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Race and Manifest Destiny: Origins of American Racial Anglo-Saxonism Revised ed. Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0674948051
ISBN-10: 067494805X
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Editorial Reviews

Review

A work of monumental scope. [Horsman] has permanently changed the accepted scholarly understanding of racial Anglo-Saxonism. (Reviews in American History)

The most lucidly written, comprehensive portrayal of antebellum racial thought to date. (The Yale Review)

The book offers an insightful perspective stressing the unity of racist thought...Well written and organized, Race and Manifest Destiny confronts an important subject in western history, yet never loses sight of the broader themes of the American past. (Western Historical Quarterly)

A well-documented, in-depth study of antebellum racial thought which challenges the older view of historians that racial Anglo-Saxonism was not intellectually ascendent in American thought before the Civil War...A very important contribution. (Indiana Magazine of History)

From the Back Cover

In this book, Horsman examines the origins of racialism and shows that the beliefs in white American superioty we firmly ensconced in the nation's ideology by 1850.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 380 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; Revised ed. edition (December 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067494805X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674948051
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #634,671 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In his seminal work first published in 1981, historian Reginald Horsman looks at the development of racial ideology in the United States during the age of Jackson, The author argues that the idea of Anglo-Saxonism in the United States emerges out of England and the English reformation and is influenced by Enlightenment ideas. He shows how, in the decades after the Revolution, Americans (and Europeans) developed ideas about the racial inferiority of other “lesser” peoples to justify the eventual subjugation of these groups. Horsman notes that while many (if not all) Americans in the early years of the Republic agreed all humans are descended from one pair and the differences in skin color are due to differences in environment, this changes in the early nineteenth century. (Horsman 99-101) This is due to the influences of the Romantic Movement and its emphasis on the uniqueness of the individual as well as the reality of slavery in what some refer to as the world’s freest nation. Finally, Horsman traces how the idea of racial inferiority hardens and gains traction throughout the mid nineteenth century and is used as justification for not only slavery but also Indian removal and the Mexican War.
Horsman uses a vast array of sources as should be expected when discussing such diverse topics as the English revolution, the Enlightenment, racial thought in early America and Manifest destiny (to name a few). The author uses both primary and secondary sources including such primary sources as The Papers of Thomas Jefferson and The Writings of Thomas Jefferson as well as secondary items by such notable scholars as Gordon S. Wood and Bernard Bailyn.
As for weaknesses, it is difficult to pinpoint any.
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Format: Paperback
After four years of teaching, "The Psychology of White Racism," and "Psychosocial Constructions of American Whiteness," Horsman's book is still a top choice. At the end of every semester, I review the literature in search of a better treatment of the origins of whiteness in the United States, and I am unable to find one. The use of this text within a course outside of a History department may require a short orientation to historical approaches to scholarly writing. As a psychology professor, I encourage the students to consider the writing narrative, and to map out visual representations of the author's telling. I find that this helps them to become disentangled from what they see as the minutia of dates, and to construct a cogent, yet still temporally focused narrative that truly enlightens and becomes a useful analytic tool. For most of my psychology seminar students, the style of writing makes this book a challenging read; however, I believe that at the end, they find it well worth the effort. In addition to Horsman's text, we also read Ian Lopez's White by law: The legal construction of race, Davis Roediger's Working toward whiteness: How America's immigrants became White, Matt Wray's Not quite White, Race, Nation, and Religion in the America's, and Pauline Schloesser's The fair sex: White women and racial patriarchy in the early American republic.
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Outstanding work on the early years of America's history, specifically regarding the racist ideology that propelled much of the western movement.
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I would have given it four stars if the interpretation wasn't "I love it." It's hard to "love" a book that reveals so many of Europe's and America's moral and intellectual short-comings. However, simply as a work of scholarship, the book is excellent, and shines a light of truth on the roots of Western thought that have led to greatness and great blunders in our history. I wouldn't say Horsman is without bias himself, however; and I wonder whether or not the loss of confidence his work has engendered in the West, has been the consequence he was looking for?
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