In a chapter from the concluding section of his book Amerikas Schicksalsstunde Ross conceives of America’s destiny less as its peoples’ fusion than as its territory’s expansion: “vom Pol bis Panama”.

The supranational concept of pole to Panama implied the fulfillment of the United States’ destiny through the erasure of the arbitrarily drawn, straight-lined borders that separated people of common descent: between the American Midwest and the Canadian provinces of Ontario, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan; between Alaska’s and Canada’s Yukon basin; and between people of increasingly shared culture, as in northern Mexico and America’s southwestern states. More importantly, the concept served to emphasize the creation of a United Peoples of America.1

However, Ross’s claim that such a concept is essential for America’s survival in an age of national revolutions (read: Italy, Japan, and Germany) seems suddenly less concerned with destiny than with unspecified, contemporary political developments. Indeed, his argument attained an increasingly political character, as it is through politics, more precisely jettisoning America’s “outdated” revolutionary ideas and replacing them with a new, centrally led social order, that the country’s promise could actually be accomplished.2

Simultaneously, Ross propagated his new, supranational concept with the notion of a white America. This, however, turns out to be a “messy” white, as it includes Mexicans as well as non-Nordic Europeans, who were commonly seen as different from an implied white, Anglo-Saxon norm. Whether or not this was expedient for the internal logic of his supranational concept, Ross clearly drew the limit at the ultimate color line. Bluntly he proposed his solution to the “insolvable” Negerfrage in a future America: concentrating a part of the African American population in a southern state or two (which might, down the line, become independent) and deporting the rest to the West Indies.

But why, as he argued in that same chapter, America’s black citizens—whose allegiance to America rather than Africa Ross acknowledged in his book—should be segregated from their own country, let alone shipped out merely for the sake of Europe’s interests in Africa is a matter he neglects to address here, apparently oblivious to his article on "America and the global black problem", cross-referenced below. What is more, he doesn’t consider the fact that the West Indies’ American-administered, small archipelagos, islands, and island groups (e.g. Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Leeward Islands) could hardly be expected to welcome, let alone accommodate and control, millions of involuntary immigrants.

Finally, Ross’s ‘solution’ to the so-called race problem in the USA echoes a proposal by Scottish writer and critic William Archer.3 The word echoes signals that we do not know whether Ross was familiar with Archer’s book—Ross, of course, so seldomly mentioned his sources. Archer’s travels “through Afro-America”, in the early 20th century, led him to consider four “eventualities” to solve the “Negro problem”, of which segregation, in his view, was to be preferred. This would be a Negro state within the United States, somewhere in the southwest probably, rather than in Africa, as “all the more intelligent members of the race are staunchly and even pathetically loyal to American ideals and would be be very unwilling to live under any other than the American form of government.”4

Nico de Klerk

Colin Ross. Amerika vom Pol bis Panama. In: Amerikas Schicksalsstunde. Die Vereinigten Staaten zwischen Demokratie und Diktatur. 12. Aufl. Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus; 1942 [1935]; 289-294.

Topic: Race
Case: American journeys


1 Ross returns to this concept in his last book on America with photographs that exemplified ethnic and cultural continuity. As well they signaled that, like Ross’s texts, his illustrations had become increasingly propagandistic. See: Colin Ross. Die ‘Westliche Hemisphäre’ als Programm und Phantom des amerikanischen Imperialismus. 1. Aufl. Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus; 1942; 16 recto, 24 recto, 25 verso, 32 recto, 33 verso. See Library.

2 In the subsequent chapter Ross is more specific about the need for a central authority to combat the Depression by pointing out that 48 state legislatures have the authority to examine, change, obstruct or slow down each proposed measure; see: Colin Ross. Die Verenigten Völker von Amerika. In: Amerikas Schicksalsstunde. Die Vereinigten Staaten zwischen Demokratie und Diktatur; 1942 [1935]; 294-308. See Library. Surely such conflicts are ingrained within America’s federal structure. But Ross exaggerated. In order to preempt these tensions the states had been given control over the allocation of federal funds for New Deal legislation.

3 William Archer. The problem faced. In: Through Afro-America: an English reading of the race problem. London: Chapman & Hall; 1910; 187-244.

4 Ibid.; 240.

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