by Cora Montgomery
Transcribed from The daily crescent. ([New Orleans, La.]), 20 Aug. 1850. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress. This letter seems to be the first use in print of the phrase “white supremacy” in the Western Hemisphere. Cora Montgomery is the pseudonym of a woman named Jane McManus Storm Cazneau. Cazneau is credited with being the originator of the phrase Manifest Destiny.
Letter of Cora Montgomery
On Negro Ascendency in the West India Islands.
The action or the inertia of public sentiment in the United States will decide the destiny of Cuba, and with the fate of Cuba is bound up inextricably the elevation or downfall of white influence in the West Indies. This inevitable sequence to the fortunes of the Queen of those islands has been hitherto strangely overlooked, and the decision of her lot, which now trembles in the balance, as well as the supremacy of the whites in this imperial
circle of power and domain, may be made soon and unexpectedly against our race and nation ; may be made in a month or two—for the question is well nigh at their voice and vote—and made without due scrutiny by either press, people or government into
its future bearing. Yet, it may be seriously questioned whether there is one State in all our family of thirty sovereignties[sic], that would be willing to see the magnificent cluster of islands that gems our southern coast, consolidated into a negro empire under the auspices of Europe, or sunk from their commercial value as buyers and sellers into the unproducing apathy of negro rule.
First use in print of the phrase “white supremacy”
Even if we were free from all prejudices of caste and color, and had no objection to amalgamating to the mulatto tint all the inhabitants of those islands to mingling and in’ermarrying[sic] with them on terms of cordial equality, we cannot be indifferent to the decrease of production and trade which must follow—which has followed in San Domingo and Jamaica—the ascendency[sic] of the negroes[sic]. This ascendency is now advancing with rapid footsteps, and Cuba may be fairly declared not only the last hope of white supremacy in those islands, but the single remaining barrier that interposes between our coasts and a numerous empire of blacks, fostered, guided and upheld by the strongest powers of Europe. Add Cuba to the mass of negro preponderance which has so lately acquired the dominion of our southern seas, and no home or foothold is left for the white men in this whole array of noble islands. They possess all the elements of prosperous and powerful empire, rich products, a teeming soil, fine harbor, a central position, ample domain and sufficient population. They have more trade and larger immediate resources, than the thirteen colonies possessed when they defied England and electrified the world with their Declaration of Independence. It is true, the three millions of colonists were well trained apprentices to the art and mysteries of self-government which the three millions
of West Indians are very imperfect in, much the fitter are they to be used as the good pleasure of their European masters may dictate. That it will be strongly inclined to serve this Republic we can scarcely hope.
This mass of power cannot remain quiescent, and it is almost entirely in the power of our people to shape its future tendency, either for or against the whites—to convert it into a profitable friend and neighbor, or make of it a vast grave for the lives, property and power of the white race, who are involved with it.
Interests of their own race
If our government favors the progress of the blacks who are making such rapid strides to exclusive sovereignty; if our people refuse the aid of their counsel and sympathy to the struggling whites, the tale is soon told. Cuba and the remnant of white Dominicans will be cast—though always in decorous silence—under the feet of the blacks, for to this Spain has consented at the urgency of England. The non-interference of the American people is demanded, and maybe strongly enforced by our Cabinet, if they count themselves more bound to the sovereigns of Europe than to the rights of man and the interests of their own race.
England, France and Denmark have given all their islands to the blacks, and established by law the most perfect, political and social quality. In Jamaica and other British colonies, whites, blacks and mulattoes sit indiscriminately together, at the Governor’s festive board, in the Colonial legislature, the Magistrate’s bench, and everywhere else, for every where the power of England is sufficient to enforce her policy. She wishes to increase the preponderance of the negro family in the West Indies, and places all those islands in their hands, for she can reckon on them as she cannot reckon on the docility of the whites.
The French islands are in the same way, filling their local offices with negroes[sic], through the ascendancy of the negro voters—slaves who without any fitness or preparation were turned loose in wild freedom and told to take upon themselves the care of governing their late masters by dint of superior numbers and the aid of the powerful mother land. Together these two powers have calmly and with premeditated system abased half a million of whites to absolute subserviency[sic] to about twice as many negroes, by giving and maintaining in social and political preponderance the colored majority. Denmark, Sweden and Holland are lending their contingencies to this contest of races and always on the side of the general European policy.
Furious efforts to annihilate his white neighbors
Of the million inhabitants of San Domingo—always speaking in round and proximate numbers—more than two-thirds are included in the black empire of Hayti[sic], which is strongly patronized by England and France, and most unaccountably favored by a formal recognition at Washington. Less than one-third are whites, and form the State of Dominica, at the east end of the island. Friend less and alone, this little State is battling for its existence against the concentrated animosity of the negro emperor, who is cheered on by Europe and not discountenanced by America, in his furious efforts to annihilate his white neighbors. Dominica implores life and liberty from the whites, and will receive strength to triumph, or lose all hope as we favor or reject her cry.
Thus two-thirds of the West India empire—for it is no less than any empire—is at this moment given over by Europe to the blacks, and if Cuba and Porto Rico are not rescued by a different policy, they will be soon brought to the same fate, and we shall enclose a second Africa in the heart of our continent.
Take together, Cuba, Porto Rico and San Dominica, and with more or less openness, we find 800.000 whites pitted by their European masters against 1,400,000 negroes. This is the simple and direct truth, stripped of all diplomatic veils and swathing bands. If the United States favors Republicanism and the whites, they will be saved to us and to civilization. If the balance is struck for Europe and the blacks, no human ken can pierce the long vista of ruin, bloodshed and degradation which hangs like a funeral pall over the future of the doomed white race in those fair but ill-fated islands. c. m.