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Myths America Lives ByWhite Supremacy and the Stories That Give Us Meaning$
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Richard T. Hughes

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042065

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042065.001.0001

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The Myth of Nature’s Nation

The Myth of Nature’s Nation

The Revolutionary Period

Chapter:
(p.60) Chapter Three The Myth of Nature’s Nation
Source:
Myths America Lives By
Author(s):

Richard T. Hughes

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5622/illinois/9780252042065.003.0003

The American myth of Nature’s Nation claims that the United States, and especially its founding documents, owe nothing to human history but reflect the natural order as it came from the hands of the Creator. Accordingly, the Declaration of Independence speaks of “self-evident truths,” rooted in “Nature and Nature’s God.” But the founders read into the natural order the long-standing myth of White Supremacy. In this way, the myth of Nature’s Nation became a tool for exclusion and oppression of people of color. In his “Notes on the State of Virginia,” Thomas Jefferson even argued that black inferiority was nature’s own decree. From an early date, blacks fought back. David Walker led that charge with his 1829 book, Walker’s Appeal . . . to the Coloured Citizens of the World. In the twenty-first century, other black writers—especially Toni Morrison and Ta-Nehisi Coates—unmasked the ways in which the myth of White Supremacy is embedded in the American myth of Nature’s Nation.

Keywords:   Nature’s Nation, self-evident truths, Thomas Jefferson, American founders, Declaration of Independence, Notes on the State of Virginia, David Walker, Walker’s Appeal, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Toni Morrison

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