Racial prejudice worked to perpetuate American slavery, even if it was not essential to sustain the institution. Slavery, serfdom, and peonage had existed elsewhere without racial connotations. Indeed, bondage had been so historically ubiquitous one might well ask why, by the 1760’s, it had come to trouble so many white Americans so much. The answer lies in part — and this part help explain why people like Mason did not act more aggressively on their concerns — in the reservations many whites felt about living alongside members of a supposedly inferior race, whether slave or free. The problem was inherent in American slavery, and emancipation, by undermining white control, would only make it worse.
Joshua Reynolds (1723—92)
Oil on canvas. SCAD Museum of Art, Savannah, GA.
Oil on canvas; 25 x 18 3/4 inches (63.5 x 47.6 cm). Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT.
Oil on canvas; 737 x 616 mm. Tate Gallery, London, England.
Oil on canvas; 39 in. x 31 1/4 in. (991 mm x 794 mm). National Portrait Gallery, London, England.
Oil on canvas; 2390 mm x 1460 mm (94.1 × 57.5 in). National Maritime Museum, London, England.
Oil on canvas; w641 x h768 cm. Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT.
Oil on canvas; 750 x 620 mm. National Trust, Petworth House and Park, West Sussex, England.
Oil on canvas. Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, Amherst, MA.
Oil on canvas; w635 x h762 cm. Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT.
Oil on canvas; 50 x 39 7/8 in. (127 x 101.3 cm). The Frick Collection, New York, NY.