Bind Us Apart: How Enlightened Americans Invented Racial Segregation

Basic. Apr. 2016. 432p. photos. maps. notes. index. ISBN 9780465018413. $29.99; ebk. ISBN 9780465065615. HIST
Strongly influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment, the founding fathers extolled principles such as "all men are created equal." Yet, they consciously failed to consider the role of African Americans and Native Americans in the country they created. Many authors have concluded that their actions were the result of racism. Historian Guyatt (history, Univ. of Cambridge) posits that the liberals of the early republic were not racists, but were instead reformers who wished to establish a multicultural society yet ultimately capitulated to regional politics. They then endeavored to give these minority groups freedom in areas outside U.S. borders. Their plan was ultimately adopted, resulting in the creation of "Indian Country," i.e., present-day Oklahoma, and a republic for African Americans in Liberia. In doing so, they produced the "separate but equal" doctrine, which had previously been credited to the Jim Crow South following Reconstruction.
VERDICT This compelling monograph is highly recommended for both academic and public libraries. On the treatment of Native Americans, see Paul VanDevelder's Savages and Scoundrels: The Untold Story of America's Road to Empire Through Indian Territory. Readers should also consider Marie Tyler-McGraw's An African Republic: Black & White Virginians in the Making of Liberia.
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