Benjamin Franklin and "White and Red"

Since "larch" has some reading comprehension problems, and for anyone else who is easily confused, "Red" in the following passage does not refer to Amerindians :
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 Compexion of my Country, for such Kind of Partiality is natural to Mankind. ["Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind"]


"White and Red" clearly refers to ruddy NW Europeans (as opposed to sallow southern and eastern Euros). Franklin unambiguously describes American aborigines as "wholly" tawny, and acknowledges his partiality to the "Complexion of [his] Country".

On a related note, people are sometimes puzzled that Franklin counts Swedes among the "swarthy"-complected. Bear in mind that the most of the "Swedes" who settled the Delaware valley evidently were, in fact, Finns, and their descendants may be the "Swedes" Franklin refers to. While we don't usually think of Finns as swarthy, according to Coon:

The pigmentation of the Finns is as abundantly documented as are their stature and head form. Skin color, however, has been tabulated in only one study104 of 154 males, of whom 121 were found to be "white," presumably in the extreme Scandinavian sense, while the others were listed as "yellowish" or "brunet." General observation of Finns, however, and descriptions by various authors, lead to the conclusion that the skin color of these people is as a rule unusually fair, but that in many cases it lacks surface vascularity.


Update: Franklin, writing in France:
On the road yesterday we met six or seven country women in company, on horseback and astride; they were all of fair white and red complexions, but one among them was the fairest woman I ever beheld. Most of the men have good complexions, not swarthy, like those of the North of France in which I remember that, except about Abbeville, i saw few fair people.

3 comments:

Jacob said...

Before you say anything else, you do know Franklin was an abolitionist right? http://articles.philly.com/2006-02-25/news/25409649_1_chattel-slavery-ben-franklin-kidney-stones

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)))santoculto((( said...

East asians who are the most brachycephalic of the macro-races and they are also the least anxious of them.

Interestingly blacks are also less anxious even they are evidently more impulsive.

Nordics who are dolychocephalic par excellence are one of the least anxious.

Mediterraneans are also less anxious but [comparatively with other european sub-races] more impulsive and emotionally reactive.