It is part of the contemporary American mythology that during the Civil War the noble Yankees defeated the evil racist Southerners, bringing in an era of racial equality. While there certainly were radical abolitionists at the time who were true believers in egalitarianism, the great bulk of Northerners and Westerners held opinions that today would be condemned as “racist.” Many of those who sought to end slavery, including Abraham Lincoln, favored repatriation of freed blacks to Africa in order to avoid the problem of racial integration. Many of those who opposed the spread of slavery into the Western territories did so because they feared the negative impact slavery would have on free white labor, not because they thought whites and blacks to be equal in ability. States such as Oregon and California, which today are considered paragons of progress, were at one time just as aware of race as the Confederacy.
The original Oregon Constitution (drafted in 1857) in fact banned free blacks from even settling in the state:
“No free Negro, or Mulatto, not residing in this state at the time of the adoption of this constitution, shall come, reside, or be within this state, or hold any real estate, or make any contracts, or maintain any suit therein; the Legislative Assembly shall provide by penal laws, for the removal, by public officers, of all such Negroes, and Mulattos, and for their effectual exclusion from the state, and for the punishment of persons who shall bring them into the state, or employ, or harbor them.”
The same constitution further stipulated that,
“No Negro, Chinaman, or Mulatto shall have the right of suffrage.”
(Source: Oregon State Archives)
Oregon gained statehood in 1859 and remained with the Union during the Civil War, showing that white racialism was not at all limited to the Confederacy.
After the South was defeated, the more radical abolitionists had a narrow window in which they were able to implement some of their more insane projects in conquered Dixie. Fortunately, the backlash against this rampant egalitarianism was swift and effective. This reaction against abolitionism was already especially evident in California by 1867 with the victory of Henry Huntley Haight in the gubernatorial election:
“On a cold, gray morning in December 1867, Henry Huntley Haight took to a Sacramento stage and delivered a furious denunciation of the Radical Reconstruction policies pursued by Congress. Haight’s speech on this day echoed sentiments he had expressed publicly, and with increasing ferocity, over much of the preceding year, but now he spoke for the first time as governor of California. His inauguration staged the final act in a political revolution the swept the Republican Party from power and delivered the state into the hands of the Democrats, a party that only a year earlier had seemed so blackened by the stain of rebellion that few thought it would ever rise again…
Haight’s inaugural address some clues to his change of heart, and that of many Californians. Haight claimed that Congress, ‘under the leadership of extreme men,’ was brazenly subverting the purposes for which the war was fought, and the consequences of this subversion, he feared, would be disastrous. ‘The late war,’ he insisted, ‘was waged on our part to enforce the authority of the Federal Government in the Southern States and prevent the disruption of the Union.’ It was not waged, he contended, ‘to destroy the liberties of any portion of the people, or create a negro empire on our southern border.’ As the rest of the speech made clear, this last was the consequence he feared most. Nine months earlier, the Radical Congress had extended the franchise to blacks in the District of Columbia and the territories, and, six months earlier, it had enfranchised freedmen throughout the South. For Haight, of all the ‘usurpations’ perpetrated by Congress, this was the worst. ‘This is briefly the nature of the reconstruction policy of Congress,’ he said. ‘It takes from the white people of ten States their constitutional rights, and leaves them subject to military rule; and disfranchises enough white men to give the political control to a mass of negroes just emancipated and almost as ignorant of political duties as the beasts of the field.’ Haight warmed to his subject as he continued, and his language purpled with outrage. Neatly turning Radical idiom back on itself, he told the crowd, ‘Thus, the reconstruction policy of Congress is the…abolition of those personal rights guaranteed by the Constitution and…the subjection of the white population of the Southern States, men, women, and children, to the domination of a mass of ignorant negroes.’
Here was the panic that had brought California’s dissenters to the polls. The notion that black men might control the levers of power anywhere in the United States was appalling in itself. But Haight reminded his audience that the reality was in fact much worse: ‘The national legislature enacts…that the political power…shall be given to the negroes, who can thereby control their domestic administration and send to Congress negro senators and representatives, to assist in making laws to govern the white people of the North.’ Black men now had the ‘power to participate in federal legislation,’ and Haight was incredulous. ‘That any white man could be found on this continent to sanction a policy so subversive of rational liberty, and in the end so fatal to the Union and the Government, is a subject of unceasing astonishment.’ ‘These measures,’ he said, ‘are a violation of the fundamental principles of the Constitution and of liberty; of every dictate of sound policy; of every sentiment of humanity and christianity; and are disgrace to our country and to the age in which we live.’ “
(D. Michael Bottoms, An Aristocracy of Color: Race and Reconstruction in California and the West, 1850-1890, University of Oklahoma Press: 2013, pages 55-58)
Pro-white racial policy continued in California for several decades and was not overturned until after World War II. Naturally the dismantling of state racial policy was carried out by the courts, as laws that favor the white race are generally quite popular with white voters and are therefore unlikely to be defeated in open, fair elections. In the case of Perez v. Sharp (1948) the state Supreme Court overturned California’s anti-miscegenation law which stated that “All marriages of white persons with negroes, Mongolians, members of the Malay race, or mulattoes are illegal and void.” The written decision in this case provides some interesting information about the history of racial policy in California:
“California’s first miscegenation statute (Stats. 1850, ch. 140, p. 424) was enacted at the same time as two other statutes concerning race. It has been held that these three statutes were in pari materia and therefore to be read together. (Estate of Stark, 48 Cal.App.2d 209, 214 [119 P.2d 961].) The two companion statutes provided: ‘No black or mulatto person, or Indian, shall be permitted to give evidence in favor of, or against, any white person. Every person who shall have one-eighth part or more of Negro blood shall be deemed a mulatto, and every person who shall have one half of Indian blood shall be deemed an Indian.’ (Stats. 1850, ch. 99, § 14, p. 230; repealed Code Civ. Proc., § 18, 1872.) ‘No black, or mulatto person, or Indian, shall be permitted to give evidence in any action to which a white person is a party, in any Court of this State. Every person who shall have one eighth part or more of negro blood, shall be deemed a mulatto; and every person who shall have one half Indian blood, shall be deemed an Indian.’ (Stats. 1850, ch. 142, § 306, p. 455; repealed Code Civ. Proc., § 18, 1872.)
In 1854, this court held that Chinese (and all others not white) were precluded from being witnesses against white persons on the basis of the statute quoted above. (People v. Hall, 4 Cal. 399, 404.) The considerations motivating the decision [32 Cal.2d 720] are candidly set forth: ‘The anomalous spectacle of a distinct people [Chinese], living in our community, recognizing no laws of this State except through necessity, bringing with them their prejudices and national feuds, in which they indulge in open violation of law; whose mendacity is proverbial; a race of people whom nature has marked as inferior, and who are incapable of progress or intellectual development beyond a certain point, as their history has shown; differing in language, opinions, color, and physical conformation; between whom and ourselves nature has placed an impassable difference, is now presented, and for them is claimed, not only the right to swear away the life of a citizen, but the further privilege of participating with us in administering the affairs of our Government.’ (People v. Hall, supra, at pp. 404-405.)”
(Source: Stanford Law School Library)
The explanation given by the California Supreme Court in 1854 is a clear and concise statement on why racial egalitarianism will always be a failure, especially when whites are unequally yoked with non-whites in a civic government. The non-white races will retain their inborn character, and as soon as white leadership in society is weakened, non-whites will revert to their natural behavior and institutions. All of the problems that exist in non-white countries are brought to America when non-whites immigrate here. The white Utopian desire to live in a “color-blind” society is not reciprocated by the non-whites who retain their tribal identity and have no intention or ability to be loyal to an abstract concept of justice that “does not see race.”
Fighting for white interests was an American phenomenon, not a Southern distinctive. White racial superiority in America did not occur by accident, nor was it formed by subconscious motivations. White Americans had an explicit, conscious understanding of the reality of race and shaped policy based on this clear vision. Furthermore, without the fight for white interests carried on by Americans in the North, South and West, there would be no America today. If you appreciate America, thank your racialist forefathers who made it what it is.