41 Los Olvidados: On the Making of Invisible People
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41 Los Olvidados: On the Making of Invisible People JV AN F. PEREA The Framers' Plan for a White America According to its English conquerors, America was always meant to belong to white Englishmen. In 1788, John Jay, writing in the Federalist Number 2, declared: "Providence has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people-a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion, attached to the same principles of government, very similar in their manners and customs.... "I Although Jay's statement was wrong--early American society was remarkably diverse-his wish that America be a homogeneous, white, English-speaking Anglo society was widely shared by the Framers of the Constitution and other prominent leaders. Early on, Benjamin Franklin expressed his distaste for the Germans in Pennsylvania, who, by 1790, accounted for over one-third of the citizens of that state2 The presence of German colonists and their different language, in Franklin's eyes, threatened the English and their government. In his "Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind," written in 1751, Franklin lamented the presence of Germans, other Europeans, and Africans, who would render impure or darken the "lovely White and Red" complexion of the English in America.3 Regarding the Germans, Franklin wrote: [W]hy should the Palatine Boors be suffered to swarm into our Settlements and, by herding together, establish their Language and Manners, to the Exclusion of ours? Why should Pennsylvania , founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs any more than they can acquire our Complexion? Interestingly, Franklin thought that the Germans and other Europeans had a "swarthy complexion," different and inferior to the "lovely White and Red"4 of the English. Franklin attributed racial differences in skin color to the Germans, differences that would probably not be perceptible today, because of his hostility toward their ethnic differences from the English. In this excerpt we can see one of the functions of racial difference: the assignment of an inferior position to a disliked other. With respect to Africans, Franklin pronounced that "[a]I1 Africa is black or tawny." He asked, rhetorically: "Why increase the Sons of Africa, by planting them in America, where 70 N.Y.U. L. REV. 965, 972-78 (1995). Originally published in the New York University Law Review. Reprinted by permission. Copyrighted Material Los Olvid~dos 259 we have so fair an Opportunity, by excluding all Blacks and Tawneys, of increasing the lovely White and Red?" Franklin's design for a white America called for excluding others of a different cOl\lplexion, so that America might not darken its people.s Like Franklin and Jay, Thomas Jefferson was also preoccupied with creating a homogeneous and white nation. In 1801, Jefferson wrote that it is impossible not to look forward to distant times, when our rapid multiplication will expand itself ... & cover the whole northern, if not the southern continent, with a people speaking the same language, governed in similar forms, & by similar laws; nor can we contemplate with satisfaction either blot or mixture on that surface6 The "blot or mixture" that concerned him was the presence of Africans in the United States. Jefferson worried that the black "blot" would lead to "mixture" and the "staining" of "the fine mixture of red and white."? Jefferson's solution was expulsion: the African was "to be removed beyond the reach of mixture," perhaps to Santo Domingo or perhaps back to Africa as a last resort8 For Jefferson, the lovely white, homogeneous republic must not allow its people to be stained and to become a nation of mulattoes. Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence and leading educator and physician of his time, saw blackness as a disease, like leprosy, which was curable with proper treatment. Rush wanted to cure blacks of their blackness. While they recovered from their blackness, Rush proposed isolating and segregating blacks in internal domestic colonies, black farming communities, rather than expelling them from the country.9 Whites were no more willing to include Native Americans in their society than they were to include Africans. White hatred of the Indian was perhaps best personified by President Andrew Jackson, who viewed Indians as impulsive and lacking in discipline. He also feared Indian men as sexual threats to white women. Jackson described Indians as "savage bloodhounds" and "blood thirsty barbarians." He...