant (and other Afro-Caribbeans who earned special merit by their service to the regime). The difference was rooted in the objective fact that in the West Indies there were too few laboring-class Europeans to embody an adequate petit bourgeoisie, while in the continental colonies there were too many to be accommodated in the ranks of that class.

     103. And, therein lay the heart of the social control problem of the ruling plantation bourgeoisie in continental Anglo-America. The overwhelming majority of its population, bond and free, were barred, some by law and some by economic circumstances from participation in the formation of a middle class normal to a capitalist society. What could be done to prevent the poor dispossessed majority of European-Americans from joining with African-Americans to "Emmire themselves as deep in Rebellion as ever they did in Bacon's time"?161

XIII

The codification of white supremacy

     104. Sir Francis Bacon in 1625 distilled truisms of statecraft in his essay "Of Seditions and Troubles," two of which would prove to be particularly adaptable to the social control purposes of the Anglo-American continental plantation bourgeoisie, a century later and an ocean away. First, there was the importance of "hopes": "[I]t is a certain sign of a wise government and proceeding, when it can hold men's hearts with hopes when it cannot by satisfaction." Secondly, with acknowledgment to Machiavelli, Bacon advocated "dividing and breaking of all factions and combinations that are adverse to the state, and setting them at distance, or at least distrust among themselves."162

     105. It had not been surprising when, in 1676, rich landowners deserted Bacon's Rebellion, "setting them[selves] at a distance" from the laboring classes, bond and free, who had become the self-assertive main element in the rebellion. It was the "speedy seperation of the sound parts from the rabble" for which Virginia's representatives in England were hoping.163 But maintaining social control thereafter was a different sort of problem. Half the population was still made up of bond-laborers, the great majority of whom were denied even the hope of freedom, and half of the other half was made up of poor freemen, without practical hope of upward social mobility, and who were "not the beneficiar[ies] of the planting society."164 How to "hold [poor freemen's] hearts with hope" when they have no hope, precisely because the bond-laborers have no hope? How to "set at a distance" these laboring-class "factions" whose interests were "adverse to the state?"165

     106. Since it was impossible to maintain the hopes of the freemen for upward social mobility in plantation society,166 the very resentment felt by the poor freemen on this account was to be manipulated in such a way as to "set them at distance" from the bond-laborers who had no hope of freedom.

     107. A new social status was to be contrived that would be a birthright of not only Anglos, but of every Euro-American, a "white" identity designed not only to set them "at a distance" from the African-American bond-laborers, but at the same time to enlist European-Americans of every class as active, or at least passive, supporters of capitalist agriculture based on chattel bond-labor.167 The introduction of this counterfeit of social mobility was an act of "social engineering," the essence of which was to reissue long-established common law rights, "incident to every free man," but in the form of "white" privileges: the presumption of liberty, the right to get married, the right to carry a gun, the right to read and write, the right to testify in legal proceedings, the right of self-directed physical mobility, and the enjoyment of male prerogatives over women. The successful societal function of this status required that not only African-American bond-laborers, but most emphatically, free African-Americans be excluded from it. It is that status and realigning of the laboring-class European-Americans that transformed class oppression into racial oppression.

     108. The distinction was emphasized even for European-American chattel bond-laborers, whose presumption of liberty was temporarily in suspension. Any owner of an African-American, practically without hindrance, could legally use or abuse his African-American bond-laborers, or dispose of them by gift, bequest, sale, or rental as a matter of course, but by a law enacted in 1691, he was forbidden to set them free.168 On the other hand, "to be white gave the distinction of color even to the agricultural [European-American bond-] servants, whose condition, in some respects, was not much removed from that of actual slavery."169 The revised Virginia code of 1705 took pains to specify unprecedented guarantees for the European "christian white" limited-term bond-laborers. Before, masters had merely been required not to "exceed the bounds of moderation" in beating or whipping or otherwise "correcting," the bond-laborer, it being provided that the victim if one could get to the Justice of the Peace and then to the next County Court, "shall have remedy for his grievances."170 The new code provided that, upon a second offense by a master in treatment of "servants (not being slaves)," the courts could order that the servant be taken from that master and sold at outcry.171

     109. Freedom dues for limited-term bond-laborers had never been specified in Virginia law, but were merely referred to in court orders by the loose term "corn and clothes." The 1705 code, however, noting that "nothing in that nature ever [had been] made certain," enumerated them with specificity: "to every male servant, ten bushels of corn, thirty shillings in money (or the equivalent in goods), a gun worth at least twenty shillings; and to every woman servant, fifteen bushels of corn, forty shillings in money (or the equivalent in goods)."172 The new code forbade the master to "whip a christian white servant naked, without an order from the justice of the peace," the offending master to be fined forty shillings payable to the servant.173 Lifetime bond-laborers were not to have freedom dues, of course, but they had been allowed to raise livestock on their own account, and to have them marked as their own. But in 1692, and again in 1705 with greater emphasis, livestock raised by African-American bond-laborers on their own account were ordered to be confiscated.174

     110. The act of 1723 that was the subject of the correspondence between Governor Gooch and the Board of Trade was by no means the first evidence in the law of ruling-class desire not only to impose lifetime hereditary bond-servitude on African-Americans, but to implement it by a system of racial oppression, expressed in laws against free African-Americans. Such were the laws, several of which have been previously noted, making free Negro women tithable;175 forbidding non-Europeans, though baptized christians, to be owners of "christian," that is, European, bond-laborers;176 denying free African-Americans the right to hold any office of public trust;177 barring any Negro from being a witness in any case against a "white" person;178 making any free Negro subject to thirty lashes at the public whipping post for "lift[ing] his or her hand" against any European-American (thus to a major extent denying Negroes the elementary right of self defense);179 excluding free African-Americans from the armed militia;180 and, forbidding free African-Americans from possessing "any gun, powder, shot, or any club, or any other weapon whatsoever, offensive or defensive."181

     111. The denial of the right of self-defense would become a factor in the development of the peculiar American form of male supremacy, white-male supremacy, informed by the principle that any European-American male could assume familiarity with any African-American woman. That principle came to have the sanction of law. I have earlier cited the Maryland Provincial Court decision of 1767 that "a slave had no recourse against the violator of his bed."182 "The law simply did not criminalize the rape of slave women," writes Philip Schwarz, "No Virginia judge heard [such] a case...."183 Free African-American women had practically no legal protection in this respect, in view of the general exclusion of African-Americans, free or bond, from giving testimony in court against "whites."184

     112. The Virginia Assembly gave due attention to reinforcement of the "screen of racial contempt"185 that was intended in these laws. Explicit measures were put in place to guarantee that the people were systematically propagandized in the moral and legal ethos of white supremacism. Provisions were included for that purpose in the 1705 "Act concerning Servants and Slaves" and in the Act of 1723, "directing the trial of Slaves...and for the better government of Negros, Mulattos, and Indians, bond or free."186 To prevent any "pretense of ignorance," the laws mandated that parish clerks or churchwardens, once each Spring and Fall at the close of Sunday service read ("publish") these laws in full to the congregants. Sheriffs were ordered to have the same done at the courthouse door at the June or July term of court. If we presume, in absence of any contrary record, that this mandate was followed, the general public was regularly and systematically subjected to official white supremacist agitation. It was to be drummed into the minds of the people that, for the first time, no free African-American was to dare to lift his or her hand against a "Christian, not being a negro, mulatto or Indian"; that African-American freeholders were no longer to be allowed to vote; that the provision of a previous enactment was being reinforced against the mating of English and Negroes as producing "abominable mixture" and "spurious issue."; that, as provided in the 1723 law for preventing freedom plots by African-American bond-laborers, "any white person...found in company with any [illegally congregated] slaves," was to be fined (along with free African-Americans or Indians so offending) with a fine of fifteen shillings, or to "receive, on his, her, or their bare backs, for every such offense, twenty lashes well laid on."187

     113. Thus was the "white race" invented as the social control formation whose distinguishing characteristic was not the participation of the owners of bond-laborers; that alone would have yielded merely a normal form of class differentiation. What distinguished this system of social control, what made it "the white race," was the participation of the European-American laboring classes, non-slaveholders, self-employed smallholders, tenants, and laborers. Indeed, Governor Notley's 1677 prophecy--with a reversal of subject and object--became reality: The "men in power" had found a way to have the "common [European-American] people" agree with them in keeping down African-Americans, free and bond. In time this white race social control system begun in Virginia and Maryland, would serve as the model of social order to each succeeding plantation region of settlement.188

XIV

White-skin privileges--the bait and the hook


     114. This system of white-skin privileges had not been initiated by the European-American laboring classes, but by the plantation bourgeoisie, the owners of bond-laborers. At the same time, European-Americans found themselves increasingly superseded in their trades by lower-cost lifetime bond-laborers. After a brief period of "seasoning" in ruling-class white supremacist regulation and indoctrination, these tradesmen reacted to their plight--not by demanding an end to bond-servitude--but by pleading for preference in employment.
189 Having settled for this ruinous bargain, the tradesmen invariably couched their complaints in terms that could not be considered a threat to the "rights" of the owners to train and directly employ bond-laborers in skilled trades. In 1742, white tradesmen in South Carolina pleaded for the exclusion of Negroes from the skilled trades.190 The following year the colony's Commons House of Assembly responded by agreeing "that no slaves that shall hereafter be brought up to any mechanic trades shall be suffered to work for any other than their own masters." In 1750, the same legislature excepted owners of bond-laborers from the provisions of a law, "That no Handicrafts Man shall hereafter teach a Negro his Trade."191

     115. Georgia colony, founded by its Trustees in 1732 on the no-slavery principle, was territory irresistible to the South Carolina plantation bourgeoisie anxious to "grow the economy," as it might be put today. They soon began to campaign for an end of this government interference with free enterprise. In the course of the controversy, a Savannah man objected that abandonment of the founding principle "would take work from white men's hands and impoverish them, as in the case of Charleston [South Carolina], where the tradesmen are all beggars by that means." The promoters of the slavery cause countered by saying that "the negroes should not be allowed to work at anything but producing rice...and in felling timber."192 By way of response, the 1750 Act repealing the ban on slavery in Georgia barred the employment of Negroes except in cultivation and coopering. These provisions were, in terms of "white" labor privileges, considered superior to South Carolina's regulation, which related only to free or "hired-out" African-American craftsmen.193

     116. Deficiency laws, in a mode often akin to latter-day "featherbedding," provided jobs for European-American workers simply for being "white." In 1712, the South Carolina Assembly, for example, passed a law stipulating that at any plantation six miles or more remote from the owner's usual abode, for every "Six Negroes or other Slaves" employed, a quota of "One or more White Person" must be kept there. Ten years later, the quota was one to ten, but that applied to the home plantation as well as those far removed.194 The repeal of the no-slavery principle in Georgia in 1750 included a similar privileged opportunity for propertyless European-Americans, by requiring the employment of "one white man Servant" on each plantation for every four African-American lifetime bond-laborers employed.195

     117. In 1831, the year of Nat Turner's Rebellion, "white" mechanics in Culpeper and Petersburg, Virginia, demanded that Negroes be barred from apprenticeship, and from any trade without a "white" overseer. In 1851, a similar petition from Norfolk betrayed a high degree of political sophistication. Barring Negroes from competing for employment, they said, would guarantee against "jealousy between slave holders and non-slaveholders."196 Slaveholding would end, but the "white race" solidarity would remain the country's most general form of class collaborationism, by virtue of the persistence of the system of racial privileges for "white" workers.

     118. The effort bore fruit as far as danger from the European-American bond-laborers was concerned. As Winthrop D. Jordan notes, "[T]he fear of white servants and Negroes uniting in servile rebellion, a prospect which made some sense in the 1660s and 70s...vanished completely during the following half-century." He continues with a corollary: "Significantly, the only rebellions of white servants in the continental colonies came before the entrenchment of slavery.197 Worse, still, the poor and propertyless European-Americans became the principal element in the day-to-day enforcement of racial oppression..."The immediate control of the Negroes," writes Thomas J. Wertenbaker, "fell almost entirely into the hands of white men of humble means."198 It was they who mainly made up the "slave patrols" and, as historian Philip Schwartz says, "Patrollers were the ultimate means of preventing insurrection."199

     119. Yet, the position of the poor laboring-class European-Americans, vis-a-vis the rich and powerful owners of bond-laborers, was not improved, by the white-skin privilege system. That system, after all, was conceived and instituted as an alternative method to the of Grantham and Berkeley, but with precisely the same aims and effect. On that there is unimpeachable testimony.

     120. In 1831, less than a hundred miles from the spot where, in 1676, the "four hundred English and Negroes in Armes" had wanted to shoot Berkeley's mendacious Captain, or cut him in pieces, there occurred that brief uprising of lifetime bondlaborers known as Nat Turner's Rebellion. That event sent a premonitory shudder through the frame of the United States ruling plantation bourgeoisie. It brought to the surface thoughts and dreads not ordinarily spoken. All that winter and spring of 1831-32 the Virginia Legislature and the press debated the meaning and possible consequences of this battle-cry of labor enslaved. They were looking to their defenses and they talked much of the poor whites.

     121. T.J. Randolph, nephew and namesake of the author of the Declaration of Independence, put the rhetorical question to his fellow legislators, "...upon whom is to fall the burden of this defense [against revolt by African-American bond-laborers]: not upon the lordly masters of their hundred slaves, who will never turn out except to retire with their families when danger threatens. No sir, it is to fall...chiefly upon the non-slaveholders...patrolling under a compulsory process, for a pittance of seventy-five cents per twelve hours...."200

     122. George W. Summers of Kanawha County (now a West Virginia county) surely made many in the House of Delegates wince. "In the character of Patroles," he said, the poor white "is thus made to fold to his bosom, the adder that stings him."201 "Civis," an Eastern Virginia owner of lifetime hereditary bond-laborers, pointed out that in his part of the state more than half the white minority had "little but their complexion to console them for being born into a higher caste."202 In a reply to a letter written by Thomas Roderick Dew (under the pseudonym, "Appomattox"), the editor of the Richmond Enquirer, though defending the notion of forced removal of African-Americans to Africa, spoke a truth that bore profounder implications than he intended regarding the plight of the European-American workers in Virginia: "... forced to wander vagabonds around the confines of society, finding no class which they can enter, because for the one they should have entered, there is substituted an ARTIFICIAL SYSTEM of labor to which they cannot attach themselves."203 Indeed! The artificial, system of labor that prevented them from "attaching themselves" to the struggle against the master class.

     123. These Virginia debates thus gave testimony to the degradation that a century and a half of white supremacy had brought to the poor whites who had forgotten those blood-vows sworn by the triumphant light of the Jamestown fire, and in the gloaming waiting for Grantham.

XV

The white race and theories of American History

     124. Among the several theories that historians have produced as guides to the general course of--the contours of--American history,204there are two--"the paradox theory" and "the frontier theory--to which the argument of this essay is particularly relevant.205

 

The "Paradox" and Edmund S. Morgan

     125. The paradox theory projects an assessment of white supremacism in relation to the foundation of the United States as a republic in a positive light. The essence of the thesis is that democracy and equality as represented in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of 1789, were, by the logic of history, made possible by racial oppression. The lineage of this idea goes back to at least 1758, when Edmund Burke argued that "whites" in the southern colonies were more "attached to liberty" than were the colonists in the North because in the South freedom was a racial privilege.206 Early nineteenth-century Virginia scholar Thomas Roderick Dew contended that slavery made possible and actual "one common level" of equality "in regard to whites." "The menial and low offices being all performed by the blacks," he continued, "there is at once taken away the greatest cause for distinction and separation of the ranks of society."207

     126. It especially disappointing to find Edmund S. Morgan espousing this doctrine. Professor Morgan's American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia, appeared in the afterglow of the civil rights struggles, sacrifices, and victories of the 1960s. It was a trenchant contribution to the socio-economic and "deliberate choice" explanation of the origin of racial slavery in Anglo-America, and it supplied the most substantial refutation that had yet appeared of the "natural racism" interpretation of the origin of racial oppression in Anglo-America, most notably represented in works by Carl N. Degler and Winthrop D. Jordan.208 Yet, in answer to the truly critical, though euphemistically put, question, "How could patricians win in popular politics?",209 Morgan offers an elaborate affirmation of the paradox theory.

     127. The essence of Morgan's paradox, to the extent it is a true paradox, is a renewal of the same euphemism of the system of white supremacist and lifetime hereditary bond-servitude that characterized the opinions of Burke and Dew. Unconsciously paraphrasing Edmund Burke, Morgan says, "Virginians may have had a special appreciation of the freedom dear to republicans, because they saw every day what life without it could be."210 T. R. Dew and others, are recognized in Morgan's approvingly quoted observation of Sir Augustus John Foster, an English diplomat who traveled in Virginia at the beginning of the nineteenth century: "Owners of slaves among themselves are all for keeping down every kind of superiority." It is pure Dew again when Morgan shares Foster's view that "whites" in Virginia, "can profess an unbounded love of liberty and democracy...[because] the mass of the people who in other countries might become mobs [in Virginia are] nearly altogether composed of their" African-American lifetime bond-laborers.211

     128. Morgan rests his argument on the assumption that early in the eighteenth century, "the mass of white Virginians were becoming landowners," and the small planters began to prosper, thus giving the large and small planters "a sense of common identity based on common interests."212 This feeling, says Morgan, was sufficient basis for the small planters to put their trust in the ruling plantation bourgeoisie and thus cease to be a danger to social order.213

     129. Sources cited here such as Jackson Turner Main, Gloria Main, T. J. Wertenbaker, Aubrey C. Land, Willard F. Bliss, Russell R. Menard, and Allan Kulikoff show that the economic assumption made by Morgan is open to serious question.214 In a passing reference to the growth of tenancy, Morgan supplies a bibliographical mention to Bliss and Jackson Main, but that is the limit of his concern with such studies, although they cast great doubt on his facile conclusion that of European-Americans "[t]here were too few free poor to matter,"215 a conclusion without which his "paradox" unravels.

     130. Morgan, in passages that I have previously cited with approval, declared that the answer to the problem of social control was a series of deliberate measures taken by the ruling class to "separate dangerous free whites fromdangerous slave blacks."216 But if, as the country moved "Toward the Republic," and after it got there, among "whites" there were "too few free poor to matter," why did the social order not revert to the normal class differentiation, Burke's "beautiful gradation" of "free men" from rich to the less rich, and so on through the scale, in which the free African-Americans could take their individual places according to their social class? Could they not have been expected, as James Madison once argued, to function properly in that social station.217 Given that, the "white race" as a social control formation, would have been a vicious redundancy. Instead, there was a general proscription of the free Negro, laws against emancipation, even by last will and testament, and banishment of those so freed. That, I submit, is unchallengeable evidence of the continued presence of poor whites who had "little but their complexion to console them for being born into a higher caste," yet served as the indispensable element of the "white race," the Peculiar Institution.218

     131. In seeking to understand his adoption of the "paradox" thesis, it seems helpful to consider the following passage from Morgan's 1972 presidential address to the Organization of American Historians:

The temptation is already apparent to argue that slavery and oppression were the dominant features of American history and that efforts to advance liberty and equality were the exception, indeed no more than a device to divert the masses while their chains were being fastened. To dismiss the rise of liberty and equality in American history as a mere sham is not only to ignore hard facts, it is also to evade the problem presented by those facts. The rise of liberty and equality in this country was accompanied by the rise of slavery. That two such contradictory developments were taking place simultaneously over a long period of our history, from the seventeenth century to the nineteenth, is the central paradox of American history.219

     132. Morgan set out to meet the "challenge" of those who, in his opinion, overemphasize slavery and oppression in American history. Yet, the effect of his "paradox" thesis seems no less an apology for white supremacy than the "natural racism" argument. At the end of it all, he writes, "Racism made it possible for white Virginians to develop a devotion to...equality....Racism became an essential... ingredient of the republican ideology that enabled Virginians to lead the nation." Then, as if shying at his own conclusion, Morgan suggests the speculation that perhaps "the vision of a nation of equals [was] flawed at the source by contempt for both the poor and the black."220 But, what flaw? If racism was a flaw, then "the rise of liberty" would have been better off without it--a line of reasoning that negates the paradox. On the other hand, if racism made "the rise of liberty possible," as the paradox would have it, then racism was not a flaw of American bourgeois democracy, but its very special essence. Morgan's "paradox" therefore contains in itself the very challenge that he wanted to refute. In sad fact, the "Ordeal of Colonial Virginia" was extended as the Ordeal of America, wherein the racial oppression and white supremacism have indeed been the dominant feature, the parametric constant, of United States history.

     133. There is a true paradox at the core of American history, the paradox embodied in the "white" identity of the European-American laborer, wherein the social class identity is immured. Perhaps so many of our historians have failed to see the paradox because they conceive of the "white race" as a phenomenon of nature, a realm that knows no paradoxes.

The "white" frontier

     134. The tendency toward concentration of capital ownership is a prevailing attribute of capitalism. The social impact of that tendency is illustrated in Wertenbaker's comment on the Virginia colonial economy of the eighteenth century. But this was not the typical case of increased concentration of capital based on the introduction of new instruments of labor requiring increasing relative investments in fixed capital. It was caused by land engrossment in general, and by the diminished supply of good lands in the Tidewater, but even more by the lower labor costs per unit of output of those planters who had means to invest in the high-priced lifetime bond-laborers.

     135. Being made to compete with unpaid bond-labor, "practically destroyed the Virginia yeomanry," writes Wertenbaker, "....Some it drove into exile, either to the remote frontiers or to other colonies; some it reduced to extreme poverty;...some it caused to purchase slaves and so at one step to enter the exclusive class of those who had others to work for them....The small freeholder was not destroyed, as was his prototype of ancient Rome, but he was subjected to a change which was by no means fortunate or wholesome."221

     136. Those who were "reduced to extreme poverty" included those whom the touring Marquis de Chastellux encountered in 1792, when for the first time in his three year sojourn in America, he saw "in the midst of those rich plantations miserable huts...inhabited by whites, whose wan looks and ragged garments bespeak poverty,"222 poverty which he ascribed to the engrossment of the land by the plantation bourgeoisie. Forty years later, a well-off Virginia planter spoke in similarly stark terms of his landless European-Americans neighbors who stayed in Eastern Virginia with but "little to console them but their complexion...."223

     137. The number of such very poor was never large, according to Wertenbaker, because anyone with a little drive and ambition "could move to the frontier and start life on more equal terms."224 However, other historians, who have traced the course of that ambition, find that among those who moved and moved frequently, were those who opted for being tenants,225 some on leases, but, more typically as tenants-at-will, working on shares with tools, buildings and marketing facilities furnished by the landlord. Share tenants moved on after a short tenure. Squatters left land where they could not afford the surveying and patent fees; two-thirds of the original settlers of Amelia County, formed in 1735,--mostly squatters--left the county between 1736 and 1749. In Lunenberg County, formed in 1746, only one-fifth of the laborers were able to establish households, while two out of five of the householders left the county between 1750 and 1764.226 Others moved directly to "new" territories taking out patents as fee-simple owners. It is the measure of the cost of becoming "white" that this best hope of the ambition of the eighteenth-century laboring-class Virginians, was precisely what their predecissors had complained against, "being Tenants to the first Ingrossers which no man cares to be, but thinks it hard to be a Tennant on a Continent."227

     138. The result was an increasing number of would-be planters moving to "the frontier," wherever that meant at a given time--the Piedmont, the south side of the James, North Carolina, the Shenandoah Valley, or beyond the Cumberland Gap--as tenants, as patentees of "new" land, or as unpatented squatters. Though the squeezing out of such a poor planter to the "frontier" negated the logic of a common interest with the gentry, he was still "made to fold to his bosom the adder that stings him," the bondage of African-Americans.228 Denied social mobility, they were to have the white-skin privilege of lateral mobility--to the "frontier." By the same token they went typically as "whites"; resenting Negroes, not their slavery, indeed hating the free Negro most of all; ready now to take the land from the Indians in the name of "a white man's country."229

 

Turner's "frontier" theory, and the "safety-valve corollary

     139. In 1893, Frederick Jackson Turner (1861-1932), one of the giants of American historiography, presented a theory, "a hypothesis," of American historical development. Rooted exclusively in American experience, without dependence upon English tradition, Turner's "frontier thesis" won wide acceptance. Drawing a parallel with the career of the ancient Greeks in the Mediterranean world,230 Turner said:

     Up to our own day American history has been in a large degree the history of the colonization of the Great West. The existence of an area of free land, its continuous recession, and the advance of American settlement westward explain Americans development.231

     140. Turner ended that essay with a portentous epitaph: "[T]he frontier is gone, and with its going has closed the first period of American history."232 In 1910, he continued his theme: "The solitary backwoodsman wielding his ax at the edge of a measureless forest is replaced by companies capitalized at millions, operating railroads, sawmills, and all the enginery of modern machinery to harvest the remaining trees." He then formulated what came to be called the "safety-valve corollary" of the frontier thesis. "A new national development is before us," he said, "without the former safety valve of abundant resources open to him who would take." He delineated the consequent sharpening of class struggle between capital and anti-capital, between those who demand that there be no governmental interference with "the exploitation and the development of the country's wealth," on the one hand; and the reformers, from the Grangers, to the Populists, to Bryan to Debs and Theodore Roosevelt, who, Turner said, emphasized "the need of governmental regulation...in the interest of the common man; [and] the checking of the power of those business Titans...."233 It is not surprising," he added later that year, "that socialism shows noteworthy gains as elections continue, that parties are forming on new lines...They are efforts to find substitutes for the former safeguard of democracy, the disappearing lands. They are the sequence of the disappearing frontier."234

     141. Turner's expectation of the emergence of a popular socialist movement of sufficient proportions to "substitute" for the end of the "free-land safety valve" was disappointed. Turner died in the midst of the Great Depression in 1932. Toward the end of his life, Turner felt "baffled by his contemporary world and [he] had no satisfying answer to the closed-frontier formula in which he found himself involved."235

 

The Real Social Safety-Valve of American history

     142. Only by understanding what was peculiar about the "Peculiar Institution," can one know what is exceptionable about American Exceptionalism, know how, in normal times, the ruling class has been able to operate without "Laborite": disguises; and how, in critical times, democratic new departures have been frustrated by re-inventions of the "white race." There is a historic "safety valve" of social discontent mounted over the American body politic; Turner just couldn't see it for the White Blindspot in his eye. If Turner had taken note of the Southern Homestead Act and its repeal, and of the heroic Negro Exodus of 1879, might he not have given his "safety valve" theory an added dimension, one wherein the real safety valve is found? The prospect held out to European-Americans, of "free land for him who would take" it from the Indians, however unrealizable it was in actuality, did doubtless, tend to retard the development of anti-capitalist class-consciousness.236 "Free land" was merely one aspect of the Real Safety Valve; two other broad general forms of lateral mobility--immigration into the United States and farm-to-factory migration, like "free land," were also cast in the mold of "racial" preference for Europeans and European-Americans, as "whites."237 From such main strands an all-pervasive system of racial privileges was conferred on laboring-class European-Americans, rural and urban, exploited and insecure though they themselves were. Its threads, woven into the fabric of every aspect of daily life, of family, church, and state, have constituted the main historical guarantee of the rule of the "Titans," damping down anti-capitalist pressures, by making "race, and not class, the distinction in social life." That, more than any other factor, has shaped the contours of American history--from the Constitutional Convention of 1787 to the Civil War, to the overthrow of Reconstruction, to the Populist Revolt of the 1890s, to the Great Depression, to the civil rights struggle and "white backlash" of our own day.

XVI

The Civil Rights Legacy and the Impending Crisis

     143. Properly interpreted, Turner's reference to the "safety valve" potential in anti-capitalist "reform" movements of his day had its innings in the Keynesian New Deal, which at least some of its supporters hoped might be a road to "socialism," and some of its reactionary enemies regarded as the real thing. The limitations of that line of reform, which had become evident by 1938, were masked by the prosperity of the United States role as the "arsenal of democracy" in World War II, that ended with the United States as the only industrial power left standing and the possessor of three-fourths of the world's gold reserves. But, by 1953, other major powers had recovered to pre-war levels; by 1957 began a chronic unfavorable United States balance of trade. In 1971 the United States formally abandoned the gold-standard for settlement of international balances of payments and the "gold cover" for the domestic money supply,238 adopting, finally, a policy of calculated monetary inflation, safeguarded by the deliberate maintenance of chronic unemployment at levels adequate to prevent increases in real wages.239 Finally, even the party of the New Deal has cast all Keynesian pretence to the winds, proclaiming that "the era of big government is over," and boasting of "ending welfare" in any previously recognizable form.

     144. Now at the end of the twentieth century, the social gap between the Titans and the common people is at perhaps its historic maximum;240 real wages have trended downward for nearly two decades. "Entitlements" and "welfare," as they relate to students, the poor, and the elderly, have become obscenities in the lexicon of official society. There is less of a "socialist" movement today in the United States than there was in Turner's day, and anti-capitalist class consciousness is hesitant even to call its name. The bourgeoisie in one of its parts mockingly dons "revolution" like a Halloween mask. "Class struggle" is an epithet cast accusingly at the mildest defenders of social welfare, and the country is loud with the sound of one class struggling.

     145. Yet, the pre-conditions of social conflict such as those noted by Turner a century ago, are simmering today if we are to credit the following grim assessment of one well-known political economist:

[O]ur slower economic growth is no longer simply cyclical or temporary but structural and permanent....[so that] We can no longer count on rapid material gain. Throughout our history we believed that were were a chosen people, a belief essentially sustained by our growing affluence. Now we shall see who we are without it.241

     146. But, unlike the country as it was in Turner's time, present-day America, bears the indelible stamp of the African-American civil rights struggle of the 1960's and after, a seal that the "white backlash" has by no means been able to erode from the nation's consciousness. Also, although it is not possible to predict how it may eventuate politically, the increasing non-European proportion of the nation's population enhances the possibility of the development of a "not-white" popular movement,242 which laboring-class European-Americans may join unreservedly, finally casting off the incubus of white-skin privilege that for three centuries has paralyzed their will. Then, and only then, the ghosts of those "four hundred English and Negroes in Armes," who fought together in Bacon's Rebellion to be "freed from their Slavery," may finally rest in peace.

 

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Notes for Part Two

124 Gooch gave a four-point rationale for the law. 1) African-Americans who were free tended to assist revolts by Negro bond-laborers; 2) a free Negro considered himself "to be as good a man as the best" [the term "uppity" was of later vintage]; 3) free Negroes were [he said] were genrally children of English persons of the lower classes; and, 4) free African-Americans was so few that "'tis scarcely worth while to take any notice of them in this particular." (For a point-by-point criticism of Gooch's arguments, see The Invention of the White Race, 2:242-44.)

125 Douglas Hall, "Jamaica," in David W.Cohen and Jack P.Greene, eds., Neither Slave Nor Free: The Freedmen of African Descent in the Slave Societies of the New World (Baltimore, 1972), pp. 202-3. Jerome S. Handler, The Unappropriated People: Freedmen in Barbados Society (Baltimore, 1974), pp. 126-27.

126 Gad J. Heuman, Between Black and White: Race, Politics, and the Free Coloreds in Jamaica, 1792-1865 (Westport, Connecticut, 1981), p. 28.

127 There was a discrimination in favor of "whites," who were offered thirty acres (The Laws of Jamaica Comprehending all the Acts in Force Passed between the Thirty Second Year of the Reign of King Charles the Second and the Thirty-third Year of the Reign of King George the Third.... Published under the Direction of Commissioners appointed for that Purpose. 2 vols., [St. Jago de la Vega, Jamaica, 1792], 8 Geo I, c. 1, 1:129-30). This combination of concession and discrimination parallels the Bogland Act of 1772 in Ireland granting Catholics expanded rights to lease, but not to purchase land; and the Southern Homestead Act of 1866 in the United States allowing African-Americans only half the 160 acres allowed to whites under the Homestead Law of 1862. (See Allen, The Invention of the White Race, 1:93, 140-41.)

128 R. C. Dallas, History of the Maroons (London, 1803), pp. 58-63. Sir Alan Burns, History of the British West Indies (London, 1954), p. 441.

129 Heuman, Between Black and White, p. 84. For the total number of slaves, see Douglas Hall, "Jamaica," in Cohen and Greene, Neither Slave Nor Free, p. 194.

130 Handler, Unappropriated People, pp. 68-72.

131 Roger Norman Buckley (New Haven), Slaves in Redcoats: The British West India Regiments, 1795-1815, pp. 11, 17-18.

132 Ibid., pp. 13, 53-55. Between 1795 and 1808 the British Army in the West Indies purchased 13,400 Africans for military service, of whom 8,924 were purchased in Africa.

133 Buckley, Slaves in Redcoats, pp. 13, 30-31, 41, 127.

134 In 1673, the Barbados authorities had tried to have the best of both possibilities. While increasing the exploitation of the African bond-laborers unrelentingly, even as they reduced their rations, the authorities sought to strengthen the militia by recruiting and arming militiamen from among these same bond-laborers. But that proved a prelude to a plot for a general African rebellion in 1675 (Richard S. Dunn, Sugar and Slaves: The Rise of the Planter Class in the English West Indies, 1624-1713, pp. 257-58; Jill Sheppard, "Redlegs" of Barbados, their Origins and History (Millwood, New York, 1977), p. 34).

135 Buckley, Slaves in Redcoats, p. 124. Of the African-born soldiers, who generally did not want to return to Africa, some were settled in Trinidad and Honduras, the others, willingly or otherwise, were sent to Sierra Leone. Those who had been inducted from the West Indies, along with the youngest of the those brought from Africa, remained in the West Indies (Ibid., p. 35, citing C.O. 318/55).

136 Edmund Burke, An Account of European Settlements in America, 2 vols. (London, 1758), 2: 118, 130-31.

137 Edward Long, The History of Jamaica, or, General Survey of the Antient and Modern State of the Island, with Reflections on its Situation, Settlements, Inhabitants, Climate, Products, Commersce, Laws, and Government, 3 vols. (London, 1774), 2:333-34.

138 James Ramsay, An Essay on the Treatment and Conversion of Slaves in the British Sugar Colonies (London, 1784), pp. 288-89. Ramsay (1733-1789) served as an Episcopal priest in the West Indies on two separate occasions, but his espousal of Christian charity toward the bond-laborers earned the hostility of the planters. On his final return to England he published the Essay, and became associated with the abolitionist movement (Dictionary of National Biography).

139 See Allen, Invention of the White Race, 1:112.

140 George Pinckard, Notes on the West Indies, 2:532. (Emphasis in original.) Pinckard's design seem to have worked out very satisfactorily for the British ruling class, at least as late as the second decade of the twentieth century.

     Sir Sidney Olivier, who served as Governor of Jamaica from 1907 to 1913, was convinced that

this [mulatto] class as it at present exists is a valuable and indispensable part of any West Indies community, and that a colony of black, coloured, and whites has a far more organic efficiency and far more promise in it than a colony of black and white alone.... The graded mixed class in Jamaica helps to make an organic whole of the community and saves it from this distinct cleavage. (Sir Sidney Olivier, White Capital and Coloured Labour, new edition, rewritten and revised [London, 1928], pp. 65-66)

141 Beckles, Black Rebellion in Barbados, p. 83, citing Minutes of the Council, 1 November 1803. Barbados Archives.

142 Jerome S. Handler and Arnold A. Sio, "Barbados,"in Cohen and Greene, eds., Neither Slave Nor Free, pp. 218-19. Table 7-1. Heuman, Between Black and White, p. 7.

143 Sheppard, "Redlegs" of Barbados, p. 61.

144 Long, History of Jamaica, 2:335. See also A. E. Furness, "The Maroon War of 1795," Jamaican Historical Review, 5:30-45 (1965).

145 Handler, The Unappropriated People, p. 205. Handler was writing about Barbados.

146 Heuman, Neither Black Nor White, p. 7. Handler and Sio, "Barbados," in Neither Slave Nor Free, pp. 218-19. Table 7-1.

147 Heuman, Between Black and White, p. 30.

148 Allan Kulikoff, Tobacco and Slaves: The Development of Southern Cultures in the Chesapeake, 1680-1800 (Chapel Hill, 1986), pp. 262; 268.

149 Aubrey C. Land, "Economic Behavior in a Planting Society: The Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake," The Journal of Southern History, 33:469-85; pp. 472-73.

150 These latter constituted the self-perpetuating ruling bourgeois elite.

     "The wealthiest planters and planter-merchants," writes Kulikoff, "dominated local [County Court] benches and provincial legislatures from the 1650s to the Revolution.....By 1705, three-fifths of Virginians who owned two thousand or more acres of land were justices or burgesses" (Kulikoff, Tobacco and Slaves, p. 268).

151 Jack P. Greene, "Foundations of Political Power in the Virginia House of Burgesses," The William and Mary Quarterly, ser. 3, 16:485-506; pp. 485-88.

152 Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, 1619-1777, H. R. McIlwaine, ed., 13 vols. (Richmond, 1905-15), 1703-1712, p. 240.

153 CSP., Col. 36:114. Gooch to the Board of Trade, 29 June 1729.

     It is interesting to note that Gooch was disinclined to draw upon his knowledge of Jamaican affairs in his 1736 reply to the Lords of Trade and Plantations regarding the status of free African-Americans. He surely knew of the reliance put upon free Afro-Jamaicans, in efforts to suppress the Jamaica maroons as early as 1663, and again in the First Maroon War which began in 1725 and lasted until 1740.

154 Byrd to Lord Egmont. The American Historical Review, "Documents", No. 1, 1:88-90 (1895). One may speculate that his man-of-"desperate fortune" phrase was in memory of Nathaniel Bacon, whose rebellion Byrd's father had first urged on and then abandoned, when the English and Negro bond-laborers enlisted in it. See also James Hugo Johnston, "The Participation of White Men in Virginia Negro Insurrections," Journal of Negro History, 16:158-67. Johnston cites from the original documents the names of mainly poor European-Americans who, in Gabriel's plot of 1800 and Nat Turner's Rebellion of 1831, and in individual actions maintained the tradition of those English who in 1676 stood with African-American bond-laborers for "freedom from their Slavery." He cites such instances from the records from 1789, 1800 (Gabriel's plot), 1802, 1816, and 1831 (Nat Turner's revolt).

155 Legislative Journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia, 3 vols., H. R. McIlwaine, ed., (Richmond, 1918), 2:1034-35 (11 April 1749). An estimated 30,000 convict bond-laborers were sent to America in 190 ship loads between 1717 and 1772. Of these cargoes, 100 went to the Chesapeake, 53 to Maryland and 47 to Virginia (Arthur Price Middleton, Tobacco Coast: A Maritime History of Chesapeake Bay in the Colonial Era [Newport News, 1953], p. 152).

156 This point is given exensive elaboration in Allen, The Invention of the White Race, 2:246-47, on the basis of findings of Allan Kulikoff, Tobacco and Slaves: The Development of Southern Cultures in the Chesapeake, 1680-1800 (Chapel Hill, 1986), p. 262; Aubrey C. Land, "Economic Base and Social Structure; The Northern Chesapeake in the Eighteenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, 25:639-654 (1965). (Although he limited this study to Maryland, Land believes that "differences between the areas [of the Chesapeake] are not very great" in respect to the thesis he presents.); Aubrey C. Land, "Economic Behavior in a Planting Society: The Eighteenth-Century Chesapeake," The Journal of Southern History, 33:469-85; pp. 472-73 ; Jackson Turner Main, "The Distribution of Property in Post-Revolutionary Virginia," The Mississippi Valley Historical Review, 41:241-58 (1954-55) (The name of this publication was later changed to The Journal of American History.); Jackson Turner Main, The Social Structure of Revolutionary America (Princeton, 1965), esp., Chapter II, "The Economic Class Structure of the South"; Gloria L. Main, "Inequality in Early America: The Evidence from Probate Records of Massachusetts and Maryland," Journal of Interdisciplinary History, 7:559-81; 570-72, 580; Charles S. Sydnor, Gentlemen Freeholders: Political Practices in Washington's Virginia (Chapel Hill, 1952), esp., pp. 141-43.

     Compare, however, Robert E. and B. Katherine Brown, Virginia 1705-1786, Democracy or Aristocracy?, p. 31, n. 142; and D. Alan Williams, "The Small Farmer in Eighteenth-Century Virginia Poliics," Agricultural History, 43:91-101 (1969).

157 Aubrey C. Land, "Economic Base and Social Structure; The Northern Chesapeake in the Eighteenth Century," The Journal of Economic History, 25:639-654 (1965); p. 641.

158 Land, "Economic Base and Social Structure," p. 653.

159 Ibid., 642-43.

160 Ibid., 643-44.

161 Maryland Archives, 5:152-54. Proceedings of the Council 1671-1681. Governor Notley to [name not given in the record], 22 January 1676/7.

162 Francis Bacon, Works, 6:406-12, Essay No. 15, "Of Seditions and Troubles." Dew, the slavocracy's most eminent "theoretician" well understood the premise of that strategy. "The dominant party," he said, "can only be overturned by concert and harmony among the subject party" (Thomas Roderick Dew, An Essay on Slavery [Richmond, 1849], p. 103).

163 C.O. 1/38, ff. 35-36 (October 1676), "Proposalls most humbly offered to his most sacred Majestie by Thomas Ludwell and Robert Smith for Reducing the Rebells in Virginia to their obedience." Printed in Virginia Historical Magazine (Virginia Magazine of History and Biography), 1:433-35

164 Land, "Economic Base and Social Structure," pp. 643-44.

165 The question that historian H. M. Henry speculated on in 1911, was one that confronted the plantation bourgeoisie two centuries earlier:

     ...why should the non-slaveholders, who formed the majority of the white population have assisted in upholding and maintaining the slavery status of the negro with its attendant inconveniences, such as patrol service, when they must have been aware in some measure at least that as an economic regime it was a hindrance to their progress? (H. M. Henry, Police Control in South Carolina [Emory, 1914], pp. 190-91)

166 Wertenbaker, Planters of Colonial Virginia, pp. 97-98, 160. See also Russel R. Menard, Economy and Society in Early Colonial Maryland (New York, 1985), pp. 316-17.

167 "In the late seventeenth century, southern colonizers were able to forge a consensus among upper- and lower-class whites....Race became the primary badge of status." Gary B. Nash, "Colonial Development," in Jack P. Greene and J. R. Pole, eds., Colonial British America: Essays in the New History of the Modern Era (London, 1984), pp. 244-45.

     "Chesapeake planters consolidated their class position by asserting white racial unity" (Ira Berlin, "Time, Space and the Evolution of Afro-American Society on British Mainland North America," American Historical Review, 85:44-78 [1980]; p. 72).

168 Hening 3:87-88. The penalty in such cases was to require the emancipator to pay for the exiling of the freed person within six months, or else pay a £10 fine which would be used to pay for the freed person's transportation out of Virginia as arranged by the church wardens of the parish.

     When, in 1712, under terms of the will of John Fulcher of Norfolk County, sixteen African-American bond-laborers were to be freed and given land in fee simple "to live upon as long as they Shall live or any of there Increase and not to be turned of[f] nor to be Disturbed," The Virginia Colony Council reacted by proposing to bar even this door to freedom (Beverley Fleet, comp., Virginia Colonial Abstracts, 34 vols., [Baltimore, 1961], vol. 3, Norfolk County Wills, p. 26. Executive Journals of the Council of Colonial Virginia, H. R. McIlwaine, ed., 3 vols., [Richmond, 1928], 3:332.) The Council justified this infringement of testamentary rights on the grounds that the increase in the number of free Negroes would "endanger the peace of this Colony," by encouraging the freedom aspirations of others held in bondage.

169 Philip Alexander Bruce, Social Life in Virginia in the Seventeenth Century, An Inquiry into the Origin of the Higher Plantation Class, Together with an Account of the Habits,Customs, and Diversions of the People (Richmond, 1902), pp. 137-38.

170 Hening, 2:117-18 (1662) In Maryland, also in 1705, laws were passed to guarantee "white" servants against abuse and being detained in servitude beyond their time, and declaring that "Negroes [were] Slaves during their Naturall Lives nor freed by Baptisme" (C. O. 7/15, pp, 14, 15. Report of Governor John Seymour, 3 July 1705, to the Board of Trade on laws passed in Maryland that year).

171 Hening, 3:449.

172 Hening, 3:451.

173 Hening, 3:448 (1705). One rare instance in which an individual owner disregarded the over-arching consideerations of "white-race" social control, occurred when bond-laborer Margaret Godfrey sought to claim the protection of her "white" status by defiantly telling her overseer, "If you whip me it will be worse for you for I am not a Slave." Nevertheless. the overseer, with the express leave of the mistress cut Godfrey's clothes from her body and beat her severely two successive times. Her offense had been to plead for humane treatment for her severely injured husband. The Godfreys' petition for relief, was rejected by the Court (St. George's County Records, HH, pp. 165-68 [June 1748]; Maryland State Archives, Annapolis).

174 Hening, 3:103, 459-60. Hilliard d'Auberville proposed, among other measures for control the bond-laborers of St. Domingue, "to give them wives, encourage them to raise cattle, hold them with ties of property" (Hilliard d'Auberville, Considerations sur l'Ètat prÈsent de la colonie franÁaise de St. Domingue, 2 vol [Paris, 1776-77]; 2:59-62. Cited in Gwen Midlo Hall, Social Control in Slave Plantation Societies: A Comparison of St. Domingue and Cuba, [Baltimore, 1971], p. 83).

175 Hening 2: 267 (1668).

176 Hening, 2:280-81 (1670).

177 Hening, 3:251 (1705).

178 Hening, 3:298 (1705), 4:327 (1732).

179 Hening, 3:459 (1705).

180 Hening, 4:119 (1723).

181 Hening 4:131 (1723). A provision was made for free African-American "housholders" to keep one gun and powder and shot (as needed for shooting animals, presumably); and a gun might be allowed to any African-American bond-laborer having the permission of his owner, or to any free African-American licensed by a Justice of the Peace for the protection of "any frontier plantation" (against non-English enemies, presumably).

182 Thomas Harris, Jr. and John McHenry, Maryland reports, being a Series of the Most Important Law Cases argued and determined in the Provincial Court and Court of Appeals of the then Province of Maruyland from the year 1700 down to the the American Revolution, 2 vols. (New York, 1809), 1:563. "The white man's pursuit of black women frequently destroyed any possibility that comely black girls could remain chaste for long," writes Blassingame. According to autobiographies of former bond-laborers, the home of a bond-laborer was "considered by many white men...as a house of ill-fame" (John W. Blassingame, Plantation Life in the Ante-Bellum South [New York, 1972], p. 82).

183 Philip J. Schwarz, Twice Condemned: Slaves and the Criminal Laws of Virginia, 1705-1865 (Baton Rouge, 1988), p. 159.

184 "A white man may go to the house of a free black, maltreat and abuse him, and commit any outrage upon his family, for all of which the law cannot reach him, unless some white person saw the act committed." Thus observed Mr. Wilson of Perquimon County, speaking at the 1835 North Carolina State Constitutional Convention of 1835 (John S. Bassett, Slavery in the State of North Carolina [Baltimore, 1899], bound as one of a number of studies in Slavery in the United States, Selected Essays (New York: Negro Universities Press, 1969), p. 42.

185 Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom, p. 331.

186 Hening, 3:447-62, 4:126-34; emphasis added.

187 In the order of their itemization here, these cited laws are in Hening, 3:459; 4:133-34; 3:87 (1691); 3:453-54; 4:129.

188 Ulrich Bonnell Phillips spoke of "the methods of life which controlled the history of Virginia through the following centuries and of the many colonies and states which borrowed her plantation system." This was "Dixie," where, he said, "the white folk [are] a people with a common resolve indomitably maintained--that it shall be and remain a white man's country." (Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, The Slave Economy of the Old South, Selected Essays in Economic and Social History, Eugene D. Genovese, ed., [Baton Rouge, 1968], pp. 8, 274. The dates of these pronouncements were 1910-11 and 1918, respectively.)

189 Somehow pundits would not begin to regard "racial preferences" in a negative light until after the passage of Equal Opportunities legislation, some two-and-a-half centuries later.

"Irish-Americans [arriving in the United States in the ante-bellum period] were not the originators of white supremacy; they adapted to and were adopted into an already existing 'white' American social order" (The Invention of the White Race, 1:199).

190 Ulrich Bonnell Phillips, "The Slave Labor Problem in the Charleston District," Political Scence Quarterly, 22:416-39 (1907); reprinted in Genovese, ed., The Slave Economy of the Old South, p. 198.

191 Warren B. Smith, White Servitude in the Colony of South Carolina (Columbia, 1961), p. 35.

     Richard B. Morris's monumental study of labor in the continental Anglo-American colonies found that "the effort of white artisans to keep free Negroes and slaves from entering the skilled trades," radiated from Charleston to "every sizable town on the Atlantic coast" (Morris, Government and Labor in Early America, p. 182.)

192 Elizabeth Donnan, ed., Documents Illustrative of the Slave Trade to America, 4 vols. (Washington, D. C. 1935); 4:595 (1739), 605 (1742).

193 Donnan, 4:610. See also, Klaus G. Loewald, Beverly Starika, and Paul S. Taylor, eds., "Johann Martin Bolzius Answers a Questionnaire on Carolina and Georgia," The William and Mary Quarterly, ser. 3, 14:218-261 (1957); p. 242 (19 March 1751). Bolzius, who was attempting to encourage emigration of Salzburgers to Georgia, sought to contrast South Carolina, where, he said, European-American workers could not succeed because of the widespread employment of African-American bond-laborers in skilled crafts, and Georgia, where "Negroes are not allowed to learn a craft except the cooper craft."

194 Smith, White Servitude in the Colony of South Carolina, pp. 30-31. Other variations of the same quota principle were enacted.

195 Donnan, 4:610. Starika et al., eds., 227.

196 James Hugo Johnston, Race Relations in Virginia and Miscegenation in the South, 1776-1860 (Amherst, Massachusetts, 1970), p. 58, citing Archives of Virginia, Legislative Papers, petitions: 9789, Culpeper, 9 December 1831; 9860, Dinwiddie, 20 December 1831; 177707, Norfolk, 12 November 1851). It would seem relevant to note that the first two of these petitions were submitted in the wake of Nat Turner's Rebellion and during the Virginia House of Delegates' debate on slavery. (See Theodore William Allen, "'...They Would Have Destroyed Me': Slavery and the Origins of Racism," Radical America, 9:41-63 (1975); pp. 58-59.)

197 Winthrop D. Jordan, White Over Black, p. 123. I find Jordan's observation accurate and very pertinent, but I have appropriated it for an argument that he does not support. His "unthinking decision" approach to the origin of racial slavery rejects Morgan's (and my) attribution of deliberate ruling class manipulation for social control purposes.

198 Wertenbaker, Patrician and Plebeian, pp. 212.

199 Phillip J. Schwartz, Twice Condemned: Slaves and the Criminal Laws of Virginia, 1705-1865 (Baton Rouge, 1988), p. 13.

200 The Speech of Thomas J. Randolph (of Albemarle [County]) Saturday January 21, 1832, p. 13.

201 Speech delivered in the Virginia House of Delegates 25 January 1832, and printed in the Richmond Enquirer on 2 February 1832.

202 Richmond Enquirer, 4 May, 1832. Civis referred to Roman history, to warn against neglect of the plight of the poor "whites" in eastern Virginia. Even after the admittance of "every Italian to the privilege of Roman citizenship," he said, it was a slave revolt (an apparent reference to Spartacus) that had been the direst threat to the power of Rome, except that posed by the forces of Hannibal.

203 Richmond Enquirer, 3 March 1832. Emphasis in original. Dew's letter appeared on 2 February 1832.

204 This phrase was used as the title of a well-known work of William Appleman Williams, The Contours of American History (New York, 1988; originally published in 1966).

205 The germ theory, holds that United States history has been basically an unfolding of the seed of English democratic principles, dating at least from Magna Charta. One of the champions of the concept, Alexander Brown, noted historian of early colonial Virginia, referring to the "evolution" of the United States, said: "The germ is still unfolding and so long as it remains true to the seed it will continue to put forth to the glory of the nation and for the betterment of mankind." (Alexander Brown, The First Republic in America (Boston and New York, 1898), p. 332.

     I do not consider this theory separately, because I regard it as effectively subsumed in the more complex "paradox" theory, The latter theory does not reject the "germ" theory; quite the contrary, it adheres most staunchly to the paramount and overriding importance of the ideas of English and Enlightenment philosophers of individual liberty as the shaping force in American history. But the "paradox" theory is designed to reconcile the primacy of "individual liberty" with the vexing problem of racial oppression.

206 Edmund Burke, Writings and Speeches, 12 vols. (London, 1803), 2:123-24.

207 Dew, Essay on Slavery, p. 99.

208 Two helpful bibliographies of this controversy are 1) Joseph Boskin, Into Slavery, Racial Decisions in the Virginia Colony (Philadelphia, 1976), pp. 101-12; and 2) James M. McPherson, Laurence B. Holland, James M. Banner, Jr., Nancy J. Weiss, and Michael D. Bell, eds., Blacks in America, Bibliographical Essays (Garden City, New York, 1971), esp., pp. 26-28 and 39-44. See also: 1) Alden T. Vaughan, "The Origins Debate: Slavery and Racism in Seventeenth-Century Virginia," The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, 97:311-354 (July 1989), for a more recent, avowedly partisan, analysis of the state of the discussion; and 2) Raymond Starr's earlier review of the discussion, "Historians and the Origins of British North American Slavery," Historian, 36:1-18 (1973-74)

209 This was essentially the same question that H. M. Henry had asked more than sixty years earlier and which is cited at note 165 above.

210 American Slavery, American Freedom, p. 376. The general term "Virginians" is used by Morgan to mean "white" people in Virginia. In the concluding Chapter 18, the term appears some twenty-two times, but only twice is it modified by "white." Morgan's imposition of this "white" assumption on the reader, objectionable in itself, conforms with his treatment of the African-Americans as mere background to the rise of "liberty and equality."

211 Ibid., p. 380.

212 Ibid., p. 364.

213 Ibid., 366, 369.

214 See note 156, above, for bibliographical notes on relevant works of these historians. See also the discussion in The Invention of the White Race, 2:245-47.

215 Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom, p. 386.

216 Ibid., p. 331; cited above in paragraph# 216.

217 William T. Hutchinson and William M.E. Rachle, eds., The Papers of James Madison, 9 vols. (Chicago, 1962) 2:198-201, 209-11.

218 Letter from "Civis," an Eastern Virginia slavehholder, in the Richmond Enquirer, 4 May 1832.

219 Edmund S. Morgan, "Slavery and Freedom, The American Paradox," Journal of American History, June, 1972, pp. 5-6.

220 Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom, 386, 387.

221 Wertenbaker, Planters of Colonial Virginia, p. 160. The term "yeomanry" is somewhat loosely applied by historians of the early colonial period. In this instance, Wertenbaker was obviously referring to self-employed laboring-class non-holders of bond-labor.

222 Marquis de Chastellux, Travels in North-America in the Years 1780, 1781, and 1782, translated by an English gentleman who resided in America at that period, 2 vols., 2nd. ed. (London 1787. 1968 reprint), 2:190.

223 Letter from "Civis," an Eastern Virginia slavehholder, in the Richmond Enquirer, 4 May 1832.

224 Wertenbaker, Patrician and Plebeian, p. 211.

225 "[T]here existed a numerous supply of potential tenants...from that group of small planters who, in consequence of the trifling quantity of poor tobacco produced on their overworked land in the east, could not successfully compete with a large amount of excellent tobacco grown on the fresh land of the great planters. Faced with impoverishment they looked to the more fertile lands of the Piedmont and Valley as a means of bettering their condition" (Willard F. Bliss, "The Rise of Tenancy in Virginia," VMHB, 58 [1950]:427-442).

226 Kulikoff, Tobacco and Slaves, pp. 150, 152, 153, 296, 297-98. See also The Invention of the White Race, 2:104-5.

227 C.O. 5/1371, ff. 150vo-151. James City County grievance number 10, in "A Repertory of the General County Grievances..." submitted to the King by the Royal Commissison appointed to investigate the causes of Bacon's Rebellion, dated 15 October 1677.

228 George W. Summers of Kanawha County, speaking in the Virginia House of Delegates, during the debate on slavery, following Nat Turner's Rebellion (Richmond Enquirer, 2 February 1832).

229 "[T]he 'warlike Christian men' recruited by Virginia to defend its borders in 1701 were the direct ancestors of the dragoons whose Colts and Winchesters subdued the Sioux of the Great Plains a century and a half later" (Ray Allen Billington, America's Frontier Heritage [New York, 1966], p. 40). The interior quotation is from an Act passed by the Virginia Assembly in August 1701, designed to encourage English frontier settlers (Hening, 3:207).

     I say, "typically," in fairness to the sprinkling of Mennonites and others who opposed the bond-servitude of African-Americans on grounds of Christian fellowship.

230 Frederick Jackson Turner, The Frontier in American History (New York, 1920, 1947), p. 38.

231 Ibid., p. 1. A century has passed since that first essay, and Turner's frontier thesis continues to be meat and drink for historiographical evaluation and disputation. But a marked tendency has been apparent to limit the "frontier" concept, reducing it to a Western regional subject, which, of course, risks "abandonment of the cross-regional amd national emphasis he [Turner] sought to establish for the field" (William Cronon, cited in John Mack Farragher, Review Article, "The Frontier Trail: Rethinking Turner and Reimagining the American West," American Historical Review, 98:106-17 [1993], p. 117). Since the 1960s, critics have shown a welcome sensitivity to Turner's neglect of Indians, Mexicans, and Chinese or, worse, his chauvinistic attitude toward them. Finally, in 1995, a reference was made to Turner's pervasive "whiteness," the significant fact that "his own racial identity was a completely foreign concept to him." (Patricia Nelson Limerick, "Turnerians All: The Dream of a Helpful History in an Intelligible World," American Historical Review, 100:697-716 [1995], p. 715.)

232 Ibid., p. 38.

233 Ibid., pp. 280-81.

234 Ibid., p. 321.

235 James C. Malin, Essays in Historiography (Lawrence, Kansas, 1946), p. 38, cited in Harry Nash Smith, Virgin Land (Cambridge, 1950), p, 302.

236 See The Invention of the White Race, 1:138-41, 152-53.

     The free-land "safety valve" theory at one time was the subject of extensive debate among economic, labor and land historians. Its limitations, even in its own white-blind terms, as an explanation of the low level of proletarian class consciousness were forcefully pointed out decades ago by such historians as Carter Goodrich, Sol Davison, Murray Kane, and Fred A. Shannon, whose names are prominent in the extensive bibliography of the "Safety Valve" controversy. Subsequently it could only be defended in a greatly watered-down form of the original Turner formulation. See Ray Allen Billington, The American Frontier Thesis: Attack and Defense (Washington, D. C., 1971), pp. 20-25, and idem, America's Frontier Heritage, pp. 31-38, 292-93.

237 See Invention of the White Race, Volume One, pp. 145-47, 152-57, 184-86, 195-199.

238 For the moment, gold appears to have fallen into general disfavor among central banks. The Swiss central bank sold half its gold in November 1997, while other central banks have been lending their gold to speculators who in turn sell it short. This strange contempt for gold is said to express "belief in the wisdom of central bankers" ("Market Watch" article by Floyd Norris, "In Alan We Trust, So Why Own Gold?", New York Times, 30 November 1997, Section 3, p. 1; "Alan" is Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board). As that "faith" is sorely tested by a succession of crises and "bail-outs" in Mexico, South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, etc., the financial powers of the world have resort to their ultimate "reserve"--the intensification of exploitation of labor, under the slogan of "austerity."

239 Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan's explanation of this policy has added to the vocabulary of political economy the term "NAIRU," short for "non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment." That is the rate of unemployment, supposedly around 5.8%, that is necessary to keep inflation from increasing (Robert Eisner, "Our NAIRU Limit: The Governing Myth of Economic Policy," The American Prospect, Spring 1995, pp. 58-63; p. 62).

     In actuality, however, NAIRU-type policies have contributed to a much higher level of unemployment. Economist Lester C. Thurow declares that "[t]he great untold story of the American economy of the 1990s is the disguised rate of unemployment. Properly calculated, your rate of unemployment is well into the double digits.... Not since the Great Depression [of the 1930s] has this country had unemployment such as exists today." The effect of the "crusade" to prevent unemployment from falling "too low," as Thurow says, is that "[a]s might be expected the earnings of the bottom 60 per cent fell sharply relative to those of the top 20 percent between 1980 and 1993... (Lester Thurow, "The Crusade That's Killing Prosperity," in Robert Kuttner, ed, The Ticking Time-Bomb [New York, 1996], pp. 48, 50, 51-52).

     Writing in 1997 with an eye to the much-praised policy of "globalization," Robert Kuttner asserts that "There are more than a billion workers unemployed or underemployed." Workers on this country, says Kuttner, are competing with those of Mexico, Malaysia, and the Phillipines, using technology roughly comparable to that used in the United States; and "hundreds of millions of workers in Latin America and Asia are willing to make, say, clothing, at wages of less than a dollar an hour." For the United States working class, the implications of this analysis are ominous: "Only a generation ago...a worker with a modest formal schooling but a strong back and a willingnesss to work could join the blue-collar middle class. It is clear that those days are over....Very few [such jobs] will be available to the generation now entering the [United States] labor force" (Robert Kuttner, Everything For Sale: the Virtues and Limits of Markets. A Twentieth Century Fund Book [New York, 1997], pp. 92, 101).

240 Regarding wealth distribution in the United States, as the twentieth century draws to a close, Edward Wolff reports that, "The gap between the haves and have-nots is greater than at any time since 1929" (Edward N. Wolff, Top Heavy: A Study of the Increasing Inequality of Wealth in America, A Twentieth Century Fund Report [New York, 1995], p. 2.

241 Jeffrey Madrick, The End of Affluence: The Causes and Consequences of America's Economic Dilemma (New York. 1996), pp. 19, 163-64.

242 For over twenty years now, the ruling class has appeared to be preparing a strategy to cope with this potential threat to the "white-race" social control system. The Federal Office of Management in Budget, shortly after its establishment on 1 July 1997, issued its Order No. 15 to establish a new set of "Race and Ethnic Standards for Federal Statistics and Administrative Reporting, and ordered that "not later than January 1, 1980, all reports involving 'racial and/or ethnic information'" conform to this new system of classification. (See OMB Directive 15 and revisions to it as printed in the Federal Register, 62:58781-58790 [30 October 1997.] Let it be noted, if only within the limits of this footnote, that the new system provides for five official "races" but only two "ethnic" categories, namely, "Hispanic or Latino" and "Not Hispanic or Latino" (Ibid., pp. 58787, and 59789). Since the implementation of this new system, mountains of bar charts and statistical tables have insisted that "Hispanics can be of any race."

     If there has appeared a critical examination from the working-class point of view of this new demographic taxonomy, it has escaped my attention. In the meantime, it is perhaps instructive to take note of a 1997 "demographic study" made by a university "research center" whose authors point out "political implications" of this revolution in official policy. In the words of one of the authors:

The traditional black-white image of cities doesn't work for New York any more. Ethnicity is much more important. And the political leadership has yet to understand the magnitude of the change and to incorporate these groups into the political system. (Comment by Michael L. Moss, director of the Taub Urban Research Center at New York University, and co-author of a 1996 up-date of census data [New York Times, 1 December 1997])

 


Contents copyright © 1998 by Theodore W. Allen.

Format copyright © 1998 by Cultural Logic, ISSN 1097-3087, Volume 1, Number 2, Spring 1998.