While searching online for information on George Washington's white servants, I came across article after article by modern American blacks critical of the old white servants as racists for not wanting to socialize with black slaves. By 1800, it was accurate to refer to white servants and black slaves, whereas before they were all bondsmen and bondswomen. The Revolution against Great Britain, during which unfree whites sided with the revolutionary rich and the unfree blacks sided with the British, only to be abandoned by their British liberators [one British General did evacuate his black supporters to Nova Scotia] along with the Indians, set in motion the wheels of liberty for unfree whites north of Virginia yet convinced elite white Americans that their black property could not be trusted. From Virginia to points south, blacks were rounded up and chained, and whites—even those who had fought as revolutionary soldiers—were disarmed and put back on the plantation to finish out their terms of service.
The writers of these articles may be seen as projecting modern hatreds backward in time, but their era is one of ignorance, of viewing the experience of the white servants and black slaves of 1800 Virginia through the prism of 1865 rather than through the prism of 1675. They present the correct unbiased information that Washington planned on replacing his black slaves with German servants. Although his wife did not carry out his wishes upon his death, there was the real fact that Washington knew that the importation of blacks was scheduled to end in 1804, which meant that one would have to enslave people from birth, people who had been born in Virginia, people whose parents the slave owner knew, and this was viewed with distaste. One would no longer be bringing in Christians from a state of heathen slavery into a state of Christian slavery but be enslaving Christians at birth.
Washington referred to black slaves and white servants as one, as "stable people." He was switching to German servants so that they could be cheaply housed with blacks, for since Bacon's Rebellion of 1675, white and black bondsmen had been housed separately to prevent them from joining in revolt again. The German servants would have a language barrier. This was the same reason why in 1680, slave holders switched to purchasing Africans rather than blacks purchased from English-speaking Barbados. Demonstrating that the segregation originated from the white elite slave owners who were not represented on the pirate ships, blacks were welcome aboard majority white pirate ships as equals and even elected to captain. In Culpepper's Rebellion of 1701, blacks and whites fought together. In two plots uncovered by authorities in New York City in the 1700s, white servants and black servants were found to be conspiring to burn the city. In numerous Virginia runaway slave listings, Irish servants are implicated as conspirators. Echoing the movie, The Defiant Ones, out of the future, it was a common tactic of runaways for the Irish servant to pretend to be the master of the black slave and to partner up in that fashion.
So why did, around 1800, a hatred of blacks by poor whites come to manifest itself?
From 1710-45 five black militias were armed, raised, decomissioned and re-enslaved by white slave masters in fighting white rebel servants in Carolina.
In the Revolutionary War, white servants fought as Americans as black slaves fought on the British and Indian side. Both were re-enslaved after the war in the south, but only the blacks were rebound in the north. The divide was on the Indian question. Whites were largely released in the north to contend with the powerful Indian allies of the British who had previously served the British as slave-catchers. These free-soil whites left plantation society behind and moved west, suspicious of any attempt by elite whites to move blacks west to set up ever larger plantations and prevent free farmers from competing in the market place against larger scale outfits operating with the benefit of slave labor.
In the south, although poor former servants helped many blacks escape [such as Moses Roper], most poor whites were bound by law to work as slave patrolmen on behalf of the rich after spending all day trying to make a living in competition with these very same elite white slave owners. This was the reason why Nat Turner spared the poor whites. However, between the black slave militias used against whites and the white slave patrols used against blacks in the south, poor whites and blacks had been successfully played off against each other by the white elite. Ironically, the poor whites in the north saw the slave owners as "negro lovers," for they would rather own a black man than do business with a freely hired white man.
And here we are today, working whites and working blacks set at each other's moral throats by the elite white media.
Still the same as it ever was.