""All men are created equal" is America's most cherished proposition. But for more than a century after Thomas Jefferson wrote those words, the Founding Fathers and their successors failed to extend the promise of the Declaration of Independence to blacks and Indians. Why? We take refuge in the notion that white people at the time were the prisoners of racist ideas and that we today are more enlightened. In this popular view, the history of America demonstrates how racist beliefs have been slowly discarded, with later generations realizing the dream of liberty and equality. But as Nick Guyatt argues in Bind Us Apart, white Americans from the founding to the Civil War were not confident racists who blithely condemned blacks and Indians to inferior status. Instead, they were confused and tortured souls, and often remarkably conscious of the damage that racism might do to the nation's future. They looked for ways to reconcile their principles and their prejudices, and sometimes succeeded: in the first decades of the United States, blacks went to the polls alongside whites in some northern states, and federal officials promoted intermarriage between Indians and frontier settlers in the hope that racial divisions would disappear in the West"-- Provided by publisher. "Why did the Founding Fathers fail to include blacks and Indians in their cherished proposition that "all men are created equal"? Racism is the usual answer. Yet Nicholas Guyatt argues in Bind Us Apart that white liberals from the founding to the Civil War were not confident racists, but tortured reformers conscious of the damage that racism would do to the nation. Many tried to build a multiracial America in the early nineteenth century, but ultimately adopted the belief that non-whites should create their own republics elsewhere: in an Indian state in the West, or a colony for free blacks in Liberia. Herein lie the origins of "separate but equal." Essential reading for anyone hoping to understand today's racial tensions, Bind Us Apart reveals why racial justice in the United States continues to be an elusive goal: despite our best efforts, we have never been able to imagine a fully inclusive, multiracial society. "-- Provided by publisher.