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White Over BlackAmerican Attitudes toward the Negro, 1550-1812$
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Winthrop D. Jordan

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834022

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807838686_jordan

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The Souls of Men

The Souls of Men

The Negro's Spiritual Nature

Chapter:
(p.179) V The Souls of Men
Source:
White Over Black
Author(s):

Winthrop D. Jordan

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/9780807838686_jordan.11

This chapter shows that, despite their intimate contacts with Negroes, the American colonists generally made little conscious effort to assess the nature of the people they enslaved and took to bed. They felt no pressing need for assessment because both the Negro and slavery were, by and large, self-explanatory. Negroes were people from Africa bought for the purpose of performing labor. What fact could be more obvious and natural, less demanding of explanation? There were strains, of course, beneath this calm surface of placid acceptance. Even when the colonists did not “think” about the Negro, they felt the tug of two opposing ways of looking at his essential nature. One view derived from his uniquely base status in colonial society. In all societies men tend to extrapolate from social status to actual inherent character, to impute to individuals characteristics suited to their social roles.

Keywords:   Negroes, American colonists, slavery, character, colonial society, social status

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