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Bind Us Apart: How Enlightened Americans Invented Racial Segregation (edition 2016)
by Nicholas Guyatt (Author)
Bind Us Apart: How Enlightened Americans Invented Racial Segregation by Nicholas Guyatt
"Why did the Founding Fathers fail to include blacks and Native Americans in their cherished proposition that "all men are created equal"? The usual answer is racism. Historian Nicholas Guyatt argues in Bind Us Apart that, from the Revolution through the Civil War, most white liberals believed in the unity of all human beings. Many tried to build a multiracial America in the early nineteenth century, but ultimately adopted the belief that non-whites should create their own republics elsewhere: in an Indian state in the West, or a colony for free blacks in Liberia. Herein lie the origins of "separate but equal." Essential reading for anyone hoping to understand today's racial tensions, Bind Us Apart reveals why racial justice in the United States continues to be an elusive goal: despite our best efforts, we have never been able to imagine a fully inclusive, multiracial society."--Provided by publisher. ""All men are created equal" is America's most cherished proposition. But for more than a century after Thomas Jefferson wrote those words, the Founding Fathers and their successors failed to extend the promise of the Declaration of Independence to blacks and Indians. Why? We take refuge in the notion that white people at the time were the prisoners of racist ideas and that we today are more enlightened. In this popular view, the history of America demonstrates how racist beliefs have been slowly discarded, with later generations realizing the dream of liberty and equality. But as Nick Guyatt argues in Bind Us Apart, white Americans from the founding to the Civil War were not confident racists who blithely condemned blacks and Indians to inferior status. Instead, they were confused and tortured souls, and often remarkably conscious of the damage that racism might do to the nation's future. They looked for ways to reconcile their principles and their prejudices, and sometimes succeeded: in the first decades of the United States, blacks went to the polls alongside whites in some northern states, and federal officials promoted intermarriage between Indians and frontier settlers in the hope that racial divisions would disappear in the West"--Provided by publisher.
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