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John C. Calhoun and How American Boundaries Were Restricted by the National Commitment to White Supremacy

[ 234 ] November 27, 2012 |

One of my favorite things about American racism is that the nation’s commitment to white supremacy has both encouraged imperialist wars of conquest and then horrifying the racial sensitivities of Americans to their results. In 1846, the U.S. went to war with Mexico for no justifiable reason (unless you think expanding the nation’s slave empire is a good reason) and stole the northern half of that country. Much to James Polk’s surprise, the Mexicans did not want to give up their northern frontier. Polk finally ordered the military to take Mexico City since the Mexicans wouldn’t surrender. Under General Winfield Scott, the army engaged in a brutal, blood-soaked five month campaign that finally managed to capture Mexico City in September 1847, a very important moment in Mexican public memory.

After Scott took Mexico City, some of the biggest supporters of American expansion noted that since they already controlled the capital, why not just annex the entire nation? One big problem though. What to do with all the brown people? They aren’t black so we can’t enslave them all. Plus there’s so many of them. But they certainly aren’t white so they obviously can’t be allowed into the nation as equals.

John C. Calhoun stepped into the fray to give his opinion about why we couldn’t annex all of Mexico because it would upset the nation’s racial balance. This is part of his speech to the Senate given on January 4, 1848.

The next reason which my resolutions assign, is, that it is without example or precedent, wither to hold Mexico as a province, or to incorporate her into our Union. No example of such a line of policy can be found. We have conquered many of the neighboring tribes of Indians, but we have never thought of holding them in subjection—never of incorporating them into our Union. They have either been left as an independent people amongst us, or been driven into the forests.

I know further, sir, that we have never dreamt of incorporating into our Union any but the Caucasian race—the free white race. To incorporate Mexico, would be the very first instance of the kind of incorporating an Indian race; for more than half of the Mexicans are Indians, and the other is composed chiefly of mixed tribes. I protest against such a union as that! Ours, sir, is the Government of a white race. The greatest misfortunes of Spanish America are to be traced to the fatal error of placing these colored races on an equality with the white race. That error destroyed the social arrangement which formed the basis of society. The Portuguese and ourselves have escaped—the Portuguese at least to some extent—and we are the only people on this continent which have made revolutions without being followed by anarchy. And yet it is professed and talked about to erect these Mexicans into a Territorial Government, and place them on an equality with the people of the United States. I protest utterly against such a project.

Sir, it is a remarkable fact, that in the whole history of man, as far as my knowledge extends, there is no instance whatever of any civilized colored races being found equal to the establishment of free popular government, although by far the largest portion of the human family is composed of these races. And even in the savage state we scarcely find them anywhere with such government, except it be our noble savages—for noble I will call them. They, for the most part, had free institutions, but they are easily sustained among a savage people. Are we to overlook this fact? Are we to associate with ourselves as equals, companions, and fellow-citizens, the Indians and mixed race of Mexico? Sir, I should consider such a thing as fatal to our institutions.

The next two reasons which I assigned, were, that it would be in conflict with the genius and character of our institutions, and subversive of our free government. I take these two together, as intimately connected; and now of the first—to hold Mexico in subjection.

This isn’t the only case of American commitment to white supremacy getting in the way of colonial expansion. The anti-imperialist movement was full of white supremacists in the late 1890s, arguing that bringing the world’s darker peoples into the United States threatened American institutions. They didn’t win that fight. But after the U.S. conquest of the Philippines, employers in California saw a new source of cheap labor. With everyday people of California committed to keeping their state white, they protested against both Chinese and Japanese immigration, getting the former excluded in 1882 and the latter heavily restricted in 1907. Such a thing wasn’t possible for the Filipinos since they were now Americans. Filipinos came over by the thousands to work on the farms and in the fish canneries. Even worse, Filipino men began marrying white women, using the courts to get around California’s miscegenation laws. This caused huge outrage in California. The upshot of it all was the Tydings-McDuffie Act of 1934, which gave the Philippines independence in 1946 in exchange for the immediate end to almost all Filipino immigration.

In the end, many Americans decided that colonial expansion was not worth the price of brown men having sex with white women.

Comments (234)

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  1. DrDick says:

    This also played out in interesting ways in terms of American ethnic relations, particularly with the Irish. I play this for my race and ethnicity class when we talk about ethnic stratification. It commemorates a little known episode in the Mexican American War were hundreds of Irish soldiers defected to the Mexican side.

  2. Bitter Scribe says:

    The U.S. annexing Mexico? Was that seriously ever a thing? I never heard of it before. I always thought Polk picked a fight with Mexico because he wanted California and the Mexicans wouldn’t sell it to him.

    The nearest analogy I can think of would be the Louisiana Purchase, where we absorbed a population speaking a foreign language and practicing a religion that was mostly thought of as foreign at the time. But that population was mostly around New Orleans. There’s a difference between absorbing the population of a relatively prosperous city, and taking on an entire, poverty-stricken country.

  3. medrawt says:

    As a freshman in high school I closed out a unit on Mexican history by writing a paper that argued many (not all!) of Mexico’s problems over its history could be attributed to Mexico’s failure to follow the lead of its northern neighbor and just annihilate the indigenous population ASAP. I am disappointed to find that I missed the opportunity to cite such a titan of American history as John Calhoun.

    (Hopefully this doesn’t need saying, but neither I nor my paper thought it was a morally good thing that the US did what it did; I aimed for “dispassionate analysis just failing to mask an ocean of cynicism”.)

    • Informant says:

      This is a point that people have been making with regard to Latin America for many decades — until the past 25 years or so, there was a fairly strong correlation between a country’s political and economic stability and the extent to which the country had massacred its native population while it was politically feasible to do so.

      • NorthLeft12 says:

        Are you asserting that the United States is politically and economically stable? And has been for it’s entire history? I guess I am including you guys in the Latin American region. Anywhere south of Canada I consider to be tropical and “Latin”.

        I am assuming that you count your country as one which has massacred its native population.

        Not sure how this correlation works. Is the theory that it is the fault of the native population that the country is unstable?
        Yeah, that sounds like something a racist would say.

  4. Jameson Quinn says:

    Hopefully, we’ll get over it some time in the next 15 years or so, and Puerto Rico will fulfill its manifest destiny of making the blue patch on the flag uncomfortably wide and the Senate permanently Democratic.

    Oh, but hopefully before then Viecques (sp?) will be like a national park or something.

    OK, I didn’t actually have anything useful to say about PR, except that it deserves mention in this context.

    • Hogan says:

      OK by me in America.

    • wengler says:

      Except the forces in Puerto Rico that would give Democrats two more senators are the same that will ensure it never becomes a state. The two-part referendum was designed to overstate support of statehood.

    • Chatham says:

      Puerto Ricans still don’t seem unified about statehood though. We’ll see what happens.

      Meanwhile, DC, with a greater population than Wyoming (and catching up on Vermont) lacks representation and self determination while still paying federal taxes. And the residents are ready for statehood now.

      • Murc says:

        DC absolutely should not be a state. It should be merged into Maryland. Having two Senators for a tiny postage stamp of land is just as ridiculous as having two Senators for the tiny handful of people who live in the vast empty swathes of Wyoming.

        Ideally, we’d simply adopt a more sensible method of apportionment, but absent that, the way to give DC residents representation is to send the land back to whence it came.

        • wengler says:

          Or give them the choice as to whether they want to be a state or absorbed into Maryland.

        • Chatham says:

          So you think it’s ridiculous that Vermont has two senators? DC has been a separate political entity for as long as Kentucky has, and forcing them to unify with a state they were part of 200 years ago is silly. If you want to reform the Senate, work on reforming the Senate, but denying the people of DC rights does nothing to change the system, it only makes it even more unequal.

          • So you think it’s ridiculous that Vermont has two senators?

            Obviously.

            • Craigo says:

              Yeah, I can’t sign onto any deal that further malapportions the world’s most unrepresentative legislative body.

              • djw says:

                But in an important sense, it doesn’t. DC would add another small state, but most small states contributes to the overrepresention rural, white parts of the country. Adding DC would actually tilt the senate slightly in the direction of greater balance.

                • Craigo says:

                  Demographic groups don’t vote, but equal Senate representation grants disproportionately enormous power to individual voters in states like Wyoming, Vermont, Delaware, Montana, the Dakotas.

                  Under-representing blacks in one state and over-representing them in another isn’t just as equitable as one-person, one-vote. It’s a gross distortion of small-d democracy.

                • Chatham says:

                  Yeah, I’m not entirely moved by the argument that since rural white voters are over-represented in the Senate, it would be unfair for DC – a mixed race urban area – to be free.

                • Murc says:

                  What Craigo said.

                  DC doesn’t have enough people in it to justify being an entire state with all that entails. The people living there indisputably deserve to be fully represented within the Congress; further malapportioning said Congress isn’t the way to do it.

                  I should note that I’m not inherently biased against basing decisions on representation on geography. Deciding ‘okay, the Great Plains deserve a couple guys who are specifically dedicated to looking after its interests regardless of how many people live there’ isn’t an insane way to do things.

                  But our current system is just kind of insane.

                • djw says:

                  We’re stuck with the Senate, which means we’re stuck with the overrepresentation of small states. That over-representation is compounded by the demographic dynamic that comes with it. If the small states were more like the country as a whole, the impact of the malapportionment of the Senate would be less.

                  The over-representation of rural and white interests distorts American politics in really problematic ways, and insofar as DC statehood would cut against it, it would be something to embrace if viable. Murc’s comment about its geographic size above is demonstrative of the problem; it naturalizes the norms that make overrepresentation of rural interests seem inevitable and acceptable. It has more people than Wyoming; statehood for it is no less ridiculous. Land doesn’t vote.

                  I completely agree with Craigo’s last paragraph. If the choices were abolishing the Senate or adding DC I’d choose the former. But insofar as the latter might be slightly more viable, opposing DC statehood on these grounds makes the perfect the enemy of the good.

                • Murc says:

                  Murc’s comment about its geographic size above is demonstrative of the problem; it naturalizes the norms that make overrepresentation of rural interests seem inevitable and acceptable.

                  … explain how.

                  The fact that I think taking geography as one of many factors into account when deciding how to apportion a legislative body should in no way be read as my thinking that overrepresenting rural areas is both acceptable and inevitable.

                  It has more people than Wyoming; statehood for it is no less ridiculous.

                  … except that statehood for Wyoming is completely ridiculous. “No less ridiculous” isn’t the same as “not ridiculous.”

                  opposing DC statehood on these grounds makes the perfect the enemy of the good.

                  Why is DC becoming a state the optimal solution to the problem at hand, though?

                  The problem is that the people living in DC aren’t represented in the Congress and their city, unlike every other city in America, isn’t allowed control over local matters.

                  There are ways to solve that problem that don’t involve making the apportionment problem in the Senate worse. Why not use them instead?

                • djw says:

                  … explain how.

                  By implying geographic size rather than population is relevant to the absurdity of small states having equal senate representation.

                  The fact that I think taking geography as one of many factors into account when deciding how to apportion a legislative body should in no way be read as my thinking that overrepresenting rural areas is both acceptable and inevitable.

                  You’re going to have to walk me through this, because I have no earthly idea what the representation of geography might mean, if not greater representation for underpopulated

                  Why is DC becoming a state the optimal solution to the problem at hand, though?

                  Who said it’s optimal? We’re stuck with the Senate, because of our stupid constitution. Getting rid of it, or radically reforming it, would be better, but they’re not likely to be on the table.

                  There are ways to solve that problem that don’t involve making the apportionment problem in the Senate worse.

                  One of the problems with the senate is the over-representation of rural areas. You said you don’t find that representation ‘acceptable’ or ‘inevitable.’ So I have no idea why you’d keep claiming adding DC as a state would make malaportionment worse. If small states were more representative of the country as a whole, the malaportionment of the senate wouldn’t be as distorting as it is. (Even if it were “worse” as a matter of pure mathematics, but I’ve no idea why I should care about that more than the substantive over-representation of specific groups in society–especially when that group over-representation has a long history of producing terrible policy.)

                  Why not use them instead?

                  I can imagine some plausible future scenario in which DC statehood might be part of some palatable compromise. I can’t imagine a plausible future in which 38 states vote to abolish the Senate. Again you’re making the perfect the enemy of the good here.

                • Craigo says:

                  I think you’re misunderstanding Murc’s last point. He’s not talking about abolishing or reforming the Senate, but ceding the District back to Maryland. They get representation, Maryland’s Senate representation becomes almost perfectly proportional to its new population, and we refrain from distorting congress even further.

                • Murc,

                  Your argument is very similar to the ‘color-blind’ opposition to affirmative action.

                  “Ohnoes, taking race into account is horrible! No affirmative action!”

                  “But we’ve already got this situation…”

                  “For the record, I’m against that, too.”

                  “That’s nice. Now, as I was saying, we’ve already got this situation…”

                • In a system in which every state of every size gets two Senators, but DC has none, giving DC Senators does not distort Congress even further. It distorts Congress less, to have just a stupid rule, instead of a stupid rule and a stupid exception to that rule.

                  And that’s before we even get to how Congress is distorted, in terms of demographics, and the effect of DC Senators on that.

                • Murc says:

                  You’re going to have to walk me through this, because I have no earthly idea what the representation of geography might mean, if not greater representation for underpopulated

                  … at what point did I call for the representation of geography?

                  I don’t see why this is all that complicated, or even controversial. Geography IS a factor when apportioning legislative seats, assuming you’re going to tie seats to locales at all (and there’s a strong argument that you should.) It should be considered and weighed.

                  Part of the reason people get upset about gerrymandering is that a slice of land five miles wide and a hundred miles long, or a city that’s cut into pie slices that extend way out into the suburbs, is that even though those places might have equal population, the geography of such a division is suspect.

                  It does not follow from there that I think underpopulated but geographically large areas should be grossly overweighted the way they are in our current system. At MOST, it follows that possibly, if we were designing a new system from the ground up, I would maybe be okay with them being a LITTLE overweighted if there was a convincing argument that said land needed a certain minimum number of people with a personal stake in it to steward it well in the legislature.

                  And that’s at most. The argument would need to be real convincing.

            • njorl says:

              I think it’s ridiculous that any state has any senators.

          • Murc says:

            So you think it’s ridiculous that Vermont has two senators?

            Yes. I do. Next?

            DC has been a separate political entity for as long as Kentucky has, and forcing them to unify with a state they were part of 200 years ago is silly.

            Then we’ll never reform the Senate. Ever. Because most states have been separate political entities for extremely long periods of time as well. By your logic it would be ‘silly’ to force them into different configurations.

            but denying the people of DC rights does nothing to change the system, it only makes it even more unequal.

            How would merging them into Maryland deny them any rights? They’d still be US citizens. They’d still get to vote. Their votes would count. They’d obtain Congressmen and Senators. The city would incorporate and get to make local laws just like Baltimore does, rather than local legislation being subject to a veto from some guy from Idaho.

            • Chatham says:

              “How would merging them into Maryland deny them any rights?”

              If both they and Maryland agreed to it? It wouldn’t. If neither of them, or only one, agreed to it, it would. Just as much as telling Oregon that they had the choice of either being federally controlled or merging with California.

              If you want to reform the Senate, do so. But to say that you’re frustrated by the current system, and therefore DC shouldn’t have the right to make it’s own laws or control it’s own budget, unless it agrees to join with it’s larger neighbor (which will result in a loss of autonomy), is silly. Your effectively saying that because the system doesn’t work, DC, and only DC, should be punished.

              • Craigo says:

                DC shouldn’t have the right to make it’s own laws or control it’s own budget, unless it agrees to join with it’s larger neighbor (which will result in a loss of autonomy)

                What autonomy does it have now? For that matter, what autonomy does Philadelphia have in Pennsylvania, or Chicago in Illinois, besides providing the single largest bloc of votes in the state?

                • Chatham says:

                  For example, the Human Rights Act of DC protects sexual orientation. Not only did DC legalize gay marriage before MD, it was not subject to approval by referendum (both the board of elections and the DC superior court ruled against such a referendum).

                  I guess you could argue what autonomy is lost by forcing Oregon to merge with California? What autonomy is lost by forcing New Mexico to merge with Texas?

                • Erik Loomis says:

                  Why don’t you ask the Hispanos of New Mexico what they think of merging with Texas and what would be lost?

                • Craigo says:

                  First, you can’t force a state to merge or divide. Article IV. Second, no one here is arguing by taking away even more voting power from any state by merging them. The whole idea is to not distort the Senate any further.

                  And if it comes down DC gaining disproportionate voting power via becoming a state, or gaining roughly proportionate power by joining Maryland, I know what I’m choosing.

                • Chatham says:

                  “I know what I’m choosing.”

                  Do you live in DC or Maryland?

                  Of course you can’t force a state to merge or divide. That’s why New Mexico and Oregon have nothing to worry about. But do you think (theoretically) that they wouldn’t lose anything from being told that they either have to merge with their neighbors or lose representation and autonomy? I already demonstrated at least one way that such a loss of autonomy would have impacted DC.

                  Is it fine that DC, and only DC, would have to make that choice, while states with similar populations would not?

                • Murc says:

                  First, you can’t force a state to merge or divide. Article IV.

                  Not unless you use an Amendment, which would be required to reform the Senate anyway.

                  Although I hadn’t really considered Article IV when thinking about the optimal solution for what to do with DC. I might have to re-think things.

                • Murc says:

                  Do you live in DC or Maryland?

                  The hell has that to do with anything?

                  Statehood is an issue of national import, which is why the national legislature makes decisions on it. My opinion on what the optimal solution to it might be WRONG, but it isn’t ILLEGITIMATE just because I’m not local.

                • Craigo says:

                  But do you think (theoretically) that they wouldn’t lose anything from being told that they either have to merge with their neighbors or lose representation and autonomy?

                  You need to decide what your argument is. First DC’s lack of representation is so terrible that it should be its own state – but somehow, joining Maryland would cause it to lose representation that it does not have.

                  Is it fine that DC, and only DC, would have to make that choice, while with similar populations would not?

                  Yes. DC is not a state, and has no sovereignty under the Constitution. As djw pointed out, the rotten malapportionment in the Senate is entrenched, and we can’t fix it. But that’s no reason to make it worse, especially when we can grant representation without doing so.

                  As part of Maryland, the citizens of the District would enjoy the same protections and representation granted to every citizen of Maryland – especially because, unlike the Senate, states must operate according to one-person, one-tote.

                  How do you think Maryland politics would have changed with 250,000 new likely voters?

                • Craigo says:

                  And

                  Do you live in DC or Maryland?

                  Not anymore. Point being? I live in the United States and am governed by the Senate, and I have an interest in seeing that this body does not become even less democratic than it already is. The same interest is held by every citizen of the United States, no matter where they live. Some people’s votes should not count for more than others’.

                • Chatham says:

                  “Why don’t you ask the Hispanos of New Mexico what they think of merging with Texas and what would be lost?”

                  Something similar to what DC residents would feel is lost merging with MD?

                  “but somehow, joining Maryland would cause it to lose representation that it does not have.”

                  No, merge “they either have to merge with their neighbors or lose representation and autonomy.” They would lose that if they don’t merge. And if they do merge, they will lose out on autonomy as well (again, read my example that you asked for and appear to have ignored). Wonderful choice.

                • Chatham says:

                  “Point being?”

                  Point being that you’re not going to choose whether DC joins Maryland or not.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Some people’s votes should not count for more than others’.

                  But given the undeniable fact that they do, and will continue to do so, freezing things at a point where only rural white people count extra seems, shall we say, unhelpful.

                • djw says:

                  But that’s no reason to make it worse,

                  Again with this. We’re stuck with the over-representation of small states, and small states also overrepresent rural areas and white people. If small states weren’t so unrepresentative of the population as a whole, the senate would be less of a disaster.

                • Craigo says:

                  Point being that you’re not going to choose whether DC joins Maryland or not.

                  Okay. But, uh, neither will DC. That’s Congress’ job, and Maryland’s. And since Congress isn’t about to create two Democratic seats…

                • Craigo says:

                  Again with this. We’re stuck with the over-representation of small states, and small states also overrepresent rural areas and white people. If small states weren’t so unrepresentative of the population as a whole, the senate would be less of a disaster.

                  Yes, it would be. I don’t care if Wyoming was a perfect cross-section of America – there is no fair reason to give those voters 74 times the influence over the Senate as those of California. It’s not democratic.

                  Groups don’t vote. Individuals vote, and over-representing the individuals of one state does not make up for under-representing the individuals of another. It just makes everything less democratic.

                • Chatham says:

                  “Okay. But, uh, neither will DC.”

                  That doesn’t bother you?

                • Malaclypse says:

                  I don’t care if Wyoming was a perfect cross-section of America – there is no fair reason to give those voters 74 times the influence over the Senate as those of California. It’s not democratic.

                  You’re right – it isn’t.

                  Now how the fuck does freezing things so that rural white people keep on being overrepresented, while urban minorities are forever frozen out, make things better?

            • Belle Waring says:

              It would deny them rights because it would mean that the long-suffering residents of the D. of C. now get to see their interests (and Baltimore’s; woohoo!) ignored in favor of whiter, less populous areas of Maryland, rather than in favor of whiter, much less populous areas of the US. And that would be a bunch of bullshit. I want two more black senators! OK, no longer technically a chocolate city, maybe senators of varying races. Two black senators would feel more fair though. Getting dicked over by asshole Republicans from Outer West Freezenutz has been boooorrrring for our nation’s fair capital.

              • Eli Rabett says:

                If you look at the population of states, some things become obvious. Merge Vt and NH, CT and RI, ND and SD, WY and MT, DE and MD and DC,split CA and TX and sell Alaska back to the Russians.

              • Richard Hershberger says:

                “the long-suffering residents of the D. of C. now get to see their interests (and Baltimore’s; woohoo!) ignored in favor of whiter, less populous areas of Maryland”

                This strikes me as unlikely. Currently, Maryland is Prince Georges County and Baltimore City (roughly speaking, black), and Montgomery and Baltimore Counties (roughly speaking, white) and everyone else (white, but irrelevant). Currently, getting anything done requires some buy-in from both black and white regions. In principle the two white regions that matter could gang up with the “everyone else” regions, but the latter tend to be Republican, often of the distinctly wacko variety, so this isn’t really an issue.

                Throw DC into the mix, with its large black population, and the balance gets thrown off completely. So much so that I would expect Montgomery and Baltimore Counties to be leading the opposition to the idea.

                • John says:

                  I think you’re wrong to look at Maryland politics as being largely black vs. white.

                  Probably more important than racial division is the geographical division of DC suburbs vs. Baltimore. Including DC would shift the balance of politics in the state towards the DC area, and away from Baltimore, which Montgomery County would like, since Montgomery County politics largely consists of complaining about how Maryland state politics are run for Baltimore’s benefit.

            • Scott Lemieux says:

              We are, in fact, going to reform the Senate “never,” since the Constitution forbids the abolition of the Senate’s malapportionment, and even if it didn’t Article V guarantees that we’re stuck with it forever.

              Given that Senate malapportionment is utterly inevitable, there’s no reason to oppose D.C. statehood. It would, on balance, make the malapportionment less bad.

            • njorl says:

              Then we’ll never reform the Senate.

              Of course we’re never going to reform the Senate. If you’re basing your opinions on choosing those options which lead to reduction of the anti-democratic powers of the Senate, you’re a fool. There is no feasible political path to that destination.

        • L.M. says:

          Just so we’re clear: the fact that conservative, rural, white populations are over-represented via statehood is a reason that liberal, urban, black populations should continue to be under-represented via statehood?

          • Chatham says:

            Or not represented at all, unless it’s willing to join a neighboring polity that it hasn’t been part of for over 200 years, and agree to be run from what’s currently a city in a neighboring state. I guess someone has to suffer for the Senate being unfair, and apparently it’s the people that are already being treated unfairly.

          • Murc says:

            … huh?

            I could give a damn that the parts of the country that are grossly malapportioned are conservative, white, and rural.

            I care that they’re malapportioned. Full stop. And while it seems unlikely we can make the problem better anytime soon, I’d also prefer to not make it worse.

            I’m honestly not sure why DC having a liberal, urban, black population comes into it at all. If DC were populated by crazy teahadis, they still wouldn’t deserve to be a state, but they WOULD deserve to have local governance and to vote for Congresspeople, the same as they do right now.

            • Craigo says:

              Exactly. It’s about being democratic, not Democratic.

            • Chatham says:

              Your argument is that unfair laws distributed unequally are better than unfair laws distributed equally. The senate may be unfair, but I fail to see why having the current standard apply to all citizens is making matters worse.

              • Murc says:

                Your argument is that unfair laws distributed unequally are better than unfair laws distributed equally.

                I have made no such argument.

                My argument is that there are ways to solve the issue of the residents of DC being unrepresented in the Congress without simultaneously making a bad situation worse.

                • Chatham says:

                  That’s exactly your argument. Statehood for DC would be treating DC like every other state, large and small. You think the current system us unfair, and so DC – and only DC, because we can’t force Wyoming to merge – should be kept from being a state because of it. We have several polities with small populations, but for some reason you think allowing all of them to be states is the worst solution, and allowing all but one to be a state is preferable to that.

                • Craigo says:

                  If we could abolish the Senate, or make it proportional, I’d be all for DC being a state. Who gives a fuck at that point?

                  We can’t make the Senate better, and we can’t take Wyoming’s equal suffrage back. But that’s no reason to create another Wyoming.

                • Chatham says:

                  So again, it’s better for unfair laws to be distributed unequally?

            • I could give a damn that the parts of the country that are grossly malapportioned are conservative, white, and rural.

              I care that they’re malapportioned. Full stop.

              You acknowledge that there is a systemic bias that accrues to the benefit of a rural, white population and to the detriment of a poor, urban, black population – in contemporary America, with you knowledge about the context – and that bias doesn’t bother you?

              Can you at least go so far as to say that the racial/demographic component makes the problem of malapportionment worse?

              • Murc says:

                and that bias doesn’t bother you?

                In this specific context, no.

                I am of course very bothered by the fact that malapportionment favors the most reactionary elements of our society. But I would like to think I wouldn’t turn a blind eye to malapportionment if it were a liberal bias rather than a conservative one.

                Can you at least go so far as to say that the racial/demographic component makes the problem of malapportionment worse?

                Of course.

                • djw says:

                  Of course.

                  But it must not bother you too much, because you strongly oppose one of the only remotely plausible avenues to ameliorate it, on extremely abstract grounds.

                • Murc, let’s pretend DC currently had two senators, and someone proposed eliminating them and leaving the district without any Congressional representation, while leaving in place the other small states’ senators.

                  Would you argue that leaving DC without senators while other states keep theirs makes the malapportionament situation better?

                  Would you sniff out some racial overtones in singling out DC like that?

                • Murc says:

                  Would you argue that leaving DC without senators while other states keep theirs makes the malapportionament situation better?

                  Honestly? Yes.

                  Let’s flip this on it’s head. Suppose someone proposed eliminating Wyoming’s Senatorial delegation while leaving that of all the other states intact. That would, of course, reduce the malapportionment problem, would it not?

                  It wouldn’t be fair or just, of course, because if all the other citizens of the country have Senatorial representation than the citizens of Wyoming deserve it as well. But that’s immaterial to the question of whether axing their Senators would reduce the malapportionment problem; of course it would. As would removing DCs hypothetical Senators (although less so in that case, as DC has way more people than Wyoming.)

                  The good people of the city of Washington deserve Senatorial representation same as any other citizens in the Union. What they DON’T deserve is two Senators of their very own. If there were no other way to give them the representation they deserve without also giving them that, it would be a good solution. As there are perfectly decent ways that don’t involve making malapportionment worse, I support those ways instead.

                • That would, of course, reduce the malapportionment problem, would it not?

                  No. It would make the problem worse, by introducing a few hundred thousand people who have no Senate representation. How is that supposed to make the problem of unfair Senate representation better?

            • njorl says:

              And while it seems unlikely we can make the problem better anytime soon,

              No, not “any time soon” – “ever” is the word you want here. The idea of not making malapportionment worse so that it will be easier to fix is a false one. It can not be fixed.

        • Doug says:

          Berlin, Bremen and Hamburg as counter-examples.

          • Craigo says:

            How so? They’re represented proportionally in the Bundestag, and as close to proportionally as the Bundesrat allows (which, it should be noted, is not a co-equal body a la the US Senate).

            The largest disparity in German voting power is between Bremen and North Rhine-Westphalia, which is about 14:1. Wyoming to California is 74:1.

        • Having two Senators for a tiny postage stamp of land is just as ridiculous as having two Senators for the tiny handful of people who live in the vast empty swathes of Wyoming.

          Are you one of those people who stared in awe at the 2000 electoral college map and rhapsodized about the Republicans winning most of America?

          Who cares about land? Senators represent people. Do you think the Congressional districts on Manhattan are too small, too? Maybe we should merge some of them.

        • Full Metal Wingnut says:

          Why don’t we just split the difference. Virginia got it’s portion of D.C. back, so it makes logical sense to look to Maryland. For the purposes of federal representation-have D.C. voters vote for Maryland Senators to give them representation in the Senate, and then make D.C. it’s own Congressional district (or two) for the House. Or only give D.C. a couple of seats in the House and none in the Senate. Or something.

          • Full Metal Wingnut says:

            Part of the problem is that, back in the day, the Great Compromise wasn’t such a big deal. There were just over a dozen states, and there wasn’t an astronomical population difference between the least populated state and the most populated state (i.e. it would take something like 60 Wyomings to match the current population of California), and there weren’t a dozen sparsely populated states.

            A great amendment in the mid to late 19th century would have been one that provided that Article 1, Section III didn’t apply to states yet to be admitted to the Union. Even though some of the problematic states (e.g. Delaware, Vermont) wouldn’t have been a problem, we’d be in a better position today.

            • Full Metal Wingnut says:

              Well, you can’t force a state to merge or divide. D.C. isn’t a state, so all you would need is for Maryland to agree to it. I’m not sure why they would though.

              • Richard Hershberger says:

                I had never considered the idea before now, but my initial reaction is there isn’t a chance that Maryland would buy into this. The tax base problems of DC are legendary, the additional population center would dilute the existing population’s influence in state politics, and it would completely change the balance of power.

            • Full Metal Wingnut says:

              Wyoming, Montana, the Dakotas, and Nebraska should merge for Senate apportionment purposes and share two Senators (or 4, but it should be less than the 10 they all have now, for sure). Combine Vermont Delaware and maybe Maine for these purposes too.

              • DrDick says:

                Sorry, but we have enough whackaloon Republicans of our own. Montana will never merge with Wyoming and the Dakotas (at least we have a Democratic governor and two Democratic Senators).

                • Murc says:

                  The fact that Montana somehow, bafflingly, manages to noodle along with two Democratic Senators often fills me with hope.

                  I mean, they’re not the best Democrats in the world, but they’re loads better than Denny Rehberg, who is the sort of guy you’d normally expect to represent Montana.

                  No offense.

                • DrDick says:

                  No offense taken and it was a close race. Even with all our whackaloons, we are not as conservative as the other three states. I also suspect that we will become less conservative with time, given that solidly teabagger Republican rural eastern Montana has constantly lost population, while the more liberal metropolitan (and I use that term very loosely) areas in central and western Montana have continually gained.

                • John says:

                  North Dakota had two Democratic senators only two years ago, and South Dakota and even Nebraska have had two Democratic senators within the span of my memory. I’m not sure how this happens.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  I’m not sure how this happens.

                  ACORN, obviously.

      • JoyfulA says:

        Is there some way we could homestead 2 million people in Wyoming and make it a real state, with senators who represented people instead of mountain goats and grizzlies?

  5. rea says:

    we will see how this works nowdays, what with Puerto Rico seeking statehood . . .

  6. Michael says:

    Paul Frymer is working on a book making a similar argument. See here for a summary (law review article, therefore unreasonably long):
    http://www.princeton.edu/~pfrymer/pfrymer/Welcome_files/1UCILR913.pdf

  7. John says:

    No justifiable reason? There was a border dispute and the Mexicans attacked American troops in the disputed region. More than that, the Mexicans hadn’t recognized Texan independence and still considered Texas as a whole to be Mexican territory. On balance, I don’t think the war was justified, but surely you could write out a plausible justification for the war.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      No, really you can’t. No one recognized the Texan claims south of the Nueces except for Texas. There’s also the question of why Mexico should have recognized Texan independence at all, but even leaving that out, Polk sending Taylor south of the Nueces was an intentional provocation of Mexico.

    • Malaclypse says:

      More than that, the Mexicans hadn’t recognized Texan independence and still considered Texas as a whole to be Mexican territory.

      Considering that the basis of Texas independence was “let’s hold Santa Anna hostage until he says what we want,” the Mexican position was not actually unreasonable.

      • John F says:

        Not to defend Texans, but what gets overlooked is that Texas was not the only Mexican state that sought to secede at that time- and it wasn’t the only one that was successful in the short term either (only one successful long term). Santa Annas’ “seven laws” which sought to abolish the country’s Federal System and centralize authority in, well, his own hands, set off all sorts of secessionist movements…
        The Yucatan split off for 7-8 years
        Tabasco almost 2 years
        a few other States tried to secede but were forcibly detained.

        Pretty much Santa Anna should be the biggest villain in Mexican history- he did more to try to destroy it than Polk, or Napoleon III, or well any one.

        • Erik Loomis says:

          I’d actually argue that Santa Anna, for all his flaws, was trying to create a functional state, a situation not all that different from what the United States faced in 1786. He certainly wasn’t trying to destroy Mexico–he was trying to make it work.

          • John F says:

            He was trying to make Mexico work in roughly the same way that Putin has been trying to make Russia work, Putin has been vastly more competent…
            Of course he was trying to make Mexico work, and Mugabe in his mind is trying to make Shonaland “work” as well.

            • Erik Loomis says:

              I think that’s pretty unfair to Santa Anna. Yes he was centralizing power under his own authority, but to compare him to Putin or Mugabe makes zero sense, in part because the time period is so different.

              • Anonymous says:

                Er, but, isn’t John F right? Caudilloship is no good form of government, especially under a total Cheneylike horror asshole like Santa Anna. Isn’t dictatorial oppression’s still as much oppression worth rebelling about even if ONE of the issues is slavery? It’s not like the Confederate Texan secession atall, where Texans were disrespecting democracy out of fear of an antislave President.

                And, TEXANS WERE WILLING TO NEGOTIATE ON SLAVERY, but Santa Anna wasn’t willing to talk about anything atall. It was his way or decimation or imprisonment. as dictators have a way of doing.

                And, sadly, most everybody was a racist back then. Like say, Santa Anna’s demand for a total ANGLO immigration halt. How fair and unracist was that?

        • Malaclypse says:

          what gets overlooked is that Texas was not the only Mexican state that sought to secede at that time- and it wasn’t the only one that was successful in the short term either (only one successful long term).

          In how many of the others was slavery a major cause of secession?

    • djw says:

      More than that, the Mexicans hadn’t recognized Texan independence and still considered Texas as a whole to be Mexican territory.

      In addition to what Erik and Mal said, even if this were not a questionable way to frame the facts in question, I don’t see how this set of facts contributes to the case for jus ad bellum. If Santa Cruz declares independence from Bolivia and Morales doesn’t recognize that claim, would that grant the US legitimate cause to invade La Paz?

    • Craigo says:

      Well, yes, invading another country’s territory is a good way to get them to attack you.

      The crux of the matter was that Polk claimed that Texas extended all the way to the Rio Grande, and the Mexican government insisted that Texas stopped further north, at the Nueces.

      The thing is: Mexico was completely correct. Texas had never been thought to border the Rio Grande until 1836, when Santa Ana signed a treaty that was never ratified by his government. That territory was never Texan nor American until it was seized by force.

      • The United States was never American until it was seized by force.

      • John says:

        But here’s the thing. The Mexican perspective is “none of Texas is independent. The Texan perspective (taken up by the US upon annexation) is “we hold all lands to the Rio Grande.” The idea of an independent Texas with a border on the Nueces is one that was held by neither principal in the dispute, so it’s hard to say that the US is clearly and unilaterally in the wrong.

  8. daveNYC says:

    In the end, many Americans decided that colonial expansion was not worth the price of brown men having sex with white women.

    Um… good? I think?

  9. Except for the fact that Calhoun’s speech demonstrates a vocabulary above a sixth-grade reading level it’s really not that hard to imagine someone giving that speech on the Senate floor today.

  10. Lee says:

    The attempts to buy Cuba from Spain in the mid-19th century met similar resistance. So did Grant’s attempt to make the Dominican Republic a terriotry and then a state during his Presidency.

  11. LoomisBot says:

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  12. MikeJake says:

    I think you give Calhoun less credit than he deserves. Calhoun was against the war with Mexico to begin with. Yes, this was primarily motivated by his fear that the balance of power between free and slave states would be upset, but he also argued that such imperialism would vest too much power in the hands of the President:

    Mr. President, there are some propositions too clear for argument; and before such a body as the Senate, I should consider it a loss of time to undertake to prove that to hold Mexico as a subjected province would be hostile, and in conflict with our free popular institutions, and in the end subversive of them. Sir, he who knows the American Constitution well—he who has duly studied its character—he who has looked at history, and knows what has been the effect of conquests of free States invariably, will require no proof at my hands to show that it would be entirely hostile to the institutions of the country to hold Mexico as a province. There is not an example on record of any free State even having attempted the conquest of any territory approaching the extent of Mexico without disastrous consequences. The nations conquered have in time conquered the conquerers by destroying their liberty. That will be our case, sir. The conquest of Mexico would add so vast an amount to the patronage of this Government, that it would absorb the whole power of the States in the Union. This Union would become imperial, and the States mere subordinate corporations. But the evil will not end there. The process will go on. The same process by which the power would be transferred from the States to the Union, will transfer the whole from this department of the Government (I speak of the Legislature) to the Executive. All the added power and added patronage which conquest will create, will pass to the Executive. In the end, you put in the hands of the Executive the power of conquering you. You give to it, sir, such splendor, such ample means, that, with the principle of proscription which unfortunately prevails in our country, the struggle will be greater at every Presidential election than our institutions can possibly endure. The end of it will be, that that branch of Government will become all-powerful, and the result is inevitable—anarchy and despotism. It is as certain as that I am this day addressing the Senate.

    • MikeJake says:

      And for the record, I see no reason to be ashamed of the fact that our ancestors expanded to the Pacific at the expense of Mexico. The fact that the United States extends from coast to coast is part of why we became a great power in the first place. I’m glad it happened, and I don’t really care if Mexicans today don’t like it, they can get bent.

      • Erik Loomis says:

        Continue praising American imperialism and wrapping yourself in the arguments of John C. Calhoun, see where that gets you.

        • MikeJake says:

          Hopefully it doesn’t get me any more self-righteous, politically correct denunciations, but that’s probably too much to ask for.

          • Erik Loomis says:

            Anytime someone resorts to accusing others of being “politically correct” when their embrace of America’s racist past or present is being pointed out, it’s a bad sign for the person’s argument.

          • MikeJake says:

            Who’s arguing? You certainly aren’t.

          • MikeJake says:

            And what exactly is racist about a nationalistic war of expansion?

            • Erik Loomis says:

              You need to read more about the Mexican War if you are seriously asking this question.

              • MikeJake says:

                I have. Racist rhetoric employed to convince the decision makers of a democratic republic to engage in a war of expansion does not transform the entire enterprise into a race war. I imagine the land and the gold were more important motivators.

                I’m not saying it’s something to proud of, I’m saying it’s not something we need to be ashamed of. It’s what human societies have always done.

                • Erik Loomis says:

                  First, The Mexican War was not a race war. But racism flowed through the entire enterprise. There is no legitimate reading that suggests otherwise.

                  Second, gold was a non-issue. The gold in California wasn’t discovered until after the war ended.

                  Third, relying on “it’s what humans have always done” arguments aren’t a good idea unless you want to get into nature/culture arguments. I mean, men have always raped women, right?! It’s not something we need to be ashamed of!

                • Craigo says:

                  I actually am ashamed that human beings once pillaged, slaughtered, and raped simply because no one could stop them.

                • Erik Loomis says:

                  Don’t you understand that we are driven by our biological impulses….. Nothing to be ashamed of!!!!!!!

                  I feel gross writing that even as parody.

                • MikeJake says:

                  All human societies have endeavoured to expand their territory. It does no good to whine about that fact simply because Mexicans today resent the results of a war they lost over 150 years ago.

                  And gold and silver was known to be in Arizona well before the war.

                • Bruce says:

                  Ethnic cleansing – it’s what human societies have always done.

                  Slavery – it’s what human societies have always done.

                  Is there anything you wouldn’t defend with the “it’s what human societies have always done.” defence and why?

                  Also Erik isn’t saying the Mexican American war was wrong because the Mexicans don’t like it now. But it was wrong at the time as a Ulysses S Grant recognised:
                  For myself, I was bitterly opposed to the measure, and to this day regard the war, which resulted, as one of the most unjust ever waged by a stronger against a weaker nation. It was an instance of a republic following the bad example of European monarchies, in not considering justice in their desire to acquire additional territory.

                • Bexley says:

                  Doh – Bruce is me. Forgot to change the name back after a Monty Python philosophers joke.

                • Richard Hershberger says:

                  It is worth emphasizing that opposition to the war was widespread. Roughly speaking, the Whigs opposed it while the Democrats, especially the southern Democrats, favored it. Fast forward a few years to the Civil War and we see the division along nearly identical lines.

        • John says:

          I’m confused – Calhoun was an opponent of American imperialism, so I don’t see how you can praise American imperialism while wrapping yourself in Calhoun’s arguments.

          MikeJake, in fact, seems to be using Calhoun’s arguments to attack American imperialism – which would be a classic libertarian take, I think.

      • Jay B. says:

        I’m glad it the Civl War happened and ended slavery, and I don’t really care if Mexicans Southerners today don’t like it, they can get bent.

        FIFY

      • UserGoogol says:

        The Mexican-American War wasn’t really necessary for America to reach to the Pacific. America had already accomplished that with the Oregon Territory.

        • MikeJake says:

          Well, let’s just clear out of California and the entire southwest. Since it’s never legitimate when human societies wage war to expand, we should all relocate to the east coast. Whoever was there first gets eternal dibs on the territory

          While we’re at it, let’s reform Kurdistan, Celtiberia, and the Republic of Novgorod.

          • Since it’s never legitimate when human societies wage war to expand, we should all relocate to the east coast.

            Does not follow.

          • UserGoogol says:

            In the grand scheme of things, I think America has probably governed California better than Mexico would have. (Although it’s hard to say, since a Mexico which hadn’t lost the Mexican-American War would have had a very different subsequent hsitory.) And of course, withdrawing from the Southwest is an unrealistically silly idea at this point.

            Going past that even, I’d say that past events are largely irrelevant to determining the justice of existing governments. The United States government should maintain control of California both because transferring control back to Mexico would be a giant pain in the ass for everyone involved, and because they are doing a decent job of governing it democratically and effectively.

            But for precisely that reason, even though I’m not particularly ashamed of the Mexican-American War, I’m not really proud of it either. It’s just a shitty event in history which happened to end out alright in the long run. More generally, I really don’t think Nationalism has much moral weight. It’s not that “my society” had a war with “their society,” but that two governments had a war with each other, and I reside in the jurisdiction of the institutional descendant of one of those governments. I should neither feel an obligation to show shame or pride towards “my” country’s actions.

            • MikeJake says:

              But for precisely that reason, even though I’m not particularly ashamed of the Mexican-American War, I’m not really proud of it either.

              That’s where I’m coming from.

              More generally, I really don’t think Nationalism has much moral weight. It’s not that “my society” had a war with “their society,” but that two governments had a war with each other, and I reside in the jurisdiction of the institutional descendant of one of those governments. I should neither feel an obligation to show shame or pride towards “my” country’s actions.

              Nationalism is legitimate in part because the citizens of a nation that endures must necessarily share a set of values that are distinct from the important values of other nations. If all peoples everywhere agreed on everything, then there wouldn’t be a need for separate nations. And nations prosper when they have land and resources and can defend themselves, because it allows the people to prosper.

              Maybe the war was a “shitty event in history.” And yet, you believe that California probably turned out better under American jurisdiction than it would have under Mexico. Could it be because you prefer the American system of values?

              • Erik Loomis says:

                Do you know enough about the Mexican system of values to say you don’t prefer them? Or are you naturalizing the legacy of poverty and colonial exploitation into “values?”

              • Jameson Quinn says:

                Insofar as the “American system of values” (let’s ignore that Mexico is American for the moment) of the time was better for California, it’s essentially because it produced more people with the freedom and initiative to go chasing after gold in 1849. Which would have been true even if the Mexican-American war of 1848 hadn’t happened. So even without that lame imperialist war, I don’t see it as plausible that California would still be under Mexican rule today. And I really don’t see how a Republic of California (which would probably control a large part of the Southwest as well) would necessarily be worse than what we have.

                But then again, why am I responding to a moron…

  13. Adrian Luca says:

    Thank you. Those are the sort of facts I try to point out to my smug American friends when they talk about Australia’s notoriously racist history. We learned our stuff from the experts.

    • Murc says:

      Friends, plural?

      Many Americans have trouble just finding Australia on a map. The fact that you have multiple American friends who can not only do that, but have enough awareness of its internal and unfortunate racial history to have opinions on it, speaks well of their intelligence.

      • And yet these American friends who know so much about Australian history are gobsmacked to hear about American racial history?

        • Sphysicist says:

          Maybe they’re naturalized Americans.

          • Murc says:

            You know, I took the citizenship test once just to see how I’d do, and to say it requires only the most facile knowledge of American history is too kind by half.

            • Jim says:

              “Alright, here’s your last question. What was the cause of the Civil War?” – Citizenship Test Guy

              “Actually there were numerous causes, aside from the obvious schism between abolitionists and anti-abolitionists, economic factors, both domestic and international, played a significant…” – Apu

              “Hey, hey.” – Citizenship Test Guy

              “Yeah?” – Apu

              “Just, just say ‘slavery’.” – Citizenship Test Guy

              “Slavery it is, sir.” – Apu

        • spencer says:

          Many otherwise intelligent Americans are ignorant of their own country’s racial history, Joe. It’s not something a lot of people like to think about, and for many of them, the cognitive dissonance between what actually happened and what they’ve been taught happened can be quite painful.

          Now, the ones who actively deny and ignore it? Fuck those people. I have too many of them in my own family, which is part of why I don’t enjoy this time of year as much as I wish I could.

        • Adrian Luca says:

          Yep. It works in reverse too. Plenty of Australians can give you a great condensed history of slavery in America and wax lyrical about the irony of Jefferson owning slaves. But those same Australians are often unaware of the Pacific Islander slaves who were abducted from their homes to toil in Northern Australian canefields.

          We all like to feel morally superior to someone.

          • Plenty of Australians can give you a great condensed history of slavery in America and wax lyrical about the irony of Jefferson owning slaves.

            Sure – American history is well-known around the world.

            Australian history? Not so much.

            • The Dark Avenger says:

              So, Australians get a pass for not knowing their own history because it’s not as well-known world-wide as American history is?

              OK

              • Nope. Not even close. I didn’t write anything about Australians not knowing their own history.

                • Adrian Luca says:

                  I don’t understand your point. Are you calling me a liar when I say I have American friends who know about Australia’s racist history but aren’t cognisant of the racial aspects of the Mexican-American war or the Texas War of Independence? If so, fuck you and your snotty snideness.

          • J. Otto Pohl says:

            My father worked at U of Q for five years. While I have met a few racist Australians, I do not think I met any that were unaware of the country’s basic history. Everybody knew about the treatment of Aboriginals, blackbirding, and, the whites only immigration policy. Some had rather negative views of Aboriginals and Asians, but they were not ignorant of the history of past discrimination. My guess is given the coverage in the media of things like Mabo and Wik that it would be difficult to live in a major Australian city or one of its suburbs and not be aware of this past.

            • Adrian Luca says:

              Sigh…where did I say Australians weren’t aware of any of Australia’s racist history. I said most Australia’s don’t know about the history of slavery in Australia. The fact that you use that cute Australian euphemism “blackbirding” for “slavery” says a lot.

              After all, it ain’t slavery if it ain’t called slavery, is it?

  14. [...] Erik Loomis had an article up on John C. Calhoun’s argument against the complete annexation of Mexico. In it, he quoted some notable lines from Calhoun’s 1848 speech to Congress: I know further, [...]

  15. Arriving really late.

    Erik, first sentence, do you really mean favorite?

    More to the point. Back in those days, acquisition by conquest was considered totally legitimate by everyone who believed they could get somebody to do the conquering. Nobody gave a shit about who got killed or who got screwed. We are totally different now, right? (But cf. Every argument about drones in the last year or so.)

    There was definitely a “we don’t want to be like those assholes in Europe” mentality alive and kicking in the American population. But whenever a ripe piece of fruit appeared, they were suddenly outnumbered and overruled.

    • Pestilence says:

      acquisition by conquest was considered totally legitimate by everyone who believed they could get somebody to do the conquering.

      That’s not actually true by the nineteenth century: cf the quote from Sam Grant above for an example, & there were plenty of other Americans of the time who were morally outraged at it. See also the reactions of other countries to France inserting Maximilian in Mexico, frex

  16. J. Otto Pohl says:

    Historically colonialism has resulted in white men having sexual relations with brown, black, or yellow women. Interracial relations between white women and indigenous men in colonial settings have been comparatively much rarer. Almost all the mixed race families in the Gold Coast were the result of European men and African women. In South Africa there is a reason a lot of people of mixed race are named Botha. So I am not sure where Loomis gets the idea that the primary sexual mix resulting from colonialism was brown men having sex with white women. The reverse was much more common, white men with brown women. Even today the most common interracial mix in the US consists of white men and Asian women. This is considerably more common than brown or black men with white women.

    • njorl says:

      So I am not sure where Loomis gets the idea that the primary sexual mix resulting from colonialism was brown men having sex with white women.

      He made no such claim. Bigots only care about the non-white men having sex with white women. If the converse is a 100 times more common, it doesn’t matter to them.

      • J. Otto Pohl says:

        This is simply not true. White men were not exempted from anti-misegenation laws either in the US or South Africa. The famous case finally overturning them in the US was Loving vs. The Commonwealth of Virginia. It involved a White man married to a Black woman. Virginia refused to recognize their marriage which took place in DC because he was a white man and she was a black woman.

        • Malaclypse says:

          White men were not exempted from anti-misegenation laws either in the US or South Africa

          Indeed. That is why Jefferson died in prison.

        • DrDick says:

          And just where did anybody else use the word “marriage”? You do realize that sex occurs outside of marriage. On a regular and frequent basis. I grew up in Oklahoma in the 50s and 60s under segregation and it was common for white men to seek out women of color (black, Indian, and Chicana at that time) for illicit sex. They were regarded by whites as more “hot blooded” and sexual than white women.

          • J. Otto Pohl says:

            The key word being “illicit.” As I already noted white men and women of color is a much more common combination than brown woman and white woman. I am sure you are familiar with Loving vs. VA. Sex between people of different races was outlawed in VA and many other states at one time. Interracial sex was not legal in VA prior to Loving. It was not just “marriage” that the Commonwealth outlawed. The fact is that Mr. Loving, a white man was arrested, charged, and tried for his relationship with Mrs. Loving, a black woman. He was not exempted from prosecution because he was white.

            • J. Otto Pohl says:

              OOps I meant white man and woman of color is a more common combination than brown man and white woman.

            • DrDick says:

              Loving was charged largely because he challenged the anti-miscegenation laws. The fact that they lived together also played a role. Of course this has nothing to do with what everyone else is talking about.

              • J. Otto Pohl says:

                The people above falsely claimed that nobody cared about white men having sex with women of color. This is obviously not true since it was outlawed under the anti-miscegenation laws and Loving is an example of their enforcement against a white man. The fact is that racists did care about white men having sex with women of color or they would not have bothered to outlaw it, yet alone enforce it.

                • Hogan says:

                  So besides Loving, how many white men were convicted of miscegenation?

                • Malaclypse says:

                  The people above falsely claimed that nobody cared about white men having sex with women of color.

                  Do you think, if Loving had raped his spouse, rather than married her, that he would have been charged with anything?

                  The crime was not sex, but treating her like a human worthy of love.

                • J. Otto Pohl says:

                  According to a 1960 article by P.L. Van den Berghe on the subject between January 1958 and April 1960 out of 176 cases of inter-racial sex prosecuted in South Africa, 162 involved white men. A total of 59 whites were sentenced to prison terms during this time. I don’t have a breakdown by sex, but only 13 white women were tried during this time, so the vast majority of those 59 were white men. That is 59 white men sent to prison in a period of less than two years in South Africa for having sex with non-white women.

                  Source: P.L. Van den Berghe, “Miscegenation in South Africa,” Cahiers d’etudes africaines, 1960, vol. 1, issue no. 4, pp. 68-84.

                • J. Otto Pohl says:

                  Mal go look at the van den Berghe article I cite here. In there he notes cases of white men convicted and sent to prison for inter-racial sex both when it was assault and more frequently cases of prostitution. The opposition of racists to sex between white men and black women is not something I made up. They actually sent dozens of white men to prison for it every year in South Africa.

                • J. Otto Pohl says:

                  Actually I messed up on the numbers. It should be between 46-59 white South African men sent to prison from January 1958-April 1960 for having sex with non-white women. That is still considerably more than the zero being posited by the LGM “progressives”.

                • Hogan says:

                  Oh, so you have to go from Virginia to South Africa to have any point at all.

                  I don’t know about South Africa, but in the US the anxieties around white male/black female boinking were much more abstract and less intense than the anxiety around black male/white female boinking. White women were presumed to be permanently defiled/seduced by Mandingo sex; it was a matter of taking stuff that really was ours (white men’s), and that we really wanted, and taking it in a way that made us look inadequate as men. The concern about white male/black female sex was that it would dilute racial purity and lead to blacks who could, you know, pass. And five generations from now we’re all a bunch of mongrels, but that doesn’t make *me* less than a man, right?

                  Which is why I asked. Turns out at least some miscegenation convictions against black men were overturned on appeal because the state couldn’t prove that the black men were sufficiently black to fall under the statute. That’s probably a different kind of fucked up from the South African version of fucked up.

                  And none of that has anything to do with Erik’s actual examples.

                • J. Otto Pohl says:

                  I am quite sure that in both my first and second posts here I mentioned South Africa as an example. It is a good example because it had strong laws against inter-racial sex. It is also the case that most inter-racial sex in South Africa like in other colonial situations was between European men and indigenous women. To say that white racists did not view this as a problem at all is to ignore examples like South Africa.

  17. [...] creation — an acceptable Christian view?”“In the end, many Americans decided that colonial expansion was not worth the price of brown men having sex with white women.”“You want lights, you pay the electric company. You want a place to live, you pay the [...]

  18. Bruce Vail says:

    Harry Truman is said to have admired Polk because Polk had articulate several specific goals for his presidency, and then proceeded expeditiously to achieve them. Having succeeded, he then modestly retired without seeking a second term.

    It is curious that Polk is not recognized as one of America’s presidents — he meets the primary qualification of having conducted a successful war.

    • Bruce Vail says:

      oops… meant to write “It is curious that Polk is not recognized as one of America’s GREAT presidents…..

      • mark f says:

        I believe he’s recently begun appearing on lists of American presidents, and often near the top when they’re supposed to be ranking greatness.

        Erik posted a link to an Atlantic article a month or two ago that covered the Polk to-do list story. It’s worth a read. For some reason the headline said that Mitt Romney was the next Polk, but then the article didn’t discuss the Mittster at all.

        • Bruce Vail says:

          I read a Polk biography several years ago (wish I could remember the name of the author) in which it was speculated that the reason Polk doesn’t get a better break from historians is that he never published a memoir explaining his actions.

          He died suddenly just a few months after leaving office and just was not around to defend himself from critics.

        • Malaclypse says:

          For some reason the headline said that Mitt Romney was the next Polk, but then the article didn’t discuss the Mittster at all.

          I believe the idea was that, in the immortal words of They Might Be Giants describing Polk, “In four short years [Mittens will] meet his every goal.”

  19. Gregory Peterson says:

    Mexico’s first Black/Biracial President, Vicente Ramon Guerrero, had freed most of Mexico’s slaves in 1829. He and his administration became victims of a murderous coup, but even the ruling oligarchs didn’t dare rescind the Guerrero Proclamation. Even though the Guerrero proclamation was not being enforced in Texas, they could read the writing on the wall, even en Español.

  20. [...] Scenes from a historical struggle between American imperialism and American racism. In summary, “we totally deserve to take over all of Mexico” versus “but do we really want that many non-white people to become US citizens?” [...]

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