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
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