INTRODUCTION In an early-eighteenth-century letter, one of the largest slaveholders in Virginia, William Byrd 11, wrote of himself as a patriarch like those in the Bible:
Like one of the patriarchs, I have my flocks and my herds, my bond-men and bond-women, and every soart [sic] of trade amongst my own servants, so I live in a kind of independence .... I must take care to keep all my people to their duty, to set all the springs in motion, and to make everyone draw his equal share to carry the machine forward. 1
Byrd demonstrates at this early date a key argument made in chapter 1. Integral to the development and perpetuation of systemic racism in this society has been this development of a white racial frame, which is an organized set of racialized ideas and action inclinations that are expressed in, and constitutive of, the society's racist institutions. In their domination of colonial society, slaveholders like Byrd were dependent
on "no one but God;' as they put it, and they sought to rule autocratically in the expanding slavery-centered society. Indeed, until the 1770s, the main concern of most planters and other slaveholders was not primarily with the grand ideals of "freedom and liberty" for the society they had created, those ideals that were later heralded so strongly for the new United States. Instead, they were principally concerned with creating wealth and power for themselves and their kin at the expense of Native Americans and their lands and African Americans and their labor.