This chapter begins with the words that concluded President Thomas Jefferson's second inaugural address in 1805. Coming from him, from the Enlightenment, from rationalism and natural philosophy, from Virginia, the words effuse a special illumination. It was exactly two and a half centuries since Englishmen had first confronted Negroes face to face. Richard Hakluyt was then in his cradle and the idea of America not yet fully alive in England. Now, what had once been the private plantations of the English nation was transformed into an independent state seeking not only the “peace” but the “approbation” of all the nations. The transformation had been accompanied by similarly impressive alterations in the character of society and thought. The people had become what so many sixteenth-century Englishmen feared they might become—the governors.
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