Chair and Commentator: Edward Countryman, Southern Methodist University
• Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Rutgers University–New Brunswick
• Annette Gordon-Reed, Harvard University
• Nicholas Guyatt, University of Cambridge
• Robert Parkinson, Binghamton University
Historians have always been drawn to the apparent contradiction between “all men are created equal” and the regimes of racial hierarchy that structured early U.S. society. This roundtable brings together historians who’ve recently published on race in the Revolution and the early republic, and invites them both to survey the state of the field and to explore new avenues of research in this area. The session will engage the lived realities of race in the late eighteenth century, the development of race theory and racial prejudices, and the political and social consequences of race thinking. The participants will also consider the pros and cons of thinking in parallel about Native Americans and African Americans in the early United States; the extent to which U.S. racial theories and practices were distinctive from European and Latin American thinking; the relationship between race thinking and the first phases of antislavery activism and Indian ‘reform'; the employment of race thinking by people of color themselves; the political uses of race; and the distinctiveness (or otherwise) of the Revolutionary moment in the broader narrative of American history.
Recorded in April 2018 at the OAH Annual Meeting held in Sacremento, California as part of the Mellon-funded Amplified Initiative.