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Jennika Platon
Prof. Rachel Golland
March 7, 2016
ENG 203 B
The Truth of Americas Races
Many literary works have portrayed America as the land of equal and great opportunities.
Thomas Paines from The Final Crisis, XIII have spoken about the promising life America offers
and that he had not seen a country with so many openings to happiness as this. This was the
prevailing idea during the American Revolutionary war in which many Americans are still united
in pursuit of happiness regardless of race. However, the great divide lies beneath the
circumstances for which each pursued the ideas. The country has continued to simultaneously
exercise unity and division like no other country has ever had. The commonality and uniqueness
of ones circumstance is often found within their own race. Therefore, individuals in this country
have stayed with their own kind with the same beliefs, and the resistance to intermixing, yet
alone mingling with other races is still prevalent to this day. Though we solely cannot blame
difference in ideas as to why, America, through a careful observation, continues to be a nation
with distinct, identifiable, unmixed races. It was first and foremost a division of skin color; the
roles and the imposed social meaning to each skin color of the primary races that settled in
America. History regarded the whites as the superior race, the blacks as the slaves and the Native
Americans as the savages. It was this ranking among them that influenced the future of these
races in America and their interaction towards one another. Each race experienced a different
way of life; Hector St. John Crevecoeurs Letters from an American Farmer outlined the essence

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and advantages of the white race in America, Frederick Douglass Narrative of the Life of
Frederick Douglass and Langston Hughes I, Too illustrated the painful realities of the black race
in slavery and after, and lastly Chief Seattles Message to President Franklin Pierce illuminated
the Native Americans request for the cease of unsteadiness caused by the white settlers and their
outcry for harmony between them and the white race. The difference of the circumstances in life
among the races resulted to the development of hierarchy, the animosity towards intermixing and
the uneven accessibility to opportunities. They were all in the same land, but were not given the
same freedoms and equal opportunities in education and by the law. Thus, it challenges the
validity of Thomas Paines idea of America as a country with principles that are just and liberal,
and its application between the 18th and early 20th century.
The white race has always been the poster race of what other nations think of what an
American looks like. Not only are they regarded as the face of a nation, they are perceived to
uphold the most power in the country. There are valid reasons for associating the white race in
America in being at the top of the pyramid. First, it was a white man that is said to discover
America and through that fact, history tells us that the white race was capable of doing such
discoveries because they are the advance race. At the time of the discovery, the native civilization
of the land was underdeveloped and uneducated. Therefore, the white race that were coming
from a more civilized part of the world have exercised claim to the land using refined strategies
and the intimidating use of power. Second, America is dominantly white because the first huge
wave of immigrants was from Europe. Hector St. John De Crevecoeur lived during those times
in which he described an American through his work Letters from an American Farmer. He
characterized Americans as a promiscuous breed, which is a mixture of English, Scotch, Irish,

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French, Dutch, Germans, and Swedes. Notice that no other race was mentioned, yet they were
aware that the blacks and the Native Americans co-exist with them, whom both have also helped
them adapt to the land. During that time, the white race is the only race that can be called an
American, because the government has enslaved the blacks and has pushed the Native Americans
into isolation. Aside from being white, Crevecoeur describes the education, craftsmanship, laws
applied and the likely outcome of an American in this country. He implies that the white race
from Europe is generally educated and intellectual human beings. He states, They have brought
along with them their national genius, Here he sees the industry of his native country displayed
in a new manner, all of the arts, sciences, and ingenuity which flourish in Europe. The white
race being perceived as an educated race, earned them the kind of liberty that the blacks and the
Native Americans did not experience during those times. According to Crevecoeur, the
immigrants and their descendants born in America are titled as freemen, and their contributing
hard work for the country will be rewarded. Since it was the white race that governed the
country, the laws protected the white men. They are nobodys slave and each person works for
himself. Although they came from the poor parts of Europe, they had the chance to start over,
do their crafts, make a better living and climb up the social ladder. No matter which country they
came from and the type of business they offered, every white man who came and was born here
during that time were granted equal opportunity to succeed. Being the superior and knowing that
there is apparent inequality may not be what every white man wanted during that time, but it was
unconsciously established in his mind that they are more privileged. The white race was put on
the pedestal, conveying that the power lies in a white man and that the world answers to a white
man. The implication of the apparent inequality in society has always been that a white man is

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more capable of acquiring education and jobs, and more capable of becoming influential and
being successful. Consequently, it created the distance and hostility by other races occupying the
land toward the white race and vice versa.
Once the bringing of the dark skinned people of Africa began, their race suffered the
unfortunate result of the application of color representation and meaning to human beings. They
suffered the most consequences because their skin color was attributed as unpleasant, or could
also be threatening. The blacks who initially came to this land were no immigrants. Yes, they
were also non- indigenous to the land like the white race, but they were not considered
immigrants during the revolutionary war and even a couple of centuries after. It was no choice of
theirs to be bought from Africa and be sold into slavery. They were forced into a life no man
would have wanted. In some instances, they were not regarded as humans where their lives did
not matter and that they were treated as disposable beings. Born into slavery, Frederick
Douglass chronicled the conditions of the earliest slaves through his memoir Narrative of the
Life of Frederick Douglass. They were stripped away of integral information of humans in the
civilized world. Like most of the slaves he knew they never saw an authentic record containing
their age and most of them were separated with their parents right after birth, it is a common
custom, he wrote. He stated that the masters, who are whites, have chosen to keep them
ignorant about their ages and were never provided documents that contain it. Not only were they
stripped away of their ages but also the rationale as to why they are kept ignorant from it, I
could not tell why I ought to be deprived of the same privilege, he wondered. Their masters
deemed all such inquiries on the part of a slave as improper and impertinent, and evidence of a
restless spirit, the sole explanation for not being allowed to question the inadequacies of their

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lives. The basic information that makes up an individual were deliberately enforced to be taken
away from the black race, what they have had to endure without were never the case with the
white race and the Native Americans. They were not brought to the land to import the goods and
celebrate the genius they were back in Africa, but rather they were the goods that were sold. The
purpose of their race is to become field laborers and serve their masters. To be able to have
control might be the reason for keeping the slaves uninformed, resulting to why scholarly
educating them was never entertained. They worked harder than anybody could ever imagine,
but were compensated the least. Douglass recalled, For when their hard days work in the field
is done, most of them having their washing, mending, cooking to do. They are deprived of the
bodily urgencies and needs like sleep, illustrated by Douglass by writing very many of their
sleeping hours are consumed in preparing for the field in the coming day. Unlike the white
immigrants from Europe, the blacks were not given the chance of earning a better living, not
even the chance to buy themselves a decent pair of clothing for they do not work for themselves.
They received an inadequate fixed monthly allowance and a yearly set of clothing, but only those
who are able to work are given the items. He stated, The children who are unable to work in the
field had neither shoes, stockings, jackets, nor trousers, given to them; their clothing consist of
two linen shirts per year. It was a disturbing fact for this race, Douglass life demonstrated the
loss of basic human rights that every human is entitled to. In addition to being uneducated and
uninformed about their identities, they suffered adamant name-calling like nigger. Their lives
were of no value, they were treated the lowest of the low and were seen as disposable beings for
it was a common saying, It was worth a half-cent to kill a nigger, and a half-cent to bury one.
Furthermore, they experienced punishment in a most horrible manner. Overworking them in the

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fields was not enough, with every mistake they make they were brutally and physically hurt by
their masters through whipping them until they bled no more, and no remorse can be seen on the
masters face. He recalled one of his first encounters of the horrific whipping, The louder she
screamed, the harder he whipped; and the blood run fastest, there he whipped longest. Twenty
years after Douglass wrote his memoir, slavery was abolished. They were no longer enslaved on
the farms, and whipping them became considerably uncommon, they are no longer kept ignorant
by allowing them to be educated in schools, bad most importantly they are no longer ignorant of
their identities. However, nearly a century after the abolition of slavery the black race remained
at the bottom of the racial class. Their basic human rights were restored but they had to struggle
in fighting for their civil rights. They were now able to work and earn a living, but they were
provided only with and limited to menial jobs like household help, street cleaners and railroad
laborers. They are now the colored men who needed to be segregated from the rest of the citizens
and laws were made to do so. By law, the colored men were segregated from every aspect of the
society which includes the school system, transportation and employment. After the abolition of
slavery, their living conditions drastically improved but their status in society remained to sit at
the bottom. Langston Hughes poem I, Too depicted the continued discrimination to his race even
after slavery in which he wrote, "I am the darker brother. They send me in the kitchen to eat".
Yet, he was hopeful that the future will look better and will bring equality for his race by saying
"Tomorrow, I'll be at the table when company comes. Nobody'll dare say to me, 'Eat in the
kitchen,' Then" .They cared less about the material things and power a white had, all they wanted
was to be treated as ordinary Americans. The last stanza in I, Too stated "they'll see how beautiful
I am and be ashamed", which evokes the only thing the black race was longing for, equality.

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What had happened to them as a race in America is not easily forgotten, or may never be
forgotten. The suffering they endured, the ridicule they constantly heard and the discrimination
they had to fight against produced hatred among many of them, and that ill feeling was passed on
generation after generation. Even after the segregation laws were abolished the inequality
lingered and the slavery period was always remembered, and that became the primary reason as
to why the blacks and the whites were adamant about not completely blending with each other.
The Native Americans, also known as the red men were the first settlers of the land, long
before the light colored race came. Chief Seattles Message to President Franklin Pierce
described the value of the land to his people, Every part of this country is sacred to my people.
Every Hillsdale, every valley, every plain and grove has been hallowed by some fond memory or
sad experience of my tribe. The letter explains that they inhabited the vast land with respect,
considered it sacred, cultivated, protected, and filled it with the joys and sorrows of their people.
It is what made America their land, but to avoid further hostility with the white race and the
disturbance of his people, they were willing to give up their rights to the land. They fought a
brutal battle, yet they fought with all their might before coming to the conclusion that to continue
another battle, We would have everything to lose and nothing to gain. It was their lack of
experience, men and arms that caused the race to be pushed further west, and lost a great part of
the land they once called theirs. They are the rightful citizens and owners of the land but they
lost their rights to the land and the respect they deserve as people. As time went on, the portions
of the remaining land that was left of the red race were bought by the white men in exchange for
peace. This innocent race only pleaded for harmony, they did not ask for the same rights that
were instantly given to the immigrants of Europe, all they wanted were to be left alone to

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continue living the life they know. Despite the unfair treatment and the unfortunate events to the
red race, Chief Seattle believed that his men should not feel discontent and must not worry about
the future, because regardless of skin color Men come and go like waves of sea. He also stated
that they were treated unfairly by the white mans law, but still plead to them that the red race
will dwell apart and in peace, never to be disturbed again in the reservation offered by the
white men. They will keep their religion as they please, and wrote, Our religion is the traditions
of our ancestors, the dreams of our old men, given them by the great Spirit, and the visions of our
sachems, and is written in the hearts of our people.. Similar to the black race that were enslaved,
the red race developed hate against the white mans ancestor who exiled them in the reservations.
Instead of continuing to fight against what happened, they let their future take its course. They
humbled themselves and only hoped for a future of living in peace within their tribes. The red
race did not mix with the rest of the country for they were isolated in the lands far away from
whites and the blacks, and even so their traditions have already separated them from the rest of
the countries races.
In conclusion, the excessive power of the white race, the hurtful experiences of the black
race and the loss of the Native Americans of their land resulted to the division of Americas
races. The differences in their experiences in education, employment and law, and the enforced
social meaning given to their skin colors were also the driving factors that made each race in
America repulse the idea of amalgamation. Furthermore, by examining these literary works, the
description of the circumstances of each race and the relation of their setting to Thomass Paines
idea of America as a country with just and liberal principles, it is disappointing that the very
same idea was eminent and important during a time where inequalities, abuse of power and

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encouragement of enslaving humans was prevalent in the country. Therefore, to say that America
was a land of just and liberal principles during Paines time is not the truth for all the races.