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Colored WhiteTranscending the Racial Past$
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David Roediger

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780520233416

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520233416.001.0001

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The Pursuit of Whiteness: Property, Terror, and National Expansion, 1790–1860

The Pursuit of Whiteness: Property, Terror, and National Expansion, 1790–1860

Chapter:
(p.121) 8 The Pursuit of Whiteness: Property, Terror, and National Expansion, 1790–1860
Source:
Colored White
Author(s):

David R. Roediger

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520233416.003.0008

This chapter uses a dramatic moment in the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates as a window through which to survey the strengths, weaknesses, and gaps in recent writings on whiteness, expansion, and terror in the early national and antebellum periods. It then highlights the necessity of considering white racial formation in the context of a settler colonial nation, and a slaveholding one. Stephen A. Douglas' performance in debating Lincoln suggests critical issues much in need of exploration by historians of whiteness who emphasize the roles of property and of terror in making race. It is the very comprehensiveness of the consideration of race, class, and expansion in the works written in the 1970s and early 1980s that offers the most food for thought. The existing literature reveal that in addressing Gesa Mackenthun's call to “add empire” to the study of history, one builds on substantial foundations where racial identity is concerned.

Keywords:   whiteness, national expansion, terror, slaveholding, Stephen A. Douglas, Lincoln, class, Gesa Mackenthun, racial identity

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