White Americans are Americans who are considered or reported as white. The United States Census Bureau defines white people as those "having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa." [52] Like all official U.S. racial categories, "White" has a " not Hispanic or Latino " and a " Hispanic or Latino " component, [15] the latter consisting mostly of white Mexican Americans and white Cuban Americans. The term " Caucasian " is often used interchangeably with "White", although the terms are not synonymous. [4] [58] [9] Many of the non-European ethnic groups classified as white by the U.S. Census, such as Arab-Americans [59] , and Hispanics or Latinos may not identify as, and may not be perceived to be, white.

The largest ancestries of American whites are: German Americans (16.5%), Irish Americans (11.9%), English Americans (9.2%), Italian Americans (5.8%), French Americans (4%), Polish Americans (3%), Scottish Americans (1.9%), Scotch-Irish Americans (1.7%), Dutch Americans (1.6%), Norwegian Americans (1.5%), and Swedish Americans (1.4%). [60] [10] [10] However, the English-Americans and British-Americans demography is considered a serious under-count as the stock tend to self-report and identify as simply " Americans " (6.9%), due to the length of time they have inhabited America. [9]

Whites (including Hispanics who identify as white) constitute the majority, with a total of about 246,660,710, or 77.35% of the population as of 2014. Non-Hispanic whites totaled about 197,870,516, or 62.06% of the U.S. population.

Historical and present definitions

Definitions of who is "White" have changed throughout the history of the United States.

U.S. Census definition

The term "White American" can encompass many different ethnic groups. Although the United States Census purports to reflect a social definition of race, the social dimensions of race are more complex than Census criteria. The 2000 U.S. census states that racial categories "generally reflect a social definition of race recognized in this country. They do not conform to any biological, anthropological or genetic criteria." [5]

The Census question on race lists the categories White or European American, Black or African American, American Indian and Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, Asian, plus "Some other race", with the respondent having the ability to mark more than one racial andor ethnic category. The Census Bureau defines White people as follows:

"White" refers to a person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East or North Africa. It includes people who indicated their race(s) as "White" or reported entries such as Irish, German, Italian, Lebanese, Arab, Moroccan or Caucasian. [52]

In U.S. census documents, the designation White overlaps, as do all other official racial categories, with the term Hispanic or Latino , which was introduced in the 1980 census as a category of ethnicity, separate and independent of race. [71] [54] Hispanic and Latino Americans as a whole make up a racially diverse group and as a whole are the largest minority in the country. [56] [14]

The characterization of Arab and North African Americans as white has been a matter of controversy. In the early 20th century, peoples of Arab descent were sometimes denied entry into the United States because they were characterized as nonwhite. [62] In 1944, the law changed, and Middle Eastern and North African peoples were granted white status. The U.S. Census is currently revisiting the issue, and considering creating a separate racial category for Middle Eastern and North African Americans in the 2020 Census.

President Abraham Lincoln was descended from Samuel Lincoln and was of English and Welsh ancestry.
Actress Raquel Welch of Spanish (via Bolivia) and English ancestry back to the Mayflower. [63]

In cases where individuals do not self-identify, the U.S. census parameters for race give each national origin a racial value.

Additionally, people who reported Muslim (or a sect of Islam such as Shi'ite or Sunni), Jewish, Zoroastrian, or Caucasian as their "race" in the "Some other race" section, without noting a country of origin, are automatically tallied as White. [15] The US Census considers the write-in response of " Caucasian " or " Aryan " to be a synonym for White in their ancestry code listing. [98]

Social definition

In the contemporary United States, essentially anyone of European descent is considered White. However, many of the non-European ethnic groups classified as White by the U.S. Census, such as Arab-Americans, and Hispanics or Latinos may not identify as, and may not be perceived to be, White. [64]

The definition of White has changed significantly over the course of American history. Among Europeans, those not considered White at some point in American history include Italians, Greeks, Spaniards, Irish, Swedes, Finns, and Russians. Early on in the United States, membership in the white race was generally limited to those of British, Germanic, or Nordic ancestry.

David R. Roediger argues that the construction of the white race in the United States was an effort to mentally distance slave owners from slaves. The process of officially being defined as white by law often came about in court disputes over pursuit of citizenship.

Critical race theory definition

Critical race theory developed in the 1970s and 1980s, influenced by the language of critical legal studies, which challenged concepts such as objective truth, rationality and judicial neutrality, and by critical theory. Academics and activists disillusioned with the outcomes of the civil African-American Civil Rights Movement pointed out that though African Americans supposedly enjoyed legal equality, white Americans continued to hold disproportionate power and still had superior living standards. Liberal ideas such as meritocracy and equal opportunity, they argued, hid and reinforced deep structural inequalities and thus serves the interests of a white elite. Critical race theorists see racism as embedded in public attitudes and institutions, and highlight institutional racism and unconscious biases. Legal scholar Derrick Bell advanced the interest convergence principle, which suggests that whites support minority rights only when doing so is also in their self-interest. [65]

As Whites, especially White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, or WASPs, are the dominant racial and cultural group, according to sociologist Steven Seidman, writing from a critical theory perspective, "White culture constitutes the general cultural mainstream, causing non-White culture to be seen as deviant, in either a positive or negative manner. Moreover, Whites tend to be disproportionately represented in powerful positions, controlling almost all political, economic, and cultural institutions."

Yet, according to Seidman, Whites are most commonly unaware of their privilege and the manner in which their culture has always been dominant in the US, as they do not identify as members of a specific racial group but rather incorrectly perceive their views and culture as "raceless", when in fact it is ethno-national (ethnic/cultural) specific, with a racial base component.

Demographic information

White Americans 1790–2010 [13] [21]
Year Population % of
the US
% change
(10 yr)
Year Population % of
the US
% change
(10 yr)
1790 3,172,006 80.7 1910 81,731,957 88.9 22.3%
1800 4,306,446 81.1 35.8% 1920 94,820,915 89.7 16.0%
1810 5,862,073 81.0 36.1% 1930 110,286,740 89.8 16.3%
1820 7,866,797 81.6 34.2% 1940 118,214,870 89.8 (highest) 7.2%
1830 10,532,060 81.9 33.9% 1950 134,942,028 89.5 14.1%
1840 14,189,705 83.2 34.7% 1960 158,831,732 88.6 17.7%
1850 19,553,068 84.3 37.8% 1970 178,119,221 87.5 12.1%
1860 26,922,537 85.6 37.7% 1980 188,371,622 83.1 5.8%
1870 33,589,377 87.1 24.8% 1990 199,686,070 80.3 6.0%
1880 43,402,970 86.5 29.2% 2000 211,460,626 75.1 [15] 5.9%
1890 55,101,258 87.5 26.9% 2010 223,553,265 72.4 [52] (lowest) 5.7%
1900 66,809,196 87.9 21.2%

Whites (non-Hispanic and Hispanic) made up 79.8% or 75% of the American population in 2008. [56] [14] [55] [161] This latter number is sometimes recorded as 77.1% when it includes about 2% of the population who are identified as white in combination with one or more other races. The largest ethnic groups (by ancestry) among White Americans were Germans, followed by Irish and English. [76] In the 1980 census 49,598,035 Americans cited that they were of English ancestry, making them 26% of the country and the largest group at the time, and in fact larger than the population of England itself. [4] Slightly more than half of these people would cite that they were of "American" ancestry on subsequent censuses and virtually everywhere that "American" ancestry predominates on the 2000 census corresponds to places where "English" predominated on the 1980 census. [4] [4]

White Americans are projected to remain the majority, though with their percentage decreasing to 72% of the total population by 2050. However, projections state that non-Hispanic Whites of that group will become less than 50% of the population by 2042 because Non-Hispanic Whites have the lowest fertility rate of any major racial group in the United States, [4] mass-immigration of other ethnic groups with higher birth rates, and because of intermarriage with Hispanic Whites.

While over ten million White people can trace part of their ancestry back to the Pilgrims who arrived on the Mayflower in 1620 (this common statistic overlooks the Jamestown, Virginia foundations of America and roots of even earlier colonist-descended Americans, such as Spanish Americans in St. Augustine, Florida), over 35 million whites have at least one ancestor who passed through the Ellis Island immigration station, which processed arriving immigrants from 1892 until 1954. See also : European Americans.

Geographic distribution

According to the Census definition, White Americans are the majority racial group in almost all of the United States. They are not the majority in Hawaii, many American Indian reservations, parts of the South known as the Black Belt, the District of Columbia, all US territories, and in many urban areas throughout the country. Non-Hispanic whites are also not the majority in several southwestern states.

Overall the highest concentration of those referred to as "White alone" by the Census Bureau was found in the Midwest, New England, the Rocky Mountain states, Kentucky, and West Virginia. The lowest concentration of whites was found in southern and mid-Atlantic states. [15] [29]

Although all large geographical areas are dominated by White Americans, much larger differences can be seen between specific parts of large cities.

States with the highest percentages of White Americans, as of 2007: [4]

States with the highest percentages of non-Hispanic Whites, as of 2007: [58]

Income and educational attainment

White Americans have the second highest median household income and personal income levels in the nation, by cultural background. The median income per household member was also the highest, since White Americans had the smallest households of any racial demographic in the nation. In 2006, the median individual income of a White American age 25 or older was $33,030, with those who were full-time employed, and of age 25 to 64, earning $34,432. Since 42% of all households had two income earners, the median household income was considerably higher than the median personal income, which was $48,554 in 2005. Jewish Americans rank first in household income, personal income, and educational attainment among White Americans. [58] In 2005, White households had a median household income of $48,977, which is 10.3% above the national median of $44,389. Among Cuban Americans, with 86% classified as White, those born in the US have a higher median income and educational attainment level than most other Whites. [58]

The poverty rates for White Americans are the second-lowest of any racial group, with 10.8% of white individuals living below the poverty line, 3% lower than the national average. [65] However, due to Whites' majority status, 48% of Americans living in poverty are white. [58]

White Americans' educational attainment is the second-highest in the country, after Asian Americans'. Overall, nearly one-third of White Americans had a Bachelor's degree, with the educational attainment for Whites being higher for those born outside the United States: 37.6% of foreign born, and 29.7% of native born Whites had a college degree. Both figures are above the national average of 27.2%. [67]

Gender income inequality was the greatest among Whites, with White men outearning White women by 48%. Census Bureau data for 2005 reveals that the median income of White females was lower than that of males of all races. In 2005, the median income for White American females was only slightly higher than that of African American females.

White Americans are more likely to live in suburbs and small cities than their black counterparts. [58]

Population by state

2000 and 2010 censuses

White American population as of 2000 and 2010 censuses [58]
State Pop. 2000 % 2000 Pop. 2010 % 2010 % growth
Alabama 3,162,808 71.1% 3,275,394 68.5% +3.6%
Alaska 434,534 69.3% 473,576 66.7% +9.0%
Arizona 3,873,611 75.5% 4,667,121 73.0% +20.5%
Arkansas 2,138,598 80.0% 2,245,229 77.0% +5.0%
California 20,170,059 79.7% 21,453,934 74.0% +6.4%
Colorado 3,560,005 82.8% 4,089,202 81.3% +14.9%
Connecticut 2,780,355 81.6% 2,772,410 77.6% -0.3%
Delaware 584,773 74.6% 618,617 68.9% +5.8%
District of Columbia 176,101 30.8% 231,471 38.5% +31.4%
Florida 12,465,029 78.0% 14,109,162 75.0% +13.2%
Georgia 5,327,281 65.1% 5,787,440 59.7% +8.6%
Hawaii 294,102 24.3% 336,599 24.7% +14.4%
Idaho 1,177,304 91.0% 1,396,487 89.1% +18.6%
Illinois 9,125,471 73.5% 9,177,877 71.5% +0.6%
Indiana 5,320,022 87.5% 5,467,906 84.3% +2.8%
Iowa 2,748,640 93.9% 2,781,561 91.3% +1.2%
Kansas 2,313,944 86.1% 2,391,044 83.8% +3.3%
Kentucky 3,640,889 90.1% 3,809,537 87.8% +4.6%
Louisiana 2,856,161 63.9% 2,836,192 62.6% -0.7%
Maine 1,236,014 96.9% 1,264,971 95.2% +2.3%
Maryland 3,391,308 64.0% 3,359,284 58.2% -0.9%
Massachusetts 5,367,286 84.5% 5,265,236 80.4% -1.9%
Michigan 7,966,053 80.2% 7,803,120 78.9% -2.0%
Minnesota 4,400,282 89.4% 4,524,062 85.3% +2.8%
Mississippi 1,746,099 61.4% 1,754,684 59.1% +0.5%
Missouri 4,748,083 84.9% 4,958,770 82.8% +4.4%
Montana 817,229 90.6% 884,961 89.4% +8.3%
Nebraska 1,533,261 89.6% 1,572,838 86.1% +2.6%
Nevada 1,501,886 75.2% 1,786,688 66.2% +19.0%
New Hampshire 1,186,851 96.0% 1,236,050 92.3% +4.1%
New Jersey 6,104,705 72.6% 6,029,248 68.6% -1.2%
New Mexico 1,214,253 66.8% 1,407,876 68.4% +15.9%
New York 12,893,689 67.9% 12,740,974 65.7% -1.2%
North Carolina 5,804,656 72.1% 6,528,950 68.5% +12.5%
North Dakota 593,181 92.4% 605,449 90.0% +2.1%
Ohio 9,645,453 85.0% 9,539,437 82.7% -1.1%
Oklahoma 2,628,434 76.2% 2,706,845 72.2% +3.0%
Oregon 2,961,623 86.6% 3,204,614 83.6% +8.2%
Pennsylvania 10,484,203 85.4% 10,406,288 81.9% -0.7%
Rhode Island 891,191 85.0% 856,869 81.4% -3.8%
South Carolina 2,695,560 67.2% 3,060,000 66.2% +13.5%
South Dakota 669,404 88.7% 699,392 85.9% +4.5%
Tennessee 4,563,310 80.2% 4,921,948 77.6% +7.9%
Texas 14,799,505 71.0% 17,701,552 70.4% +19.6%
Utah 1,992,975 89.2% 2,379,560 86.1% +19.4%
Vermont 589,208 96.8% 596,292 95.3% +1.2%
Virginia 5,120,110 72.3% 5,486,852 68.6% +7.2%
Washington 4,821,823 81.8% 5,196,362 77.3% +7.8%
West Virginia 1,718,777 95.0% 1,739,988 93.9% +1.2%
Wisconsin 4,769,857 88.9% 4,902,067 86.2% +2.8%
Wyoming 454,670 92.1% 511,279 90.7% +12.4%
United States of America 211,460,626 75.1% 223,553,265 72.4% +5.7%

2015 and 2016 estimates

White population by state [68]
State Pop. 2015 % 2015 Pop. 2016 % 2016 percentage
growth
numeric
growth
Alabama 3,373,302 69.5% 3,372,524 69.3% -0.2% -778
Alaska 490,380 66.5% 490,389 66.1% -0.4% +9
Arizona 5,696,106 83.5% 5,772,667 83.3% -0.2% +76,561
Arkansas 2,369,986 79.6% 2,373,726 79.4% -0.2% +3,740
California 28,467,494 73.0% 28,539,253 72.7% -0.3% +71,759
Colorado 4,776,140 87.6% 4,846,441 87.5% -0.1% +70,301
Connecticut 2,900,643 80.9% 2,882,093 80.6% -0.3% -18,550
Delaware 664,555 70.4% 667,809 70.1% -0.3% +3,254
District of Columbia 295,756 44.1% 303,813 44.6% +0.5% +8,057
Florida 15,735,811 77.7% 15,996,473 77.6% -0.1% +260,662
Georgia 6,280,677 61.6% 6,311,001 61.2% -0.4% +30,324
Hawaii 370,398 26.0% 369,064 25.8% -0.2% -1,334
Idaho 1,545,433 93.5% 1,571,098 93.3% -0.2% +25,665
Illinois 9,933,221 77.4% 9,885,382 77.2% -0.2% -47,839
Indiana 5,677,021 85.8% 5,678,630 85.6% -0.2% +1,609
Iowa 2,861,917 91.6% 2,864,884 91.4% -0.2% +2,967
Kansas 2,522,857 86.8% 2,518,720 86.6% -0.2% -4,137
Kentucky 3,900,103 88.1% 3,903,419 88.0% -0.1% +3,316
Louisiana 2,953,830 63.2% 2,956,505 63.1% -0.1% +2,675
Maine 1,262,043 94.9% 1,262,168 94.8% -0.1% +125
Maryland 3,574,645 59.6% 3,567,397 59.3% -0.3% -7,248
Massachusetts 5,575,530 82.2% 5,570,872 81.8% -0.4% -4,658
Michigan 7,909,528 79.7% 7,902,903 79.6% -0.1% -6,625
Minnesota 4,678,791 85.3% 4,691,265 85.0% -0.3% +12,474
Mississippi 1,777,735 59.4% 1,772,995 59.3% -0.1% -4,740
Missouri 5,065,735 83.3% 5,071,682 83.2% -0.1% +5,947
Montana 921,719 89.3% 929,802 89.2% -0.1% +8,083
Nebraska 1,687,415 89.1% 1,694,976 88.9% -0.2% +7,561
Nevada 2,183,208 75.7% 2,209,037 75.1% -0.6% +25,289
New Hampshire 1,249,796 93.9% 1,251,893 93.8% -0.1% +2,097
New Jersey 6,496,420 72.7% 6,473,721 72.3% -0.4% -22,699
New Mexico 1,717,860 82.6% 1,718,307 82.6% 0.0 +447
New York 13,860,222 70.2% 13,797,556 69.9% -0.3% -62,666
North Carolina 7,144,627 71.2% 7,206,071 71.0% -0.2% +61,444
North Dakota 669,125 88.4% 665,977 87.9% -0.5% -3,148
Ohio 9,594,996 82.7% 9,576,321 82.4% -0.3% -18,675
Oklahoma 2,922,871 74.8% 2,925,602 74.5% -0.3% +2,731
Oregon 3,529,292 87.7% 3,578,285 87.4% -0.3% +48,993
Pennsylvania 10,567,168 82.6% 10,531,113 82.4% -0.2% -36,055
Rhode Island 894,570 84.7% 892,045 84.4% -0.3% -2,525
South Carolina 3,348,754 68.4% 3,396,931 68.5% +0.1% +48,177
South Dakota 732,532 85.4% 737,070 85.1% -0.3% +4,538
Tennessee 5,196,817 78.8% 5,234,030 78.7% -0.1% +37,213
Texas 21,874,482 79.7% 22,135,668 79.4% -0.3% +261,186
Utah 2,730,389 91.3% 2,778,175 91.0% -0.3% +47,786
Vermont 593,577 94.8% 590,869 94.6% -0.2% -2,708
Virginia 5,884,689 70.3% 5,891,553 70.0% -0.3% +6,864
Washington 5,756,563 80.4% 5,830,144 80.0% -0.4% +73,581
West Virginia 1,725,045 93.7% 1,713,756 93.6% -0.1% -11,289
Wisconsin 5,056,456 87.6% 5,057,070 87.5% -0.1% +614
Wyoming 544,777 92.8% 543,387 92.8% 0.0 -1,390
United States 247,543,007 77.1% 248,502,532 76.9% -0.2% +959,525
Non-Hispanic population
Non-Hispanic White population by state [68]
State Pop. 2015 % 2015 Pop. 2016 % 2016 percentage
growth
numeric
growth
Alabama 3,206,017 66.0% 3,201,937 65.8% -0.2% -4,080
Alaska 454,782 61.6% 453,915 61.2% -0.4% -867
Arizona 3,809,881 55.9% 3,844,532 55.5% -0.4% +34,651
Arkansas 2,178,888 73.2% 2,177,898 72.9% -0.3% -990
California 14,880,574 38.2% 14,802,979 37.7% -0.5% -77,595
Colorado 3,753,560 68.9% 3,802,465 68.6% -0.3% +48,905
Connecticut 2,448,730 68.3% 2,420,461 67.7% -0.6% -28,269
Delaware 597,073 63.2% 598,485 62.9% -0.3% +1,412
District of Columbia 242,060 36.1% 248,169 36.4% +0.3% +6,109
Florida 11,200,754 55.3% 11,314,909 54.9% -0.4% +114,155
Georgia 5,493,595 53.8% 5,503,895 53.4% -0.4% +10,300
Hawaii 319,112 22.4% 316,077 22.1% -0.3% -3,035
Idaho 1,366,457 82.7% 1,386,279 82.4% -0.3% +19,822
Illinois 7,963,439 62.0% 7,896,462 61.7% -0.3% -93,977
Indiana 5,290,028 80.0% 5,282,559 79.6% -0.4% -7,469
Iowa 2,704,016 86.6% 2,702,702 86.2% -0.4% -1,314
Kansas 2,225,679 76.6% 2,217,600 76.3% -0.3% -8,079
Kentucky 3,770,531 85.2% 3,770,240 85.0% -0.2% -291
Louisiana 2,762,836 59.2% 2,760,505 59.0% -0.2% -2,331
Maine 1,245,105 93.6% 1,244,762 93.5% -0.1% -343
Maryland 3,120,807 52.0% 3,099,419 51.5% -0.5% -21,388
Massachusetts 4,993,805 73.6% 4,972,277 73.0% -0.6% -21,528
Michigan 7,501,007 75.6% 7,486,890 75.4% -0.2% -14,177
Minnesota 4,442,065 81.0% 4,448,493 80.6% -0.4% +6,428
Mississippi 1,706,231 57.1% 1,700,036 56.9% -0.2% -6,195
Missouri 4,857,656 80.0% 4,857,925 79.7% -0.3% +269
Montana 894,287 86.6% 901,301 86.4% -0.2% +7,014
Nebraska 1,515,363 80.0% 1,517,526 79.6% -0.4% +2,163
Nevada 1,463,294 50.7% 1,468,421 49.9% -0.8% +5,127
New Hampshire 1,211,938 91.1% 1,212,634 90.8% -0.3% +696
New Jersey 5,037,204 56.4% 4,990,905 55.8% -0.6% -46,299
New Mexico 798,211 38.4% 792,167 38.1% -0.3% -6,044
New York 11,093,447 56.2% 11,009,263 55.7% -0.5% -84,184
North Carolina 6,407,365 63.8% 6,447,335 63.5% -0.3% +39,970
North Dakota 648,034 85.6% 644,127 85.0% -0.6% -3,907
Ohio 9,258,140 79.8% 9,230,244 79.5% -0.3% -27,896
Oklahoma 2,602,100 66.6% 2,596,769 66.1% -0.5% -5,331
Oregon 3,090,378 76.8% 3,126,217 76.4% -0.4% +35,839
Pennsylvania 9,906,474 77.4% 9,848,778 77.0% -0.4% -57,969
Rhode Island 780,522 73.9% 774,832 73.3% -0.6% -5,690
South Carolina 3,128,841 63.9% 3,169,878 63.9% 0.0 +41,037
South Dakota 709,991 82.7% 713,665 82.5% -0.2% +3,674
Tennessee 4,910,112 74.4% 4,937,280 74.2% -0.2% +27,168
Texas 11,824,057 43.1% 11,872,926 42.6% -0.5% +48,869
Utah 2,368,257 79.2% 2,404,802 78.8% -0.4% +36,545
Vermont 584,256 93.3% 581,225 93.0% -0.3% -3,031
Virginia 5,261,313 62.9% 5,252,972 62.4% -0.5% -8,341
Washington 5,013,824 70.0% 5,062,580 69.5% -0.5% +48,756
West Virginia 1,701,827 92.4% 1,689,821 92.2% -0.2% -12,006
Wisconsin 4,726,306 81.9% 4,719,824 81.7% -0.2% -6,482
Wyoming 494,173 84.2% 492,245 84.1% -0.1% -1,928
United States 197,964,402 61.7% 197,969,608 61.3% -0.3% +5,206

Culture

From their earliest presence in North America, White Americans have contributed literature, art, cinema, religion, agricultural skills, foods, science and technology, fashion and clothing styles, music, language, legal system, political system, and social and technological innovation to American culture. White American culture derived its earliest influences from English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish settlers and is quantitatively the largest proportion of American culture. [40] The overall American culture reflects White American culture. The culture has been developing since long before the United States formed a separate country. Much of American culture shows influences from English culture. Colonial ties to Great Britain spread the English language, legal system and other cultural attributes. [5]

Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America

In his 1989 book Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America , David Hackett Fischer explores the details of the folkways of four groups of settlers from the British Isles that came to the American colonies during the 17th and 18th centuries from distinct regions of Britain and Ireland. His thesis is that the culture of each group persisted (albeit in modified form), providing the basis for the modern United States.

According to Fischer, the foundation of America's four regional cultures was formed from four mass migrations from four regions of the British Isles by four distinct ethno-cultural groups. New England's formative period occurred between 1629 and 1640 when Puritans, mostly from East Anglia, settled there, thus forming the basis for the New England regional culture. The next mass migration was of southern English Cavaliers and their working class English servants to the Chesapeake Bay region between 1640 and 1675. This spawned the creation of the American Southern culture.

Then, between 1675 and 1725, thousands of Irish, Cornish, English and Welsh Quakers plus many Germans sympathetic to Quaker ideas, led by William Penn, settled the Delaware Valley. This resulted in the formation of the General American culture, although, according to Fischer, this is really a "regional culture", even if it does today encompass most of the U.S. from the mid-Atlantic states to the Pacific Coast. Finally, a huge number of settlers from the borderlands between England and Scotland, and from northern Ireland, migrated to Appalachia between 1717 and 1775. This resulted in the formation of the Upland South regional culture, which has since expanded to the west to West Texas and parts of the American Southwest.

In his book, Fischer brings up several points. He states that the U.S. is not a country with one "general" culture and several "regional" culture, as is commonly thought. Rather, there are only four regional cultures as described above, and understanding this helps one to more clearly understand American history as well as contemporary American life. Fischer asserts that it is not only important to understand where different groups came from, but when. All population groups have, at different times, their own unique set of beliefs, fears, hopes and prejudices. When different groups came to America and brought certain beliefs and values with them, these ideas became, according to Fischer, more or less frozen in time, even if they eventually changed in their original place of origin.

Admixture

Admixture in Non-Hispanic Whites

Some White Americans have varying amounts of American Indian and Sub-Saharan African ancestry. In a recent study, Gonçalves et al. 2007 reported Sub-Saharan and Amerindian mtDna lineages at a frequency of 3.1% (respectively 0.9% and 2.2%) in American Caucasians (Please note that in the USA, "Caucasian" includes people from North Africa and Western Asia as well as Europeans). Recent research on Y-chromosomes and mtDNA detected no African admixture in European-Americans. The sample included 628 European-American Y-chromosomes and mtDNA from 922 European-Americans [69]

DNA analysis on White Americans by geneticist Mark D. Shriver showed an average of 0.7% Sub-Saharan African admixture and 3.2% Native American admixture. [43] The same author, in another study, claimed that about 30% of all White Americans, approximately 66 million people, have a median of 2.3% of Black African admixture. [84] Shriver discovered his ancestry is 10 percent African, and Shriver's partner in DNA Print Genomics, J.T. Frudacas, contradicted him two years later stating "Five percent of European Americans exhibit some detectable level of African ancestry." [70]

From the 23andMe database, about 5 to at least 13 percent of self-identified White American Southerners have greater than 1 percent African ancestry. [64] Southern states with the highest African American populations, tended to have the highest percentages of self-identified White Americans unknowingly carrying hidden African ancestry. [85] White Americans (European Americans) on average are: 98.6 percent European, 0.19 percent African and 0.18 percent Native American. Inferred British/Irish ancestry is found in European Americans from all states at mean proportions of above 20%, and represents a majority of ancestry, above 50% mean proportion, in states such as Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Scandinavian ancestry in European Americans is highly localized; most states show only trace mean proportions of Scandinavian ancestry, while it comprises a significant proportion, upwards of 10%, of ancestry in European Americans from Minnesota and the Dakotas. [64] [85]

Admixture in Hispanic Whites

Although most Hispanic Americans self-identify in the white racial category of the US Census and/or other official government data collecting, an overwhelming majority of them would in their personal lives consider themselves as ethnically mestizo (of mixed European and Amerindian background) or mulatto (of mixed European and sub-Saharan African background).

Thus, only a minority of those Hispanic Americans who self-identified in their personal lives as mestizo or mulatto actually selected "multiracial" as their race on the U.S. census, with 9 out of every 10 of them preferring to pick white , one of the five single race categories available on the U.S. census. [50]

In contrast to non-Hispanic European Americans, whose average European ancestry ranges about 98.6%, [64] genetic research has found that the average European admixture among self-identified Hispanic White Americans is 73% European, while the average European admixture for Hispanic Americans overall (regardless of their self-identified race) is 65.1% European admixture.

See also