There has been racism as long as there have been races in conflict. For thousands of years, groups of people have justified violence against other people who looked different, or spoke a different language, or worshiped different gods, by saying "oh, those people aren't really human." Shakespeare wrote about racism in Othello, long before the USA existed.
Racism isn't some kind of magical condition. It's normal human tribal affiliation. People are more loyal to those who are like them. Of course, the problem with modern racism is that, despite looking different, we are all part of the same tribe. Some people are slow to understand this truth. That is modern racism. But its roots go back to the dawn of time, before the human race walked this earth.
Liberté. Égalité. Fraternité.
Yes of course there was racism... this question is kinda silly.
I think the point of people saying that " it was the majority societal opinion at the time" is to look down at early Americans of our past with less scrutiny then we would a racist of modern day. Which i think we definitely should, it was much MuCH MUCH easier to become a racist back then and it contributed to how people were raised, some got past it, but many were pretty stubborn to over come such obvious benefits of being a racist, it's really just human nature that MOST of us would all give in too if we grew up at the same time period.