Winthrop Donaldson Jordan was a professor of history and renowned writer on the history of slavery and the origins of racism in the United States.
Jordan is best known for his book White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550-1812, published in 1968, which earned the National Book Award in History and Biography, the Bancroft Prize, and other honors. Jordanâ€™s assertion in White Over Black that English perceptions about color, Christianity, manners, sexuality, and social hierarchy contributed to their "unthinking decision" to commence the trans-Atlantic slave trade and crystallized by the late eighteenth century into a race-based justification for chattel slavery, had a profound impact on historiansâ€™ understanding of both slavery and racism. The bookâ€™s erudite discussion of inter-racial sex is credited with inspiring serious scholarly inquiry into that topicâ€”particularly into the relationship between president Thomas Jefferson and his slave named Sally Hemings.
In 1993, Jordan won a second Bancroft Prize for Tumult and Silence at Second Creek: An Inquiry into a Civil War Slave Conspiracy. In this work, Jordan brought to light details of a previously unstudied slave revolt near Natchez, Mississippi.