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Since its emergence, the United States two-party political system has been criticized for polarizing public opinion. Instead of objective deliberation of such major issues as race relations, partisanship has too often undermined the process and distorted the outcome. One group of thinkers, however, has refused to be defined by either conservative or liberal classificationsclassical liberals have shaped the history of the nation by fighting for abolitionism and the allied struggles against Chinese exclusion, abuse of native Americans, Japanese internment, and Jim Crow and other racial distinctions in the law. Nonetheless, the nations preoccupation with left-versus-right politics has overshadowed how classical liberals have been decisive in shaping the history of race and liberty in America.
Race & Liberty in America explains the major themes of the anti-racist, classical liberal tradition of individual liberty and equality, demonstrating how it has inspired individuals to improve race relations in the United States. Rooted in the Judeo-Christian natural-law tradition, classical liberals have advocated freedom from governmental interference, abolition of prejudicial law, equality under a uniform rule of law guaranteed by the Constitution, and market-based entrepreneurial opportunity.
The book offers numerous documents, from the Declaration of Independence to the 2006 Open Letter on Immigration and beyond, as well as government statutes, sermons, party platforms, and speeches that demonstrate how classical liberalism was at the forefront of the fight to change Americas racial inequality. Each chapter investigates a specific time period in American history, ranging from the Revolution to the present, and addresses major events and concerns. The commentary assembled here covers the antislavery movement, post-Civil War reconstruction, Progressive Era, Republican era of the 1920s, the Great Depression and World War II, and the civil rights era. Citing such influential Americans as Thomas Jefferson, Louis Marshall, Frederick Douglass, and Booker T. Washington, plus those missing from other books and heretofore lost to history, Bean demonstrates the major impact of classical liberal thought on race relations and investigates how it has helped shape both law and public opinion.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Civil Rights and Classical Liberalism
1. Anti-Slavery (17761853)
2. The Republican Era (18541876)
3. Colorblindness in a Color-Conscious Era (18771920)
4. Republicans and Race (19211932)
5. The Roosevelt Years (19331945)
6. Classical Liberals in the Civil Rights Era (19461964)
7. Individualists in an Age of Group Discrimination (1964Present)
Conclusion: Past, Present, Future
About the Editor
In the fight for freedom and justice, consistent moral arguments are crucial for long-term success. Although Thomas Jefferson was a slaveholder, that fact did not undermine the natural rights theory set forth in the Declaration of Independence. In fact, James Forten, a free black who fought in the Revolutionary War, borrowed Jeffersons phrases when he petitioned against a state bill that would have deprived blacks of rights in Pennsylvania. Frederick Douglass, who was born a slave, criticized Americans for failing to live up to the ideals of the Declaration and the Constitution.
The Left and Right were wrong on race. Classical liberals were the only consistent opponents of state-sponsored racial discrimination in the United States. Conservatives advocated the state right to discriminate in favor of native-born whites. On the left, the progressive credo might read: government was sometimes the problem but always the solution. Both groups favored the collective over the individual.
Classical liberals saw government as the problem, not the solution to racial discrimination. Government laws not only upheld slavery and segregation, of course, but they also restricted the right of businesses to hire racial minorities and immigrants. Left and Right opposed open borders, whereas classical liberals staunchly defended immigration: whether Chinese or Czech, immigrants had a natural right to migrate, they argued. Fearing further state-sponsored racism, classical liberals from Louis Marshall (1910s) to the NAACP (1960s) and Ward Connerly (2000s) sought to rid race entirely from government classiﬁcation.
Religion was a dominant motive for many leaders of the antislavery movement. Frederick Douglass, an ordained minister, used references to God in rebukingand inspiringhis fellow Christians. Lewis Tappan used his church ties to create a network of antislavery activists. Senator Joseph Hawley opposed the Chinese Exclusion Act partly because of his missionary work. Louis Marshalls devout Judaism impelled him to ﬁght for free immigration and against Jim Crow laws. Branch Rickey explained his recruitment of baseball legend Jackie Robinson as a call from God.
The Constitution was central to the classical liberal struggle for individual freedom. When government denied people their civil rights, classical liberals took to the courts, using arguments based on the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Justice John Marshall Harlan captured the classical liberal view of the law when, as the lone dissenter in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), he wrote, Our Constitution is color-blind. President Calvin Coolidge publicly rebuked a white racist who objected to a black Republican running for Congress: Our Constitution guarantees equal rights to all our citizens, without discrimination on account of race or color.
Capitalism punishes racial discrimination in the marketplace. Left-wing radicals argue that capitalism is inherently racist. Classical liberals turn this view upside down: capitalism undermines racism by penalizing those who act on their taste for discrimination. Firms willing to recruit workers and market their goods and services without regard to color or national origin have a competitive advantage. Streetcar companies, to take but one example, fought segregated seating because it added to their cost of doing business.
From 1776 until well into the twentieth century, classical liberals led the struggle for racial freedom. They fought slavery, lynching, segregation, and racial distinctions in the law unwaveringly and on moral grounds. As immigration advocates, they defended the natural right of migration to America. Unfortunately, partly because classical liberalism does not ﬁt under the contemporary labels of liberal or conservative, almost all books on civil rights have neglected its contributions.
Race & Liberty in America: The Essential Reader, edited by Jonathan Bean, corrects this deﬁciency by assembling the ﬁrst collection of writings that chronicle the classical liberal legacy of civil rights. With 100 short documents dealing with race and immigration, along with commentary to carry the story across the centuries, Race & Liberty in America recaptures a lively tradition that continues to inﬂuence debates over race and immigration.
Although classical liberals have been overlooked by almost all histories of civil rights in the United States, many of their beliefs are still widely embraced. As Jonathan Bean writes in his introduction, Classical liberals espoused values shared by many other Americans: unalienable Rights from God, individual freedom from government control, the Constitution as a guarantor of freedom, colorblind law, and capitalism.
Readers looking for new insights on the civil rights movement therefore will ﬁnd that the classical liberals response to slavery, Jim Crow, lynching, voting rights, racial preferences, and immigration restrictions was deeply rooted in the American experience.
Chapter 1 examines the early antislavery movement. Classical liberal voices drew upon the Constitution, Christianity, and a belief in the right to self-ownership. The Declaration of Independence was a touchstone quoted and discussed by Frederick Douglass, James Forten, David Walker, and Lysander Spooner. William Leggett defended the right of a free press to criticize slavery.
Throughout this period, classical liberal Christians found themselves ﬁghting the proslavery interpretations of Christianity advanced by southerners. Evangelical abolitionists Beriah Green and Lewis Tappan, among others, invoked the concept that all men are . . . endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, [and] that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Inﬂuential British abolitionist William Wilberforce, in his antislavery campaign, appealed to Christian notions of moral dignity.
The Republican Era (18541876)
With the electoral success of the Republican Party, many classical liberals joined because of its opposition to slavery. Republicans, including Abraham Lincoln, declared slavery to be immoral yet confined the political issue to whether slaves ought to exist in the territories of the United States. This expediency disillusioned classical liberals, who hoped for a ﬁrmer stance against slavery. Frederick Douglass and Lysander Spooner also criticized Lincoln for not embracing emancipation at the outset of the Civil War.
Frederick Douglass summed up the political position of African Americans: For colored men the Republican Party is the deckall outside is the sea. Chapter 2 concludes with documents and testimony regarding the Ku Klux Klans campaign of violence and intimidation against blacks for voting against the Democratic Party during Reconstruction.
Colorblindness in a Color-Conscious Era (18771920)
After federal troops left the South, the Democratic Party disenfranchised blacks through the use of poll taxes, literacy tests, election fraud, and voter intimidation. Southern states passed laws forcing the separation of races. White mobs repeatedly lynched blacks, thus sending a harrowing message: Stay in your place. Meanwhile, American shores received record numbers of immigrants from southeastern Europe and Asia. Progressives and nativist conservatives advocated immigration restriction, ultimately succeeding with the Quota Act of 1924.
Republicans and Race (19211932)
The Roaring Twenties were an ugly period in race relations. The Ku Klux Klan revived in new form, attacking not only blacks but also Catholics, Jews, and immigrants. By the mid1920s, the KKK had millions of members before disintegrating in the midst of scandal and counterattacks by opponents.
This was an era of paradox and pragmatism. House Republicans passed an anti-lynching bill, but a Democratic ﬁlibuster blocked its passage in the Senate. President Warren Harding spoke courageously against racism, but Democratic victories in Congress limited his power to do more. President Calvin Coolidge signed the Quota Act, which shut down immigration for decades to come. Yet, Coolidge challenged the KKK and other nativist forces by espousing a classical liberal philosophy of civil rights in controversial venues, such as Howard University, the leading historically black college. As secretary of commerce, Herbert Hoover desegregated his agencys workforce and, as late as 1932, when Hoover ran for reelection, most black voters supported his GOP ticket.
The Roosevelt Years (19331945)
With southern Democrats critical to his New Deal agenda, Roosevelt remained silent on race and refused to back anti-lynching bills or other nondiscrimination measures. Despite FDRs silence, most African Americans voted for the Democratic Party because it offered jobs to desperate people. However, classical liberals were far more critical of Roosevelts record. The documents in chapter 5 highlight their critique of state-sponsored discrimination, including Japanese internment.
Those featured in this chapter include Oscar De Priest (R-Ill.), the first black elected to Congress in the 20th century; Hamilton Fish III (R-NY), arguably one of the most important civil rights advocates in Congress from the 1920s to the 1940s; noted columnists Rose Wilder Lane and H. L. Mencken; and newspaper publisher R. C. Hoiles.
Classical Liberals in the Civil Rights Era (19461964)
Events moved swiftly in the postwar era. Federal courts ruled segregation unconstitutional. A Republican Senate refused to seat a notorious racist, and Congress passed voting rights laws. President Dwight D. Eisenhower played an instrumental role in the desegregation of Washington, D.C. (1953) and the Brown v. Board decision (1954). Eisenhower antagonized southern Democrats with his judicial appointments, and his use of troops to enforce a federal court order desegregating public schools. Later, as the inﬂuence of Martin Luther King, Jr., spread, President Lyndon B. Johnson moved with the times to sign the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a bill passed by a bipartisan congressional coalition over the opposition of southern Democrats.
The struggle for racial freedom played out in sports. Branch Rickey, an antiNew Deal Republican, integrated baseball by signing Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers. Rickeys speech explaining why he signed Robinson is an inspiring exposition of the classical liberal creed. In another document, H.L. Mencken used his newspaper column to savage the relics of Ku Kluxry that prohibited blacks and whites from playing tennis together on public courts.
Individualists in an Age of Group Discrimination (1965present)
Classical liberals confronted a dilemma with the Civil Rights Act of 1964: they accepted provisions striking down state-sponsored discrimination. However, two sections prohibited discrimination in private business. This infringed upon the freedom of association that classical liberals also valued. They also feared that these sections would allow the government to discriminate in favor of preferred minorities. To allay such fears, sponsors added explicit colorblind language to emphasize individual, not group rights.
The move toward group rights began under Democratic president Lyndon Johnson, but solidiﬁed under Republican Richard M. Nixon. The Democratic Party soon saw the political beneﬁts of supporting preferences for Democratic constituencies (blacks, Hispanics, and others). The GOP establishment condoned race preferences and abandoned its classical liberal followers more often than not. Nevertheless, by taking their case to the public, classical liberals made the case for nondiscrimination.
A new generation of writers argued that individuals, not groups, need a hand up, and better they get it from civil society (family, church, professional associations) than from a government that views them as symbols of group stereotypes. This theme resonates in the writing of Stephen L. Carter, Stanley Crouch, Shelby Steele, Clarence Thomas, Ben Wattenberg, and others.
Conclusion: Past, Present, Future
In the Age of Obama, what is the outlook for classical liberal policies on race and immigration? The ﬁnal chapter suggests that this question is not easily answered.
On the one hand, the major political parties have shied away from an individualistic stance on race: whereas the Democrats have embraced racial preferences in the name of diversity, the Republicans seem embarrassed by questions of race and wish they would go away. Except for waves of nativist concern over immigration, however, Congress has been reluctant to address racial controversies. The U.S. Supreme Court has furthered muddled the direction of civil rights jurisprudence by splitting sharply in the 2003 landmark cases, Grutter and Gratz.
On the other hand, racial intermarriage and immigration may reduce calls for group-based discrimination. Moreover, the possibility of a revival of the individualistic ethos cannot be dismissed. As the men and women whose words comprise this book have shown, classical liberals have overcome greater obstacles than those they currently face.
If you are interested in the real history of the Civil Rights movement in Americathe radical ideas that set it in motion no matter where they came fromget ready for an intellectual thrill ride. There is no time for political posturing here. Race & Liberty in America is full of revelations and stunning in its honesty.
Juan Williams, Political Analyst, Fox News Channel; former Senior Correspondent, National Public Radio; author, Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 19541965 and Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary
Race & Liberty in America is the race and civil rights anthology we have been waiting for. In our politicized age we often think of civil rights as a movement of racial pride and identity. But Martin Luther Kings movement succeeded precisely because it used the principles of classical liberalism to shatter the idea that race or identity could be a source of entitlement. Black freedom did not come from an embrace of race; it came from the classic principles and values that finally prevailed over race. This book is a timely and necessary corrective.
Shelby Steele, Robert J. and Marion E. Oster Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University; author, The Content of Our Character: A New Vision of Race in America, White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era and A Dream Deferred: The Second Betrayal of Black Freedom in America
Readers will find a wealth of information in Jonathan Beans outstanding book, Race & Liberty in America: The Essential Reader, a collection of primary source materials covering the great historical debates over race and ethnicity in America. Students, educators, civic leaders, and general readers can all greatly benefit from the book, drawing their own conclusions about the content, motivations, and intentions of leaders who have helped shape national policy.
Carol M. Swain, Director, Public Policy Studies and Professor of Political Science and Law, Vanderbilt University; author, Black Faces, Black Interests: The Representation of African Americans in Congress
Jonathan Beans book Race & Liberty in America is indeed essential reading. All too often classical liberals are attacked for their indifference or insensitivity on matters of race. This superb collection of material dispels that illusion. From the beginning of the Republic to the present day a policy of limited government and freedom of association holds the keys to racial harmony and the advancement of all Americans, regardless of their race or color.
Richard A. Epstein, James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law, University of Chicago
Race & Liberty in America is a history buffs dream. Jonathan Bean has carefully and judiciously chosen the most significant speeches, documents, and journalistic works pertaining to the governments treatment of blacks from slavery to modern times. Here you can find wonderfully articulate pleas for equal treatment before the law and diabolic appeals to reject that. Throughout this book one sees the hard fought battles against a government unwilling to respect the natural law, incapable of acknowledging any limits on its power, and utterly contemptuous of the values that brought freedom and prosperity to a few. If you want a real feel for the civil rights battles your teachers and professors never taught you about, here it is.
Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, Senior Judicial Analyst, Fox News Channel; author, Dred Scotts Revenge: A Legal History of Race and Freedom in America
This is a wonderful collection of fascinating documents about the black experience in America, many of them little-known, with judicious introductory material by Jonathan Bean. Puncturing the conventional wisdom that portrays the long and painful struggle for black freedom as the product of progressive government controls, the book demonstrates convincingly that such figures as Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, and Robert Taft were among the most enlightened. Race & Liberty in America deserves a wide audience, and will enrich the reader's understanding of the nation's most difficult and troubling domestic issue.
Stephan Thernstrom, Winthrop Research Professor of History, Harvard University; co-author, America in Black and White: One Nation, Indivisible
Ignored, maligned, or forgotten, classical liberalsthe invisible men and women of the long civil rights movementbecome in these pages the neglected heroes of American history. . . . Undeterred by opposition, defeat, betrayal, and the staggering odds against success, classical liberals have maintained their commitments to limited, constitutional government, free markets, equality before the law, individual rights, racial justice, and a Christian social order. After much trial, hardship, and disappointment, they are sure to prevail. . . . Beans examination of race and racial policy distills the intellectual, political, and moral struggle that has long troubled liberalism in the United States. . . . In his compelling denunciation of affirmative action, the welfare state, and the inept bureaucracy that mismanages them, he reveals that modern liberalism has destroyed the capacity of government to perform its legitimate and necessary functions. . . . the cardinal virtue of Race & Liberty in America is Professor Beans resolve to persuade Americans that they still have choices and that the choices they make still matter.
Jonathan Bean forces the open-minded reader to think in new ways about the relationship between liberty and equality in the American experience with his shrewd selections of seminal documents and astute explanations of the same. Race & Liberty in America represents a powerful tool for understanding that government in the United States has often been the agent of oppression, something that has too often been forgotten in the last generation or so. Bean unashamedly lets the evidence speak for itself that the freedom of the individual has most often flourished when governments have been bridled and too often stifled when they interfered.
Robert J. Norrell, Bernadotte Schmitt Chair of Excellence and Professor of History, University of Tennessee; author of Up from History: The Life of Booker T. Washington
Race & Liberty in America is indispensableperhaps the best collection of source documents on the subject ever gathered. Best of all, this terrific book dispels any notion that civil rights are synonymous with racial preferences or that immigration restriction promotes liberty.
Linda L. Chavez, former Staff Director, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights; Chairman, Center for Equal Opportunity; author, Out of the Barrio: Toward a New Politics of Hispanic Assimilation
After reading Race & Liberty in America, my reaction was WOW!! But, in case a one-word reaction is insufficient, I hasten to add that this fantastic book is destined to become America's new textbook about race, civil rights and what it means to be a classical liberal on the subject of race. Americans are deeply divided about whether to enable their government to pursue diversity or to embrace colorblind public policies. This debate is not well-served by the polarizing influence of political labels that divide conservatives and liberals. Perhaps, if more of the latter realized that colorblind government is a fundamental component of their political DNA and if more of the former understood the inherent connection between liberty and colorblindness, a resolution of this conflict might be achieved.
Ward Connerly, Chairman, American Civil Rights Institute; author, Creating Equal: My Fight Against Race Preferences
Race & Liberty in America: The Essential Reader is destined to become a standard source on the American classical liberal anti-racist tradition. In this magisterial anthology, Jonathan Bean mines a rich vein of sources. Many have never appeared before in book form. The selections cover such diverse topics as the fight for abolitionism and the allied struggles against Chinese exclusion, Jim Crow and Japanese internment. Bean introduces modern readers to such forgotten anti-racist crusaders as entrepreneur Lewis Tappan, who was the essential financial angel of abolitionism, NAACP super-lawyer Moorefield Storey, frontier novelist Rose Wilder Lane, and black Republican congressman Oscar DePriest. The selections also contain surprising new information about such better known individuals as Frederick Douglass, Warren G. Harding, Milton Friedman, and Zora Neale Hurston.
David T. Beito, Professor of History, University of Alabama; author of Black Maverick: T.R.M. Howards Fight for Civil Rights and Economic Power
We are one human race, in need of a savior and as my uncle Dr. Martin Luther King said, we must learn to live together as brothers or perish as fools. Life, liberty and justice are matters of the heart and go beyond politics and legislation. The essential book, Race & Liberty in America, is a major step in the process.
Alveda C. King, Founder and Chairman, King for America; daughter of civil rights leader Rev. A. D. Williams King, brother of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Historian Jonathan Bean has provided a signal service by bringing to light the rich tradition of classical liberal thinking about civil rights. The world of ideas has been waiting for a book such as Race & Liberty in America for far too long, but Bean's collection of primary sources and thematic commentary has made it worth the wait. The book deserves a prominent place on the bookshelves of all open-minded scholars and should be required reading in classrooms across the nation. This is a transformative book by a courageous scholar.
Scott Douglas Gerber, Ella & Ernest Fisher Chair in Law, Ohio Northern University; author, First Principles: The Jurisprudence of Clarence Thomas
How will the issues of Race and Immigration impact America in the future? Short of studying statistics and census reports, a new book Race & Liberty in America edited by Jonathan Bean offers a classical liberal description of the past, present and future impact of race and immigration in Americas future. Its a challenging book of ideas offering a balanced discussion on these two issues.
Lee H. Walker, President, New Coalition for Economic and Social Change
Race & Liberty in America is an original and much-needed anthology, indispensable for any serious discussion of race relations in American history. The first-rate introductions and selections provide a fabulous resource for both teachers and students. Genuinely inspired.
Paul Moreno, William and Berniece Grewcock Chair in Constitutional History, Hillsdale College
Presented as an alternative to 'Left and Right debates on television or the Left on Left offerings in the classroom,' this volume offers the first collection of primary source materials on race and civil rights from the classical liberal perspective. Classical liberals believe in individual freedom, Christianity, the Constitution, colorblindness, and capitalism. Since classical liberals perceive that governmental controls promote racial oppression more than they prevent it, Beans anthology focuses on political and legal discussions. Bean carefully selects and comments on over 100 resources from 1776 to 2007 that support his interpretations of civil rights, e.g., that there is only one race (human), and that individual equality exists regardless of race. He celebrates the end of slavery, anti-immigration laws, and race-based quotas, and rejects the legitimacy of racial pride, diversity, and affirmative action.
[F]rom the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who championed the natural rights philosophy of the Declaration of Independence and declared give the negro fair play and let him alone, to the conservative newspaper magnate R.C. Hoiles (publisher of what is now the Orange County Register), who denounced liberal President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's wartime internment of Japanese Americans while most New Dealers (and liberal Supreme Court justices) remained silent, classical liberals have long opposed racism and collectivism in all of its vile forms. This important yet sadly-neglected history is the subject of Race & Liberty in America (University Press of Kentucky), a superb new anthology edited by Southern Illinois University historian Jonathan Bean, which features carefully selected articles, speeches, book excerpts, newspaper accounts, legal decisions, interviews, and other materials revealing, in Bean's words, that classical liberals are the invisible men and women of the long civil rights movement. . . . As Bean demonstrates, when it comes to the history of civil rights and racial equality, most of us have only heard one part of the story. . . . Taken together, the documents collected in this volume present overwhelming evidence that classical liberalism deserves serious attention in any account of the American struggle for civil rights and a colorblind society. Rather than serving as the villains caricatured by Malcolm X, Manning Marable, and others on the left, classical liberals provided essential intellectual, political, moral, and financial firepower in the battles against slavery, Jim Crow, imperialism, and racial classifications. With Race & Liberty in America, these largely unsung heroes are finally getting some of their due."
While outposts of prejudice and hostility certainly remain, the mainstream no longer tolerates the overt bigotry of the past. America has a long written history of this change of heart. Race & Liberty in America (Jonathan J. Bean, editor; The Independent Institute and the University Press of Kentucky) . . . memorialize the words of those brave souls who took the first steps on the journey towards the sunlit path Americans now walk. Bean and the Independent Institute perform a generous service by compiling a treasure trove of historical trove of historical documents that create a comprehensive account of the progression of race relations in American history. . . . With its wide collection of writings on race and immigration, Race & Liberty in America neatly sidesteps left-right characterization and permits the pure ideas of those who endeavored to focus the debate on our common origins, dignity and destiny to shine through. It does not seek to proselytize to the reader. Instead, it provides an insight into the intellectual foundation of civil rights traditions firmly rooted in American principles: individual freedom, equality before the law and fidelity to the Constitution. . . . Race & Liberty is insightful, thought-provoking and just what is needed to freshen up the stale, bi-polar attitude toward questions of race that stifles contemporary political discussion in both the classroom and the newsroom.
Jonathan Bean's Race & Liberty in America (University Press of Kentucky and The Independent Institute, 2009) points out that academic booklists reflect the politically correct view that left-wing liberals or radicals completely dominated the struggle for racial freedom. Bean's excellent book shows that many African-American leaders in the 19th and 20th centuries had a different emphasis. Those leaders prized individual rights, Christianity, and markets where the only color is the green of greenbacks. Those leaders knew that government power enforced racist codes and segregation.
Jonathan Bean, a research fellow at the Independent Institute, teaches at Southern Illinois University. He has compiled Race & Liberty in America using numerous sources. He discusses the origins and development of the racial conflict burdening America. His work includes references to rare documents showing the destruction and loss of respect for the law through political correctness. He is concerned that responsible individualism has given way to group rationalization, justifying the current lack of discipline and work ethic. . . . The editor compels the reader to think about our society's evolution as he provides the materials necessary to consider its direction. This volume is well worth reading.
" . . . accessible writing, combined with clear thinking that defies the common wisdom on some controversial subjects and makes them highly readable for study or pleasure."
Diverse: Issues in Higher Education
In this edited volume, Jonathan Bean, a professor of history at Southern Illinois University, introduces the classical liberal perspective on race and civil rights in American society. This perspective, he argues, rests on principles that transcend racial afﬁliations, namely, individualism, equal justice under law, a colorblind Constitution, the Golden Rule of Christianity, limited government, and free-market economics. These principles, Bean asserts, inspired the earliest efforts to end slavery, Jim Crow laws, and other forms of discrimination, including the dispossession of Native Americans, restrictions against immigrants from Asia and Southern and Eastern Europe, and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. In making this assertion, Bean aims to amend what he believes is a distortion of the historical record. Politically correct scholars, he maintains, have created the popular yet inaccurate impression that the civil rights movement in the United States originated in modern liberalism, a perspective which, he suggests, promotes group rights at the expense of individual freedom and encourages the redistribution of resources by an activist government. . . . Beans volume has a number of potential uses. It could be a supplemental textbook or reader in upper level courses on such subjects as political science, public policy, political economy, and the history of political and social thought. It could, furthermore, be a reference book for students and scholars who wish to undertake an in-depth study of the classical liberal perspective and its proponents. In this regard, the volumes frequent citations to sources on the Constitution and to famous Supreme Court cases would make it especially useful to those law students or pre-law students who wish to understand how classical liberalism has inﬂuenced judicial decision-making and case law in the U.S. . . . Bean has made a Herculean attempt to assemble an extensive collection of materials and to provide thoughtful commentary upon them. His efforts to set the record straight will be appreciated by those classical liberals who are seeking to ground their position in the history of the nations struggles for civil rights. His efforts will also be appreciated by those students and scholars who are looking for a reference book on the history of classical liberal thought as it relates to race and civil rights.
The Social Science Journal
Race & Liberty in America is an anthology edited by Jonathan Bean, a professor of history at Southern Illinois University. It includes dozens of selections, from 1776 to today, arguing eloquently for colorblind equality before the law and against slavery, Jim Crow, and racial preferences (affirmative action). Fittingly, Bean also includes much from the immigration context. . . . Bean balances readable and relatively short excerpts with intelligent commentary in the introductions. The big message of the book is that many of our great thinkers shared the vision that equality and progress will result from freedom, not the heavy and coercive hand of the State. . . . [T]he cost-conscious libertarian (is there any other kind?) should purchase Beans book . . . [Andrew] Napolitano himselfas well as Shelby Steele, Richard Epstein, Linda Chavez, Stephan Thernstrom, and Ward Connerly, among many othersfavorably blurbs Beans book, calling it a history buffs dream, and hes right.
This book is offered as the first collection of writings on race and immigration to document the role of the classical liberal tradition. Professor Bean defines classical liberalism as endorsing individual freedom, Christianity, the Constitution, colorblindedness, and capitalism. . . . Bean distinguished classical liberalism from left-wing liberalism, which he notes was secular and stressed group rights, government power, and hostility to capitalism. He argues that in America, classical liberalism was the main intellectual force opposing racism; anti-Semitic, anti-Asian, anti-immigration policies, and affirmative action; or, on the other side of this coin, the main intellectual force defending the rights of the individual against all forms of collectivism. . . . [T]his book has many excellent passages upholding reason, individualism, individual rights, and the Constitution (including the Declaration). For this reason, Beans book is well worth reading.
Human Resource Management
Focusing on pieces that exemplify aspects of classical liberalism, including independence from government and individual freedom, the editor provides a primary sourcebook for stories of people and the difference they made in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.
Catholic Library World
Jonathan Bean has put together a phenomenal work with Race & Liberty in America: The Essential Reader. For me, an African-American who interned with my church's religious liberty department while I was studying law, the book proved to be an amazing read, and I highly recommend it. I would state unequivocally that it would be an informative read for anyone, regardless of their own personal views of the U.S. civil rights movementa complex history with complex past and present implementation and maintenance processes. What makes Race & Liberty in America an unrivaled piece is that it duly surpasses all the expectations of what one might consider finding within a pronounced 'essential reader.' Jonathan Bean's edited work is a refreshing anthology of every type of major civil rights debate and struggle that has ever occurred within the United States: antislavery, constitutionalism, the right of free markets, and the debates on immigration that consumed the public political discourse in the 1850s and 1970s. All these subtopics are brilliantly aligned in a mosaic of documents, presidential orders, judicial rulings, legal briefs, and speeches. Race & Liberty in America: The Essential Reader, within title and substance, is neither hyperbole nor bombast, but emerges as an absolute treasure trove of some of the finest documents on U.S. civil rights ever collected and bound together. The raw power of this book emanates completely from the simplicity of its presentation: the use of primary sources alone to speak to the reader and to convey Bean's message: that the classical liberal tradition was the only tradition in the social, political, and economic spheres of the United States to consistently make a difference in the obtaining, realization, and maintenance of an individual's basic civil rights in the United States. . . . Bean has truly compiled a wonderful selection of sources exemplifying the best debates and arguments concerning the U.S. tradition of being a free and welcoming land, available to those who wish for a fair right to live as an individual citizen without the anchor of caste or color. Race & Liberty in America is a book that duly meets the previous superlatives of renowned civil rights academic, literary, and political experts such as Shelby Steele and Carol M. Swain. . . . This is truly an anthology that can already be considered as irreplaceable and, at present, is readily finding itself as textbook and private study in the hands of academics and private interested readers alike.
Within Race & Liberty in America you will find a collective meeting place for the 'forgotten voices of racial freedom' who fought for racial parity in the United States. They operated on the relatively elusive classical liberal tradition. Jonathan Bean, a professor of History at Southern Illinois University who has written two other books on the federal government and small business, devotes the introductory pages of this 2009 volume to spelling out the five pillars of classical liberalism: individual freedom, Christianity/Judaism, the Constitution, colorblindness, and capitalism. 'Classical liberals fought slavery, lynching, segregation, imperialism, and racial distinctions in the law. As immigration advocates, they defended the 'natural right' of migration to America,' Bean states early on (1). They were akin to Zora Neale Hurston who did not think it necessary to unite around Race Pride. Classical liberals thought like Clarence Thomas, advocating against positive discrimination. Today they fight affirmative action, but are vocal dissenters when it comes to diversity imperatives and earmarks, racial distinctions and classifications, and anti-immigration legislation. . . . Race & Liberty in America proves to be a solid platform for denouncing the notion that Left and Right, Conservative and Democrat are the sole voices of the American political and ideological arenas. He set out to give a voice to historical figures that are omitted from history texts and many classrooms. Bean has indeed succeeded in establishing a precedent. Along with creating a distinctive anthology, the Southern Illinois University professor reaches out to help readers understand what they are consuming and to put it all in context. As he says in the introductory pages, Race & Liberty in America is ideal for a classroom setting. From political science, history, and sociology, to nearly all of the social sciences and humanitiesthe collection would prove useful in almost all discussions. . . . Race & Liberty in America has been reviewed quite heavily and has received accolades from many different camps. The book is quite timely, if we consider the present debates on post-racialism, immigration, diversity, and multiculturalism. Irrespective of personal, political, or ideological affiliation, readers will be drawn into the conversations this book presents. With the popularized notion of colorblindness being among the current hot topics, Bean has provided a source to draw on, refer to, and cite, as many scholars, academics, and even pundits are inclined to do.
[W]hen it comes to the average history books that deal with the controversial subject of race in America, readers are typically led to believe that the only voices interested in combating government-sponsored racism were liberals or progressives and their even bigger government solutions. Not so, says Jonathan Bean, Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and professor of history at Southern Illinois University. In Race & Liberty in America: The Essential Reader, Bean argues that it was classical liberals who were at the forefront of fighting for equal rights for Americas oppressed minorities, and he backs it up by featuring some very compelling writings and speeches from prominent historical figures. Bean takes the reader on a historical journey from the time of our nations founding period up to present day by exploring original writings from important liberty-minded individuals. . . . While most modern historians ignore any positive role Christianity played in history, Race & Liberty in America stands out in its impressive effort to highlight the role Christianity played not only in our nations founding but also in helping to fight the pernicious evil of slavery. Starting with the Declaration of Independence, Bean notes how our nation was founded on the principles of God-given rights where God was mentioned four times as the source of those unalienable Rights and how evangelical Christians like William Wilberforce were a critically important voice for the abolishment of slavery. The book doesnt just confine itself to domestic race relations but also delves into Americas foreign policy. Such writings are incredibly timely considering modern U.S. foreign policy. . . . Race & Liberty in America also includes inspiring writings from prominent black figures throughout history who touted effective methods to combat racism that didnt require the accumulation of more power in the state. These giants among men advocated a two-pronged approach involving self-help and a color-blind application of the law. Men like Frederick Douglas and Booker T. Washington promoted the notion that markets were color-blind and capitalism was their best hope. . . . Race & Liberty in America is an enlightening read that will leave the reader feeling both inspired and optimistic about the future. Many of todays proponents of individual rights and freedom find themselves scorned and mocked as fringe fanatics by mainstream voices. The writers featured in this book faced similar ridicule in their time for stating opinions not favored by the political elite but now they are widely recognized as enlightened visionaries. If those who are so active in todays freedom movement continue to passionately advocate for liberty, perhaps they will also someday be remembered as being ahead of their time.
The New American
Jonathan J. Bean, a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and Professor of History at Southern Illinois University, has collated together here primary source materials covering the great historical debates over race and ethnicity in America, with invaluable commentary introducing, and recommended reading lists concluding, each section, respectively. The book is divided into seven chapters with an introduction to the main themes of civil rights and classical liberalismthe distinguishing features of which he lists as 'unalienable Rights' from God, individual freedom from government control, the Constitution as a guarantor of freedom, color-blind law, and capitalism. . . . Beans book is well subtitled, The Essential Readeranyone, from students and academics to civic leaders and the wider reading public, will find it indispensable to a study of the subjects of race, liberty, American political history and sociology.
Ethnicity and Race in a Changing World: A Review Journal
With its wide collection of writings on race and immigration, Race & Liberty in America neatly sidesteps left-right characterization and permits the pure ideas of those who endeavored to focus the debate on our common origins, dignity, and destiny to shine through...it provides an insight into the intellectual foundation of civil right s traditions firmly rooted in American principles: individual freedom, equality before the law and fidelity to the Constitution.
Freedoms Journal Magazine Blog
This compilation of primary documents, with short introductions by the editor along with an introductory and concluding chapter, is meant for classroom use. University classrooms, Jonathan Bean suggests, are virtual propaganda cells in which brave students who dare to raise any argument from the classical liberal tradition are 'shut down' in silence until they have parroted the correct answers they have found in other discussion readers. This anthology, by contrast, aims to free students to consider another way of looking at the world. . . . Perhaps most important, the text resurrects some little-anthologized or relatively forgotten authors, writers, and editors, especially black authors. Students will learn much from contrasting the usual suspects in anthologies of black writing with figures such as the black Mencken George Schulyer, the black business tycoon S. B. Fuller, the more contemporary author Anne Wortham, and the religion professor Kelly Miller. All of these (and more, including contemporary columnist Walter Williams and political activist Ward Connerly) get their say here. Likewise for R. C. Hoiles, the important newspaper publisher and founder of Freedom Communications (and owner of my local paper, the Colorado Springs Gazette), who articulated a philosophy that Barry Goldwater later took national. Heroically, Hoiles stood against Japanese internment during World War II when few others did; his critique of FDR's internment policy is reproduced here. . . . Government activism in the service of racismfor example, segregation laws and internment campsare lambasted here by heroic voices in defense of individual freedom; this is the glory of the story of race and liberty told here.
Books & Culture
Jonathan Beans Race & Liberty in America addresses the role race has played in the history of the United States. It develops the conjunction of race and ideas of liberty by compiling a diverse survey of pieces from Americas earliest days to the present. Bean takes advantage of the perch that the year 2011 offers and allows history to speak for itself as these issues were (and most currently are) queried. As a result, this is a book likely to appeal to a wide audience as has already been evidenced by the praise it has received from critics on both sides of the isle. From page one, Bean leaves very little doubt that Race & Liberty in America is not a partisan book, nor one advocating a conservative or liberal ideology. Rather, his thesis and emphasis is to track the classical liberal tradition and its response to slavery and other race issues by offering an excerpt from each period in American history. To do this, Bean fills each chapter by citing journalists and authors, pastors and activists, political leaders and businessman. He scopes-out the structure of the early anti-slavery movement, on into the Republican Era, through color consciousness, the Roosevelt years, and classical liberalisms involvement in the Civil Rights Era. . . . Ultimately Race & Liberty in America provides insight into what was central to the progress made by the classical liberal tradition and its critique of slavery and race in recent history. Bean effectively ties together the chronological flow of history and parallel flow of ideas that went along with it. It is because of this approach that Bean is able to thoroughly identify and investigate those concepts that played the most significant role in streamlining race and liberty in America: individual freedom, Christianity and Judaism, the Constitution, colorblindness, and capitalism. . . . Race & Liberty in America maintains distance from the distractions of today's political debate by providing a comprehensive framework on the issues of race and American liberty in which to properly gain knowledge and move forward.
In 2009, Jonathan Bean put together a wonderful book recounting the vital role liberty played in the American black experience. In Race & Liberty in America: The Essential Reader, Bean demonstrates that from the Declaration of Independence to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision banning school assignment by race, classical liberalism differs from progressive liberalism in emphasizing freedom, Christianity, the racial neutrality of the Constitution, racial solidarity, and free enterprise. Bean recalls rich history.
Acton Institute Power Blog
Jonathan Bean is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and Professor of History at Southern Illinois University. He received his Ph.D. from the Ohio State University in 1994 and he has taught at Juniata College and St. Michaels College. Professor Bean is the recipient of the Henry Adams Prize for Best Book of the Year from the Society for History in the Federal Government and Herman E. Krooss Prize from the Business History Conference. He is a member of the Academic Hall of Fame at St. Michaels College.
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