Race The Power of an Illusion in Colonial America Essay

Race: The Power of an Illusion in Colonial America Essay


The race is a posh notion that enables people to categorize the world’s population based mostly on their physical qualities. This paper discusses the explanations “race” was created and developed in colonial America. The report addresses the moral contradiction associated with the system of human bondage and the concept of equality among all people. The paper also refers to the position of the westward enlargement within the development of “race”.

How “Race” Resolved the Moral Contradiction

The clear difference between free folks and slaves, along with the notion that “all men are created equal” established a moral contradiction in colonial America because of a number of reasons (Race – The Power of an Illusion). First, whatever the concept presented above, it was evident that not all folks were equal at that time. Racial minorities had been treated in a special way in comparison with whites and have been proclaimed slaves. In his Notes on the State of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson wrote that black individuals were inferior to whites from the perspectives of both our bodies and minds (Race – The Power of an Illusion). Jefferson’s words contradict the concept that all people are equal as a outcome of he states that there are vital variations among the many inhabitants. The second purpose for the moral contradiction is that within the nineteenth century, various public lectures addressed the issue of race, implying variations between black and white communities. For instance, at that time, many scientists tried to prove that folks of various races are “completely different and separate creations” (Race – The Power of an Illusion). It is clear that such beliefs contradicted with the concept “all men are created equal” and resulted in a moral contradiction in America.

The race helped to resolve the moral contradiction between the equality of all people and the system of human bondage within the following way. The notion of race can be perceived as an idea that develops and evolves with time based on the population’s needs. Although freedom was one of America’s most significant values, there was a necessity for labor forces in American colonies. The race was utilized as a tool that helped authorities to help human bondage (Race – The Power of an Illusion). On the one hand, all individuals should be treated equally, which means that it was impossible to proclaim a few of them as slaves with out going through the ethical contradiction. On the opposite hand, there was a major need for labor power, and this drawback couldn’t be solved if all people had been perceived as equal and had the identical rights. Thus, there was a need for proclaiming some groups of the inhabitants much less human and totally different from others. This means, society agreed to the concept of quality amongst all individuals but stated that minority groups are “not quite men” (Race – The Power of an Illusion).

It is vital to note that some people tried to oppose slavery at that time and query the idea of race. For example, a Swiss naturalist Louis Agassiz arrived in America desirous to show that every one people were the identical (Race – The Power of an Illusion). However, the works by probably the most distinguished scientists at the time made him rethink his perspective. The students of that point made systematic errors believing that some nations have been smarter than others whereas black individuals had been on the backside of this hierarchy of races (Race – The Power of an Illusion). Although such errors are evident now, they affected the development of “race” and contributed to the resolution of the existing moral contradiction.

Westward Expansion

The westward growth performed a big position in the improvement of the concept of race in colonial America. The majority of the white population of America believed that the West was designated to them (Race – The Power of an Illusion). This thought was the core cause for the expansion to the West in the midst of the nineteenth century, as many white individuals believed that Western territories belonged to them. Thus, the notion of race and the division between the “superior” and “inferior” races became very vital for the population of America. It was vital for white people to separate themselves from black communities and really feel more civilized than different nations as a end result of they wanted to own the West (Race – The Power of an Illusion). They pressured the peoples residing in the West to go away their properties, and “race” was a significant justification for their actions. The development of “race” was helpful for westward growth because it allowed white Americans to determine who might be a rightful citizen of the country.


The paper exhibits that the event of “race” was essential for colonial America, as there was a significant want for labor forces. If all individuals were thought-about equal, it could be unimaginable to make some of them inferior to others. The thought of the race allowed for resolving this moral contradiction, because the population started to believe that black individuals are less human than white ones and thus, could function slaves or be treated poorly.

Work Cited

Race – The Power of an Illusion. Directed by Christine Herbes-Sommers, Jean Cheng, Larry Adelman, Llewellyn Smith, Tracy Strain, California Newsreel, 2003.

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