In Treatise On The Intellectual Character And Civil And

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In Treatise on the Intellectual Character and Civil and Political Condition of Colored People in the U. States, Easton examines the dominating, seemingly ubiquitous power of racial prejudice in the United States. In this, Easton portrays a direct association between the endurance of a republic and the habits and sentiments of its people, ultimately asserting that the success of a republican government is contingent upon the character of its citizenry. Therefore, contrary to the beliefs of the American colonists at the time, Easton argues that institutional configuration alone cannot protect the virtuous ideals of freedom and equality that are embedded in republicanism. Rather, a republic can only be as good as that of which motivates…show more content…
In order to illustrate the connection between the character of the citizenry, as inspired by their habits and sentiments, and a republic, Easton dissects the logic of racial prejudice— how it is created and maintained. Though he opens his third chapter, On theNnature of the Prejudice of the White Population of the United States, with the claim, “Malignant prejudice is a principle which calls into action the worst passions of the human heart,” he contradicts this claim in the following sentence when he states, “There are some cases, however, in which the exercise of prejudice is perfectly harmless” (Easton 35). He continues, “It [prejudice] never possesses any vitiating qualities, except when it is exercised by one who has done, or intends to do, another injury” (Easton 36). According to Easton, prejudice, in itself, is not innately harmful. Rather, it can only be injurious when its motivators attribute malicious intentions to it. Resultantly, Easton suggests that the wicked qualities of the citizenry perpetuate the malignant nature that is typically associated with prejudice. To support this, he alludes to the injury inflicted upon black Americans—explicitly in the form of laws that enforce the enslavement of southern blacks and subliminally in the form of the normalized attitudes of subordination attributed to northern blacks— that evokes their racial
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