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Sociology 3321F/G

English Americans • Although the English were not the first Europeans to come to North America, they were the first to colonize it in large numbers. By the early eighteenth century, there were approximately 350,000 English and Welsh colonists in North America. At the time of the revolution, this number had increased to between 1 and 2 million. • English advocates of establishing North American colonies put forward a number of explanations to explain the practice. The need for trading posts and for new sources of raw materials, as well as new markets for English goods, received much attention. Others emphasized Protestant missionary objectives, the search for a passage to Asia, the need to stop Spanish and French expansion, and the need for a place for England’s surplus population. The Invention of the “White Race” • Nineteenth century European immigrants did not initially define themselves as “White” but rather as Irish, German, or Italian; they constructed themselves as “White” as they moved up economically and politically in U.S. society. • The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries saw the emergence of the “white race” as a deliberately constructed social group for the first time in North America or, for that matter, world history. From the beginning, English settlers and their descendants saw themselves as quite different from Native Americans and African Americans, whom they initially stereotyped as “uncivilized,” “idolaters,” and “savages.” In contrast, English Americans saw themselves as protectors of the new nation who were to reserve it for the “worthy part of mankind.” • By the early 1800s, the growing importance of southern cotton plantations for the U.S. economy as a whole (northern entrepreneurs and bankers were often linked to the southern cotton economy) increased the demand for Native American land and African and African American slaves. • As a result of these developments, a White Anglo-Protestant elite developed and circulated the idea of an advantaged “White race,” in part as a way to provide racial privileges for propertyless British and other European immigrants and to prevent them from bonding with Americans of color. • Sociologist W. E. B. Du Bois suggested that these White workers came to accept a lesser economic position and lower wages in return for the “public and psychological wage” that went with “Whiteness.” In return for acceptance of their subordinate class position, white workers were allowed or encouraged by the White elite to be part of a racial hierarchy in which all Whites enforced deference from African Americans and other Americans of color. Racial privileges also generally included the right to substantial personal liberty, the right to travel and immigrate, and the right to vote. The Dominant Culture and Major U.S. Institutions • Most analysts of the
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