The Truth About “Anglo-Saxons”

“Why be apologetic about Anglo-Saxon superiority, that we were superior, that we had the common heritage which had been worked out over the centuries in England and had been perfected by our constitution?” Winston Churchill, 1943

In 1955, an all White, male jury were charged to do their duty “as Anglo-Saxons” as they deliberated whether or not J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant were guilty of torturing and murdering 14 year old Emmett Till. The men were found “not guilty” althought Milam and Bryant later admitted their guilt in a paid interview with Look Magazine.

“Anglo-Saxon” was a not-so-secret code for White Supremacy back in the day. The term was used by social organizations like The Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America which apparently was a fancier version of the Klan. And the 19th Century French “intellectual” Edmond Demolins wrote a popular book called Anglo-Saxon Superiority which – according to this article – Teddy Roosevelt carried into Cuba with the Rough Riders in 1898.

Today, people who look like me with a Protestant European heritage tend to call ourselves WASPs – often proudly – without acknowledging how KKK-adjacent this term really is.

So, why is there a dark brown man featured on the 13th Century Domesday Abbreviato – the official survey of England which spelled out who owned what land? For details read this.

While we with Ancestry.Com accounts dig through our family histories in search of royal connections, the truth is that the original “Anglo-Saxons” were often migrants from the sub-Sahara. Some of the earliest medieval coinage of the “Anglo-Saxons” have Islamic designs. According to this excellent article:

From the eighth century onward, these (Old English) charters increasingly favored granting land to laypeople, many of whom were migrants. Those Americans who seek a return to the roots of Anglo-Saxons should realize that this actually translates to more open, inclusive borders.

For what it’s worth, this WASP and history lover embraces her darker ancestors and neighbors with gratitude. Jesus himself was one who knew something about more open, inclusive borders. You can read about it in the Bible.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Thanks to HH for sharing the Smithsonian article.

3 responses to “The Truth About “Anglo-Saxons”

  1. Deborah A McKinley

    Excellent post, Jan!


  2. Thank you, Jan. I find myself wondering when people lift up “Anglo-Saxon” pride. They forget the Normans, who conquered the Anglo-Saxons and overlaid the culture with their own, and the Norse, who imposed their culture on northern England and eastern Ireland and more. And if they mean the original Angles and Saxons before they migrated to Britain and pushed the Celts to the edge, then we’re talking German. Are Anglo-Saxon, Norse, Norman French, and Celt all the same race? If so, “Anglo-Saxon” is a misnomer, and promoting it is ridiculous. As for the Celts, they probably originated in western Asia (and weren’t the first inhabitants of Britain), which muddies the waters even more. (Not to negate the contribution from Africa…) Ultimately, identity labels are meaningless as well as harmful. We are all one.


  3. H. L. Mencken, not much known for his wokeness, once published an exuberant denunciation of the Anglo-Saxons of the early 1920s, when the post-WWI Klan revival was in full swing. See for an excerpt.


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