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Thread: Benjamin Franklin Thought Swedes Were Too Swarthy?

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    Benjamin Franklin Thought Swedes Were Too Swarthy?

    Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, Peopling of Countries, &c.- Benjamin Franklin

    24. Which leads me to add one Remark: That the Number of purely white People in the World is proportionably very small. All Africa is black or tawny. Asia chiefly tawny. America (exclusive of the new Comers) wholly so. And in Europe, the Spaniards, Italians, French, Russians and Swedes, are generally of what we call a swarthy Complexion; as are the Germans also, the Saxons only excepted, who with the English, make the principal Body of White People on the Face of the Earth. I could wish their Numbers were increased. And while we are, as I may call it, Scouring our Planet, by clearing America of Woods, and so making this Side of our Globe reflect a brighter Light to the Eyes of Inhabitants in Mars or Venus, why should we in the Sight of Superior Beings, darken its People? why increase the Sons of Africa, by Planting them in America, where we have so fair an Opportunity, by excluding all Blacks and Tawneys, of increasing the lovely White and Red? But perhaps I am partial to the Complexion of my Country, for such Kind of Partiality is natural to Mankind.

    It is important to note that when Franklin mentions the "White and Red" he is not including the "red man" of the Americas. He is most likely referring to a ruddy complexion among Europeans.

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    Benjamin Franklin was half intelligent and half completely ridiculous. He also believed in fully integrating Africans into American society.

    Edit: And seeing how what he appears to have said here is in direct contrast with what I originally posted. Here is my source, originally from An Address To The Public:

    To instruct, to advise, to qualify those, who have been restored to freedom, for the exercise and enjoyment of civil liberty, to promote in them habits of industry, to furnish them with employments suited to their age, sex, talents, and other circumstances, and to procure their children an education calculated for their future situation in life; these are the great outlines of the annexed plan, which we have adopted, and which we conceive will essentially promote the public good, and the happiness of these our hitherto too much neglected fellow-creatures.

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    Yeah, I mean big surprise.. he only considered the Anglo(English)-Saxons(supposed ancestors to the English), White,lol. The natives called the Spaniards and Italians that first arrived, "White Men". So they have first dibs on the term.

    The "Whiteness" factor always changed through the years though, and primarily born outve elitism, xenophobia and economics. The English are an odd bunch with Racism too, they didnt consider the Irish white-- and equated them with Negroes and even used them as slaves during the Colonial era.

    As for Red skin? Not sure, maybe he wanted to slap some white faces around until they turned red, just an idea,lol. He was probably on drugs anyway, perhaps he smoked a dooby while he got struck by lightning one to many times while trying to conduct electricity.

    Just for fun, I can show a counter of sorts with the ideas of "Whiteness":

    White Race Unnatural, Descended from Brown Hindoo, says german philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer

    We now come to those other relative considerations which depend on each individual trying to eradicate, through the medium of another, his weaknesses, deficiencies, and deviations from the type, in order that they may not be perpetuated in the child that is to be born or develop into absolute abnormities. The weaker a man is in muscular power, the more will he desire a woman who is muscular; and the same thing applies to a woman....Nevertheless, if a big woman choose a big husband, in order, perhaps, to present a better appearance in society, the children, as a rule, suffer for her folly. Again, another very decided consideration is complexion. Blonde people fancy either absolutely dark complexions or brown; but it is rarely the case vice versâ. The reason for it is this: that fair hair and blue eyes are a deviation from the type and almost constitute an abnormity, analogous to white mice, or at any rate white horses. They are not indigenous to any other part of the world but Europe,—not even to the polar regions,—and are obviously of Scandinavian origin. En passant, it is my conviction that a white skin is not natural to man, and that by nature he has either a black or brown skin like our forefathers, the Hindoos, and that the white man was never originally created by nature; and that, therefore, there is no race of white people, much as it is talked about, but every white man is a bleached one. Driven up into the north, where he was a stranger, and where he existed only like an exotic plant, in need of a hothouse in winter, man in the course of centuries became white. The gypsies, an Indian tribe which emigrated only about four centuries ago, show the transition of the Hindoo’s complexion to ours. In love, therefore, nature strives to return to dark hair and brown eyes, because they are the original type; still, a white skin has become second nature, although not to such an extent as to make the dark skin of the Hindoo repellent to us.
    http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/s/scho...chapter12.html

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    Sorry if this is off topic but...

    Quote Originally Posted by CrimsonGuard
    Just for fun, I can show a counter of sorts with the ideas of "Whiteness"
    Just to clarify, do you agree with Schopenhauer here? Because frankly I find something wrong with almost everything in that quote.

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    "White" is an idiotic term anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Resurgam View Post

    It is important to note that when Franklin mentions the "White and Red" he is not including the "red man" of the Americas. He is most likely referring to a ruddy complexion among Europeans.
    Yes, who knows what kinds of Swedes he saw. Perhaps he saw a mixed bunch in with some Finns.

    To a Brit this Russian looks "off-white" despite having light blond hair and light eyes:



    Perhaps that is the kind of colouration Franklin had in mind.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SlíNanGael View Post
    Sorry if this is off topic but...



    Just to clarify, do you agree with Schopenhauer here? Because frankly I find something wrong with almost everything in that quote.
    Do I agree what we're descended from "Brown Hindoo's" ? HAHA, nope.



    Its either people take the term "White" too literately(which in reality would be Albino or borderline one) or its become so inclusive it can mean Osama Bin Ladin. The whole thing is a mess to be honest, and has been for a long time.

    Europoid or Caucasoid suffices well enough and sounds more scientific.

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    I mentioned this in a thread at BuB. The Swedes had a colony, New Sweden, approximately covering what is now the State of Delaware, down river from Philadelphia. There were never that many colonists in New Sweden & it would appear that many of them were not actually Swedish but Walloons & Palatine Germans - both of whom would have appeared swarthy to the fairhaired English colonists from East Anglia who settled Franklin's birthplace of Boston. Essentially though what Franklin was saying was that he wanted to restrict immigration to the United States to persons most like those who were already here - nothing wrong with that idea.

    Benjamin Franklin was half intelligent and half completely ridiculous. He also believed in fully integrating Africans into American society.

    I find it hard to believe that someone who found Swedes & most Germans too swarthy, would want to integrate Negroes fully into American society, at least not to the point of full integration, including intermarriage.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ćmeric View Post
    at least not to the point of full integration, including intermarriage.
    We are in agreement here. I do not believe he wanted this either, so I should have chosen my words more carefully. Yet I still find a dichotomy between essaying on the cause of integrating Negroes socially, whilst splitting hairs about fellow Europeans. Franklin must have been quite naďve to have believed that social integration could occur without eventual miscegenation.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ćmeric View Post
    The Swedes had a colony, New Sweden, approximately covering what is now the State of Delaware, down river from Philadelphia. There were never that many colonists in New Sweden & it would appear that many of them were not actually Swedish but Walloons & Palatine Germans...
    Could you give some more detail and maybe sources for this? My understanding is that the settlers in New Sweden were mostly Finns. The Swedish state had trouble finding anyone to populate its colony so resorted to convicting Finns of bogus crimes such as stealing wood from forests and shipping them to the Delaware basin.

    I think you are right that the remnant population of New Sweden is the most likely source for Franklin's impression of Swedes as the still maintained a presence in 18th century Philadelphia. The Swedish church in what is now South Philly was an early adopter of Franklin's lightening rod.
    The sitters in the hall seldom know
    The kin of the new-comer:
    The best man is marred by faults,
    The worst is not without worth.
    -- The Havamal, #133 (trans. Auden and Taylor)

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