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This essay considers the development of racial ideology in the eighteenth century in the context of a comparative colonial cultural history of the British West Indies and of North America. It focuses on the racialization of whiteness in the 1760s and 1770s and on the way in which this racialization of skin color relates to issues of gender. Janet Schaw's Journal of a Lady of Quality(1774-6) is the principal text for this enquiry. The concluding section of the paper argues that mid-eighteenth-century discourses of whitening and whiteness form an important cultural context for understanding later abolitionist texts.