War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Cre

Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

Postby admin » Thu Jul 31, 2014 2:02 am

CHAPTER 8: Blinded

Why did blindness prevention rise to the top of the eugenic agenda in the 1920s?

Because mass sterilization, sequestration, birth control and scientific classifications of the mentally defective, socially unfit and racially inferior were just the leading edge of the war against the weak. Eugenic crusaders were keen to launch the next offensive: outlawing marriage to stymie procreation by those deemed inferior. To set a medicolegal precedent that could be broadly applied to all defectives, eugenicists rallied behind the obviously appealing issue of blindness. Who could argue with a campaign to prevent blindness?

Eugenicists, however, carefully added a key adjective to their cause: hereditary. Therefore, their drive was not to reduce blindness arising from accident or illness, but to prevent the far less common problem of "hereditary blindness." How? By banning marriage for individuals who were blind, or anyone with even a single case of blindness in his or her family. According to the plan, such individuals could also be forcibly sterilized and segregated -- even if they were already married. If eugenicists could successfully lobby for legislation to prevent hereditary blindness by prohibiting suspect marriages, the concept of marriage restriction could then be broadened to include all categories of the unfit. Marriage could then be denied to a wide group of undesirables, from the feebleminded and epileptic to paupers and the socially inadequate.

Lucien Howe was a legendary champion in the cause of better vision. He is credited with helping preserve the eyesight of generations of Americans. A late nineteenth-century pioneer in ophthalmology, he had founded the Buffalo Eye and Ear Infirmary in 1876. He also aided thousands by insisting that newborns' eyes be bathed with silver nitrate drops to fight neonatal infection; in 1890, this practice became law in New York State under a statute sometimes dubbed "The Howe Law." His monumental two-volume study, Muscles of the Eye (1907), became a standard in the field. In 1918, Howe was elected president of the American Ophthalmologic Society, and he enjoyed prestige throughout American and European ocular medicine. For his accomplishments, he would be awarded a gold medal by the National Committee for the Prevention of Blindness. Later, he helped fund the Howe Laboratory of Ophthalmology at Harvard University. Indeed, so revered was the handlebar-mustachioed eye doctor that the American Ophthalmological Society would create the Lucien Howe Medal to recognize lifetime achievement in the field. [1]

Howe became a eugenic activist early on. He quickly rose to the executive committee of the Eugenics Research Association, then became a member of the International Eugenic Congress's Committee on Immigration, and ultimately became president of the Eugenics Research Association. [2] It was Howe who led the charge to segregate, sterilize and ban marriages of blind people and their relatives as a prelude to similar measures for people suspected of other illnesses and handicaps.

Eugenic leaders understood their campaign was never about blindness alone. Blindness was only the test case to usher in sweeping eugenic marriage restrictions. Eugenicists had sought such laws since the days of Galton, who had encouraged eugenically sound marriage and discouraged unsound unions. Of course marriage prohibitions for cultural, religious, economic and health reasons had flourished throughout history. In modern times, many such traditions continued in law throughout Europe. These mainly banned marriage to partners of certain ages, close familial relationships and serious health conditions. But the United States, with its numerous overlapping jurisdictions, led the world in marriage restriction laws, based on various factors of age, kinship, race and health. For example, marriage between whites and persons of African ancestry was criminalized in many states, including California, Maryland and North Dakota, plus the entire South. Montana outlawed marriage between whites and persons of Japanese or Chinese descent. Nevada forbade unions between whites and Malays. Several states legislated against intermarriage between whites and Native Americans. [3]

Eugenicists saw America's marriage laws as ways of halting procreation between defectives, because in addition to broad laws against race mixing, many states prohibited marriage for anyone deemed insane, epileptic, feebleminded or syphilitic. Delaware even criminalized marriage between paupers. No wonder radical British eugenicist Robert Rentoul proudly enumerated American state laws in his 1906 book Race Culture; Or, Race Suicide?, commenting, "It is to these States we must look for guidance if we wish to ... lessen the chances of children being degenerates." [4]

In preparing to instigate eugenic marriage legislation, Davenport circulated a state-by-state survey in 1913. It was part of an ERO bulletin entitled State Laws Limiting Marriage Selection Examined in the Light of Eugenics. In 1915, the Journal of Heredity, the renamed American Breeders Magazine, published an in-depth article by U.S. Assistant Surgeon General W. C. Rucker castigating the existing marriage laws as insufficient from a eugenic perspective. Rucker admitted that the movement preferred "permanent isolation of the defective classes," and continued, "neither the science of eugenics nor public sentiment is ready for [purely eugenic marriage] legislation." Hence, the only laws that would be viable, he suggested, would be "strictly ... hygienic in intent." [5]

Enter the cause to prevent hereditary blindness.

In 1918, Howe began in earnest by compiling initial financial data from leading agencies serving the blind, tabulating an institution-by-institution cost per blind person. Cleveland's public school system spent $275 for each of its 153 blind pupils. The California School for the Deaf and Blind spent $396.90 per blind student. Maine's Workshop for the Blind topped the list, spending $865 for each of its forty individuals. [6]

Adding lost wages to custodial and medical care, Howe settled on the figure of$3.8 million as the national cost of blindness -- a number he advertised to press his point. But how many people actually suffered from hereditary blindness? Howe knew from the outset that the number was small, estimated at about 7 percent of the existing blind population. No one knew for sure because so much blindness at birth was caused by problem pregnancies or poor delivery conditions. Eugenical News reported that the 1910 census initially counted 57,272 blind individuals in America, but then came to learn that nearly 4,500 of these cases were erroneously recorded. After further investigation, the Census Bureau reported that more than 90 percent of blind people had no blind relatives at all. Indeed, of 29,242 blind persons questioned, only thirty-one replied that both parents were also blind. [7]

Yet Howe and the eugenics movement seized upon hereditary blindness as their cause du jour. Howe and Laughlin contracted with a Pennsylvania printer to publish a fifty-two-page Bibliography of Hereditary Eye Defects, which included numerous European studies. The pages of Eugenical News became filled with articles on hereditary blindness. One issue contained four articles in a row on the topic. Howe became chairman of a Committee on Hereditary Blindness within the Section on Ophthalmology of the American Medical Association. The AMA Section committee voted to add a geneticist -- Laughlin was chosen -- plus a practitioner "especially conversant with the good and also with the bad effects of sterilization." The sterilization expert chosen was Dr. David C. Peyton, of the Indiana Reformatory, who had succeeded eugenic sterilization pioneer Harry Clay Sharp. [8]

The AMA Section committee then began a joint program with the ERO to register family pedigrees of blind people. Four-page forms were printed. Each bore the distinct imprimatur of the "Carnegie Institution of Washington, Eugenics Record Office, founded by Mrs. E. H. Harriman," but at the top also declared official AMA cosponsorship. The subheadline read "in cooperation with the Committee on Hereditary Blindness, Section of Ophthalmology of the American Medical Association" and then credited Laughlin. [9]

Employing careful vagueness, the forms requested "any authentic family- record of what seem to be hereditary eye defects," and then explained how to "plot the family pedigree-chart." Ten thousand of these forms, entitled "Eye Defect Schedule," were printed at a cost of $91.76, half of which was defrayed by the ERO and half by the AMA Section. They were then mailed to America's leading institutions for the blind, as well as schools and help organizations, such as the Cleveland School for the Blind, the Blind Girls Home in Nashville, and the Illinois Industrial Home for the Blind. [10]

Even the ERO form admitted that delivering the family members' names could only hope to "lessen, to some extent at least, the frequency of hereditary blindness." But, cooperating with the request, many in the ophthalmologic community began handing over the names of those who were blind or related to blind people. "I am much interested in this investigation," Laughlin wrote to Howe, "and feel sure that under your leadership, the committee will be able to secure many interesting first-hand pedigrees which will not only throw light upon the manner of inheritance of the traits involved, but will as well provide first-hand information which may be used for practical eugenical purposes in cutting off the descent lines of individuals carrying the potentiality for offspring with seriously handicapping eye defects." [11]

The ERO now possessed yet another target list of unfit individuals.

By early 1921, ERO assistant director Howard Banker was able to brag to Ohio State University dean George Arps, "Records [have] already been collected of several hundred families, in which hereditary eye defects existed .... " Banker then confided, "In spite of evident reasons for drastic remedies, it does not seem advisable to recommend now any radical methods .... " [12]

Nonetheless, the outlines of anti-blind legislation were taking shape. Howe published a major article in the November 1919 edition of Journal of Heredity, entitled "The Relation of Hereditary Eye Defects to Genetics and Eugenics." The piece was not a clinical paper, but rather a call to legislative action. First, Howe guesstimated that the number of blind people in America had almost doubled to 100,000 since the 1910 census. (His own calculations of official reports from ten states, including the populous ones of New York, Massachusetts and Ohio, reported a total of only 23,630, indicating virtually no national increase.) Howe's article then addressed the entire blind population as though all of the exaggerated 100,000 suffered from a hereditary condition. Yet Howe knew that hereditary blindness constituted just a small percentage of the total, and even that fraction was falling fast. Because of medical and surgical advances, and as corrective lenses became more commonplace, estimates of hereditary blindness were constantly being reduced. [13]

As though his statistics and projections were authentic, Howe railed, "It is unjust to the blind to allow them to be brought into existence simply to lead miserable lives .... The longer we delay action to prevent this blindness, the more difficult the problem becomes." His plan? Give blind people and their families the option of being isolated or sterilized. "A large part, if not all, of this misery and expense," promised Howe, "could be gradually eradicated by sequestration or by sterilization, if the transmitter of the defect preferred the later." Howe suggested that authorities wait to discover a blind person, and then go back and get the rest of his family. [14]

Howe's article asked colleagues to carefully study sterilization laws applying to the feebleminded. "Where such eugenic laws have been enacted ... [they] could be properly amended." Under Howe's plan, incarcerated blind people would be required to labor at jobs commensurate with their intelligence; such work would lessen their "sense of restraint." In a final flourish, Howe asked, "What are we going to do about it? That is the question at last forced on ophthalmologists .... " [15]

By 1921, the ERO and AMA Section subcommittee had drafted sweeping legislation that pushed far beyond hereditary blindness or even general blindness. It targeted all people with imperfect vision. Under the proposal, any taxpayer could condemn such a person and his family as "defective." Such a measure would, of course, apply to anyone with blurry vision or even glasses, or any family that included someone with imperfect vision. According to the plan, one ophthalmologist and one eugenic practitioner, such as Laughlin, would render the official assessment. The ERO and AMA Section subcommittee's draft law was entitled, "An Act for the Partial Prevention of Hereditary Blindness." [16]

The draft law read: "When a man and woman contemplate marriage, if a visual defect exists in one or both of the contracting parties, or in the family of either, so apparent that any taxpayer fears that the children of such a union are liable to become public charges, for which that taxpayer would probably be assessed, then such taxpayer ... may apply to the County Judge for an injunction against such a marriage." The judge would then "appoint at least two experts to advise him concerning the probabilities of the further transmission of the eye defect." The experts were specified as a qualified ophthalmologist and "a person especially well versed in distinguishing family traits which are apt to reappear .... " Upon the advice of the two experts, the judge could then decide to prohibit any planned marriage, which might yield "at least one child who might have more or less imperfect vision .... " [17]

On January 6, 1921, the ERO distributed the draft law for review by several dozen of its core coterie. The mailing list of names was then marked with a plus next to those who approved, and a minus for those opposed. The people consulted included the leading psychologists of the day, such as Goddard, Terman, Yerkes, and Meyer. Apparently, not a few of the respondents either wore glasses or had a family member who did. The vote was divided. Many, such as psychologists Terman and Arps, voted in favor. Several were undecided, but at least half of those polled were opposed. [18]

Eugenicist Raymond Pearl, of Johns Hopkins University, promptly wrote back with his objections. "It makes the primary initiatory force any taxpayer," complained Pearl. "This opens the way at once for all sorts of busybodies to work out personal spite by holding up peoples' marriages pending an investigation .... Anyone who wore glasses contemplating getting married might under the terms of the law stated easily have their progress held up by some neighbor who wanted to make trouble .... Only busybodies would be likely to interest themselves in taking any action under it." [19]

Nonetheless, the ERO leadership sent the draft language to every fellow of the AMA's Ophthalmology Section. The nine-page list of ophthalmologists was similarly annotated with a plus or minus sign. Most of the doctors did not respond. But among those who did, not surprisingly, the yeas outpaced the nays. Dr. James Bach of Milwaukee was marked plus. Dr. Olin Barker of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, was marked plus, and was also noted for sending in a patient's family tree. Dr. David Dennis of Erie, Pennsylvania, was marked plus and noted for sending in three family trees. The ophthalmologist mailing list's adjusted tally: 88 yes, 40 no. [20] That level of support was enough for the ERO.

On April 5, 1921, a New York State senator sympathetic to the eugenic cause introduced Bill #1597. It would amend the state's Domestic Relations Law with Howe's measure. It required "the town clerk upon the application for a marriage license to ascertain as to any visual defects in either of such applicants, or in a blood relative of either party .... " The clerk or any taxpayer could then apply to the local county judge who would then appoint either two physicians, one an ophthalmologist and the other a eugenic doctor, or one person who could fulfill both roles. Based on their testimony, the clerk was then empowered to prohibit the marriage. [21]

To lobby for the bill, Howe and other eugenicists created a special advisory committee to the Committee to Prevent Hereditary Blindness. Howe was hardly alone within the ophthalmologic community. His advisory committee included some of the leading doctors in the field. The long list included Dr. Clarence Loeb of Chicago, associate editor of the Journal of Ophthalmology; Dr. Frank Allport of Chicago, former chairman of the AMA's Committee on Conservation of Blindness; Dr. G. F. Libby of Denver, author of the "Hereditary Blindness" entry in the Encyclopedia of Ophthalmology; William Morgan of New York, president of the National Committee for the Prevention of Blindness; Professor Victor Vaughan of Ann Arbor, former president of the AMA's Committee of Preventive Medicine; as well as many other vision experts. [22]

In September of 1921, Howe and the ERO tried to extend the advisory committee beyond the field of ophthalmology. They sent personalized form letters to prominent New York State doctors, judges and elected officials. The invitations requested permission to add their names to the advisory committee, couching membership as an honorary function. The goal was to create the appearance of a groundswell of informed support among the state's administrative and medical establishment for the marriage restriction measure. [23]

Usually, the prominent individuals solicited were only too happy to see their names added to prestigious letterhead advancing a good cause. Few had any understanding of hereditary blindness or the specifics of Howe's legislative proposal. Often, respondents stated that they knew little about the subject, but were only too happy to join the committee. Only rarely did an individual decline. One who did decline was Dr. H. S. Birkett, an ear, nose and throat doctor with no knowledge of ophthalmologic health; he wrote back, "As this seems to be associated largely with an Ophthalmologic Committee, I would feel myself rather out of place .... I hardly think that my name would be an appropriate one on such a Committee." ERO organizers routinely kept track of how many eminent people joined or refused. It was all for appearances. At one point, an ERO notation asked for "more judges." [24]

The ERO's sweeping anti-blindness measure did not succeed in 1921. [25] But Howe refused to give up. On January 12, 1922, Howe reminded Laughlin that the intent was to target a broad spectrum of defectives, but beginning with known medical diseases was still the best idea. "We tried to legislate against too many hereditary defects," Howe recounted, "It would be better to limit the legislation to hereditary blindness, insanity, epilepsy and possibly hereditary syphilis." Crafting such legislation required care. Howe conceded, "The phraseology as concocted by doctors and scientists is quite different from that which Constitutional lawyers would have recommended." [26]

Howe was relentless in keeping the idea alive. Lawyers associated with Columbia University were called upon to refine the text to pass Constitutional muster. In one reminder letter, Howe asked Laughlin, "Have you heard anything from our friends connected with the Law Department of Columbia, as to what progress they have made in their attempt to formulate that law for the prevention of hereditary blindness? ... When members of a committee are supposedly resting, that is the time to get work out of them." [27]

On July 22, 1922, Howe wrote to Laughlin from his New York estate, aptly named "Mendel Farm." Howe expressed his undying devotion to the Mendelian cause and his still-burning determination to "hunt" those with vision problems and subject them to eugenic countermeasures. "As today is ... the centenary of the birth of our 'Saint' Gregor," wrote Howe with some gaiety, "I feel like sending a word to you, to Drs. Davenport, Little -- indeed to every one of the earnest workers at Cold Spring Harbor .... If our good old Father Mendel is still counting peas grown in the celestial garden, he probably takes time on this anniversary, to lean over the golden bars, and as he rubs his glasses to look down on what is being done at Cold Spring Harbor and several other institutions like it, his mouth must stretch into a very broad grin when he thinks how little attention was paid to him on earth and what a big man he is now." [28]

Returning to the idea of hunting down the families of the visually impaired, Howe wrote, "Can you suggest any appeal which could be made to the State Board of Health so as to induce them to set one or two of their field workers to hunting up other defective members of certain families whose names appear so frequently among the pupils of schools for the blind? ... With remembrances to Mrs. Laughlin and best wishes always." [29]

Laughlin replied that he too wanted to "hunt" for those with imperfect vision. "A state survey hunting hereditary eye defects and other degeneracy, but laying principal emphasis on eye disorders, would constitute a splendid piece of work." Howe responded with a letter, eager as ever, declaring that the schools could easily provide the family trees. "Probably the director of almost every school of the blind can remember two or three pupils from branches of the same family who are there because of albinism, cataract, optic atrophy or some similar condition .... But," he cautioned, "superintendents have not been trained as field workers [to trace the extended families]." [30]

Therefore, Howe again pushed for the New York State Board of Health to undertake such a statewide hunt. Fortunately, New York State Commissioner of Public Health Hermann M. Biggs was already a member of Howe's advisory committee to prevent hereditary blindness. "I will ask one or two doctors in New York or elsewhere to send letters to you for Dr. Biggs advocating such an investigation," wrote Howe. He also offered to personally train the state's field workers. [31]

An official New York State hunt for the visually impaired never occurred. But Howe continued his pursuit of the names. In 1922, twenty of forty-two state institutions for the blind filled out forms on a total of 2,388 individuals in their care, constituting approximately half of America's institutionalized total. The numbers only further infuriated Howe. By his calculations, institutionalized blind people cost taxpayers $28 to $39 per inmate per month, higher than the feebleminded at $15.21 per month and prison inmates at $18.93 per month. No wonder that on February 10, 1923, Howe sent a letter jointly addressed to Davenport and Laughlin suggesting that any blindness-prevention law include a provision to imprison the visually impaired. In a list, Howe's second point read: "If the hereditary blind whose intended marriage has been adjudged to be dangerous, prefer to go to prison at the expense of the taxpayer that would probably be cheapest for the community and kindest to possible children ... and a better protection against future defectives." Howe repeated the idea twice more in that letter. [32]

In the same long February 10 letter, Howe promised to send a report to the secretary of the AMA's Section on Ophthalmology. But he was waiting for additional names of blind people to come in so he could forward the latest tally. Howe also assured that he was working closely with Columbia University law professor J. P. Chamberlain to revise the hoped-for legislation. [33]

Several months later, in July of 1923, Professor Chamberlain wrote an article for the American Bar Association Journal advocating what he called "repressive legislation" to restrict marriages. "The effect of the modern doctrine of eugenics is being felt in state legislative halls," Chamberlain began. "There is a growing tendency to segregate them [defective persons] in colonies for their own well being and to protect society ... and along with this repressive legislation is another trend ... legislation limiting the rights of certain classes of persons to marry and requiring preliminary evidence of the fitness of the parties to the ceremony." Professor Chamberlain assured the nation's attorneys that protecting future generations was sound public policy and within any state's police powers. Once a proper "standard of deficiency" could be written into the statutes, marriage restriction could be enforced against the defective as well. "The past record makes it appear probable that the law will not lag behind medical science." [34]

Howe floated another attempt at legislation to prevent hereditary blindness when on February 1, 1926, Bill #605 was introduced to the New York State Assembly. This time, the proposal required a sworn statement from any marriage applicants averring, "Neither myself nor, to the best of my knowledge and belief, any of my blood relatives within the second degree have been affected with blindness .... " No definition of blindness was offered. Once again, the bill empowered the town clerk to prohibit the marriage, and even made initial consultation with experts optional. Ironically, even Howe could not craft a definition for blindness. In a letter to another ophthalmologist, he confessed that in a conversation with a federal official, Howe had been called upon to define the condition; both had been at a loss for words. "He was as much in doubt as I," wrote Howe, adding, "Please tell me what better measure you can suggest." Bill #605 was never enacted. [35]

But Howe continued his crusade. Even as he was pushing his anti-blindness legislation, Howe was also orchestrating a second marriage restriction against not just the visually impaired, but anyone judged unfit. His idea was to require a large cash bond from any marriage applicant suspected of being "unfit." Again, no definitions or standards were set. The couple applying for a marriage license would be required to post a significant cash bond against the possibility that their defective children might be a cost to the state. Howe suggested bonds of as much as $14,000, equivalent to over $130,000 today. [36] In other words, marriage by those declared eugenically inferior would be made economically impossible by state law.

Howe had come up with his idea for a general marriage bond as early as 1921. At the time, Laughlin had praised Howe's concept. "Your plan for offering bond is, I believe, a practical one," Laughlin wrote Howe on March 30, 1921. He continued, "For one thing, it presents in very clear and clean cut manner to the average tax-payer the problem of paying for social inadequates from the purse of the tax payer. There is nothing like touching the purse of the tax payer in order to arouse his interest .... " Laughlin was pleased with the larger implications because Howe's idea represented a "feature in future eugenical control, not only of hereditary blindness but of hereditary defects of all sorts." Howe's bonding plan, wrote Laughlin, would "place the responsibility for the reproduction of defectives upon the possible parents of such." Moreover, Laughlin wrote, cash bonding would be most useful in "border-line" cases where no one could be sure. [37]

Within a year, Howe was asking Columbia University's Professor Chamberlain to draft legislative language to enforce bonding. In May of 1922, Laughlin sent yet another letter of encouragement to Howe, asserting that should any law to "bond parents against the production of defective children" withstand court challenge, "a great practical eugenical principle will have been established." [38]

In late December of 1922, in a letter inviting Mr. and Mrs. Howe to join the Laughlins for lunch at Cold Spring Harbor, Laughlin could not hide his continuing enthusiasm. "The bonding principle," wrote Laughlin, "... securing the state against the production of defectives has, I think, great possibilities. Perhaps the greatest single amendment which can be made to the present marriage laws for the prevention of the production of degenerates. If you can develop the principle and secure its adoption, you will have deserved the honor of the eugenical world." [39]

Eventually, the marriage bond proposal was introduced to the New York State Assembly as a part of Bill #605, Howe's amended anti-blindness effort. Under the proposal, any town clerk, depending on the severity of the suspected defectiveness, could set the bond, up to $14,000. The amount of $14,000 represented Howe's estimate for supporting and educating a blind child. The bond could be released once the wife turned forty-five years of age. Eugenicists were hopeful and even published the entire text of Bill #605 in Eugenical News. Marriage bonding legislation, however, died in New York when Bill #605 was voted down. [40]

Even still, the Eugenics Record Office wove the notion into the model eugenics legislation it distributed to the various states. In a memo, Laughlin asserted that the principle should be viewed "in reference not only to the blind, but also to all other types of social inadequacy (and this is the goal sought)." He added, "If this principle were firmly established it would doubtless become the most powerful force directed against the production of defectives and inadequates." [41]

During the 1920s, while Howe was trying to establish marriage prevention and marriage bonding, he and Laughlin were also wor1cing on a third concept. It was known by several names and was ultimately called "interstate deportation." Under this scheme, once a family was identified as unfit, family members could be uprooted and deported back to the state or town of their origin -- presumably at the expense of the original locale. This would create a financial liability for any town or state, forcing them to view any suspected defective citizens as an intolerable expense. The plan held open the possibility of mass interstate deportations to jurisdictions that would simply refuse the deportees, leading to holding pens of a sort. Some eugenicists called for "colonies." Margaret Sanger advocated "wide open spaces" for the unfit. After all, the United States government had already set the precedent by creating a system of reservations for Native Americans.

It was Howe's initiative for marriage prevention and bonding that opened the door. In a review of Howe's marriage restrictions, Laughlin wrote in the spring of 1921, "It is easy for the eugenicist to plan a step further and to urge further development of our deportation services which means only that the community which produces a non-supporting defective must maintain him ... it means more inter-state deportation and finally, within the state, deportation to counties in which defectives are born or have citizenship or long residence." [42]

By late 1922, Howe and other sympathetic ophthalmologic colleagues, along with Laughlin and the Carnegie Institution, were formulating deportation specifics. Howe was developing a eugenic "debit and credit" system to rank individuals. Towns, counties and states would then be charged when their defectives moved elsewhere in the nation. "Of course our national deportation system is based upon this theory," Laughlin acknowledged to Howe in a December 5, 1922, letter. A few weeks later, Laughlin again lauded a system of bonding "each state, community and family for its own degenerates." He adding that "the matter of deportation [is] only one other phase in the application of this greater principle." [43]

Once more, bonding marriages against hereditary blindness was to be the precedent for national deportation. "You have done a splendid service," Laughlin wrote Howe in March of 1925, "in directing the work of the Committee on Prevention of Hereditary Blindness. The whole thing appeals so strongly to me because I believe it is a step in the direction of working out ... the matter of placing responsibility for the production of hereditary inadequates upon families, towns, states and nations which produce them." [44]

Eventually, the eugenics movement developed a constellation of bonding, financial responsibility and deportation principles which it tried to implement based on precedents set by Howe's hereditary blindness countermeasures. The program's goal was to create enclaves of eugenically preferred citizens, which would be achieved when the unfit were systematically expelled from an area. It was defective cleansing. An outline of the measure was published as a lead essay in Eugenical News. The section headlined "Interstate Deportation" declared, "There is now, however, a substantial and growing movement for the inter-state and inter-town return of charity cases and ne'er-do-wells from the host communities to the communities which produced them." [45]

Setting up an argument for property confiscation, the Eugenical News outline explained that the cost of relocation and maintenance would be borne first by the community the family had come from, but then ultimately by the defective family itself. "In many communities the town or the county or the state has a legal claim upon any property of the producing family, particularly the parents .... " [46] The government would have the power to turn any family deemed unfit into a family of paupers.

The Eugenical News essay also challenged the concept of free movement within the United States. "It remains to be seen whether an individual inadequate can simply move in on a community and claim legal residence." Eugenical News asked, "Is there a legal recourse, for example, in the case of 'dumping' the undesirables of one community on another, of 'exiling' or 'driving out of town' undesirable persons? Perhaps the time will come when there will be no place where such undesirables can go, in which case the logical place for them is the community and family where they were produced." But in the end, after describing a thorough program of dislocation and deportation, the article made the final result clear: "Compulsory segregation or sterilization of potential parents of certain inadequates." [47]

Throughout the essay outlining the new set of eugenic responsibilities and countermeasures, Howe was credited for his tireless efforts. One article declared, "He threw the weight of his professional experience, as an ophthalmologist, into this particular field.... " [48]

But most of Howe's most radical plans never took root, in large part because the famed ophthalmologist died before he could complete his work. He died on December 17, 1928, at age eighty, in his Belmont, Massachusetts, home. The next month Eugenical News eulogized the man who had served as president of the Eugenics Research Association until shortly before his death. "Lucien Howe was a true gentleman, a broad scholar, and he loved his fellow men." This statement echoed the tribute of the American Ophthalmological Society, which adopted the following resolution: "A student of quality, an author of distinction, a scholar in the house of scientific interpretation and original research, Dr. Howe, a former president of this Society, has added to its reputation and has maintained its tradition." For eight decades, the American Ophthalmological Society has awarded the Lucien Howe Medal for service to the profession and mankind. [49]
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Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

Postby admin » Thu Jul 31, 2014 2:25 am

PART 1 OF 2

CHAPTER 9: Mongrelization

The U.S. Census Bureau would not cooperate with eugenics. No agency collected and compiled more information on individuals than the bureau. Its mission was clear: to count Americans and create a demographic portrait for policymakers. A fundamental principle of census taking is the confidentiality and sanctity of individual records. In the early twentieth century, American eugenics coveted this information.

For years, eugenic leaders tried -- with little result -- to convince the Census Bureau to change its ways. They targeted the 1920 census. In 1916, Alexander Graham Bell, representing the Eugenics Record Office, was among the first to formally suggest that the bureau add the father's name and the mother's maiden name to the data gathered on each individual.' The Census Bureau declined to make the addition.

But shortly after Bell's first entreaty, Laughlin proposed a survey of all those in state custodial and charitable facilities, as well as jails. The Census Bureau agreed, and soon thereafter its director of statistical research, Joseph A. Hill, granted Laughlin the assignment. Laughlin was credentialed as a "special agent of the Bureau of the Census." [2] This first joint program, however, would not lead to an alliance with the Census Bureau, but to a bureaucratic war.

Since the 1880s, the Census Bureau had compiled statistics on what it called "the defective, dependent and delinquent" population, referring to the insane as defective, the elderly and infirm as dependent, and prisoners as delinquent. Laughlin insisted on changing the Census Bureau's terminology to "the socially inadequate" and adding to its rolls large, stratified contingents of the unfit, especially along racial lines. Laughlin's concept of social inadequacy would encompass those who "entail a drag upon those members of the community who have sufficient insight, initiative, competence, physical strength and social instincts to enable them to live effective lives .... " [3]

The Census Bureau refused. It stubbornly claimed that Laughlin's newly concocted term, socially inadequate, if used publicly, would surely "call forth criticism and protest." Nor would it accept any of Laughlin's substitute categories, such as "submerged tenth" or "the sub-social classes." To adhere to the legal descriptions of the project -- and follow the most conservative line -- the Census Bureau insisted on its traditional appellations, "defective, dependent and delinquent." [4]

A war of nomenclature erupted, one Laughlin described as a "tempest in a teapot." It raged for more than two years. First, the Census Bureau polled its own stable of social science experts, who reacted with "caustic criticism." Unwilling to back down, Laughlin consulted his own bevy of experts, and then, disregarding any direction from the Census Bureau, employed the term socially inadequate anyway when he requested information from 576 state and federal institutions. To rub his point in the Census Bureau's face, Laughlin asked the institutions not only for data, but also for their opinions about his choice of terminology. All but three of the institutions endorsed his new term, and he eventually swayed those three as well, achieving unanimity. Laughlin saw this as more than vindication for his position. [5]

The Census Bureau did not. Although the outbreak of World War I interrupted the project, in May of 1919 the bureau finalized and then published Laughlin's work under the title it chose, Statistical Directory of State Institutions for the Defective, Dependent and Delinquent Classes. Determined to have the last word, Laughlin published a vituperative article in the Journal of Sociology, recounting the quarrel in detail. Quoting page after page of support for his position from prominent sociologists and officials he had worked with, Laughlin publicly castigated the Census Bureau for lack of leadership and scientific timidity. [6]

Following the irksome, years-long experience, the Census Bureau refused all but cosmetic cooperation with eugenicists. Laughlin, in his capacity as secretary of the Eugenics Research Association, wrote to Samuel Rogers, director of the census, in 1918, asking if the bureau planned to identify nine classes of "socially inadequate." Rogers formally replied that no such data would be gathered, except the names and addresses of the deaf and blind, as previously collected. [7]

At a 1919 conference, the ERA Executive Committee decided to try to convince the Census Bureau to conduct "an experimental genealogical survey of a selected community." Three days later, the ERA formally petitioned Census Bureau Director Rogers to add two additional columns titled Ancestry to the paper questionnaires or enumeration sheets. "In the interest of race betterment," the two new columns, to be situated between the existing columns eleven and twelve, would identify the mother, by maiden name, and the father. "Family ties would be established," explained the ERA request, "and thus all census enumeration records would become available for genealogical and family pedigree-studies." The ERA predicted that these records would "constitute the greatest and most valuable genealogical source in the world." Writing in the Journal of Heredity, Laughlin advocated the two additional columns so that any "individual could be located from census to census and generation to generation .... Such investigations would be of the greatest social and political value." [8]

The proposals became more and more grandiose as the government's capacity for data retrieval and analysis increased. But any cooperation between the Census Bureau and American eugenics was for all practical purposes destroyed by Laughlin's dogmatic insistence on employing charged terminology more pejorative than the Census Bureau was willing to adopt. [9]

Despite a year-to-year cascade of petitions, letters, scientific articles and eugenic rationales urging the agency to create a massive registry of American citizens that could be marked as fit or unfit, the Census Bureau stands out as one federal organization that simply refused to join the movement. [10]

Rebuffed by the Census Bureau, Laughlin turned his attention to other government agencies, using his official bureau contacts with hundreds of state and federal institutions. His goal was to create further classifications that other bureaus and agencies of the federal government could adopt. An official 1922 booklet distributed by the U.S. House of Representatives to administrators of state institutions was entitled "Classification Standards to be Followed in Preparing Data for the Schedule 'Racial and Diagnostic Records of Inmates of State Institutions', prepared by Harry Laughlin." It listed sixty-five racial classifications. Classification #15 was German Jew, #16 was Polish Jew, #17 was Russian Jew, #25 was North Italian, #26 was South Italian, #30 was Polish ("Polack"), #61 was Mountain White, #62 was American Yankee, #63 was American Southerner and #64 was Middle West American. [11] If the Census Bureau would not adopt his eugenic classifications, Laughlin hoped the states would.

Virginia was eager, thanks to its registrar of vital statistics, Walter Ashby Plecker. Plecker considered himself a product of the Civil War, even though he was born in Virginia in 1861, just as the conflict began. Memories of his youth in Augusta County, Virginia, during the turbulent Reconstruction years, were influenced greatly by a beloved Negro family servant called Delia. In many ways, Delia represented the emotional strength of the whole family. As was common, she essentially raised Plecker as a young boy, exercising "extensive control" over his activities and earning his lasting gratitude. Plecker's sister sobbed at Delia's wedding at the thought of losing the connection, and Delia broke down as well. When Plecker's mother fell ill for the last time, she sent for Delia to nurse her back to health if possible. In his mother's final hour, it was Delia who comforted her at her deathbed, and when the moment came, it was Delia who tenderly placed her fingers on the woman's eyelids and shut them for the last time. No wonder Delia was remembered in the mother's will. No wonder that Plecker, as executor of his mother's estate, warmly wrote the first bequest check to Delia. From Plecker's point of view, Delia was family. [12]

Fond memories of Delia did not prevent Walter A. Plecker from becoming a fervent raceologist and eugenicist, however. He detested the notion of racial and social mixing in any form. His obsession with white racial purity would turn him into America's preeminent demographic hunter of Blacks, American Indians and other people of color. In the process, Plecker fortified Virginia as the nation's bastion of eugenic racial salvation. Plecker's fanaticism propelled him into a lifelong crusade to codify the existence of just two races: white and everything else.

Plecker began his career in medicine, receiving a degree from the University of Maryland at Baltimore, and then continuing in obstetrics at the New York Polyclinic. He opened a practice in Virginia and quickly became involved with family records, at one point serving as a pension examiner. Plecker moved his practice to Birmingham, Alabama, for several years, but soon returned to his beloved Virginia. He settled in Elizabeth City County, one of the eight original Virginia shires created in 1634. Elizabeth City County was intensely proud of its genealogical heritage. The historic county's citizens included many so-called First Families of Virginia, that is, Colonial settlers. Meticulous family records had been kept, but were in large part destroyed during the numerous battles and town burnings of the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War. After the Civil War, Elizabeth City County meticulously restored and reorganized its population records. [13]

In 1900, Elizabeth City County created a health department, along with a section of vital statistics to document births and death. A few years later, Plecker was hired as a county health officer, where he fastidiously recorded life cycle events. One triracial Hampton, Virginia, family that he first encountered in 1905 made quite an impact on him. After delivering their baby boy, Plecker at bedside registered the mother as "Indian and colored," and the husband as "Indian and white." Later, the woman's daughter ran off with a white man, marrying in another state. The young couple then returned to Hampton as a second-generation racially mixed marriage. [14] Plecker was appalled by the racial permissiveness of Virginia's system.

Later, when Plecker observed a local Negro death rate twice that of whites, he began to investigate, pursuing a goal of "near 100% registration of births and deaths." Population statistics and registration became more than a fascination; they became his mission. His proficiency at registering citizens made Plecker a natural pick in 1912 to help draft the state's new law creating the Bureau of Vital Statistics. At age fifty-one, Plecker was invited to head the new agency as registrar and to set his own salary. He was so dedicated to population registration that he magnanimously asked "for little more than subsistence." Virginia's 1912 statute established registration of the state's citizens by race -- without clear definitions. Yet for three hundred years Virginia had produced racially mixed citizens by virtue of the state's original Colonial settlement, its indigenous Indian population, a thriving slave system, and waves of European immigration. [15]

But a desire for general population registration was not what drove Plecker. He was hardly devoted to the statistical sciences or demographics. He was simply a racist. Plecker's passion was for keeping the white race pure from any possible mixture with Black, American Indian or Asian blood. The only real goal of bureaucratic registration was to prevent racially mixed marriages and social mixing -- to biologically barricade the white race in Virginia.

In an official Virginia State Health Bureau pamphlet, Plecker declared: "The white race in this land, is the foundation upon which rests its civilization, and is responsible for the leading position which we occupy amongst the nations of the world. Is it not, therefore, just and right that this race decide for itself what its composition shall be, and attempt, as Virginia has, to maintain its purity?" [16]

Plecker was no authority on eugenics, however. He was a proud member of the American Eugenics Society, but that required no real scientific expertise for membership. Nor did Plecker really comprehend the tenets of Mendelian genetics or heredity. Years after he became a leading exponent of eugenic raceology, Plecker wrote to Laughlin for advice on race mixing formulas, and confided, "I am not satisfied with the accuracy of my own knowledge as to the result of racial intermixture with repeated white crossings." He added that he just didn't understand Davenport's complex protoplasmic discussion of skin color, explaining, "I have never felt justified in believing that ... children of mulattoes are really white under Mendel's Law." [17]

Although he cloaked his crusade under the mantle of eugenic science, Plecker did not mind confessing his real motive to Laughlin. "While we are interested in the eugenical records of our citizens," Plecker wrote the ERa, "we are attempting to list only the mixed breeds who are endeavoring to pass into the white race." [18] In other words, Plecker could not be distracted with complex formulas and eugenic charts tracing a spectrum of racial and subraciallineages. In Virginia, you were either ancestrally white or you weren't.

Plecker introduced new techniques in registering births and deaths. In July of 1921, for instance, the Bureau of Vital Statistics mailed a special warning to each of Virginia's 2,500 undertakers. Plecker reminded them that under the law, death certificates could not simply be mailed, but must be delivered in person for verity's sake. Nor could a body be removed or buried without a proper burial permit. An extra permit was needed to ship a body. Moreover, Plecker demanded that coffin dealers provide monthly reports of "all sales of which there is any doubt, giving the address of purchaser, or head of the family, and name of deceased with place and date." [19] Under Plecker's rule, no one was permitted to die in Virginia without leaving a long racial paper trail.

Plecker would enforce similar regimens with midwives and obstetricians, town clerks and church clerics -- anyone who could attest to the racial makeup of those who lived and died in Virginia. Over the next several years, he created a cross-indexed system that recorded more than a million Virginia births and deaths since 1912. He also catalogued thousands of annual marriages, each filed under both husband's and wife's name. The data quickly became too voluminous for index cards. Plecker created a complicated but unique system to store the massive troves of information. Clerks would type all the names "on to sheets of the best linen paper, using unfading carbon ribbons," Plecker once explained in a flourish of braggadocio, adding, "We make these in triplicate and bind them in books. These [names] can be quickly referred to as easily as you can find a word in the dictionary." Eventually, Plecker hoped to secure state funding to reconstruct as many records as possible going back to 1630 and then "indexing these by our system." [20]

Plecker planned to add the names of all epileptics, insane, feebleminded and criminals, which would be gathered from the state's hospitals, prisons, city bureaus and county clerks, bestowing on Virginia a massive eugenical database that would reach back to the first white footfalls on Virginia soil. "The purpose will be to list degenerates and criminals," he assured. [21] Of course the ERO was also assembling hundreds of thousands of names, but its extensive rolls only amounted to a patchwork of lineages from counties speckled around the country. Plecker's vision would deliver America's first statewide eugenic registry -- a real one.

It is important to understand that while carrying the banner of eugenics, Plecker's true passion never varied. It was always about preserving the purity of the white race. Millions of inscribed linen pages and thousands of leather-bound volumes could be filled, but Plecker would never achieve his real goal without dramatic legislative changes. Existing state laws outlawing mixed-race marriages, including Virginia's, were simply too permissive. In the first place, most states varied on what exactly constituted a Negro or colored person. At least six states forbade whites from marrying half-Negroes or mulattoes. Nearly a dozen states prohibited whites from marrying those of one-quarter or even one-eighth Negro ancestry. Others were simply vague. Virginia's own blurred statutes had allowed extensive intermarriage through the generations: between whites and light-skinned Negroes, White-Indian- Negro triracials, mulattoes, and others. Plecker and the ERO called this process the "mongrelization" of Virginia's white race. [22]

To halt mongrelization, a coalition of Virginia's most powerful whites organized a campaign to create the nation's stiffest marriage restriction law. It would ban marriage between a certified white person and anyone with even "one drop" of non-Caucasian blood. The key would be mandatory statewide registration of all persons, under Plecker's purview as registrar of the Bureau of Vital Statistics. Leading the charge for the new legislation were Plecker and two friends, the musician John Powell and the journalist Earnest S. Cox. [23]

Powell was one of Virginia's most esteemed composers and concert pianists. Ironically, he built his musical reputation on performing his Rhapsodie Negre, which wove Negro themes and spirituals into a popular sonata form. Later, as Powell became more race conscious, he claimed that Negroes had stolen their music from the "compositions of white men." Powell decried the American melting pot as a "witch's cauldron." [24]

Cox led the White America Society, and authored the popular racist tome, White America (1923), which warned of the mongrelization of the nation. "[The] real problems when dealing with colored races," trumpeted Cox, "[is] the sub-normal whites who transgress the color line in practice and the super-normal whites who [only] oppose the color line in theory." Eugenical News effusively reviewed Cox's book, stating, "America is still worth saving for the white race and it can be done. If Mr. E.S. Cox can bring it about, he will be a greater savior of his country than George Washington. We wish him, his book and his 'White America Society' god-speed." Plecker, Cox and Powell created a small but potent white supremacist league known as the Anglo-Saxon Clubs, which would become pivotal in the registration crusade. [25]

Despite their virulent racism, the Anglo-Saxon Clubs claimed they harbored no ill will toward Negroes. Why? Because now it was just science -- eugenic science. The Anglo-Saxon Clubs could boast, "'One drop of negro blood makes the negro' is no longer a theory based on race pride or color prejudice, but a logically induced, scientific fact." As such, even the group's constitution proclaimed its desire "for the supremacy of the white race in the United States of America, without racial prejudice or hatred." [26] This was the powerful redefining nature of eugenics-in action.

The Anglo-Saxon Clubs and their loose confederation of local branches successfully petitioned the Virginia General Assembly and quickly brought about Senate Bill #219 and House Bill #311, each captioned "An Act to Preserve Racial Integrity." The legislation would require all Virginians to register their race and defined whites as those with "no trace whatsoever of any blood other than Caucasian." As one Norfolk editorialist described the proposal, "Each person, not already booked in the Vital Statistics Bureau will be required to take out a sort of passport correctly setting forth his racial composition .... " This passport or certificate would be required before any marriage license could be granted. Pure whites could only marry pure whites. All other race combinations would be allowed to intermarry freely. [27]

The Anglo-Saxon Clubs found a powerful ally in their campaign. The state's leading newspaper, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, allowed its pages to become a megaphone for the legislation. In July of 1923, for example, Cox and Powell published side-by-side articles entitled "Is White America to Become a Negroid Nation?" The men claimed their proposed legislation was based on sound Mendelian eugenics that now conclusively proved that when two human varieties mixed, "the more primitive ... always dominates in the hybrid offspring." The Richmond Times-Dispatch supported the idea in an editorial. [28]

On February 12, 1924, Powell enthralled a packed Virginia House of Delegates with his call to stop Negro blood from further mongrelizing the state's white population. "POWELL ASKS LAW GUARDING RACIAL PURITY" proclaimed the Richmond Times-Dispatch's page one headline. Subheads read "Rigid Registration System is Needed" and "Bill Would Cut Short Marriage of Whites with Non-Whites." The newspaper's lead paragraph called the address "historic." Leaving little to doubt, the article made clear that a "rigid system of registration" would halt the race mixing and mongrelization arising from centuries of procreation by whites with Negro slaves and their descendants. Such preeminent eugenic raceologists as Madison Grant were quoted extensively to reaffirm the scientific necessity underpinning the legislative effort. Lothrop Stoddard, a member of Margaret Sanger's board of advisors, was also quoted, declaring, "I consider such legislation ... to be of the highest value and greatest necessity in order that the purity of the white race be safeguarded from possibility of contamination with nonwhite blood .... This is a matter of both national and racial life and death." [29]

Virginia's legislature, in Richmond, was soon scheduled to debate what was now dubbed the "Racial Integrity Act." It was the same 1924 session of the legislature that had enacted the law for mandatory sterilization of mental defectives that was successfully applied to Carrie Buck. On February 18, 1924, with the forthcoming debate in mind, the Richmond Times-Dispatch published a rousing editorial page endorsement that legislators were sure to read. Employing eugenic catchphrases, the newspaper reminded readers that when "amalgamation" between races occurred, "one race will absorb the other. And history shows that the more highly developed strain always is the one to go. America is headed toward mongrelism; only ... measures to retain racial integrity can stop the country from becoming negroid in population .... Thousands of men and women who pass for white persons in this state have in their veins negro blood ... it will sound the death knell of the white man. Once a drop of inferior blood gets in his veins, he descends lower and lower in the mongrel scale." [30]

Despite the bill's popular appeal, legislators were unwilling to ratify the measure without two adjustments. First, the notion of mandatory registration was considered an "insult to the white people of the state," as one irritated senator phrased it. Plecker confided to a minister, "The legislature was about to vote the whole measure down when we offered it making registration optional." Mandatory registration was deleted from the bill. Second, a racial loophole was permitted (over Plecker's objection), this to accommodate the oldest and most revered Virginia families who proudly boasted of descending from pre-Colonial Indians, including Pocahontas. Plecker's original proposal only allowed those with one-sixty-fourth Indian blood or less to be registered as white. This was broadened by the senators to one-sixteenth Indian blood, with the understanding that many of Virginia's finest lineages included eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Indian ancestors. [31]

Virginia's Racial Integrity Act was ratified on March 8, 1924, and became effective on June 15. Falsely registering one's race was defined as a felony, punishable by a year in prison. [32]

As soon as the law was enacted, Plecker began circulating special bulletins. The first went out in March of 1924, even before the effective date of the law. Under the insignia of the Virginia Department of Health, a special "Health Bulletin," labeled "Extra #1" and entitled "To Preserve Racial Integrity," laid out strict instructions to all local registrars and other government officials throughout the state. "As color is the most important feature of this form of registration," the instructions read, "the local registrar must be sure that there is no trace of colored blood in anyone offering to register as a white person. The penalty for willfully making a false claim as to color is one year in the penitentiary .... The Clerk must also decide the question of color before he can issue a marriage license .... You should warn any person of mixed or doubtful color as to the risk of making a claim as to his color, if it is afterwards found to be false." Health Bulletin Extra #1 defined various levels of white-Negro mixtures, such as mulatto, quadroon, octoroon, colored and mixed. Along with the bulletin, Plecker distributed the first 65,000 copies of State Form 59, printed on March 17, "Registration of Birth and Color -- Virginia." [33]

Health Bulletin #2 was mailed several days later and warned, "It is estimated that there are in the state from 10,000 to 20,000, possibly more, near white people, who are known to possess an intermixture of colored blood, in some cases to a slight extent, it is true, but still enough to prevent them from being white. In the past, it has been possible for these people to declare themselves as white .... Then they have demanded the admittance of their children into the white schools, and in not a few cases have intermarried with white people .... Our Bureau has kept a watchful eye upon the situation." Bulletin #2 reminded everyone that a year of jail time awaited anyone who violated the act. [34]

Plecker quickly began using his office, letterhead and the public's uncertainty about the implications of the new law to his advantage. His letters and bulletins informed and sometimes hounded new parents, newlyweds, rnidwives, physicians, funeral directors, ministers, and anyone else the Bureau of Vital Statistics suspected of being or abetting the unwhite. [35]

April 30, 1924 Mrs. Robert H. Cheatham Lynchburg, Virginia

We have a report of the birth of your child, July 30th, 1923, signed by Mary Gildon, midwife. She says that you are white and that the father of the child is white. We have a correction to this certificate sent to us from the City Health Department at Lynchburg, in which they say that the father of this child is a negro. This is to give you warning that this is a mulatto child and you cannot pass it off as white. A new law passed by the last legislature says that if a child has one drop of negro blood in it, it cannot be counted as white. You will have to do something about this matter and see that this child is not allowed to mix with white children. It cannot go to white schools and can never marry a white person in Virginia.

It is an awful thing.

Yours very truly, WA. Plecker STATE REGISTRAR [36]


Plecker followed this with a short note to the midwife, Mary Gildon.

This is to notify you that it is a penitentiary offense to willfully state that a child is white when it is colored. You have made yourself liable to very serious trouble by doing this thing. What have you got to say about it?

Yours very truly, WA. Plecker STATE REGISTRAR [37]


Plecker's friend Powell of the Anglo-Saxon Clubs was copied on both letters. A small handwritten notation at the top left read, "Dear Mr. Powell: This is a specimen of our daily troubles and how we are handling them." [38]

Plecker acted on rumor, consulted arcane tax and real estate documents, and of course whatever records were available from various eugenic sources. On July 29,1924, Plecker wrote to W H. Clark, who lived at Irish Creek in Rockbridge County. "I do not know you personally and have no positive assurance as to your racial standing, but I do know that an investigation made some time ago by the Carnegie Foundation of the people of mixed descent in Amherst County found the Clark family one of those known to be thus mixed. We learned also that members of this family and of other mixed families have crossed over from Amherst County and are now living on Irish Creek." After informing Clark that his ancestors included "three Indians who mixed with white and negro people," Plecker asserted that the man was now one of five hundred individuals who would be removed from the list of white people. [39]

Adding a threat of prosecution, Plecker warned, "We do not expect to be easy upon anyone who makes a misstatement and we expect soon to be in possession of facts which we can take into court if necessary." Plecker seemed to enjoy taunting the racially suspect. He sardonically added that he looked forward to tarring even more of Clark's extended family. "I will be glad to hear what you have to say," quipped Plecker, "and particularly to have the dates and places of the births and marriages of yourself, your parents and grandparents." [40]

Plecker was equally ruthless with his own registrars. One was Pal S. Beverly, a registrar in Pera, Virginia. Beverly had bitterly complained that registration of his own family as white had been overruled by Plecker. Records unearthed by Plecker showed Beverly to be a so-called "Free Issue" egro, that is, a class of freed slave. "Because of your constant agitation," Plecker wrote him on October 12, 1929, "of the question that you are a white man and not a member of the 'Free Issue' group of Amherst, as you and your ancestors have been rated, we wrote to you recently asking for the names of your father and of his father and your grandfather's mother." [41]

Plecker had probed Beverly's family tree for generations. The registrar laid it out for him in stunning and damning detail. "The certificate of death of your mother Leeanna (or Leander) Francis Beverly, Nov. 5, 1923, states that she was the wife of Adolphus Beverly," informed Plecker. "This certificate was signed by you when you were our local registrar." Plecker then checked Adolphus Beverly's 1881 marriage license and discovered that Beverly's father was listed as colored. Plecker then investigated Adolphus Beverly's father, Frederick. In the Personal Property Tax Book for the years 1846 through 1851, Frederick was listed as a freed slave. Frederick was born in 1805 and was recorded in the census along with his older brother, Samuel -- and on and on. [42]

"I am notifying you finally," Plecker informed Beverly, "that you can have no other rating in our office under the Act of 1924 than that of a mulatto or colored man, regardless of your personal appearance, voting list, or statements which any persons may make to petitions in your behalf .... I want to notify you further that any effort that you make to register yourself or your family in our office as white is, under the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, a felony making you liable to a penalty of one year in the penitentiary." For extra measure, he added that the bureau had identified numerous other mixed-race individuals in the county named Beverly. [43]

As promised, Plecker began decertifying the extended family members of Pal Beverly. Among them was Mascott Hamilton of Glasgow, in Rockbridge County, Virginia. After Plecker's ruling, Hamilton's children were thrown out of the white school they attended. When Hamilton threatened to sue, Plecker gleefully replied, "I am glad to learn from you the fact that your children are kept out of the white schools .... " He presented the point-by-point documentation: "You and your wife belong to the group of people known as 'free issues' who are classed in Amherst County where they started as of free Negro stock, the name they were called by before the War Between the States to distinguish them from slave Negroes .... Your wife's mother married Price Beverly, a grandson of Frederick Beverly, who was a son of Bettie Buck or (Beverly) who was a slave and set free and sent to Amherst by her owner Peter Rose of Buckingham County, together with her sons Frederick and Samuel. Your wife's grandmother, Aurora Wood married Richard, a son of the freed negro, Frederick Beverly." [44]
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Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

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PART 2 OF 2

The litany continued. "The children which you refer to were probably your wife's by her divorced husband Sam Roberts, who is shown to be an illegitimate son of Jennie Roberts. You did not marry Dora till 1925. The Roberts family is also of true 'free issue' stock. Your wife gave birth to one child two months after she was married to Sam Roberts. Does she say that the father was a white man and not her husband? What a mess -- trying to be white!!" [45]

Plecker scoffed, "Your wife's history shows a complete line of illegitimacy and she claims this as the ground upon which she hopes to be classified as white. It would be difficult to find a white family except of feebleminded people in the state with such a record." Ending with his standard threat, Plecker warned, "It is a penitentiary offense to try to register as white a child with any ascertainable trace of negro blood, and that when you go into court you will have this charge to face." [46]

Similarly denigrating correspondence was mailed across the state. In May of 1930, Plecker notified the wife of Frank C. Clark, of rural Alleghany County, that her protestations of a white appearance and years of living as white were meaningless. "The question of whether or not there is any trace of negro blood present is determined by the record of ancestors and not by the appearance of an individual at the present day after securing crossings of white blood. either does the securing of marriage licenses, and registering children falsely as white establish the racial origin." Her father-in-law's colored marriage license, and the state's pre-Civil War tax records, "establishes the colored ancestry of your husband Frank C. Clark." [47]

Plecker then enumerated the genealogical details of Mrs. Clark's mother, Elena, her grandmother, Ella, and even her great-great-grandmother, Creasy, "who was said to have been 'a little brown-skinned Negro who lived to be nearly one hundred years old.''' In closing, Plecker admonished, "All descendants of the people referred to above are colored and will be so considered in our office. They cannot legally marry into the white race nor attend white schools. Anyone who registers the births of descendants of the above as white ... makes himself or herself liable to one year in the penitentiary." [48]

In one case, four mulattoes from one family married white spouses, two in Washington, D.C., one in a distant Virginia town, and one in an undetermined location. When they returned to their hometown, Plecker tracked them all down and called the police. The couples "fled before the warrants issued for their arrest were served," Plecker recounted to a friend. [49]

In another case, Plecker investigated a Grayson County couple married five years earlier. The couple had just given birth to a son. After a review of the birth certificate and other records, the man was found to be white, but Plecker determined his wife to be of Negro descent. Plecker essentially unmarried the couple. He ruled, "They were married illegally and under the laws of Virginia, they are not legally married. Both are liable to the State Penitentiary." That ruling and any attendant information was forwarded to the Commonwealth Attorney for prosecution. [50]

Plecker's relentless crusade continued for years. His typical workday began at 8:30 in the morning and ended at 5:00, and he usually put in a half-day on Saturdays. Two assistants, Miss Marks and Miss Kelly, helped him manage his constant correspondence as he probed for clues about individuals' racial composition and then consummated his investigations with elaborate, combative missives. [51]

More than just prohibiting marriage and school admittance, he also tried to keep everyone but certified whites from riding in the white railroad coaches. He even pressured white cemeteries. When Riverview Cemetery in Charlottesville tried to bury someone of suspected Negro bloodline, Plecker protested, "This man is of negro ancestry .... To the white owner of a lot, it might prove embarrassing to meet with negroes visiting at one of their graves on the adjoining lot." [52]

When he didn't possess actual documentation, the registrar was more than willing to fake it. In 1940, fifteen citizens in Pittsylvania County had petitioned Plecker to bar the five children of the King Family from attending white school "on account of being of negroid mixture." Plecker contacted the chairman of the Pittsylvania County school board seeking information on the five students admitting "we have no information in regard to them ... [and] no way of proving facts from the record." Plecker explained, "We are particularly desirous of knowing whether a negro man is the reputed father of these children, and if possible, his name." Until that time, Plecker assured the school official, "We will preserve [the petitions of the fifteen people] in our files as evidence ... and upon that information we will designate any of these children found in our records as colored -- regardless." [53]

In one episode, the Bedford County clerk, Mr. Nichols, contacted Plecker to confirm the racial status of a young man seeking to marry a white girl. The young man's complexion was one of mixed parentage. Plecker wrote back, "We do not know whether we can establish his racial descent until we have had further information as to his family .... [But] if this young man has the appearance of being mulatto and cannot prove the contrary, I would suggest that no license be granted to him." Two days later, the young couple went to the next county, Roanoke County, and successfully secured their marriage license. Plecker discovered it after the fact, haranguing the issuing clerk, "We have no positive information as to the man's pedigree, we can only surmise it from Mr. Nichols' observation as to his appearance. [But] shall this man ... be turned loose upon the community to raise more mulatto children?" [54]

Plecker proselytized and chastised anyone who would listen. His Bureau of Vital Statistics regularly published radical racist and eugenic literature, which was distributed to thousands of doctors, ministers, teachers, morticians and racial integrity advocates. One series of official tracts, entitled the "New Family Series," was aimed at youngsters to heighten their awareness of "dangers threatening the integrity and supremacy of the white race." The bureau's 1925 annual report to the governor was itself widely disseminated as a special health bulletin. In that report, Plecker lamented, "Not a few white women are giving birth to mulatto children. These women are usually feebleminded, but in some cases they are simply depraved. The segregation or sterilization of feebleminded females is the only solution to the problem." [55]

The 1924 state publication, Eugenics and the New Family, insisted, "The variation in races is not simply a matter of color of skin, eyes, and hair and facial and bodily contour, but goes through every cell of the body. The mental and moral characteristics of a black man cannot even under the best environments and educational advantages become the same as those of a white man. But even if the negro's attainments should be considerable, these could not be transmitted to his offspring since personally acquired qualities are not inheritable. Neither can the descendents of the union of the two races if left to their own resources, be expected to develop or maintain the highest type of civilization." [56]

When Virginia's Racial Integrity Act was passed in 1924, Plecker became an immediate hero among raceologists and eugenicists across America. He addressed major eugenic conferences and authored special articles on the topic for Eugenical News, the American Eugenics Society's Eugenics, and various eugenic research anthologies. Laughlin was so impressed that he cited Plecker's work in the 1929 edition of the American Year Book "for leadership in establishing new racial integrity laws in the American states." [57]

Plecker's audience expanded beyond eugenic circles. The American Public Health Association invited him to read a paper before its fifty-third Annual Meeting in October of 1924, in Detroit. At the event, Plecker preached to the nation's most important public health officials that whites and nonwhites could not "live in close contact without injury to the higher [whites], amounting in many cases to absolute ruin. The lower [nonwhites] never has been and never can be raised to the level of the higher." The association was so taken with Plecker's advocacy that it reprinted much of his speech in the American Journal of Public Health. The journal praised Virginia's law as "the most perfect expression of the white ideal, and the most important eugenical effort that has been made in the past 4,000 years." Such platforms only served to legitimize Plecker's views. [58]

Soon Plecker was pushing for similar "one drop" racial integrity laws in other states. Exporting such legislation was essential to his strategy since Virginians of any complexion could easily cross state lines to marry. In one article Plecker complained, "White and coloreds ... quietly move to Washington or northern States and become legally married. In some instances, they even return to their home State and live in marriage relations .... " [59]

To help make Virginia's race law a national standard, Virginia Governor E. Lee Trinkle proudly distributed copies of the Racial Integrity Act to every governor in America, with a personal letter requesting that they propose similar legislation in their own states. John Powell reported to one interested Midwestern legislator, "He [Trinkle] received thirty-one replies. Nineteen of these, most of them from southern governors, were noncommittal; eleven, the majority from the north and west, strongly approved; the only disapproval came from the governor of Minnesota." [60]

Powell added, "Of course, laws against intermarriage cannot solve the negro problem in any of its aspects -- industrial, economic, political, social, biological or eugenical. They can, however, delay the evil day and give time for the evolvement of an effective solution ... a real and final solution." [61]

Even if some governors were hesitant, legislators and activists across the nation were eager to replicate the law. Ohio senator Harry Davis requested more information, which Plecker provided along with a detailed briefing on the difficulties of lobbying such a bill. A Maryland lawmaker, John R. Blake, asked for a copy of the law plus a recommendation for a speaker to address the legislature. When the race-minded Reverend Wendell White of South Carolina wrote for more information on such a law, Plecker gladly sent it, bemoaning the vague response of that state's governor. Plecker encouraged the clergyman, "If such men as you and others will get behind him [the governor of South Carolina] and the legislature, you can get this or a better law across." [62]

To help, Plecker's Bureau of Vital Statistics mailed literature to legislators in "all of the States, appealing to them to join Virginia in a united move to preserve America as a White Nation." The first two states to emulate Virginia's statute were Alabama and Georgia. Wisconsin attempted to follow suit. Other states were slow to approve "one drop" measures, in part because of increasing civil rights activism. With methodical lobbying, however, the eugenics movement hoped to spur more such laws. To that end, Laughlin asked Plecker to compile a special chart for Eugenical News entitled "Amount of Negro Blood Allowed in Various States for Marriage to Whites." [63]

Plecker's bureaucratic ire did not confine itself to white and Negro unions. Asians were also barred from marrying whites. For instance, on February 28, 1940, Spotsylvania Circuit Court Clerk A. H. Crismond issued a marriage license to a local couple, Philip N. Saure and Elsie M. Thomas. Upon checking, Plecker discovered that the groom was a native of the Philippines and the bride an Italian-American born in Pittsburgh. Assuming the woman was white, Plecker chided, "You as Clerk were not authorized to issue a marriage license to a person of any of the colored races, including Filipinos." He lectured the clerk parenthetically in typical eugenic prose, "The Italians from the Island of Sicily are badly mixed with former negro slaves, and if this woman is from there, it is ... [possible] she herself would have a trace of negro blood." [64]

At about the same time, Plecker informed a California researcher that Virginia was also disallowing marriages between whites and Hindus because they were "of the colored races ... who are considered either Mongolian or Malay, I am not sure which." He told a South Boston, Virginia, contact that Portuguese were admixed with Negroes, and equally disqualified. His eugenic tracts bemoaned the presence of 500,000 to 750,000 Mexicans in Texas and called for their expulsion south of the border. [65]

But Plecker harbored a special animus toward one ethnic group. He despised Native Americans. Because he believed that American Indian tribes had intermixed for generations with whites and some Negroes, Plecker was satisfied that pure Indians no longer existed. To him, they were all mongrels. Worse, because Virginia's Racial Integrity Act contained a historic loophole for those with no more than one-sixteenth Indian ancestry, Plecker saw the exemption as a demographic escape tunnel for those of mixed Negro lineage. From the outset, Plecker embarked upon a furious campaign to eradicate American Indian identity.

Virginia's fabled history of settlement began with Indians. Years before any European landed in America, the Algonquin ruled the wooded lands which later became known as Virginia. Dashing Stream and his wife, Scent Flower, gave birth to Powhatan, who rose to become a noble chief ruling a federation of Algonquin tribes. Powhatan's daughter was the beautiful Pocahontas, who in legend and perhaps in fact saved Captain John Smith by persuading her father to spare Smith's life when he was Powhatan's captive. Ultimately, in a well-documented saga, she married John Rolfe and sailed for England, where in 1617 she died of smallpox at the age of twenty-two. Their Virginia descendants included the Randolphs, the Bollingses, the Rolfes, the Pendletons, the Smiths, the Wynnes, the Yateses, and many others who helped build Virginia during the earliest Colonial times and eventually constituted Virginia's aristocracy. [66]

But three hundred years of population admixture, genocide and oppressive living conditions for those who remained had reduced the continent's many once proud tribes to a decimated remnant. The U.S. Census Bureau counted Indians in varying ways at various times, employing an array of definitions, all subject to local discretion, throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Partially as a result of these inconsistencies, Indian demographic statistics ebbed and flowed in American population records, and their legal status was complex and troubled. But on June 2, 1924, Congress finally granted citizenship to all Indians not already naturalized under its Indian Citizenship Act. This law was ratified less than two weeks before the effective date of Virginia's own Racial Integrity Act. The new federal Indian law, together with Virginia's one-sixteenth Indian exemption, outraged Plecker. [67]

He embarked on a systematic effort to identify the lower class descendants of American Indians who had intermarried with whites and Negroes, and to reclassify them from Indian or white to mongrel. Among his main targets were the Monacan Indians, mainly of Amherst County, who descended from the Monacan Confederacy and dated back to Pocahontas's day. Others he pursued included the Rappahannock, Chickahominy and Pamunkey tribes. These Indian communities were small and often cloistered. Some two hundred dwelled in Rockbridge County. In King William County there were probably fewer than 250. In another county, there were just forty individuals who called themselves Indians but whom Plecker claimed derived instead from the illegitimate daughter of a Negro and a white. [68] All were targets for the registrar.

American Indians throughout the state vigorously objected when the Bureau of Vital Statistics attempted to reclassify them as Negro, or mongrel, or even nonwhite. "We had considerable trouble," Plecker admitted in a correspondence, "in establishing the position of the American Indian, and admitted those with one-sixteenth or less of Indian blood, to accommodate our Pocahontas descendants and one or two other cases known to us in the State. That clause, however, has given us much trouble, as a number of groups who have but a trace of Indian blood, the rest being negro and white, are claiming exemption under that clause. In at least one county, some who are descendent of antebellum 'free negroes' with a considerable admixture of illegitimate white blood, are claiming themselves Indians and seem to have been meeting with success." [69]

Most of Virginia's Indians were rural poor, living in modest cabins near mission churches. It was easy to marginalize them as unfit. Physically, most of them bore only the strong, classically handsome features of American Indians, including high cheekbones, thick black hair and their traditional complexion. Some, however, did possess blond hair, reflecting clear Anglo-Saxon parentage. A few, presumably descended from intermarriages with free Negroes in the prior century, possessed darker skin. [70]

Virginia's registrar, however, only allowed for two classifications, white and nonwhite. All 1,300 of Virginia's local registrars were under orders to watch for Indians with any trace of Negro ancestry registering as white. In at least one case, the local registrar consulted a hair comb hanging inside a Monacan church. "If it passes through the hair of an applicant," explained Plecker, "he is an Indian. If not, he is a negro." In a private letter, Plecker described the hair comb as being "about as reliable as some of their [the Indians'] other tests." In Eugenical News, he bragged that his "systematic effort to combat" what he called "near-whites" included utilizing "living informants" as well as the state's oldest tax and registration records. [71] If he couldn't get them one way he would get them another way.

Plecker employed his usual pejorative tactics in erasing "Indian" as a racial category from the state's records. He sarcastically accused one Indian family in Rockbridge County of having a bloodline that included several Indians who had intermarried with some whites and Negroes. He instructed local registrar Aileen Goodman to change their classification to "colored" and brashly notified the accused individual that, "In the future, no clerk in Virginia is permitted to issue a marriage license ... [to] persons of mixed descent with white people and our Bureau expects to make it very plain to clerks that this law must be absolutely enforced." The Rockbridge family members were no longer Indians. [72]

Even when no Negro bloodline was apparent, Plecker was adamant. He identified one man in Lexington, Virginia, as "one-fourth Indian, three-fourths white, who cannot be distinguished from a white man. He attended one of the colleges of Virginia, studied law, and married into a good family in Rockbridge County. There are several similar cases in Southwest Virginia where Indians ... have married white women and their children are passing as white." He informed the local registrar, "You see [to it] that the mixed people of your territory are registered either as colored or 'free issue.''' Disallowing even the category "mixed Indian," Plecker instructed, "the term 'mixed' without the word 'Indian' after it might be acceptable but we would prefer one of the other terms." The Lexington, Virginia, family members were no longer Indians. [73]

At one point Plecker visited an Indian church following its Sunday service, and after two hours sternly informed the assembled that no matter how they protested, they would be registered as "colored and would continue to be so and that none of them would be considered anything else." Some years later, when the clerk of Charles City tried to issue a marriage license to a member of the church, Reable Adkins, and even included the birth certificate attesting to the man's white lineage, Plecker simply changed the records. "We received this certificate for this birth with both parents given as white," he acknowledged. "Of course we will not accept the certificate in that way.... All of the Adkins group and others associated with them under their Chickahominy Charter are classed in our office as colored and never as white or Indian. In reply to your inquiry as to whether a marriage license should be issued to them other than colored, when they present birth certificates stating that they are Indian, I wish to state emphatically that this should not be done .... They are negroes and should always be classed as negroes, regardless of any birth certificate they present .... When the certificates come in to us we index and classify them as negroes." A special form was usually attached to the back of the certificate nullifying the category. Adkins family members were no longer Indians. [74]

Plecker's interference even extended beyond Virginia. For example, Plecker wrote to William Bradby of Detroit, Michigan, advising that his birth certificate claiming to be of "half-breed Indian" parentage would be disallowed. Leaving no room for argument, Plecker declared simply, "We do not recognize any native-born Indian as of pure Indian descent unmixed with negro blood." Bradby's family members were no longer Indians. [75]

To bolster his assertion that Indians simply no longer existed, only mongrel mixtures, Plecker turned for scientific support to the Carnegie Institution and its Eugenics Record Office. For years prior to the passage of Virginia's Racial Integrity Act, the ERO had focused on the Indians of Virginia as examples of the unfit. In 1926, the Carnegie Institution financed and published the results of extensive fieldwork by two of its Virginia researchers who had examined some five hundred tribal members in one area. The Carnegie Institution's book, printed under its own imprimatur with Davenport's close supervision, was entitled Mongrel Virginians. [76]

Mongrel Virginians was heralded for its academic completeness. It asserted that all living descendants of the several hundred Indians in question "have been visited time and again by one or both of the authors. In addition every known white, colored or Indian person in the county, state or nation who could furnish information concerning the deceased or living has been consulted and asked to give any material of value to the investigation." The Carnegie report lumped all of these Indians into one new group, which they called the "Win Tribe." Indeed, the subtitle of Mongrel Virginians was The Win Tribe. No one had ever heard of a Win Tribe prior to this volume. The book explained "Win" stood for "White- Indian-Negro." [77]

"The Wins themselves claim to be of Indian descent," the book asserted. "They are described variously as 'low down' yellow negroes, as Indians, [and] as 'mixed.' No one, however, speaks of them as white. The Wins themselves in general claim the Indian descent although most of them realize they are 'mixed,' preferring to speak of the 'Indian' rather than of a possibility of a negro mixture in them." [78]

The Carnegie report assessed their usefulness to society as follows: "It is evident from this study that the intellectual levels of the negro and the Indian race as now found is below the average for the white race. In the Wins, the early white stock was probably at least of normal ability, i.e. for the white .... [Today, however,] the whole Win tribe is below the average, mentally and socially. They are lacking in academic ability, industrious to a very limited degree and capable of taking little training. Some of them do rather well the few things they know, such as raising tobacco or corn -- a few as carpenters or bricklayers, but this has been the result of years of persistent supervision by the white landlords. Less than a dozen men work even reasonably well without a foreman .... Very few could tell the value of either twenty-five or seventy-five cents." [79]

Nor did the Carnegie report find redeeming qualities in the Indian culture it described. "There is practically no music among them," the study reported, "and they have no sense of rhythm even in the lighter mulatto mixtures. As is well known, the negro is 'full' of music. Some of them [the mulattoes] have been given special training in music, but no Win has ever shown any semblance of ability in this line." [80] No mention was made of the Indians' legendary rhythmic dances or songs and their many drums and other musical instruments.

Mongrel Virginians was accorded credibility because of its prestigious authorship, and its touted academic rigor. "Amidst the furor of newspaper and pamphlet publicity on miscegenation which has appeared since the passage of the Virginia Racial Integrity Law of 1924," the report assured, "this study is presented not as a theory or as representing a prejudiced point of view, but as a careful summary of the facts of history." [81]

Plecker seized on Mongrel Virginians to prove his point and help him reclassify Indians. He helped popularize the book around the state with his own enthusiastic reviews. Eugenical News extolled the study to the movement at large. [82]

Despite Mongrel Virginians, Indians and others fought back. Several sued Plecker from the beginning and made substantial progress in the courts. Plaintiffs' attorneys were often unyielding in their objections. One such attorney, J.R. Tucker, demanded that Plecker stop interfering with a birth certificate and threatened, "I find nowhere in the law any provision which authorizes the Registrar to constitute himself judge and jury for the purpose of determining the race of a child born and authorizing him to alter the record .... I desire and demand a correct copy of the record ... without comment from you and without additions or subtractions, and I hereby notify you that unless I obtain a prompt compliance ... I shall apply to a proper court for a mandamus to compel you." [83]

In a candid note, Plecker admitted to his cohort Powell that his bureau's strategy was based in no small way on simple intimidation. Tucker's ultimatum had rattled Plecker. "In reality," he conceded, "I have been doing a good deal of bluffing, knowing all the while that it could not be legally sustained. This is the first time my hand has absolutely been called." [84]

As early as November of 1924, one judge by the name of Henry Holt ruled against Plecker, setting the stage for a test case. "In twenty-five generations," wrote the judge in an incisive opinion, "one has thirty-two millions of grandfathers, not to speak of grandmothers, assuming there is no intermarriage. Half of the men who fought at Hastings were my grandfathers. Some of them were probably hanged, and some knighted. Who can tell? Certainly in some instances there was an alien strain. Beyond peradventure, I cannot prove that there was not." Nor could the judge find any two ethnologic authorities who could agree on the definition of pure Caucasian. [85]

Powell and Plecker worried about the judge's ruling. The commonwealth attorney was willing to pursue an appeal as a test case, but he also warned that the entire Racial Integrity Act might be struck down. They decided not to pursue the appeal. Plecker in turn assisted efforts to get the legislature to reduce the Pocahontas exemption, causing raucous debate within the state house and in the newspapers of Virginia. [86]

Plecker continued his crusade even after retiring in 1946 at the age of eighty-four. To the last day he was publishing racist pamphlets decrying mongrelization, defending the purity of the white race, decreeing demographic status family-by-family in a state and in an era when demographic status defined one's existence. In a final flourish, Plecker submitted his resignation with the declaration, "I am laying down this, my chief life work, with mingled feeling of pleasure and regret." He hoped to be dubbed "Registrar Emeritus." [87]

During his tenure, Walter A. Plecker dictated the nature of existence for millions of Americans, the living, the dead and the never born. His verdicts, often just his suspicions, in many ways defined the lives of an entire generation of Virginians -- who could live where, who could attend what school and obtain what education, who could marry whom, and even who could rest in peace in what graveyard. It was not achieved with an army of soldiers, but rather with a legion of registrars and millions of registration forms. He was able to succeed because his campaign was not about racism, nor mere prejudice, nor even white supremacy. It was about science.

Now that science was ready to spread across the seas.
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Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

Postby admin » Thu Jul 31, 2014 2:44 am

PART TWO: Eugenicide

CHAPTER 10: Origins


One morning in June of 1923, John C. Merriam, the Carnegie Institution's newly installed president, telephoned Charles Davenport at Cold Spring Harbor. Anticipation was in the air. A long-awaited eugenic countermeasure, loosely called "the plan," finally seemed within reach. "The plan" would create an American eugenic presence throughout the world even as inferior strains were eliminated in the United States. It was now important to be politically careful. Merriam, however, was worried about the behavior of Harry H. Laughlin. [1]

Merriam's hopeful phone call to Davenport had been years in the making. American eugenics had always sought a global solution. From the beginning, ERO leaders understood all too well that America was a nation of immigrants. But American eugenicists considered most of the immigrants arriving after 1890 to be genetically undesirable. This was because the 1890s witnessed the onset of the great Eastern and Southern European exodus to the United States, with throngs of non-English-speaking families crowding into the festering slums of New York and other Atlantic seaboard cities. [2]

Eugenicists viewed continued immigration as an unending source of debasement of America's biological quality. Sterilizing thousands of the nation's socially inadequate was seen as a mere exercise, that is, fighting "against a rising tide," unless eugenicists could also erect an international barrier to stop continuing waves of the unfit. Therefore the campaign to keep defective immigrants out of the country was considered equally important to the crusade to cleanse America of its genetic undesirables. This meant injecting eugenic principles into the immigration process itself -- both in the U.S. and abroad.

Immigration had always been a complex, emotionally-charged concept in the United States. A thousand valid arguments encompassing economics, health conditions, overcrowding, demographics and humanitarianism perpetually fed competing passions to either increase or decrease immigration. Moreover, the public and political mood twisted and turned as conditions in the country changed. Between 1880 and 1920, more than twenty million immigrants had flooded into the United States, mainly fleeing Europe's upheaval. More than eight million of that number arrived between 1900 and 1909. [3]

America's turn-of-the-century welcome was once poetically immortalized with the injunction: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore." [4] But after World War I, American society was in ethnic, economic and demographic turmoil. Now-curtailed war industries laid off millions. Returning "dough boys" needed work as well, only adding to widespread joblessness. Inflation ate into wages. African-Americans who had gone to war now expected employment as well; they had fought for their country, and now they wanted their sliver of the American dream. Dislocation bred discontent. Massive labor strikes paralyzed much of America during 1919, with some 22 percent of the workforce joining a job action at some point during that year. [5]

Moreover, demographic upheaval was reweaving the very fabric of American social structure. Boy soldiers raised on the farm suddenly turned into hardened men during trench warfare; upon returning they often moved to cities, ready for a new life. Postwar immigration boomed -- again, concentrated in the urban centers. The 1920 census revealed that for the first time in American history, the population majority had shifted from rural to urban areas. America was becoming urbanized, and mainly by immigrants. The 1920 census meant wrenching Congressional reapportionment, that is, a redrawing of district lines for seats in the House of Representatives. Eleven rural states were set to lose seats to more urbanized states. The House had expanded its available seats to 435 to preserve as much district status quo as possible. [6] But immigration remained the focal point of a political maelstrom.

To further inflame the day, race riots and ethnic strife ripped through the cities. African-Americans, back from soldiering, were tired of racism; they wanted a semblance of rights. At the same time, the Ku Klux Klan rose to never before seen prominence. The threat of Bolshevism worried the government and the average man. The Red Scare in the summer of 1919 pitted one ism against another. Marxism, communism, Bolshevism, and socialism sprang into the American consciousness, contending with capitalism. Race riots against African-Americans and mob violence against anarchistic Italians and perceived political rabble-rousers ignited throughout the nation. A man named]. Edgar Hoover was installed to investigate subversives, mainly foreign-born. [7]

As the twenties roared, they also growled and groaned about immigration. Along with the most recent huddled masses came widespread vexation about the future of American society. Legitimate social fears, ethnic combat and economic turmoil stimulated a plethora of restrictive reforms, some sensible, some extreme.

The best and worst of the nation's feelings about immigration were exploited by the eugenicists. They capitalized on the country's immigration stresses, as well as America's entrenched racism and pervasive postwar racial anxiety. Seizing the moment, the men of the Carnegie Institution injected a biological means test into the very center of the immigration morass, dragging yet another field of social policy into the sphere of eugenics.

As early as 1912, the eugenics movement's chief immigration strategist, Harvard professor Robert DeCourcy Ward, advocated eugenic screening of immigrant candidates before they even reached U.S. shores. Davenport enthusiastically wrote a colleague, "I thoroughly approve of the plan which Ward urges of inspection of immigrants on the other side." [8] Bolstered by other eugenic immigration activists, such as ophthalmologist Lucien Howe, Laughlin became the point man in the movement's efforts. Their goals were to rewrite immigration laws to turn on eugenic terminology, and to install an overseas genetic surveillance network.

Key to any success was Albert Johnson. Johnson was an ambitious small-town personage who would eventually acquire international potency. Born in 1869 in Springfield, Illinois, on the northern edge of the Mason- Dixon Line, Johnson grew up during the tempestuous Reconstruction years. His high school days were spent in provincial Kansas communities, including the newly created village of Hiawatha, and later Atchison, the state's river and railroad center. But Johnson was an urban newspaperman at heart, working first as a reporter on the Herald in St. Joseph, Missouri, and then the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. Within a few years he had joined the ranks of east coast journalists, becoming managing editor of Connecticut's New Haven Register in 1896, and two years later serving as a news editor of the Washington Post. After his stint with the Post, Johnson moved to Tacoma, Washington, where he worked as editor of the Tacoma News. Johnson then returned to his small-town roots as editor and publisher of the local newspaper in Hoquiam, Washington. In 1912, while publisher, he successfully ran for Congress. Johnson chaired the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization for twelve years, beginning in 1919. In that pivotal position, Johnson would shape American immigration policy for decades to come. [9] During his tenure, Johnson acted not only as a legislator, but also as a fanatic raceologist and eugenicist.

Even before Johnson rose to chair the Immigration Committee, Congress had enacted numerous immigration restrictions that were reactive, not eugenic, in nature, even if the legislation employed much of the same terminology. For example, a 1917 statute barred immigration for "all idiots, imbeciles, feebleminded persons, epileptics, insane persons ... [and] persons of constitutional psychopathic inferiority." Laughlin and his colleagues wanted to rewrite these classifications along strictly biological and racial lines. His idea? New legislation to create a corps of eugenic "immigration attaches" stationed at American consulates across Europe and eventually the entire world. These consuls would exclude "all persons sexually fertile ... who cannot ... demonstrate their eugenical fitness ... mental, physical and moral." Laughlin's proposed law was of paramount importance to eugenic stalwarts. As a leading immigration activist told Davenport in an October 1, 1920, letter, any new system would need to "heavily favor the Nordics" and ensure that "Asiatics, Alpines and Meds ... [are] diminished." [10]

The Journal of Heredity, formerly the American Breeders Magazine, trumpeted one of the movement's rationales for overseas screening in an article entitled "Immigration Restriction and World Eugenics." The article declared, "Just as we isolate bacterial invasions, and starve out the bacteria by limiting the area and amount of their food supply, so we can compel an inferior race to remain in its native habitat ... [which will] as with all organisms, eventually limit ... its influence." [11]

Premier racial theorist Madison Grant, president of the Eugenics Research Association and vice president of the Immigration Restriction League, was a close ally and confidant of Johnson's. Grant's influence with Congress on immigration was a recognized asset for the eugenics movement, and was well utilized. Davenport would periodically send him materials, including confidential reports done by social workers on individual New York immigrants deemed defective, "which you may be able to use with Congress." As far as Johnson was concerned, any immigration was too much immigration. In fact, Johnson had already introduced without success an emergency measure to suspend all immigration for two years. [12]

It wasn't long before Laughlin became the designated eugenic authority for Johnson's committee. Laughlin began in 1920 by offering Johnson the same definition of the "socially inadequate" previously rejected by the Census Bureau, together with the same flawed data. Unlike the Census Bureau, however, Johnson readily accepted these notions. He invited Laughlin to testify before a full House committee to formally espouse his raceology and lobby for the new legislation. [13]

Laughlin enthusiastically testified for two mornings, on April 16 and 17, 1920, invoking a gamut of eugenic arguments, from the history of the Jukes to the Tribe of Ishmael to the high cost of institutionalizing defective stock. At one point, when Laughlin was explaining one of his new terms for mental incompetence, a committee member interrupted and asked him how to spell it. Laughlin replied: "M-O-R-O-N. It is a Greek word meaning a foolish person." [14]

To stem the supply of morons and stymie further degeneracy, Laughlin asked Johnson to allow him to enable "testing the worth of immigrants ... in their home towns, because that is the only place where one can get eugenical facts .... For example, whether he comes from an industrious or shiftless family." But just as the terms feeblemindedness and blindness were vague and fundamentally undefined, the exact nature of shiftlessness was also unclear. Laughlin assured Johnson that this could be remedied. "General shiftlessness could easily be made into a technical term," he explained, "by a little definition in the law. It could be made a technical term by describing it by a 50-word paragraph .... " [15]

Laughlin emphasized that the quality and character of the individual candidate for immigration were not as important as his ancestral pedigree. "If the prospective immigrant is a potential parent, that is, a sexually fertile person," testified Laughlin, "then his or her admission should be dependent not merely upon present literacy, social qualifications and economic status, but also upon the possession in the prospective immigrant and in his family stock of such physical, mental, and moral qualities as the American people desire .... The lesson," he emphasized, "is that ... the family stock should be investigated, lest we admit more degenerate 'blood.''' [16]

Johnson, a proud champion of immigration quotas, was greatly impressed with Laughlin's expertise and saw its usefulness in drafting any restrictive legislation. The chairman promised to invite Laughlin back as an expert to help the committee deliberate on his proposal for eugenic attaches. Laughlin's two-day testimony and proposed law were published by the House under the title "The Biological Aspects of Immigration." [17]

When Laughlin came back to consult, an encouraged Johnson created a new title for him: "Expert Eugenics Agent." Laughlin was now empowered to conduct wide-ranging racial and immigration studies, and to present them as reliable Congressional data. His new authority included the power to print and circulate official committee correspondence and questionnaires, and mail them en masse at House expense. The first of these was a survey entitled "Racial and Diagnostic Record of State Institutions." It was printed on official House letterhead, with the committee members' names routinely listed at the top, but now with Laughlin's name added as "Expert Eugenics Agent." The form asked 370 state institutions -- hospitals, prisons, asylums -- in the forty-eight states to report the nationalities, races and problematic natures of their residents. Perhaps intentionally, private institutions were not queried, limiting the survey and its resulting data to the most needy and troubled within immigrant groups. [18]

Laughlin's target for the survey data was the 1924 legislative session. This was when temporary immigration quotas, enacted under Johnson's baton in 1921, were scheduled to be revised. Those restrictive quotas had calculated the percentages of the foreign born nation-by-nation, as enumerated by the 1910 census, and then limited each nation's new annual immigration to only 3 percent of that number. This had the effect of turning America's demographic clock back to 1910. But to eugenicists, this restrictive quota was not restrictive enough. Laughlin and his colleagues wanted to turn the clock back to 1890, before mass influxes from Eastern and Southern Europe had begun. Laughlin's study of "Racial and Diagnostic Records of State Institutions" would statistically prove that certain racial and national types were criminalistic and amoral by genetic nature. [19]

But the hundreds of state hospitals, prisons and other institutions spread across the United States all saw their residents' ancestries through different eyes using different terminology. To guide institutions in standardizing their responses, Laughlin circulated a supplemental Congressional publication entitled "Classification Standards to be Followed in Preparing Data for the Schedule 'Racial and Diagnostic Records of Inmates of State Institutions.'" His title, "Expert Eugenics Agent," was printed on the cover. The booklet listed sixty-five racial classifications to be employed. Classification #15 was German Jew, #16 was Polish Jew, #17 was Russian Jew, #18 was Spanish-American (Indian), #19 was Spanish- American (White), #25 was North Italian, #26 was South Italian, #29 was Russian, #30 was Polish (Polack), #61 was Mountain White, #62 was American Yankee, #63 was American Southerner, and #64 was Middle West American. Crimes to be classified for genetic purposes included several dozen categories ranging from homicide and arson to driving recklessly, disorderly conduct, and conducting business under an assumed name. The data collected would all go into one mammoth Mendelian database to help set race-based immigration quotas. [20]

The Carnegie Institution was no bystander to Laughlin's operation. Laughlin regularly kept Carnegie president John Merriam briefed on the special Congressional privileges and testing regimens placed at the disposal of the eugenics movement. Merriam authorized Carnegie statistician J. Arthur Harris to validate the reliability of the data Laughlin would offer Congress. However, Laughlin's derogatory raceological assertions were now becoming more public, and Merriam feared that his views would not be popular with America's vocal minorities. [21]

In November of 1922, Laughlin's statistics-filled presentation to Congress was published as "Analysis of America's Modern Melting Pot." It contained copious racial and ethnic denigrations. Johnson declared that the entire session would be published officially with the pejorative subtitle "Analysis of the Metal and Dross in America's Modern Melting Pot." The dross was the human waste in American society. Laughlin's testimony insisted, "Particularly in the field of insanity, the statistics indicate that America, during the last few years, has been a dumping ground for the mentally unstable inhabitants of other countries." [22]

During his testimony about the melting pot, Laughlin told the House, "The logical conclusion is that the differences in institutional ratios, by races and nativity groups ... represents real differences in social values, which represent, in turn, real differences in the inborn values of the family stocks from which the particular inmates have sprung. These degeneracies and hereditary handicaps are inherent in the blood." Laughlin asked for authority to conduct additional racial studies of "Japanese and Chinese ... Indians ... [and] Negroes." He appended a special statistical qualification for Jews, explaining, "The Jews are not treated as a separate nation, but are accredited to their respective countries of birth." As such, he urged a separate "study of the Jew as immigrant with special reference to numbers and assimilation." [23]

Laughlin's constant racial and ethnic derogations were no longer confined to scholarly journals, but were now echoing in Congressional hearing rooms. Indeed, a graphic raceological immigration exhibit from a recent eugenics conference had been installed for public examination in the Immigration Committee's hearing rooms. All these ethnic and racial revilements in turn opened Carnegie and the movement to increasingly vituperative attacks from the large immigrant groups that were becoming ever more entrenched in the country. But Laughlin was unbending. "If immigration is to be made a biological or racial asset to the American people," he railed, "radical statutory laws must be enforced." At one point he authored an immigration treatise under the Carnegie Institution's credential, which concluded that America was being infested by defective immigrants; as its prime illustration, the treatise offered "The Parallel Case of the House Rat," which traced rodent infestation from Europe to the rats' ability "to travel in sailing ships." [24]

Incendiary or not, Laughlin's rhetoric and eugenic data were producing results with Congress. It was exactly the scientific justification Johnson and other government figures needed to implement greater quotas and deploy the overseas network they wanted. Johnson was increasingly becoming not just a congressman favoring racial immigration quotas, but a eugenic organizational leader in his own right. In 1923, while chairing Congress's House Immigration and Naturalization Committee, Johnson also joined an elite new private entity with a Congressional-sounding name. The new seven-man ad hoc panel was called the "Committee on Selective Immigration." Chaired by Johnson's friend, raceologist Madison Grant, and vice-chaired by immigration specialist Robert DeCourcy Ward, the body also included Laughlin as secretary and eugenic ophthalmologist Lucien Howe. [25]

The Committee on Selective Immigration's first report concluded that America needed the Nordic race to thrive. "Immigrants from northwestern Europe furnish us the best material for American citizenship and for the future up building of the American race. They have higher living standards than the bulk of southeastern Europeans; are of higher grade of intelligence; better educated; more skilled; better able to understand, appreciate and support our form of government." In contrast, the committee concluded, "Southern and eastern Europe ... have been sending large numbers of peddlers, sweatshop workers, fruit-stand keepers [and] bootblacks .... " [26]

Citing the research on "inferiors" produced by Laughlin and other experts, the eugenic committee assured, "Had mental tests been in operation [years ago] ... over 6 million aliens now living in this country, free to vote, and to become the fathers and mothers of future Americans, would have never been admitted." Relying on Laughlin and other commonly accepted eugenic principles, the ad hoc committee advocated passage of Laughlin's overseas surveillance laws and declared that racial quotas "based on the 1890 census [are] sound American policy .... " [27] Because Johnson functioned as both a member of the elite eugenic panel and as chairman of the House Immigration Committee, eugenic immigration quotas based on 1890 demographics now seemed assured.

Suddenly, in June of 1923, Johnson was thrust into new importance within the eugenics movement. On June 16, he was elected president of the Eugenics Research Association. Prior to this he hadn't even been a member of the organization. Nonetheless, this now positioned Johnson, with all his governmental powers, at the narrow pinnacle of eugenic organizational leadership. At the same time, Secretary of Labor James J. Davis, whose department was responsible for the domestic aspects of immigration, had signaled his willingness to cooperate in creating the overseas eugenic network to investigate immigrant families. The battle for negative eugenics -- prevention -- could now be waged at its source. [28]

No wonder that four days later, on June 20, Merriam anxiously telephoned Davenport. Secretary Davis had just sent a letter to President Warren Harding supporting the eugenic immigration legislation, and Davis was eager to secure any scientific underpinnings to justify it. Davis was due to sail to Europe on July 4, and now he contacted Merriam to ask if Laughlin might accompany him. Merriam answered that the Carnegie Institution would of course cooperate. That was the exciting part of Merriam's telephone conversation with Davenport. But then Merriam expressed his concerns about Laughlin. [29]

Laughlin was unpracticed in politics and was now expostulating scientific conclusions that were provoking reproach. Merriam told Davenport that the Carnegie Institution was quite aware of Laughlin's shortcomings and wanted to ensure that nothing stood in the way of a quiet success for "the plan" and its incorporation into the expected 1924 immigration reforms. Laughlin did not merely verbalize extremist views; many saw him as a eugenic zealot who would do anything to accomplish his goals. Yet in this situation, some political caution was necessary. "It is understood," Merriam repeated to Davenport moments later, "that the desire to have Dr. Laughlin associated with the Secretary is not for the purpose of changing our plans but is rather due to the fact that the Secretary recognizes that our work ... can be useful to him .... It is not expected that there will be any modification of our plan, but rather that the Secretary will help to carry out the plans which you and Dr. Laughlin have worked out." [30]

Minutes later, Merriam went to the unusual extreme of dictating a letter to Davenport explicitly reiterating his concerns. "In order that there may be no misunderstanding ... regarding Dr. Laughlin's work," Merriam wrote, "I wish to be frank and say that I have heard a number of quite different criticisms" -- he scratched out the word different and penned in the word frank --" ... quite frank criticisms of Dr. Laughlin's conclusions drawn from his recent studies .... Because the genetics and eugenics work is so important it is necessary that we be exceedingly guarded, lest conclusions go beyond the limits warranted by the facts and therefore ultimately diminish the effectiveness of our scientific work." Merriam closed with a warning, "I am sure that neither you nor Dr. Laughlin will underestimate my interest in this problem or my recognition of its very great importance." [31]

Davenport in turn spoke to Laughlin, advising him that Secretary Davis had invited Laughlin to join him in sailing to Europe. Davenport also verbalized Merriam's concerns about Laughlin. When Merriam's letter arrived in Cold Spring Harbor a few days later, Davenport issued a pointed memorandum to Laughlin driving home Merriam's censure by quoting verbatim: "In order that there may be no misunderstanding ... regarding Dr. Laughlin's work I wish to be frank and say that I have heard a number of quite frank criticisms of Dr. Laughlin's conclusions drawn from his recent studies .... Because the genetics and eugenics work is so important, it is necessary that we be exceedingly guarded lest conclusions go beyond the limits warranted by the facts and therefore ultimately diminish the effectiveness of our scientific work .... I am sure that neither you nor Dr. Laughlin will underestimate my interest in this problem or my recognition of its very great importance." [32]

The next Monday, Davis appointed Laughlin "Special Immigration Agent to Europe," making it official with a certificate. Laughlin had a penchant for titles that used the word agent. First he was retained as a "Special Agent of the Bureau of the Census." Then Johnson dubbed him the House's "Expert Eugenics Agent." [33] Now in his latest agent capacity he would tour Europe for six months, quietly investigating the family trees of aspiring immigrant families.

If he could establish the scientific numbers necessary to pronounce certain ethnic and racial groups as either eugenically superior or inferior, America's whole system of immigration could change. Laughlin wanted all potential immigrants to be ranked in one of three classes. "Class 1: Not sexually fertile, now or potentially, and not debarred on account of cacogenesis [genetic dysfunction]. Class 2: Sexually fertile, now or potentially, and not debarred on account of cacogenesis. Class 3: Sexually fertile, now or potentially, and debarred on account of cacogenesis." [34] Laughlin now found himself the syndic of America's genetic future.

Despite the urgings of the Carnegie Institution, Laughlin was unwilling to sail with Davis in July. He needed more time. Instead, he and his wife departed aboard the S.S. Belgoland about a month later, in time to attend an international eugenics meeting in Lund, Sweden. For the next six months, Laughlin would travel throughout Europe, setting up shop at American consulates and rallying logistical support from like-minded European eugenics groups. [35]

Scandinavia was first. In Sweden, he contacted the American embassy in Stockholm, as well as consular officials in Uppsala and Goteborg. In Denmark, he visited the consulate in Copenhagen. Laughlin concluded that Sweden was actually hoarding its superior strains by discouraging emigration through such groups as the Society for the Prevention of Emigration and an investigation undertaken by the government's Emigration Commission. Working with Sweden's official State Institute of Race- Biology, Laughlin launched ancestral verifications of four immigrant candidates, all young men, one from Kalmartan, one from Valhallavagen, and two from Stockholm. The American consul was to provide a social worker to undertake the field work along the lines of an earlier Laughlin study that was being translated into Swedish. [36]

He was sure his work in Sweden would yield scientific proof that Nordics were superior human beings. Writing from Europe, he expressed his elation to Judge Harry Olson of Chicago. "It seems that the Swedish stock has been selected for generations by a very hard set of national conditions -- severe climate, relatively poor soil. The strenuous struggle for existence seems to have eliminated the weaklings .... Of course, the original Nordic stock was sound, else it would have died out entirely ... [and] could not have made a good stock." Indeed, Laughlin thought that Swedish emigrants "must be considered her finest product in international commerce." [37]

His optimism faded as he traveled south. In Belgium, Laughlin contacted the American consul in Brussels to initiate investigations of four applicants whose visas had not yet been approved -- two men and a woman from Brabant, and a woman from Brussels. His fellow eugenic activist Dr. Albert Govaerts, who had studied the previous year in Cold Spring Harbor, helped Laughlin get organized and performed the physical examinations. The Solvay Institute, with the consent of Vrije University, provided desk space. [38]

In Italy, he liaised with that country's Commissioner General of Emigration who agreed to help prepare field studies of four Italians seeking to emigrate to the U.S. Laughlin was convinced Italy had "an excess of population" and that the Italian government was "desirous of finding an outlet for their 'unemployed.'" With this in mind, he began investigating the four Italians. [39]

In England, an office was set up for Laughlin in the Eugenics Education Society headquarters outside London. Four Britons who had applied to emigrate were selected for familial examination. They included two Middlesex Jews (a teenage man named Morris and a woman in her twenties), plus a young woman from Devonshire and a young man from Hampshire. U.S. Public Health Service officers stationed in England were to perform the medical examinations. [40]

Laughlin reported back to Davenport that the various investigations "were made by a field worker ... in much the same fashion as similar individual and family histories are made by eugenical field workers in the United States." The help of U.S. consuls was indispensable to "securing the most intimate individual and family histories of would-be emigrants to America ... awaiting visas." Indeed, the individuals themselves were actually selected by the consuls, "who are giving their full cooperation in the work," Laughlin added. He hoped consular officials would go further and glean confidential family character information from local priests. If immigrant candidates felt the questions were too intrusive or offensive, Laughlin explained, field workers would "simply withdraw to the American Consulate, and announce that if the would-be immigrant desires to have his passport vised [issued a visa], he must provide the information concerning his own 'case history' and 'family pedigree.'" Laughlin boasted that the consuls would "smooth the way for perfecting these field studies." [41]

Mental tests to identify feeblemindedness were of course part of the investigation, although Laughlin did not indicate what language was being used in the various non-English-speaking countries. Where U.S. Public Health staff was not available for medical examinations, Laughlin proposed contract nurses or physicians. Secretaries and stenographers stationed around the Continent would be employed to type up the results. [42]

The purpose of Laughlin's family probes was not to help the United States properly ascertain the intellectual, economic, political or social caliber of individual immigrants, which fell well within any government's prerogative, but rather to determine how much tainted blood an applicant had received from his forebears. Ancestral blood, not individual worth, would be Laughlin's sole determinant.

He was receiving excellent cooperation until he arrived in Paris in late November of 1923. There he set up a mailing account at the local American Express office at 11 Rue Scribe, and was then ready to begin work. But when he contacted American Consul General A. M. Thackera to begin his local probes, the embassy balked. Someone at the embassy checked Regulation 124, dating back to 1896. It was against regulations for American consuls to correspond with officials of other American departments. Laughlin, as Special Immigration Agent to Europe, was officially a representative of the Department of Labor. Obviously, the rule would not allow them to collaborate with Laughlin. [43]

To resolve the problem, a conference was held in Paris on Sunday, December 2,1923, attended not only by Consul General Thackera, but also by his British counterpart, Consul General Robert Skinner, as well as Consul General-at-Large Robert Frazer. They could find no way around the regulations. So they cabled Washington for instructions. By the end of the week, the State Department sent notice that the rule had been waived, so long as the diplomats "confined themselves to facts and did not render opinion or try to outline policy," as Laughlin reported it. The project proceeded unimpeded, mainly because the consuls were eager to cooperate. [44]

Before he was done, Laughlin had visited twenty-five U.S. consular offices in ten countries: Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Italy, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, England, Spain and France, as well as the French colony of Algiers. Not only did Laughlin proudly establish eugenic testing procedures and precedents wherever he went, he created a network of friendly American consuls throughout the Continent, a feat he bragged about to the ERO. In fact, going beyond on-site work with the twenty-five consulates, Laughlin also mass-mailed every American consulate in Europe and the Near East -- 128 consulates in all -- advising them of his project and seeking detailed local demographic data. Within months, two consulates had already provided partial reports directly to Laughlin, and more than two dozen others had sent the requested information to the State Department to be forwarded to Laughlin, who was still traveling. Eventually eighty-seven consulates supplied the requested population and ethnic information directly to Laughlin. Only eleven did not respond. [45]

During his whirlwind tour, Laughlin found little time for sightseeing. Moreover, as he traveled from city to city and incurred mounting expenses for stenographers, field investigators, report printing and other general living expenses, he was advancing his own money. He was still collecting a salary as ERO assistant director, but he complained more than once, "I am bearing my own expense." He was uncertain if he would ever be reimbursed. In late 1923, Laughlin petitioned Davenport, "If these studies prove profitable, and I am permitted to continue them beyond the first of January [1924], I respectfully request that provision be made for my expenses." [46]

Assistant Secretary of Labor Henning had promised a $500 stipend, and Laughlin had applied to receive it, but Henning's secretary then notified Laughlin that the department had "no means of sending you cash in advance .... " Laughlin confided to Davenport, "I am a little uneasy about the 500 Dollars. The Department of Labor promised, but did not deliver." [47]

Carnegie and the ERO were not helpful, still apprehensive about Laughlin's growing reputation for outlandish race science. Even the prestigious scientific journal Nature had publicly castigated Laughlin in a review of his 1922 study on eugenic sterilization. For Laughlin, the tension with his own organization was palpable. To counter the bad reviews, he began sending a disenchanted Merriam as many complimentary European reviews of his work as he could. He also dispatched frequent optimistic reports back home justifying his investment of time, but noted that, in return, "I have not heard very many times from Cold Spring Harbor." [48]

At one point in late November of 1923, an almost desperate Laughlin admitted that the British and Belgian family case studies had already exhausted the anticipated $500 Labor Department reimbursement, and "the Swedish and Italian studies will need additional funds." He asked for financial assistance from the Carnegie Institution, and also mentioned this request to Davenport, so formally as to almost be provocative. "I ... do not feel like going into the matter any further without authorization for expenses from the director of the Eugenics Record Office," Laughlin wrote to Davenport, who was, of course, the director of the ERO. He added, "I should also like the assurance that in case the Department of Labor does not supply the money which I have actually spent for field assistance, I should be reimbursed [by the ERO]." [49]

Finally, on December 21, the Carnegie Institution decided to be more forthcoming with support for Laughlin's European endeavors. Davenport dispatched a letter to Laughlin in Belgium assuring him that the Department of Labor would reimburse all legitimate expenses. At the end of the letter he casually appended exactly what he knew Laughlin most wanted to hear: "Did I tell you that $300 has been appropriated for your traveling expenses in the budget of this Department [at Carnegie], and a check will be made out to you for it January first?" [50]

In mid-February of 1924, Laughlin sailed into New York Harbor after an exhausting six-month eugenic mission to Europe. Now it was time for the special immigration agent to compile his ideas and data into a scientific report to Congress. His government allies were more than ready. Several weeks before Laughlin sailed home, the seven-man ad hoc Committee on Selective Immigration published a detailed endorsement of his conclusions and proposed legislation, including overseas eugenic screening. Signing on to that report was House Immigration Committee Chairman Johnson, acting in his alter ego as member of the seven-man committee. The published report noted that although Laughlin was still in Europe, they knew he would agree with its contents. [51]

On February 17, 1924, just after Laughlin returned, Davis in his capacity as secretary of labor also advocated Laughlin's ideas in a special editorial in the New .York Times. Davis declared that the program suggested by Laughlin must be enacted "so that America may not be a conglomeration of racial groups ... but a homogenous race striving for the fulfillment of the ideals upon which this Government was founded." [52]

On March 8, Laughlin again testified before Johnson's immigration committee, this time presenting a massive table- and chart-bedecked report bearing the charged title "Europe as An Emigrant-Exporting Continent and the United States as an Immigrant-Receiving Nation." True to form, Laughlin declared the existence of an "American Race." He admitted that America was created by "a transplanted people," but that the "nation was established by its founders. The pioneers 'got in on the ground floor.'" As such, this new American race "is a race of white people." Therefore, he summarized, the nation's racial character "is being modified to some degree by the changed racial character of the immigration of the last two generations." [53]

His voluminous charts and reports displayed samplings of the twelve family pedigrees he had assembled in Europe, as well as abundant columns of immigrant data and U.S. population trends. In exhibit after exhibit, Laughlin piled racial ratio upon racial ratio and population percentage upon population percentage, offering copious scientific reinforcement of his conclusions. The majority of Johnson's committee expressed complete support for both Laughlin and his research. At one point a congressman asked Laughlin to respond to denunciations of his work. "I decline to get into controversy with any heckler-critics," he retorted, "... I shall answer criticisms by supplying more first-hand facts." Johnson piped in, "Don't worry about criticism, Dr. Laughlin, you have developed a valuable research and demonstrated a most startling state of affairs." [54]

Johnson's committee was also willing to lobby within other government agencies in support of Laughlin's work. For example, when it became obvious that the State Department itself was now balking at releasing the confidential information that twenty-five consulates had submitted for Laughlin, immigration committee members bristled. "I think we ought to have a show-down on this," snapped one congressman. [55]

The issue was finally decided some weeks later in a private meeting. On June 17, Carnegie president Merriam and Laughlin met at Washington's elite Cosmos Club with Assistant Secretary of State Wilbur Carr, who headed up the consular service. Carnegie officials correctly believed that Carr had become "very favorably inclined toward cooperation with the Institution in this matter." At their meeting, Merriam explained the ERO's interest and Carr agreed to share the information, so long as Laughlin abided by a working understanding. Inasmuch as Laughlin held multiple government positions, any Carnegie Institution activities on the topic inside the United States would continue under the purview of the Department of Labor, the House Immigration Committee or any other domestic agency. But any overseas activity would need both general State Department approval and prior agreement by the ranking diplomat in the foreign locale. As part of the arrangement, Laughlin also agreed that any future demographic publications gleaned from consular data would be submitted in advance to the State Department "to prevent any possible embarrassment of the Federal Government." [56]

Two days later, with the arrangement sealed, Secretary of Labor Davis delivered a formal, interdepartmental request directly to Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes asking that the confidential consular data be made available to Laughlin. Laughlin was prepared to assemble a detailed, highly personal, multifolder case study of immigrant candidates and their ancestry. Folder D, section 2b, for example, catalogued the family's "moral qualities." With the new information, Laughlin could offer vivid examples of his new system of human "filtering." [57]

The State Department sought to "prevent any possible embarrassment of the Federal Government" by Laughlin for the same reason the Carnegie Institution and Merriam expressed jitters. By this time Laughlin was more than a controversial pseudoscientist increasingly challenged by immigrant groups and others; he was in some quarters a complete laughingstock. And when Laughlin was excoriated in the popular press, all of eugenics and the Carnegie Institution itself were also opened to ridicule. [58]

Perhaps no better example of the ridicule directed at Laughlin at the time was a forty-seven-page lampoon written under the pseudonym Ezekiel Cheever, who in reality was probably either the irreverent Baltimore Sun commentator H. L. Mencken or one of his associates. Cheever's booklet, a special edition of his School Issues, was billed on its cover as a "Special Extra Eugenics Number" in which Cheever "wickedly squeals on Doctor Harry H. Laughlin of the Carnegie Institution and other Members of the Eugenics Committee of the United States of America for feeding scientifically and biologically impure data to Honorable Members of the House of Representatives concerning the Immigration Problem." In page after page of satirical jabs, Laughlin's statistics were cited verbatim and then dismembered for their preposterousness. [59]

For example, Cheever deprecated Laughlin's reliance on IQ testing to gauge feeblemindedness. "Undoubtedly, one of the greatest blunders made by scientific men in America the past fifty years," he wrote, "was the premature publication of the results of the Army [intelligence] tests." Mocking Laughlin's scientific racism, Cheever titled one section "Nigger in the Wood-Pile," which charged, "If the opinions advanced by Doctor Laughlin and based upon this same unscientific rubbish, are as unreliable as they appear when the rubbish is revealed in a true light, then it would seem that the Carnegie Institution of Washington must either disclaim any part of the job or confess that the job, despite Carnegie Institution's part is a rotten one, provided Carnegie Institution does not wish to be regarded as on a par with the Palmer Institute of Chiropractic." [60]

Cheever scolded "Honorable Albert Johnson, Chairman of the House's Committee on Immigration and Naturalization and a member of the Eugenics Committee, [who] announced at the hearings: 'I have examined Doctor Laughlin's data and charts and find that they are both biologically and statistically thorough, and apparently sound.' It is now in order for Congress to examine Honorable Albert Johnson and ascertain if as much can be said about him." [61]

In a section titled "Naughty Germ Plasms," referring to Laughlin's race-based state institution surveys, Cheever jeered, "If the reader will examine the schedules sent out to cooperating institutions he will get a new and somewhat startling view as to what constitutes 'the more serious crimes or felonies.' Under adult types of crime there were listed: Drunkenness, Conducting business under an assumed name, Peddling without license, Begging, and Reckless driving. Among the serious crimes or felonies of the juvenile type he will find: Trespass, Unlawful use of automobiles, Begging, Truancy, Running away, Being a stubborn and disobedient child. If Doctor Laughlin can devise a means for locating germ plasms that are responsible for such heinous crimes, his fame will overshadow that of Pasteur." [62]

Often, the booklet used Laughlin's own words against him. Cheever quoted from one passage in Laughlin's testimony that confessed, "At the beginning of this investigation there were in existence no careful or extended studies of this particular subject; the figures that were generally given were either guesswork or based upon very small samples of the population." [63]

"Either Doctor Laughlin is exceedingly stupid," scorned Cheever, "or else he is merely a statistical legerdemain [sleight of hand artist]." [64]

Extracts from Cheever's booklet were syndicated in the Baltimore Sun. Other attacks followed. One severe assessment of his work by a reviewer named Jennings, writing in Science Magazine, caused eugenic circles particular distress because it appeared in a scholarly publication. "Can't you get out some sort of reply to Jennings," immigration guru Robert DeCourcy Ward wrote Laughlin. "He has been making a lot of trouble about your Melting Pot Report .... I hate to have that man talk and write without getting any real come-back from you." Impervious as always, Laughlin shrugged off Jennings, and also dismissed Cheever as "more of a political attack trying to answer scientific data." [65]

Davenport had no choice but to also deflect complaints arising from the steady stream of critical articles. Not a few of these were sent directly to the Carnegie Institution. Writing on Carnegie Institution letterhead, Davenport defensively replied to one man who had read Cheever's pieces in the Baltimore Sun, asserting that Laughlin had been unduly libeled. Indeed, Davenport's rebuttal likened the Cheever articles to the ridicule launched against Davenport himself years earlier by Galtonian eugenicists in England. He closed by saying that Cheever was so "out for blood" that he should be imprisoned. [66]

But no amount of public rebuke would dissuade Johnson, and that was all Laughlin cared about. Johnson continued to publish Laughlin's testimony as though it were solid scientific truth. Using Laughlin's biological data as a rationale, he pressed for new immigration quotas keyed to the national ancestral makeup reflected in the 1890 census. During April and May of 1924, the House and Senate passed the Immigration Act of 1924, and President Calvin Coolidge signed the sweeping measure into law on May 26. This legislation would radically reduce non-Nordic immigration, since the representation of Eastern and Southern Europeans was radically less in 1890 than it had been in 1910. The Italian quota, for example, would be slashed from 42,000 per year to just 4,000. Many called the new legislation the "National Origins Act" because it limited new immigration to a quota of just 2 percent of the "national origins" present in America according to the 1890 census. [67]

But tempestuous debate still surrounded the statistical validity of the 1890 census, and no one knew how reliable its reporting had been. Statisticians quarreled over just who was Irish or German or Italian, and/or whose name sounded sufficiently Irish or German or Italian to be counted as such. Quotas could not be established until the disputed 1890 percentages were settled. So the 1924 law charged the Census Bureau with the duty of studying the numbers and reporting their conclusions to a so-called "Quota Board," which would be comprised of the three relevant cabinet secretaries: Davis of Labor, Herbert Hoover of Commerce, and Frank Kellogg of State. Quotas were to be announced by the president himself in 1927. [68]

Eugenicists tried mightily to influence the Quota Board's deliberations. Just how the quotas were set would dictate the success or failure of this latest eugenic legislative crusade. A common rallying cry was expressed in A. p. Schultz's raceological tome, Race or Mongrel, which proclaimed, "The principle that 'all men are created equal' is still considered the chief pillar of strength of the United States .... Only one objection can be raised against it, that it does not contain one iota of truth." [69]

Constant permutations and reevaluations of the demographic data were bandied back and forth throughout 1926. Politically-spun rhetoric masked true feelings. One senator, for example, staunchly announced he would not permit the new quotas to discriminate against Jews, Italians or Poles, but he concluded with the traditional eugenic view that any quota system must stop discriminating against Northwestern Europeans, that is, Nordics. As ethnic groups ramped up their pressure, however, some of the most stalwart quota crusaders began to falter. [70]

In the second half of 1926, the quota champion himself, Albert Johnson, came up for reelection. By now the immigrants in his district had come together in opposition to further restrictions. He began to equivocate. In August of 1926, Johnson gave a campaign speech opposing the "national origins" provisions because too many foreign elements would vote for repeal anyway. At one point he publicly declared in a conciliatory tone, "If the national origins amendment ... is going to breed bad feeling in the United States ... and result in friction at home, you may rest assured it will not be put into effect." He added that his own "inside information" was that the quotas would never be instituted. [71] Disheartened eugenicists sadly concluded that Johnson and his allies had completely succumbed to the influence of foreign groups.

Johnson's inside information proved somewhat prophetic. On January 3, 1927, Secretaries Davis, Hoover and Kellogg delivered to President Coolidge country-by-country quota recommendations, accompanied by a carefully crafted cover letter declaring that they could come to no reliable consensus about the true percentages of national origins in 1890. "It may be stated," the joint letter cautioned, "that the statistical and historical information available from which these computations were made is not entirely satisfactory." On January 6, Congress requested the official letter and its recommendations. The White House delivered them the next day. Eugenicists assumed that although there was room for argument, some form of quotas would be enacted at once. [72]

But before the sun set that day, the White House delivered a replacement cover letter to the Senate. This one was similar, bearing the same January 3 date, again addressed to President Calvin Coolidge and again signed by all three cabinet secretaries. But the key phrase warned the President more forcefully: "Although this is the best information we have been able to secure, we wish to call attention to the reservations made by the committee and to state that, in our opinion, the statistical and historical information available raises grave doubts as to the whole value of these computations as a basis for the purposes intended. We therefore cannot assume responsibility for such conclusions under these circumstances." [73]

In other words, within hours the demographic information went from merely problematic to absolutely worthless. Quotas could not be reliably ordained under the circumstances. On the last day of the 1927 session, Congress passed Senate Joint Resolution 152 postponing implementation of the new quotas for one year. House debate on the question ran less than thirty minutes. A year later, in 1928, quotas were once more postponed, again after a protracted statistical and political standoff replete with Congressional letter-writing campaigns and fractious newspaper editorials. Eugenicists were outraged and saw it as a triumph by organized foreign elements. [74]

Even before the first postponement, Laughlin began investigating the heritage of the individual senators themselves. "We are working on the racial origin study of present senators," Laughlin reported to a eugenic immigration activist, "and will line the study up with the data which you sent on members of the [original] Constitutional Convention. It will make an exceedingly interesting comparison," he added, "showing the drift of composition in the racial make-up of the American people, or at least of their leaders." [75]

Finally, in 1929, after indecisive demographic scuffles between census scholars and eugenic activists trying to preserve Nordic preference, compromise quotas were agreed upon by scholars formally and informally advising Congress and the president. Admitting that the numbers were "tainted" and "far from final," binding quotas were nonetheless created. The new president, Herbert Hoover, promulgated the radical reductions based on the accepted analysis of the 1890 census. Even those quotas did not last long. Two years later they succumbed to redistricting pressures, political concerns and the momentum of the coming 1930 census. Finally, the quotas were revised based on national percentages from the 1920 census. [76]

Laughlin's quest for an overseas network of eugenic investigators achieved only brief success. The system was installed in Belgium, Great Britain, the Irish Free State, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Italy, Holland and Poland, and for a time the system eugenically inspected some 80 percent of the would-be emigrants from those countries. On average, 88 of every 1,000 applicants were found to be mentally or physically defective. Laughlin aimed to have one eugenicist stationed in each capital. But overseas examination was short-lived for lack of the extraordinary funding and complicated bilateral agreements required. Moreover, too many foreign governments ultimately objected to such examinations of their citizens. [77] Long after the examinations ceased, however, America's consuls remained eugenically aware of future immigrants and refugees as never before. Their biological preferences and prejudices would become insurmountable barriers to many fleeing oppression in the world of the 1930s.

Quotas and the National Origins Act ruled immigration until 1952. Only the 1952 McCarran-Walter Immigration and Naturalization Act amended almost a century of racial and eugenic American law to finally declare: "The right of a person to become a naturalized citizen ... shall not be denied or abridged because of race or sex or because such person is married." [78]

American eugenics felt it had secured far less than half a loaf. For this reason, it was important that inferior blood be wiped away worldwide by analogous groups in other countries. An international movement would soon emerge. During the twenties, the well-funded eugenics of Laughlin, Davenport and so many other American raceologists would spawn, nurture and inspire like-minded individuals and organizations across Europe.
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Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

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PART 1 OF 2

CHAPTER 11: Britain's Crusade

By the time four hundred delegates crowded into an auditorium at the University of London to witness the opening gavel of the First International Congress of Eugenics in 1912, Galton had died and Galtonian eugenics had already been successfully dethroned. America had appropriated the epicenter of the worldwide movement. Eugenic imperialism was vital to the followers of Davenport, as they envisioned not just a better United States, but a totally reshaped human species everywhere on earth.

Nowhere was American influence more apparent than in the cradle of eugenics itself, England. The same centuries of social consternation that had shaped Galton also shaped the new generation of eugenicists who supplanted him. Several storm fronts of historic population anxieties collided over England at the turn of the century. Urban overcrowding, overflowing immigration, and rampant poverty disrupted the British Empire's elegant Victorian era. After the Boer War, the obvious demographic effects of Britain's far-flung imperialism and fears over a declining birth rate and future manpower further inflamed British intellectuals, who were reexamining the inherent quality and quantity of their citizens. [1]

English eugenicists did what they did for Britain in a British context, with no instructions or coordination from abroad and precious little organizational assistance from anyone in America. While Britain's movement possessed its own great thinkers, however, British eugenic science and doctrine were almost completely imported from the United States. With few exceptions, American eugenicists provided the scientific roadmaps and the pseudoscientific data to draw them. During the early years, the few British attempts at family tracing and eugenic research were isolated and unsuccessful. Hence, while the population problems and chronic class conflicts were quite British, the proposed solutions were entirely American.

Galton died in 1911, more than a year before the First International Congress, but his marginalization had begun when Mendel's work was rediscovered in the United States. Quaint theories of felicitous marriages among the better classes, yielding incrementally superior offspring, were discarded in favor of wholesale reproductive prohibition for the inferior classes. Eugenic thought may have originated in Britain, but eugenic action began in America.

In the first decade of the twentieth century, while Galton and his circle were still publishing thin pamphlets, positing revolutionary positions at elite intellectual get-togethers and establishing a modest biometric laboratory, America was busy building a continent-wide political and scientific infrastructure. In that first decade, no government agency in Britain officially supported eugenics as a movement. But in America, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its network of state college agricultural stations lent its support as early as 1903. Galton in London did not enjoy the backing of billionaires. But on Long Island, the vast fortunes of Carnegie, Rockefeller and Harriman financed unprecedented eugenic research and lobbying organizations that developed international reach. By 1904, when Galton and his colleagues were still moderating their theories, Charles Davenport was already creating the foundations of a movement that he would soon commandeer from his British predecessors. Before 1912, the Eugenics Record Office would begin extensive family-by-family lineage investigations in prisons, hospitals and poor communities. In England the one major attempt at tracing family pedigrees was a lone, protracted effort that took more than a decade to complete and another decade to publish. [2]

Americanized eugenics began to take root in England in the twentieth century under the pen of a Liverpool surgeon named Robert Reid Rentoul. In many ways, Rentoul helped lay the philosophical groundwork for British eugenics, and he would become a leading voice in the movement. A distinguished member of the Royal College of Surgeons, Rentoul worked with the feebleminded and had undertaken intense studies of America's eugenic activities. In 1903, he published a twenty-six-page pamphlet, Proposed Sterilization of Certain Mental and Physical Degenerates: An Appeal to Asylum Managers and Others. He urged both voluntary and compulsory sterilization to prevent reproduction by the unfit. As precedents, Rentoul devoted several pages to the legislative efforts in Minnesota, Colorado, Wisconsin and other U.S. states. The pamphlet's appendix included an abstract of Minnesota's early marriage restriction law. Rentoul lobbied for similar legislation in the United Kingdom. In one speech before the influential Medico-Legal Society in London, he proposed that all physicians and lawyers join the call to legalize forced sterilization. [3]

Rentoul's ideas quickly ignited the passions of new eugenic thinkers, including those who gathered at a meeting of the London Sociological Society on the afternoon of May 16, 1904. Galton delivered an important address entitled "Eugenics, its Definition, Scope and Aims," stressing actuarial progress, marriage preferences and general education. "Over-zeal leading to hasty action," he cautioned, "would do harm, by holding out expectations of a near golden age, which will certainly be falsified and cause the science to be discredited." He added, "The first and main point is to secure the general intellectual acceptance of Eugenics as a hopeful and most important study." But the famous novelist and eugenic extremist H. G. Wells then rose to publicly rebuke Galton, bluntly declaring, "It is in the sterilization of failures, and not in the selection of successes for breeding, that the possibility of an improvement of the human stock lies." On that afternoon in Britain the lines were clearly drawn -- it was positive eugenics versus negative eugenics. [4]

Rentoul continued his study of American eugenics throughout 1905, specifically fixing on the emerging notion of "race suicide" as espoused by the likes of American raceologist E. A. Ross and President Theodore Roosevelt. In 1906, Rentoul published his own in-depth eugenic polemic entitled Race Culture; Or, Race Suicide?, which became a veritable blueprint for the British eugenic activism to come. In page after page, Rentoul mounted statistics and percentages to document Great Britain's mental and physical social deterioration. But as remedies, Rentoul held up America's marriage restriction laws, advocacy by American physicians for sterilization, and recent state statutes. He explained the fine points of the latest legislative action in New Jersey, Delaware, Minnesota, Ohio, Indiana, North Dakota and other U.S. jurisdictions. "I cannot express too high an appreciation," Rentoul wrote, "of the many kindnesses of the U.S.A. officials to me in supplying information." [5]

Rentoul declared that he vastly preferred Indiana's vasectomies and salpingectomies to the castrations performed in Kansas and Massachusetts. But he added that the Kansas physician's pioneering efforts at asexualization were enough to justify "erecting a memorial to his memory." In one chapter, Rentoul cited an incident involving Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, the father of the future Supreme Court justice. When called to attend to a mentally unstable child, Dr. Holmes complained that to be effective, "the consultation should have been held some fifty years ago!" Rentoul also quoted Alexander Graham Bell's eugenic denigration of charity: "Philanthropy in this country is doing everything possible to encourage marriage among deaf mutes." Rentoul urged his countrymen to duplicate American-style surveys of foreigners housed in its mental institutions and other asylums. [6]

Rentoul summarized his vision for Britain's eugenic future with these words: "It is to these States we must look for guidance if we wish to ... lessen the chances of children being degenerates." [7]

Of course Rentoul's scientific treatise also addressed America's race problem in a eugenic context. In a passage immediately following references to such strictly local curses as Jack the Ripper, Rentoul asserted, "The negro is seldom content with sexual intercourse with the white woman, but culminates his sexual furor by killing the woman, sometimes taking out her womb and eating it. If the United States of America people would cease to prostitute their high mental qualities and recognize this negro as a sexual pervert, it would reflect greater credit upon them; and if they would sterilize this mentally afflicted creature instead of torturing him, they would have a better right to pose as sound thinkers and social reformers." [8]

The next year a few dozen eugenic activists formed a provisional committee, which a year later, in 1908, constituted itself as the Eugenics Education Society. Many of its founders were previously members of the Moral Education League, concerned with alcoholism and the proper application of charity. David Starr Jordan, president of the Eugenics Section of the American Breeders Association, was made a vice president of the Eugenics Education Society. The new group's biological agenda was to cut off the bloodlines of British degenerates, mainly paupers, employing the techniques pioneered in the United States. The two approved methods were sterilization -- both voluntary and compulsory -- and forcible detention, a concept euphemized under the umbrella term "segregation." Sympathetic government and social service officers were intrigued but ultimately unconvinced, because England, although steeped in centuries of class prejudice, was nonetheless not yet ready for American-style coercive eugenics. [9]

True, some in government explored eugenic ideas early on. For example, in August of 1906 the Lancashire Asylums Board unanimously resolved: "In view of the alarming increase of the insane portion of our population, immediate steps [should] be taken to inquire into the best means for preventing the propagation of those mentally afflicted .... " But that resolution only called for an inquiry. Then the office of the secretary of state considered establishing a penal work settlement for convicts, vagrants and the weak-minded on the Island of Lundy, thus setting the stage for segregating defectives. But this proposal floundered as well. [10]

It wasn't that England lacked the legal or sociological precedents for a eugenics program. Pauperism was thought to be hereditary and had long been judged criminal. Class conflict was centuries old. But America's solutions simply did not translate. Marriage restriction and compulsory segregation were anathema to British notions of liberty and freedom. Even Galton believed that regulated marriages were an unrealistic proposition in a democratic society. He knew that "human nature would never brook interference with the freedom of marriage," and admitted as much publicly. In his published memoir, he recounted his original error in even suggesting such utopian marriages. "I was too much disposed to think of marriage under some regulation," he conceded. [11]

As for sterilization, officials and physicians alike understood that the use of a surgeon's knife for either sterilization or castration, even with the consent of the family or a court-appointed guardian, was plainly criminal. This was no abstruse legal interpretation. Reviewers commonly concluded that such actions would be an "unlawful wounding," in violation of Section Twenty of the 1861 Offense against the Person Act. Thus fears of imprisonment haunted every discussion of the topic. Ministry of Health officials understood that in the event of unexpected death arising from the procedure, guardians or parents and physicians alike could be prosecuted for manslaughter. Such warnings were regularly repeated in the correspondence of the Eugenics Education Society, in memorandums from the Ministry of Health, and in British medical journals. Even the Journal of the American Medical Association and Eugenical News made the point clear. [12]

America enjoyed a global monopoly on eugenic sterilization for the first decades of the twentieth century. What was strictly illegal in the United Kingdom was merely extralegal -- a gray area -- in America. Therefore Indiana prison physician Harry Clay Sharp was able to sterilize scores of inmates long before his state passed enabling legislation in 1907. Moreover, while American states maintained control over their own medical laws, in Britain only Parliament could pass such legislation. British eugenicists understood what they did about sterilization by observing the American experience.

Nor did organized British eugenics immediately launch any field studies to trace the ancestries of suspected degenerates. Indeed, the whole idea of family investigation caused discomfort to many in Britain, especially members of the peerage, who cherished their lineages and genealogies. Eugenicists believed that the firstborn in any family was more likely to suffer crippling diseases and insanity than later children, and this undermined the inheritance concepts attached to primogeniture, by which the eldest often inherited everything. Essentially, they thought the peerage itself had become unsound. In fact, Galton and his chief disciple, Karl Pearson, described the House of Lords as being occupied by men "who have not taken the pains necessary to found or preserve an able stock." [13]

Only a sea change in British popular sentiment from top to bottom, and an overhaul of legal restraints, would enable eugenical activity in England. Hence the Eugenics Education Society well understood that education would indeed have to be its middle name. That mission never changed. Almost twenty years later, when the organization shortened its name to the Eugenics Society, its chief organizers admitted, "It was believed that the object of the Society being primarily education was so universally established as to make the word education in the title redundant." [14] In reality, of course, "education" meant little more than constant propagandizing, lobbying, letter writing, pamphleteering, and petitioning from the intellectual and scientific sidelines, where British eugenics dwelled.

From its inception in 1908, the Eugenics Education Society had adopted American attitudes on negative eugenics. But with a movement devoid of any firsthand research in English society, the newly born EES was reduced to appropriating American theory from Davenport and company, and then trying to force it into the British sociological context. Although an aging Galton agreed to become the society's first "honorary president," by 1910 Galton and Pearson both understood that their ideas were not really welcome in the society. The Galton Laboratory and the simple biometric ancestral outlines recorded at various collaborating institutions by Pearson were seen as innocuous vestiges of the current movement. The society's main function was suasion, not science. [15]

Throughout late 1909, parlor lectures were given to inquisitive audiences in Derby, Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham. Groups in Liverpool, Glasgow, Cardiff and London scheduled talks as well. Such propagandizing was repugnant to Galton and Pearson, who saw themselves as scientists. Moreover, while monies were being raised for a Lecture Fund to defray the society's travel expenses, much of Pearson's research remained unpublished. In a January 3, 1910, interview with The Standard of London, Pearson complained about "four or five memoirs [scientific reports] on social questions of which the publication is delayed from lack of funds ... the problem of funds is becoming so difficult that the question of handing it over to be published outside this country has already arisen." Almost derisively, he clarified, "The object of the Galton Laboratory is scientific investigation, and as scientific investigators, the staff do not attempt any form of propaganda. That must be left to outside agencies and associations." [16]

By 1912, America's negative eugenics had been purveyed to likeminded social engineers throughout Europe, especially in Germany and the Scandinavian nations, where theories of Nordic superiority were well received. Hence the First International Congress of Eugenics attracted several hundred delegates and speakers from the United States, Belgium, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and Norway. [17]

Major Leonard Darwin, son of Charles Darwin and head of the EES, was appointed congress president. But the working vice presidents included several key Americans, including race theorist David Starr Jordan, ERO scientific director Alexander Graham Bell, and Bleeker van Wagenen, a trustee of New Jersey's Vineland Training School for Feebleminded Girls and Boys and secretary of the ABA's sterilization committee. Of course Charles Davenport also served as a working vice president. [18]

Five days of lectures and research papers were dominated by the U.S. contingent and their theories of racial eugenics and compulsory sterilization. The report from what was dubbed the "American Committee on Sterilization" was heralded as a highlight of the meeting. One prominent British eugenicist, writing in a London newspaper, identified Davenport as an American "to whom all of us in this country are immensely indebted, for the work of his office has far outstripped anything of ours .... " [19]

Although Galton had died by this point, a young Scottish physician and eugenic activist by the name of Caleb Saleeby informed his colleagues that if Galton were still alive, he would agree that eugenics was now an American science. If Galton could "read the recent reports of the American Eugenics Record Office," wrote Saleeby, "which have added more to our knowledge of human heredity in the last three years than all former work on that subject put together, [Galton] would quickly seek to set our own work in this country upon the same sure basis." [20]

By the final gavel of the First International Congress of Eugenics, Galton's hope of finding the measurable physical qualities of man had become officially passe among British eugenicists. Saleeby cheerfully reported, "'Biometry' ... might have never existed so far as the Congress was concerned." Indeed, Pearson declined to even attend the congress. In newspaper articles, Saleeby denounced biometrics as a mere "pseudoscience. " [21]

The society had by now successfully purveyed the notion that defective individuals needed to be segregated. Whenever social legislation arose, the society's several dozen members would implore legislators and key decision makers to consider the eugenic agenda. For example, when the Poor Laws were being revised in 1909, a typical form letter went out. "The legislation for the reform of the Poor Law will be prominently before parliament. It is most essential that, when the reforms are made, they should include provisions for the segregation of the most defective portion of the community; it will be the business of the Society, during the coming year, to appeal to the country on this ground .... " [22]

But the crusade to mass incarcerate and segregate the unfit did not achieve real impetus until England considered a Mental Deficiency Act in 1913. Like so many freestanding social issues invaded by eugenics, mental illness, feeblemindedness and pauperism had long been the subject of legendary argument in England. From 1886 to 1899, Britain passed an Idiots Act, a Lunacy Act, and a Defective and Epileptic Children Act. With the arrival of the twentieth century, the nation sought an updated approach. [23]

From 1904 to 1908, a Royal Commission on the Care and Control of the Feebleminded had deliberated the question of segregating and sterilizing the mentally unfit. The commission's ranks included several British eugenicists who had formed other private associations ostensibly devoted to the welfare of the feebleminded, but which were actually devoted to promoting eugenic-style confinement and surgical measures. The associations sounded charitable and benevolent. But such groups as The National Association for the Care and Protection of the Feebleminded and The Lancashire and Cheshire Association for the Permanent Care of the Feebleminded really wanted to ensure that the "feebleminded" -- whatever that meant -- did not reproduce more of their kind. [24]

The ambitious British eugenic plans encompassed not just those who seemed mentally inferior, but also criminals, debtors, paupers, alcoholics, recipients of charity and "other parasites." Despite passionate protestations from British eugenicists, however, the commission declined to recommend either widespread segregation or any form of sterilization. [25]

But eugenicists continued their crusade. In 1909 and 1910, other so-called welfare societies for the feebleminded, such as the Cambridge Association for the Care of the Feebleminded, contacted the Eugenics Education Society to urge more joint lobbying of the government to sanction forced sterilization. Mass letter-writing campaigns began. Every candidate for Parliament was sent a letter demanding they "support measures ... that tend to discourage parenthood on the part of the feebleminded and other degenerate types." As in America, sterilization advocacy focused first and foremost on the most obviously impaired, in this case, the feebleminded, but then escalated to include "other degenerate types." Seeking support for the Mental Deficiency Act, society members mailed letters to every sitting member of Parliament, long lists of social welfare officials, and virtually every education committee in England. When preliminary governmental committees shrank from support, the society simply redoubled its letter-writing campaign. [26]

Finally the government agreed to consider the legislation. Home Secretary Winston Churchill, an enthusiastic supporter of eugenics, reassured one group of eugenicists that Britain's 120,000 feebleminded persons "should, if possible, be segregated under proper conditions so that their curse died with them and was not transmitted to future generations." The plan called for the creation of vast colonies. Thousands of Britain's unfit would be moved into these colonies to live out their days. [27]

But while on its surface the proposed Mental Deficiency Act seemed confined to the feebleminded, many of whom already resided in institutions, the bill was actually a stalking-horse for more draconian measures. The society planned to slip in language that could snare millions of unwanted, pauperized and other eugenically unsound families. EES president Major Leonard Darwin revealed his true feelings in a speech to the adjunct Cambridge University Eugenics Society.

"The first step to be taken," he explained, "ought to be to establish some system by which all children at school reported by their instructors to be specially stupid, all juvenile offenders awaiting trial, all ins-and-outs at workhouses, and all convicted prisoners should be examined by trained experts in mental defects in order to place on a register the names of all those thus ascertained to be definitely abnormal." Like his colleagues in America, Darwin wanted to identify not just the so-called unfit, but their entire families as well. [28]

Darwin emphasized, "From the Eugenic standpoint this method would no doubt be insufficient, for the defects of relatives are only second in importance to the defects of the individuals themselves -- indeed, in some cases [the defects of relatives] are of far greater importance." British eugenicists were convinced that just seeming normal was not enough -- the unfit were ancestrally flawed. Even if an individual appeared normal and begat normal children, he or she could still be a "carrier" who needed to be sterilized. One society leader, Lord Riddell, explained, "Mendelian theory has disclosed that human characteristics are transmitted through carriers in a weird fashion. Mental-deficients may have one normal child who procreates normal children; another deficient child who procreates deficients and another apparently normal child who procreates some deficients and some normals. Mathematically, this description may not be quite accurate, but it will serve the purpose." [29]

More than a decade after Rentoul first proposed mimicking U.S. laws, British eugenicists now lobbied to install American-style marriage restrictions. Once again, it was the seemingly "normal" people that British eugenicists feared. Saleeby explained, "The importance ... will become apparent when we consider the real meaning of the American demonstration that many serious defects are Mendelian recessives. It is that there are many persons in the community, personally normal, who are nevertheless 'impure dominants' in the Mendelian sense, and half of whose germ cells accordingly carry a defect. According to a recent calculation, made in one of the bulletins of the Eugenics Record Office, about one-third of the population in the United States is thus capable of conveying mental deficiency, the 'insane tendency,' epilepsy, or some other defect .... Their number would be increased ... [unless] Dr. Davenport's advice as to the mating of defectives with normal persons were followed, for all their offspring would then belong to this category." [30]

Leonard Darwin and his colleagues hoped "a system will also be established for the examination of the family history of all those placed on the register as being unquestionably mentally abnormal, especially as regards the criminality, insanity, ill-health and pauperism of their relatives, and not omitting to note cases of marked ability." Their near kin were to be shipped off to facilities, and marriages would be prohibited or annulled. [31]

But once the plan to incarcerate entire families became known, revolted critics declared that the eugenic aspects of the Mental Deficiency Act would "sentence innocent people to imprisonment for life." In a newspaper article, Saleeby strongly denied such segregation need always be permanent. In a section subheadlined "No Life Sentences," Saleeby suggested, "All decisions to segregate these people must be subject to continual revision .... " [32] Under the society's actual plan, however, incarcerations of ordinary people would occur not because of any observable illness or abnormality -- but simply because of a suspect lineage.

Leonard Darwin authored a revealing article on the proposed law in February of 1912 for the society's publication, Eugenics Review. He confessed to the membership, "It is quite certain that no existing democratic government would go as far as we Eugenists think right in the direction of limiting the liberty of the subject for the sake of the racial qualities of future generations. It is here we find the practical limitation to the possibility of immediate reform: for it is unwise to endeavor to push legislation beyond the bounds set by public opinion because of the dangerous reaction which would probably result from neglecting to pay attention to the prejudices of the electorate." [33]

The First International Congress of Eugenics convened in London in July of 1912, at the height of the Parliamentary debate about the Mental Deficiency Act. Saleeby hoped the American contingent could offer their latest science on feeblemindedness as grist to sway lawmakers. But while the American delegation had spent over a year preparing a report on methods to terminate defective family lines, they were focused on sterilization of the unfit, not segregation. On the eve of the congress, Saleeby bemoaned the lost opportunity in a newspaper editorial. "It so chances, most unfortunately," he wrote, "that though the American Committee on Sterilization will present a preliminary report on the practicability of surgical measures for the prevention of parenthood on the part of defectives, no paper is being read on Mental Deficiency, of all subjects that which we should most have desired to hear discussed and reported widely at the present time." [34]

Saleeby added, "Dr. Davenport, the director of the American Eugenics Office ... is to read a paper, but unfortunately he will not deal with the feebleminded." Nonetheless, Saleeby saw progress. "Four years after a Report [by the Royal Commission on the Care and Control of the Feebleminded] which the American Students altogether superseded in 1909, thanks to their introduction of the Mendelian method, we have at last got a Mental Deficiency Bill through its second reading in the House of Commons." [35]

Parliament, however, could not endorse the wholesale segregation into colonies envisioned by the society. Political parties clashed on the issue. Catholics, laborites and libertarians staunchly attacked the legislation. At the end of 1912, Eugenics Review informed its members, "It is with the deepest regret that we have had to relinquish all hope of seeking this much-needed measure become law this Session." The clauses most important to the society were stricken. Clause 50, for example, had mandated an American-style marriage restriction -- it was rejected. But eugenics' supporters in the House of Commons promised to revive the bill for the next session. "Our efforts to secure this result," Eugenics Review continued, "must not, however, be in the slightest degree relaxed .... " Speaking to its several branches and affiliates throughout the nation, the publication urged: "Members of Eugenic societies should continue to urge on their representatives in Parliament by every available means ... and should unsparingly condemn their abandonment on account of the mere demands of party." [36]

Throughout 1913, the society continued to press for eugenic action along American lines. One eugenically-minded doctor reintroduced the marriage restriction clause, asking that existing marriages to so-called defectives be declared "null and void." This clause was refused. So were sweeping efforts to round up entire families. But in August of 1913, much of the bill was passed, partly for eugenic reasons and partly for social policy reasons. Britain's Mental Deficiency Act took effect in April of 1914. The act defined four classes: idiot, imbecile, feebleminded and moral defective. People so identified could be institutionalized in special colonies, sanitariums or hospitals established for the purpose. A Board of Control, essentially replacing the old Lunacy Commission, was established in each area to take custody of defectives and transport them to the colonies or homes. A significant budget was allocated to fund the new national policy. [37]

In many ways, this measure was simply an attempt to provide care and treatment for the needy. Colonies for epileptics, the insane, the feebleminded and those suffering from other maladies were already a part of Britain's national medical landscape. But to eugenicists, institutionalization was the same as incarceration. In a journal article, Saleeby explained to British readers, "The permanent care for which the Act provides is, under another name, the segregation which the principles of negative eugenics requires .... In the United States, public opinion and understanding appear to be so far advanced that the American reader need not be appealed to." [38]

But as the law was finally rendered, the families of identified individuals were in no danger of being rounded up. Marriage restrictions were also rejected. The society admitted that the watered-down act "does not go as far as some of its promoters may have wished." In a review, one of its members conceded that legislators could not in good conscience enact profound new policies "where so much is debatable, so much untried, or still in experimental stages." Quickly, however, twenty-four Poor Law unions -- charitable organizations-in the north of England purchased land to create colonies. Others proceeded much more slowly. It was all complicated because standards for certifying mental defectives varied widely from place to place. [39]

The eugenicists intended to press on, but several months later they were interrupted by the outbreak of World War 1.

***

American eugenicists enjoyed a gargantuan research establishment, well funded and well staffed. The list of official and quasi-official bodies supporting or engaged in eugenical activities was long: the Carnegie Institution's Experimental Station, the Eugenics Record Office, the Eugenics Section of the American Breeders Association (which had by now changed its name to the American Genetic Association), the U.S. Army, the Department of Agriculture, the Labor Department, agencies of the State Department, and a Committee of Congress. Moreover, scores of state, county and municipal agencies and institutions added their contributions, as did a network of biology, zoology, genetic and eugenic departments at some of the country's most respected private and state universities. Buttressing all of it was a network of organizations, such as the Eugenics Research Association in New York, the Human Betterment Foundation in California, the Race Betterment Foundation in Michigan, as well as professional organizations throughout the medical and scientific fields. A labyrinth of American laws, enough to fill a five hundred-page guide to sterilization legislation, innervated the sterilization enterprise. [40]

At any given time there were hundreds of field workers, clinicians, physicians, social workers, bureaucrats and raceologists fanning out across America, pulling files from dimly-lit county record halls, traipsing through bucolic foothills and remote rural locations, measuring skulls and chest sizes in prisons, asylums and health sanitariums, and scribbling notes in the clinics and schools of urban slums. They produced a prodigious flow of books, journal articles, reports, columns, tables, charts, facts and figures where tallies, ratios and percentages danced freely, bowed and curtsied to make the best possible impression, and could be relied upon for encores as required. Little of it made sense, and even less of it was based on genuine science. But there was so much of it that policymakers were often cowed by the sheer volume of it.

British eugenic groups were merely eager end users.

But the Eugenics Education Society understood that it would be nearly impossible to apply American eugenic principles to the British social context without native research. Certainly, Galton and Pearson had been devoted to statistics from the beginning. Galton was the one who came up with the idea of family pedigree. His first efforts at organized human measurement, self-financed, were launched in the 1880s. Galton even created his own short-lived Eugenics Record Office in 1904, which was soon merged with Pearson's Biometric Laboratory. But lack of funds, lack of manpower and lack of momentum made these slow and careful pursuits far too tentative for the new breed of British eugenicists. Although pedigrees were faithfully published in the Galton Laboratory's multivolume Treasury of Human Inheritance, this was done not so much to show transmissible flaws as a prelude to sterilization, but rather to track the incidence of disease and defect, demonstrating the need to carefully control one's progeny. [41]

After a few years, Pearson and his circle of biometricians became bitter and isolated from the movement at large. At one point the Carnegie Institution routinely dispatched a staff scientist from its Department of Physiological Psychology, Professor Walter Miles, to tour European eugenic and biological laboratories. Miles made a proper appointment at Pearson's laboratory with the receptionist. But when Miles arrived, he was rudely refused entry. Nor was Miles even allowed to announce his presence or leave a message. Miles complained in a confidential memo, "She said that Dr. Pearson was an extremely busy man and could not be interrupted." The Carnegie representative was also denied a courtesy tour in the computational section of the lab away from Pearson. "The porter," continued Miles, "would not even take my card with a written statement on it that I had called and was exceedingly sorry ... not to have been able to visit the Laboratory." An irritated Carnegie lab director in Boston later demanded an explanation of Pearson. An antagonistic exchange of letters culminated in a blunt message from the Boston director to Pearson declaring that the Carnegie Institution "will have to forgo the privilege of having personal contact with you or your associates .... It is more than obvious that visitors are not wanted." [42]

Galtonian biometrics and sample pedigrees remained handy relics within the British eugenics establishment, but the Eugenics Education Society was convinced it needed more substantial homegrown research to advance its legislative agenda. It tried to utilize ERO-style pedigrees in 1910 when a Poor Law reform committee asked for information. From the society's point of view, the "conclusion that pauperism is due to inherent defects which are hereditarily transmitted" was inescapable. In some cases pauper pedigrees reached back four generations, enabling society lobbyists to declare, "There is no doubt that there exists a hereditary class of persons who will not make any attempt to work." [43]

Yet the Royal Commission on the Poor Law -- in both its minority and majority reports -- found the few cases unconvincing. The eugenic viewpoint "was almost wholly neglected," as the society's liaison committee bemoaned. "It soon appeared," a 1910-1911 society annual report admitted, "that before anything could be ascertained concerning the existence of a biological cause of pauperism, research must be made into a number of pauper family histories." [44]

Ernest J. Lidbetter stepped forward to emulate the American model. He would lead the society's charge toward a semblance of convincing research. But it took him twenty-two years to complete his work and publish his results. When he eventually did so, it was amid accusations and acrimony by and among his colleagues. [45]

Lidbetter was neither a physician nor a scientist. Since 1898, he had been a case investigator with the Poor Law Authority in London. He was eventually assigned to Bethnal Green, one the East End's most poverty-wracked districts. It had been a zone of impoverishment for decades. Once the society began probing pauper heritage, the eugenic match was made. In about 1910, Lidbetter became a proponent of the society's hereditarian view of pauperism, speaking to his fellow relief officers through the Metropolitan Relieving Officer's Association, university circles and at willing venues. The EES thanked Lidbetter for his help when several workhouses contributed family tree data to the society. [46]

Lidbetter's outlook was expressed perfectly in his lecture to a few dozen colleagues one Wednesday night in 1913, at a board meeting of the Metropolitan Relieving Officer's Association. Research into hereditary pauperism, far advanced in America and accepted in many official circles, was just starting in England. Eugenic notions were completely new to his audience. Lidbetter displayed heredity diagrams and insisted that England was plagued by a biologically distinct "race of chronic pauper stocks." He insisted that doubters "had to be answered, not in the light of their opinion, but by a series of cases checked, tested and confirmed over and over again." Hence he urged their cooperation in assembling pauper pedigrees from amongst their poverty cases. [47]
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Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

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PART 2 OF 2

Attempts to create more than token samples of degenerate family trees were interrupted by the Great War, which began in the fall of 1914. British eugenics understandably slid into the background. In 1918, after shell-shocked soldiers climbed out of Europe's muddy trenches, British eugenics slowly regrouped. Lidbetter did not resume his examination of degenerate families until March of 1923, more than a decade after he had begun. By this time the Eugenics Education Society had been infused with other scientists, including the esteemed agronomist and statistician Ronald A. Fisher. Fisher had calculated the Mendelian and genetic secrets of various strains of potatoes and wheat, and he had used this information to create more effective manures at an experimental agriculture station north of London. He and others were now applying the coefficients and correlations so successful in mixing fertilizer and spawning stronger crops to complex hereditary formulas for humans. Fisher tacked the essence of Pearson's biometric measurements and agrarian science onto American Mendelism to create his own strain of eugenics. [48]

Lidbetter finally resumed his simple work in March of 1923, with a survey of all the indigents of Bethnal Green's workhouses and welfare clinics. He counted 1,174 people. But the society, especially its so-called Research Committee, which now included Fisher, insisted on proper statistical "control groups." Lidbetter, a welfare worker, was lost. Control groups? Should he compare streets, or maybe homes, perhaps families, or would one school against another be a better idea? In any event there was no money to finance such as effort. Eventually someone donated a token £20, which allowed a student to begin field work in the summer of 1923. But as the project sputtered on, it made little progress. [49]

The society shopped around for a few hundred pounds here and there, with little luck. In September of 1923, Laughlin showed up. He was in the middle of his Congressional immigration mission. The society provided him office space for three weeks so he could undertake American-style pedigree research on eugenically suspect immigration applicants. The society's difficulties were instantly apparent to him. England was helping too many of its indigent citizens. Laughlin wrote to his colleague Judge Harry Olson in Chicago. "England has a particular hard eugenic problem before her, because her Poor Law system has worked anti-eugenic, although from the standpoint of pure charity, it has saved much individual suffering." [50]

Eugenicists from Laughlin to Lidbetter were staunchly opposed to charitable works as a dysgenic force, that is, a factor that promoted eugenically unacceptable results. Lidbetter, a Poor Law officer charged with helping the disadvantaged, regularly lectured his fellow relief officers that charity only "created an environment in which the worst could survive as well as the best." He believed that poor people were "parasites" and that "public and private charity tended to encourage the increase of this class." [51]

Disdain for charity dramatically increased during and after World War I, especially among eugenic theorists such as David Starr Jordan, Laughlin and indeed many Britons. They postulated that in war, only the strong and brave killed each other. In other words, in war, the finest eugenic specimens of every nation would die off en masse, leaving the cowards, the infirm, the physically incapable and the biologically weak to survive and multiply. [52]

In articles, speeches and booklets, eugenicists lamented the loss of life. In his 1915 booklet, War and the Breed, David Starr Jordan wrote as a concerned American, years before the U.S. entered the conflict. Jordan mourned the dead young men of Scotland, Oxford and Cambridge. He quoted one war dispatch: "Ypres cost England 50,000 out of 120,000 men engaged. The French and Belgian loss [is estimated] at 70,000 killed and wounded, that of the Germans at 375,000. In that one long battle, Europe lost as many men as the North lost in the whole Civil War." [53] More then seven million would ultimately die in the Great War.

Yet eugenicists seemed more distressed that the strong were dying on the battlefield while the inferior remained. Jordan railed in his volume, "Father a weed, mother a weed, do you expect the daughter to be a saffron root?" The Eugenics Education Society published another typical article entitled "Skimming the Cream, Eugenics and the Lost Generation." War was denounced as dysgenic because "the cream of the race will be taken and the skimmed milk will be left." [54]

Lidbetter's research efforts were still unable, however, to attract the financial or investigative resources needed to convince British policymakers to do away with their unfit by a widespread American-style program of sterilization. By 1926, the quest for financing had compelled the society to plead with a Harvard eugenic psychologist, "English finances are indescribable, and we greatly fear our work will be brought to a standstill for want of the small sum needed, namely £300-£500 per year." [55]

An internal struggle developed within the society as skilled statisticians, such as Fisher, tried to oust Lidbetter from the Research Committee leadership in an attempt to improve the appearance of studies. The minutes of acrimonious meetings were doctored to conceal the degree of organizational strife. Financial resources dwindled. Lidbetter's meagerly paid assistant quit over money. At one point the society was unable to acquire the family index cards Lidbetter had accumulated. The society's general secretary, Cora Hodson, wrote to the new assistant, "I am trying to persuade Mr. Lidbetter to let us duplicate his index ... keeping cards here .... I may not succeed .... " [56]

But Lidbetter's new assistant also quit within a year, again for lack of money. On September 15, 1927, Hodson revealed to a member, "I am rather seriously troubled about Mr. Lidbetter's research work. Funds have dropped tragically off .... We are now faced with the loss of [an assistant] ... simply for want of an adequate salary." [57]

Years of solitary and unfinanced effort had produced precious little data to support the society's vituperative rhetoric against so-called defectives. When the issue of publishable "results" came up, the society was forced to inform its membership, "It is impossible to speak of the 'result' of an investigation such as this after so short a period of work. The sum of money available was enough to provide an investigator for only a few months .... Much useful work has been recorded and the outline of seven promising pedigrees prepared. In none of these however was it possible in the time available to prepare the work in such detail as to warrant publication." [58]

Eventually, in 1932, after many society squabbles and a cascade of attempted committee coups, Lidbetter arranged to publish his results. He planned a multivolume set. "There is good hope of funds for the publication of a first volume to be contributed from the U.S.A.," a society official wrote. But that funding fell through. The first book in his series was finally released in England, but it was also the last; the other volumes were dropped. During the first three decades of the twentieth century, British eugenicists were forced to rely mainly on American research because it was the only other English-language science available to them, except for materials from Scandinavia and Germany -- and these too had generally been translated by American sources. In February of 1926, the society secretary had sent off a note to a member, "Do you read German? The most thoughtful articles on the new methods are in a Swiss medical journal." [59]

At one point Saleeby bragged that he had accumulated a eugenic bibliography 514 pages long. But this bibliography was in fact the work of University of California zoology professor Samuel J. Holmes, and it was published by the university's academic press. [60]

As late as mid-1925, EES secretary Hodson was still seeking elementary information on heredity. On June 17, 1925, she dispatched a letter to Yale University's Irving Fisher, who headed the Eugenics Research Association. "My Council is considering the question of trying to extend the knowledge of heredity by liaison with our Breeders Associations. They are eager to get as much information as possible about the very successful work in Eugenics done by the American Breeders' Association, and I shall be most grateful if you will ... forward any particulars that you think will be useful, or to tell me with whom I should communicate on the matter." She was referred to the Eugenics Record Office at Cold Spring Harbor. [61]

When Hodson tried to interest British high schools in adding eugenics to their curriculums, she wrote to the American Eugenics Society for information. "We are just making a beginning over here," she wrote, "with definite eugenic teaching in schools and it will be most helpful to me to be able to say that something concrete is being done in the United States, even if! cannot give chapter and verse for statistics." [62]

When British officials needed information on sterilization, they often wrote to America, bypassing the Eugenics Education Society -- which had in 1926 changed its name to the Eugenics Society. In the spring of 1928, for example, when the medical officer for the County Council of Middlesex sought preliminary information on "sterilization of mental defectives," he wrote a letter directly to the American Social Hygiene Association, a Rockefeller-endowed organization in New York. In his response, the acting director of ASHA's Division of Legal and Protective Measures took the liberty of mentioning to the Middlesex medical officer Laughlin's vast legislative guide, Eugenical Sterilization in the United States. ASHA contacted Laughlin and asked him to send anything additional "which might be of aid to him. We are sure he would appreciate anything you may be able to send." [63]

By the late twenties, thousands of Americans had been forcibly sterilized. British eugenicists believed that America was lighting the way while Britain cowered in the shadows. British eugenicists were steadfast in their determination to introduce similar legislation in England. This meant a continued reliance on the science of Laughlin and Davenport.

The tradition already existed. On January 29, 1924, Laughlin had lectured at a society meeting. He described the American approach. "Then we go down still further and include the great mass of people, about nine-tenths of humanity. Then there is the submerged tenth, the socially inadequate persons who must be prevented from reproducing. If we try to classify them by types, we must call them the insane, the feebleminded, the paupers, the epileptic, the criminals, and so on. These people, and the family stocks that produce them ... must be cut off and prevented from reproducing at all." [64]

Laughlin emphasized that it was not enough to sterilize an individual; his entire extended family needed to be sterilized as well. "I do not believe that humanity would ever make ... eugenical progress if it simply prevented these individuals from reproducing. In order to prevent the reproduction of such individuals, we have to go up higher into the upper strata, and find out which families are reproducing these degenerates. The remedy lies in drying up the source. It is the pedigree rather than the individual basis of selection that counts in racial fortunes." This mandate was published more than a year later in the April 1925 Eugenics Review as a reminder. The soci ety was determined to follow the American lead and sterilize all suspects, not just the obvious ones. [65]

In 1927, still desperate for research, Hodson circulated a draft letter endorsing eugenics in Britain. Members of the society were to sign these letters and mail them en masse to the editors of the Times -- without disclosing their affiliations. "Two distinguished American authors," the proposed letter began, "have recently calculated that 1,000 college graduates will have scarcely 200 grown up great-grandsons, whilst 1,000 miners will have 3,700. We have no reason to doubt these figures, though unfortunately British statistics give us no means of checking them accurately .... We have nothing based on past experiences to guide us .... " [66] The nation was still reeling from a devastating coal miners' strike and Hodson's letter was surely designed to inflame.

The society was sending strategic letters to newspaper editors because it intended to make its strongest push to legalize sterilization. The first step in the British game plan, segregation, was faltering. Sterilization was needed. Medical, welfare and eugenic circles had been debating the subject for years. The British Medical Association's section on medical sociology had examined the subject extensively in 1923; Hodson appeared before the group and proclaimed that at least 10 percent of the nation must be forcibly sterilized at once -- or many more would need to be sterilized within one or two generations. This warning became a popular slogan for society advocates. [67]

By 1926, British intelligence testers were surprised to discover that the number of mental defectives had vastly increased and maintenance costs were running as high as £4 million annually. Within three years, government investigators, employing mental tests designed by the Americans Goddard, Terman and Yerkes, claimed that the numbers of the mentally deficient had almost doubled in two decades, from 156,000 in 1909 when numbers were being gathered during the first Royal Commission to some 300,000 in 1929. The rate of mental deficiency had nearly doubled as well, they claimed, from 4.6 per thousand to 8.56 per thousand. [68] There was no way to know if the numbers had genuinely doubled or were merely a result of Terman and Goddard's questionable methodology -- which had recently deemed 70 percent of American military recruits feebleminded.

The alarming new intelligence statistics were produced by the government's Mental Deficiency Committee, established to investigate mental defectives under the leadership of Sir Arthur Wood. Wood was a former assistant secretary of the medical branch of the Board of Education. Several eugenic advocates were associated with the Mental Deficiency Committee, and the resulting 1929 three-volume Wood Report closely resembled eugenic thinking on the deterioration of British intelligence levels. The committee used a new category, the "Social Problem Group," to describe the subnormal tenth of the nation. The Social Problem Group was comprised not only mental deficients, but also criminals, epileptics, paupers, alcoholics and the insane. Wood speculated that Britain was afflicted by a large number of problem types who although not certifiable, were nevertheless "carriers." The committee thanked the eugenics movement for its service in addressing the problem, but declined to endorse sterilization. [69] It was a significant setback.

To the additional outrage of eugenic activists, government policymakers now recommended that the many colonies and custodial institutions governed under the Mental Deficiency Act stop operating as mere long-term warehouses of people. Instead, these facilities "should be used for the purpose of stabilizing, training and equipping defectives for life in the community, [rather] than providing permanent homes," as one society memo glumly reported. The society complained that these colonies would soon be "turned into 'flowing lakes' rather than remain as 'stagnant pools.'" Deinstitutionalization would reverse all the society had sought to achieve. [70]

Sterilization was now more imperative than ever. By early 1929, the society mounted a fresh campaign to pass a national sterilization act. In mid-February of 1929, they sent a petition to Minister of Health Neville Chamberlain, a future prime minister. "Segregation as a remedy is failing," the resolution advised, "principally owing to the increasing number of deficients and the enormous costs." [71]

Within sixty days, a preliminary sterilization bill was drafted and circulated. It proposed coercive sterilization for those certified as feebleminded or about to be released from an institution; it also mandated broad marriage prohibitions, gave the state the power to unmarry couples, and criminalized the concealment of sterilization from a spouse. A postscripted suggestion declared, "If ever we have a proper system of registration, each person would have a card (or some equivalent), and on this card [eugenic] events, such as cancellation of marriage should be entered." Sir Frederick Willis had assembled the draft law almost two years earlier and passed it along to the society with one condition. "Should you care to use this draft, I should prefer that it should not be known that I have had anything to do with it; it does not necessarily represent my view." [72]

Eugenic stalwarts began propagandizing in earnest. Lord Riddell created a position paper for the Medico-Legal Society, a copy of which was duly forwarded to Chamberlain. Citing the many billions devoted to caring for the unfit, Riddell cautioned, "Unless we are careful, we shall be eaten out of house and home by lunatics and mental deficients." Riddell then quoted Harvard eugenicist Edward East. "Professor East says 'We are getting a larger and larger quantity of human dregs at the bottom of our national vats.'" Assuring that vasectomy did not reduce sex drive, Riddell asserted, "This is confirmed by replies sent to questionnaires put to 75 normal, intelligent, mostly professional American men who had undergone voluntary sterilization .... The dangers for men are negligible, and for women, in light of the Californian experience, not very serious." [73]

Indeed, Riddell emphasized that the proposed British law was efficacious because, "In California, where the law is similar to that now advocated, the results have been highly satisfactory." [74]

A Committee for Legalising Sterilization was formed in about 1930, and it began proffering intellectual position papers and suggestions for a draft law fused with layers of standard eugenic dogma. The phrase "voluntary sterilization" was employed to make it more palatable to the British public. The bill also provided so-called "safeguards" that would allow court-appointed guardians to make the decision for the individual -- which technically constituted a voluntary decision. One report from the Committee for Legalising Sterilization repeatedly pointed to the 8,515 compulsory sterilizations performed throughout America, and especially California, as precedents. The CLS explained that California had performed 5,820 surgeries up until January 1, 1928, and had increased that number to 6,255 by January 1, 1929. These procedures were largely recorded as "voluntary." The committee's report explained, "In the California institutions, the defectives have been made to feel that by asking for sterilization, they are behaving in a laudable and socially useful manner." [75]

Eugenicists also capitalized on legitimate economic fears arising from years of crippling domestic strikes and the worldwide depression. Lord Riddell had challenged both the Medico-Legal Society and the Ministry of Health with visceral economic rhetoric. He calculated that the annual cost of caring for a growing population of the unfit could skyrocket to well above £16 million. "One is appalled by the prospect of multiplying these vast colonies of the lost, and ... the injustice ... of erecting splendid new buildings to house lunatics and mental defectives, when thousands of sound citizens are unable to secure decent dwellings at a moderate rent." He hammered, "As it is, the abnormal citizen receives far more care and attention than the normal one .... Consider an alternative solution -- namely sterilization." [76]

In 1930 the society launched another attempt to create a consensus of sorts among welfare organizations, the medical establishment and the British populace. A sudden endowment helped enormously. The society's financial problems disappeared when a wealthy Australian sheep rancher who periodically visited England (but spent most of his time at his villa in Nice, France) endowed the society. His name was Henry Twitchen. A bizarre and diseased man whom society elders called a "queer being," Twitchen had become enamored with eugenics in the early twenties and had promised to bequeath his fortune to the society. He died in 1929. Although his fortune had shrunk by that time, the £70,000 he donated changed everything for the organization now known as the Eugenics Society. One society official happily remembered that the money suddenly made the organization "rich." [77] Money meant travel expenses, pamphlet printing, better orchestrated letter-writing campaigns and the other essentials of political crusades.

Lidbetter's study, for whatever it was worth, was still unpublished. To compensate for their total lack of scientific evidence other than the American offerings, which even then were becoming increasingly discredited, in mid-1930 the society reached out to Germany, where expanding eugenic research was producing prodigious volumes of literature. German eugenicists were only too happy to forward packets of materials, including a five-page explication of the existing German literature on feeblemindedness along with four reprints. One of these essays, "Psychiatric Indications for Sterilization," was translated by the society and published as a pamphlet. Most of all, the German studies reflected the control groups that the statisticians demanded. One essay explained, "My procedure is to ascertain the number of psychopaths a) in an affected family, b) in families carefully selected ... [and] a sample of the average population." [78]

Packets of documentation from Germany did not prevent Hodson from expressing her continuing admiration for American eugenics. On June 11, 1930, Hodson wrote to her counterpart at the American Eugenics Society that her recent review of "the wide and far-seeing development of the task in the United States" only reinforced her belief in the primacy of America's movement. "I used to say, when asked," Hodson added, "that I thought probably Germany was taking Eugenics most seriously, but I am quite sure that now the American Eugenics Society leads the world." British efforts, Hodson admitted, "are not covering even one-third of the field of your committees." [79]

Hodson's continuing appreciation for American eugenics was understandable. Throughout the first half of 1930, Hodson had corresponded with Davenport in preparation for a gathering of international eugenic scientists in September. Davenport would serve as president of the conference. In February of 1930, Hodson wrote him for approval of conference dates and discussion topics, and then asked if she could print the program in both French and English for distribution. Hodson hoped that Davenport's latest views on race mixing would "wake up our Government people .... " She added, "There is another point of importance for England in this connection -- our anthropologists are not working much in unison .... [The conference's work] might be a focus in getting their activities combined .... " [80]

In March of 1930 she wrote Davenport asking if any good films could be brought over from the ERO to screen at the conference. "Our English films I should offer only in the last resort as we are not really proud of them." A few days later, Davenport wrote back answering Hodson's cascade of questions, approving or rejecting detail after detail. In April, Hodson sent a letter to colleagues explaining, "Dr Davenport hopes that this year, the American interest in standardisation of human measurements may be linked up with the work proceeding in that direction in England .... " [81]

In May, Davenport mailed Hodson another long list of approvals and declinations of her ideas. Typical was his review of her draft letters, which Davenport had to approve. "I think the draft of Letter #2 is to be preferred to #1. Of course, it is much weaker than #1 but may serve as a penultimate. Something like your draft #1 might serve as an ultimate and then we can prepare an ultissimum, if that has no effect." [82] Davenport was accustomed to treating Hodson like a secretary, not a general secretary.

A month later, however, Davenport cancelled his trip altogether, saying he was suddenly in poor health and in need of a long rest. It was after this unexpected cancellation that Hodson finally turned to the Germans for information, in July of 1930, since German eugenicists would now be running the conference in Davenport's absence. [83]

That summer Britain first confronted American-style eugenics. Dr. Lionel L. Westrope was the doctor at the High Teams institution located in London's Gateshead district. He impressed Ministry of Health officials as "an enthusiast on the question of the sterilisation of the unfit and was inclined to mix up the therapeutic and sociological aspects of these cases." Around June of 1930, supervisors discovered that Westrope was castrating young men. He admitted to having performed two in May of 1930, and a third on an unknown date. [84]

William George Wilson had been admitted as a diagnosed imbecile to the Gateshead mental ward about a decade earlier. Later, Wilson was described as "thoroughly degenerate ... extremely dirty and absolutely indifferent as to his personal appearance." Wilson also masturbated excessively, so much so "that there was actually hemorrhage from the penis." His mother reportedly caught the boy masturbating once and asked for help. Westrope castrated Wilson, then twenty-two years old, and reported, "the improvement was wonderful. Not only did the patient cease to masturbate, but, three months after the operation, he began to take some interest in his appearance .... " But a year later Wilson died, supposedly of pneumonia. [85]

Nonetheless, Westrope was encouraged. In February of 1930, an eight-year- old boy named Henry Lawton was brought to Gateshead for being an "epileptic imbecile, unable to talk" and for suffering what Westrope called "fits." After admission, Henry was discovered writhing on his stomach, as though in a "sexual connection." When staffers rolled him over they found his penis to be erect. No determination was made as to whether the writhing was a "fit," an epileptic seizure or just ordinary prepubescent activity. On May 7, 1930, the boy was castrated. [86]

Five days later, fifteen-year-old Richard Pegram was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman. The record stated that Pegram "pushed up against her and said that he was 'horny.'" When asked to explain, Pegram flippantly replied, "Well, I had the 'horn.'" Police immediately brought the young man to Gateshead. Within days, he too was castrated. [87]

When the Ministry of Health learned of Westrope's illegal surgeries, a flurry of anxious memos and reports were exchanged as astonished officials tried to find some way to justify what they themselves knew was criminal castration. Westrope claimed he had parental consent. Officials bluntly rejected this assertion. One wrote, "Consent or no consent, the surgeon is guilty of unlawful wounding ... and in the case of [the] death, manslaughter." As officials passed the reports back and forth, some of them scribbled in the margins that two of the boys had not even been certified as mentally defective. One wrote, "This was NOT a case of certified mental defect." Another penned in the margin, "Not a certified case." Hence there was no possibility of arguing therapeutic necessity. [88]

Westrope himself simply claimed that it had not occurred to him that the procedure might be illegal. But in fact anyone associated with the surgeries might have been held civilly or criminally responsible, including Board of Control officials themselves. The Board of Control had custody over the boys. On August 1, 1930, facing the prospect of criminal prosecution, Board of Control Chairman Sir Lawrence Brock wrote a letter to a Ministry of Health attorney providing all the details and admitting that the boys had been castrated "as the result of sexual misbehavior." Brock then added, "If sterilization is to be carried out by Medical Officers of Poor Law Institutions it would in any case seem to be preferable to adopt the American method [of vasectomy] and not resort to the extremer course of actual castration." [89]

The matter was hushed up as some sort of therapeutic necessity or medical oversight. Westrope was not prosecuted and remained at his post at Gateshead. He was, however, required to submit an immediate letter of apology, and to promise not to do it again. On October 14, Westrope, writing on Gateshead Borough letterhead, penned a short note to Ministry of Health officials: "I now hereby give an undertaking, that I will not perform the operation again, until such time as the operation may be legalized." Two days later, a supervising doctor came by and asked Westrope to sign the note, which he did. Nine years later, Westrope was still presiding at Gateshead, and even sat as a merit judge in awarding gold medals to ambulance crews who distinguished themselves by promptly delivering patients to the institutions. [90]

The campaign to legalize sterilization continued in 1930, Westrope's misconduct notwithstanding. However, despite efforts to convince policymakers, the British people simply could not stomach the notion. Labor was convinced that the plan was aimed almost exclusively at the poor. Catholics believed that eugenics, breeding and sterilization were all offenses against God and the Church, and indeed in some cases a form of murder. [91]

With a sense that eugenic marriage restrictions and annulments, as well as sterilization, would soon be enacted in Britain, the Vatican spoke out. On December 31, 1930, Pope Pius XI issued a wide-ranging encyclical on marriage; in it he condemned eugenics and its fraudulent science. "That pernicious practice must be condemned," he wrote, "which closely touches upon the natural right of man to enter matrimony but affects also in a real way the welfare of the offspring. For there are some who over solicitous for the cause of eugenics ... put eugenics before aims of a higher order, and by public authority wish to prevent from marrying all those whom, even though naturally fit for marriage, they consider, according to the norms and conjectures of their investigations, would, through hereditary transmission, bring forth defective offspring. And more, they wish to legislate to deprive these of that natural faculty by medical action [sterilization] despite their unwillingness .... [92]

"Public magistrates have no direct power over the bodies of their subjects; therefore, where no crime has taken place and there is no cause present for grave punishment, they can never directly harm, or tamper with the integrity of the body, either for the reasons of eugenics or for any other reason." [93]

Making clear that the destruction of a child for any "eugenic 'indication'" was nothing less than murder, the encyclical went on to quote Exodus: "Thou shalt not kill." [94]

Disregarding religious and popular sentiment, the society pressed on. Articles that they promoted continued to warn British readers of the dangers posed by family lines such as America's Jukes; readers were also reminded of the success California was having with sterilization. But Labor and Catholics would not budge. or would their representatives in Parliament. [95]

Two more papal decrees, issued in March of 1931, denounced both positive and negative eugenics. On July 21, 1931, A.G. Church exercised his right under the House of Commons' Ten Minute Rule to put the issue to a test. Under the Ten Minute Rule, debate would be massively curtailed. Church was a member of the Eugenics Society's Committee on Voluntary Sterilization, and in his ten minutes he stressed the strictly "voluntary" nature of his measure. But then he let it slip. He admitted that, indeed, the voluntary proposal offered that day was only the beginning. Ultimately, eugenicists favored compulsory sterilization. [96]

Sterilization opponents in the House of Commons "crushed" Church, as it was later characterized. In the defeat that followed, Church was voted down 167 to 89. He was not permitted to introduce his legislation. Society leaders were forced to admit that it was Labor's opposition and the Church's encyclicals that finally defeated their efforts. [97]

Still unwilling to give up, within a few weeks the society began inviting more experts to form yet another special commission. Constantly trumpeting the successes in California and other American states, the society convinced Minister of Health Chamberlain to convene a special inquiry to investigate the Social Problem Group and how to stop its proliferation. The man selected to lead the commission was Board of Control Chairman Brock, the same man who had presided over the Gateshead debacle. [98]

The Brock Commission convened in June of 1932. One of its first acts was to ask the British Embassy in Washington and its consulates throughout the nation to compile state-by-state figures on the numbers of men and women sterilized in America. British consular officials launched a nationwide fact-finding mission to compile America's legislation precedents and justifications. Numerous state officials, from Virginia to California, assisted consular officials. Reams of interlocutory reports produced by the Brock Commission advocated using American eugenic sterilization as a model, and in 1934 the commission formally recommended that Britain adopt similar policies. Section 86 of the recommendations, entitled "The Problem of the Carrier," endorsed the idea that the greatest eugenic threat to society was the person who seemed "normal" but was actually a carrier of mental defect. "It is clear that the carrier is the crux of the problem," the Brock Report concluded, bemoaning that science had not yet found a means of identifying such people with certainty. [99]

But for opponents, the Brock Report only served to confirm their rejection of sterilization in Britain. The Trades Union Congress condemned the idea, insisting that protracted unemployment might itself be justification for being classed "unfit." In plain words, Labor argued that such applications of eugenics could lead to "extermination." The labor congress's resolution declared: "It is quite within the bounds of human possibility that those who want the modern industrial evils under the capitalist system to continue, may see in sterilization an expedient, degrading though it may be, to exterminate the victims of the capitalist system." [100]

No action was ever taken on Brock's recommendations. By this time it was 1934, and the Nazis had implemented their own eugenic sterilization regime. In Germany, the weak, political dissidents, and Jews were being sterilized by the tens of thousands. [101] The similarities were obvious to the British public.
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Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

Postby admin » Thu Jul 31, 2014 3:11 am

CHAPTER 12: Eugenic Imperialism

American eugenicists saw mankind as a biological cesspool.

After purifying America from within, and preventing defective strains from reaching U.S. shores, they planned to eliminate undesirables from the rest of the planet. In 1911, the Eugenics Section of the American Breeders Association, in conjunction with the Carnegie Institution, began work upon its Report of the Committee to Study and to Report on the Best Practical Means for Cutting Off the Defective Germ-Plasm in the Human Population. The last of eighteen points was entitled "International Co-operation." Its intent was unmistakable: the ERO would undertake studies "looking toward the possible application of the sterilization of defectives in foreign countries, together with records of any such operations .... " The American eugenics movement intended to turn its sights on "the extent and nature of the problem of the socially inadequate in foreign countries." [1] This would be accomplished by incessant international congresses, federations and scientific exchanges.

Global eugenics began in 1912 with the First International Congress of Eugenics in London. At that conference, the dominant American contingent presented its report on eliminating all social inadequates worldwide. Their blueprint for world eugenic action was overwhelmingly accepted, so much so that after the congress the Carnegie Institution published the study as a special two-part bulletin. [2]

International cooperation soon began to coalesce. That first congress welcomed delegations from many countries, but five in particular sent major consultative committees: the United States, Germany, Belgium, Italy and France. During the congress, these few leaders constituted themselves as a so-called International Eugenics Committee. This new body first met a year later. On August 4, 1913, prominent eugenic leaders from the United States, England, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and Norway converged on Paris. This new international eugenics oversight committee would function under various names and in various member configurations as the supreme international eugenics agency, deciding when and where congresses would be held, which national committees and institutions would be recognized, and which eugenic policies would be pursued. The dozen or so men scheduled a second planning session for one year later, August 15, 1914, in Belgium. They also scheduled the Second International Congress of Eugenics, which would be open to delegates from all nations and held two years later, in 1915, in New York. [3]

But in August of 1914, Germany invaded Belgium.

A continent-wide war ignited before Europe's eyes. The Belgian planning session was cancelled, and the Second International Congress of Eugenics was postponed. While Europe fought, and indeed even after the United States entered the war, America continued its domestic eugenic program and held its place as the world leader in eugenic research, theory and activism. [4]

When the war ended four years later, international eugenics reorganized, with America retaining its leadership. The Second International Congress of Eugenics was rescheduled for September 1921, still in New York, under the auspices of the Washington-based National Research Council, the administrative arm of America's prestigious, Congressionally-chartered National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Sciences functioned as a way of uniting America's disparate scientific establishments. As it had for the first congress, the State Department mailed the invitations around the world. Although the National Research Council was the official authorizing body, Davenport wrote his colleagues that it was "up to the New York group to put this Congress through." [5]

The "New York group" was led by Laughlin, Mrs. Harriman and Madison Grant, author of The Passing of the Great Race. In addition to being among the world's leading raceologists, Grant was a trustee for the American Museum of Natural History. The museum became the titular sponsor of the second congress. The museum's premises were used for the congress's meetings and exhibits, its staff helped with the details, and its president, Henry Osborn, a eugenicist himself, was named president of the international gathering. The museum's name was prominently displayed on the published proceedings, as though the congress were just another museum function. [6] All of this imbued the event with a distinctly evolutionary and anthropological quality. This was exactly the intent of congress organizers. They wanted the event to be seen as a milestone in the natural history of the human species.

The second congress was rich with typical raceological dogma and dominated by American biological precepts. Alexander Graham Bell assumed the honorary presidency. The proceedings were divided into four sections: comparative heredity, the human family, racial differences and "Eugenics and the State." Delegates from every continent attended to share eugenic principles and to form legislative game plans they could take back home. Osborn's opening address represented a challenge from America. "In certain parts of Europe," he set forth, "the worst elements of society have gained the ascendancy and threaten the destruction of the best." He recognized that "To each of the countries of the world, racial betterment presents a different aspect .... Let each ... consider its own problems .... " But in the final analysis it came down to one mandate: "As science has enlightened government in the prevention and spread of disease, it must also enlighten government in the prevention of the spread and multiplication of worthless members of society .... " [7]

Osborn also repeated the standard eugenic idea: "The true spirit of American democracy that all men are born with equal rights and duties has been confused with the political sophistry that all men are born with equal character and ability to govern themselves .... " [8]

Not only was the rhetoric American, but so was the science. Out of fifty-three scientific papers, all but twelve were produced by American eugenicists on American issues, all conforming to the Carnegie Institution's sociopolitical strategies. Topics included Indiana's Tribe of Ishmael, Kentucky's mountain people and Lucien Howe's proposals on hereditary blindness. [9]

Some European eugenicists complained about America's domination of the global congress. Sweden's Hermann Lundborg, for example, railed to Davenport in a rambling handwritten missive that America was trying to hijack the worldwide movement. "I have been hoodwinked .... By what right do you in America usurp the words Second International, when the Congress is not international. It is an injustice which not only I, but I believe the majority of my [Swedish] section do not approve of." [10]

Such protests did not deter Davenport and his colleagues. Indeed, in a special presentation on the essence of eugenic research, Davenport explained his dedication. "Why do we investigate?" he asked. "Alas! We have now too little precise knowledge in any field of eugenics. We can command respect for our eugenic conclusions only as our findings are based on rigid proof .... " Davenport reminded the delegates that wealthy American benefactors had made the critical difference between mere ideas and hard data. "It is largely due to the extraordinary vision of Mrs. E.H. Harriman, the founder of the Eugenics Record Office, that in this country, eugenics is more a subject of research than [mere] propaganda." [11]

Money made the difference for the international convention as well. Mrs. Harriman donated an extra $2,500 to fund the more than 120 exhibits erected throughout the museum. These included a prominent exhibit on sterilization statutes in the United States. The Carnegie Institution extended a special grant of $2,000 to defray travel expenses for several of the key European speakers, and to cover general expenses for the delegates. Other wealthy eugenicists contributed significant sums and were named patrons of the gathering. They included sanitarium owner John Kellogg, working through his Race Betterment Foundation, and YMCA benefactor and prominent political contributor Cleveland H. Dodge. [12]

In recalling the congress some weeks later for the Indiana Academy of Science, Carnegie researcher Arthur Estabrook quoted Osborn: "That all men are born with equal rights and duties has been confused with the political sophistry that all men are born with equal character and ability to govern themselves .... " [13]

During the congress Davenport orchestrated the renaming and broadening of the International Eugenics Committee into a Permanent International Commission on Eugenics. This renamed entity would sanction all eugenic organizations in "cooperating" member countries, which now included Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela, Australia, New Zealand and the United States. Germany was not included because it refused to sit on the same panel with its World War I enemies Belgium and France. Germany was also struggling under the punitive terms of the Treaty of Versailles, which made international eugenic cooperation difficult. [14]

Multinational eugenics gathered momentum during the next two years. In October of 1922, the Permanent International Commission assembled in Brussels. The meeting was once again steered by Davenport and his circle. Representatives from Belgium, Denmark, Great Britain, France, the Netherlands and Norway began coordinating their efforts. The commission resolved to learn more about eugenic campaigns in India and Japan, and also voted unanimously to invite Germany back into its ranks. [15]

In September of 1923, Laughlin kicked off his first European immigration tour by attending the Permanent International Commission meeting in Lund, Sweden. Preparations for this meeting prevented Laughlin from sailing to Europe in July with Secretary of Labor James Davis. At the Lund meeting, Laughlin advanced most of the motions that the commission adopted. [16]

The 1923 meeting proved a watershed event for the movement. The group ratified the four-point "Ultimate Program" devised by the American Eugenics Society, calling for each nation to undertake research, education, administrative measures and "conservative legislation" within its borders. And although it welcomed news of their efforts, the commission stopped short of extending membership to Japan and India. [17]

To keep the eugenic directorate truly elite, commission rules permitted no more than three representatives of each cooperating country to be empanelled. Davenport and Laughlin sat at the apex of this group. All commission members were dedicated to the American-espoused belief in Nordic supremacy, a sentiment which was also growing in Germany. Yet Germany was still not a full participant on the commission. Although Germany was willing to rejoin the group, German race scientists told commissioners that Germany still "could not cooperate with representatives of certain nations." In personal correspondence, German eugenicists specified whom they meant: the French. [18] Commission leaders said they would wait.

During the next two years, with Germany still in the periphery, Davenport and Laughlin were able to extend U.S. domination of the commission's scope, science, and political agenda. Resolutions were binding on the dozen or so members, committing them to pursue the agreed-upon legislative and scientific strategies. Because of this, policy developed on Long Island leapt across the ocean directly into the capitals of other nations. [19]

For example, in 1925 Davenport introduced a resolution based on Laughlin's strategy of investigating immigrant families and screening them for eugenical fitness. Likening human beings to farm animals, Davenport's resolution read: "Whereas every nation has a right to select those who shall be included in its body politic, and whereas some knowledge of both family history and past personal performance are as essential a part of the information about a human immigrant and potential parent, as about an imported horse or cow, therefore [be it] resolved that each immigrant-receiving country may properly enquire into the family and personal history of each immigrant." [20] Commission members, working through scientific and intellectual societies back home, then pressured for changes in immigration regulations along these lines.

Worldwide uniformity was important to Davenport. To push usage of the ERO's standard family pedigree form in all countries, Davenport issued a message: "Members are reminded that a standardized form of pedigree was worked out by the Federation and has been widely published in most countries." He also asked all cooperating national societies to lobby for national registration and census schemes similar to models already developed by his colleagues in Norway and Holland. Davenport tempered his worldwide eugenic mandates by assuring he would "avoid anything which might savour of interference in national affairs," adding, "nevertheless, it is clear that in certain directions, such work might be usefully undertaken." [21]

By 1925, the commission was comprised not just of individuals, but also of constituent eugenic societies and institutions. Hence it was time to adopt another new name, the International Federation of Eugenic Organizations (IFEO). The new name was meant to further extend the organization's scope, and also reflected Davenport and Laughlin's desire to energize and standardize the movements in many countries. Ultimately, uniformity of eugenic action was written into IFEO membership rules. As president of the IFEO, Davenport issued a memorandum to member societies restating the federation's goals: "To endeavor to secure some measure of uniformity in the methods of research, and also sufficient uniformity in the form of presentation of results to make international work of worldwide use. To endeavor to promote measures tending to eugenic progress, whether international or national, on comparable lines." [22]

Even though Davenport was an influential steering force, federation members were independent thinkers. They advanced their own substantial legislative and scientific contributions for consideration by the federation. The Nordic countries of Scandinavia were especially active in this regard. Indeed, Europe's northwestern nations were the most receptive to eugenics. Predominantly Catholic countries were the most resistant. Whether resistant or receptive, however, each country's eugenics movement developed its own literature in its own language, its own racial and genetic societies, its own raceological personalities and its own homegrown agenda. Nonetheless, the movement's fundamental principles were American and shepherded by Americans. Many foreign eugenicists traveled to America for training at Cold Spring Harbor and to attend meetings, congresses and conferences. As the epicenter of eugenics, and by virtue of its domination of the IFEO, American eugenic imperialism was able to take root throughout Europe and indeed the world. [23]

Belgium's Societe BeIge d'Eugenique was organized in 1919. The Belgian Eugenics Society announced in Eugenical News that it was "fully awake to the needs of the time in connection with preservation of the race. Its leaders realize that the safeguarding of public health through hygienic measures is not sufficient, but that due attention must be paid to the prevention of the transmission of hereditary traits that would be injurious to the race." The new society's nine sections included ones for social hygiene, documentation and legislation. Within two years, the Belgian Eugenics Society launched its own journal, which the ERO at Cold Spring Harbor quickly declared to be of "high order." [24]

Dr. Albert Govaerts led the Belgian movement. He was allied with Laughlin from the beginning. After the second international congress in New York in 1921, Govaerts stayed on and traveled to Cold Spring Harbor for a term of study, which was funded by a fellowship from America's postwar Commission for Relief in Belgium Educational Foundation. [25]

Govaerts's work at the ERO concentrated on hereditary tuberculosis studies, and his research was published in the American Review of Tuberculosis in 1922. After Govaerts returned to Belgium, his original tables and calculations remained on file at the ERO. By early 1922, Govaerts's Belgian Eugenics Society had installed eugenic lectures and courses at the University of Brussels. They also succeeded in garnering recognition of the budding science from the Belgian government. Later in 1922, a government- supported National Office of Eugenics opened in Brussels at the distinguished Solvay Institute. The National Office of Eugenics trained eugenic field workers and operated as a Belgian version of the ERO. [26]

Laughlin and Govaerts often worked as a team. Laughlin used Govaerts's office as a headquarters during his 1923 sojourn throughout Europe as a Congressional immigration agent, and he even stayed in his home when visiting Brussels. Eugenicists never secured sterilization laws in Belgium, but Govaerts boasted of his lobbying efforts for a "eugenical prenuptial examination" to be required of all marriage applicants. Eugenical News reported that Govaerts "very graciously states that Belgian eugenicists are deeply indebted to the Eugenics Record Office for the service rendered in aiding the Belgian society to establish its new office." [27]

In Canada, eugenic passions became inflamed over many issues, including the birth rate of French Canadians. But perhaps no debate was more heated than the one prompted by problems associated with immigrant groups. Hard-working Asian and European immigrants flowed into Canada throughout the 1890s as the country's infrastructure expanded. In 1905, Ontario carried out its first census of the feebleminded. Shortly after Indiana passed its 1907 sterilization law, Ontario's Provincial Inspector of Hospitals and Public Charities argued that Rentoul's concepts could end the hereditary production of tramps, prostitutes and other immoral characters. Another Canadian physician pointed to the example of a Chicago doctor who advocated asexualization. [28]

By 1910, Canada's British-American Medical Association was studying the sterilization laws in California and Indiana. Similar legislation proposed in Ontario and Manitoba did not succeed. But the movement for human breeding and sterilization of the unfit continued. The first Canadian sterilization law was passed by Alberta's legislature in 1928. Alberta's Sexual Sterilization Act targeted mental defectives who "risk ... multiplication of [their] evil by transmission of [their] disability to progeny." Alberta's Eugenics Board authorized the sterilization of four hundred people in its first nine years. In 1937, certain safeguards were eliminated by the new Social Credit government, and the door was opened to forced sterilization. Until the law was repealed in 1972, of some 4,700 applications, 2,822 surgeries were actually authorized. The majority of Alberta's sterilized were young women under the age of twenty-five, many under the age of sixteen. Following the example of America's hunt for mongrels, Alberta disproportionately sterilized French-Canadian Catholics, Indians and Metis (individuals of mixed French-Canadian and Indian descent). Indians and Metis constituted just 2.5 percent of Canada's population, but in later years represented 25 percent of Alberta's sterilized. [29]

British Columbia passed its own law in 1933, creating a three-person Eugenics Board comprised of a judge, a psychiatrist and a social worker. Because records were lost or destroyed, no one will ever know exactly how many were sterilized in British Columbia, although one study discussed the fates of over fifty women who had undergone the operation. [30]

In Switzerland, the eminent psychiatrist and sexologist Dr. Auguste Forel was a leading disciple of eugenics beginning in 1910. He was also a proponent of U.S.-style sterilization laws. The wealthy industrialist Julius Klaus was another early advocate, endorsing eugenic registers to identify Switzerland's unfit. When he died in 1920, Klaus bequeathed more than a million Swiss francs, or about $4.4 million in modern money, to establish a fund for Swiss eugenic investigations and related advocacy. Klaus's will specifically forbade using the fund for charitable works to "ameliorate the condition of physical and mental defectives." [31]

Swiss eugenic scientists were suddenly endowed. The anthropologist Otto Schlaginhaufen became director of the Zurich-based Julius Klaus Foundation for Heredity Research, Social Anthropology and Racial Hygiene as well as the Institution for Race Biology. These organizations were dedicated to "the promotion of all scientifically based efforts, whose ultimate goal is ... to improve the white race." In 1923, Schlaginhaufen and Forel, now fully funded, ascended to the Permanent International Eugenics Commission. [32]

Swiss eugenics focused on the exclusion of certain ethnic groups, as well as Forel's notion of sexology, that is, the study of sexual behavior, especially as it related to women. Forel believed women wished to be and should be "conquered, mastered and subjugated" to fulfill their national reproductive duty. In 1928, Switzerland's first sterilization law was passed in Canton Vaud, where Forel practiced. It targeted a vaguely-defined "unfit." Only Vaud passed such a law, but physicians across the country performed sterilizations for both medical and eugenical reasons. Although the extent of Swiss sterilizations remains unknown, one scholar ascertained that some 90 percent of the operations were conducted on women. [33]

In Denmark, eugenics was organized by two of Davenport's earliest confederates, August Wimmer and Soren Hansen. Wimmer was a psychiatrist at the University of Copenhagen, and Hansen was president of the Danish Anthropological Committee. As Nordic raceologists seeking to stamp out defective strains within an already eugenically elite country, their affiliation with Davenport was natural. One Danish physician even traveled to the Vineland Training School in New Jersey to study under H. H. Goddard, whose texts on the Kallikaks and revision of the Binet-Simon test became standard in Danish eugenical publications. Although resistant at first, in 1912 the government launched a massive eugenical registration of deaf-mutes, the feebleminded and other defectives. It was not until a decade later that the first eugenic marriage restriction law was adopted. So-called "therapeutic sterilization" was common, but compulsory sterilization would not be legalized until 1929. [34]

A government commission reexamined the sterilization issue in 1926, looking to America for guidance. In November of 1927, Laughlin arranged for his lengthy legislative guide on sterilization to be sent by Chicago judge Harry Olson directly to a member of the Danish sterilization commission. In 1929, Hansen proudly reported to Eugenical News that his country had finally adopted what he termed, "the first 'modern' eugenical sterilization law to be enacted in Europe." [35]

Shortly after the passage of Denmark's legislation, the Rockefeller Foundation began supporting eugenic research in that country. Denmark's leading eugenic scientist, Dr. Tage Kemp, received much of the financial support. The first grants were awarded in 1930 for blood group research. The next year Kemp received a special Rockefeller fellowship to continue his research. In 1932, Kemp traveled to Cold Spring Harbor for further study. He wanted eugenic and genetic research to achieve greater scientific and medical exactitude. "I was notably impressed by the importance of the careful execution of the several observations," he wrote Rockefeller officials, adding, "these ought as far as possible to be carried out and reexamined (after-examined) by an investigator with medical education." Rockefeller officials agreed, granting Kemp a second fellowship in 1934. They would continue to fund race biology and human genetics in Denmark throughout the 1930s. [36]

Kemp was among the new breed of eugenic geneticists the Rockefeller Foundation was cultivating to lift eugenics out of mere racial rhetoric and into the realm of unemotional science. A Rockefeller report explained their confidence in Kemp. "Race biology today suffers immensely from its mixture with political dogmas and drives. Dr. Kemp, through his personality and training, is as free from these as possible." [37]

In Norway, the raceologist Jon Alfred Mjoen endorsed American eugenics from the outset. He propounded his theories from a well-equipped animal and human measurement lab as well as a grand personal library, crammed floor to ceiling with books and files. At the second congress in New York, Mjoen suggested the resolution that ultimately led to the formation of the American Eugenics Society. In his opening address to the convention, Osborn singled out Mjoen and Lundborg. "It is largely through the active efforts of leaders like Mjoen and Lundborg," he acknowledged, "that there is a new appreciation of the spiritual, moral and physical value of the Nordic race." [38]

Davenport toured eugenic facilities in Norway, and Mjoen visited New York on several occasions. Mjoen was also a frequent contributor to, and topic of, Eugenical News. The dapper Norwegian was often pictured arm-in- arm with leading American eugenicists, such as Leon Whitney. Norway passed its sterilization law in 1934, and in 1977 amended it to become a mostly voluntary measure. Some 41,000 operations were performed, about 75 percent of them on women. [39]

The Swedish government's State Institute of Race-Biology opened its doors in 1922. It was an entire school dedicated to eugenic thought, and it would leave a multilayered movement in its wake. Sweden alternately shared and coordinated its programs with the IFEO. Sweden's first sterilization law was passed in 1934. It began by sterilizing those who had "mental illness, feeble-mindedness, or other mental defects" and eventually widened its scope to include those with "an anti-social way of life." Eventually, some 63,000 government-approved sterilizations were undertaken on a range of "unfit" individuals, mainly women. In some years women represented a mere 63 percent of those sterilized, but in most years the percentage who were women exceeded 90 percent. [40]

American influence rolled across the Continent. Finland, Hungary, France, Romania, Italy and other European nations developed American-style eugenic movements that echoed the agenda and methodology of the font at Cold Spring Harbor. Soon the European movements learned to cloak their work in more medically and scientifically refined approaches, and many were eventually funded by such philanthropic sponsors as the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Institution. In the late twenties and thirties, these foundations liberally granted money to studies that adhered to a more polished clinical regimen. [41]

Throughout the twenties and thirties, America's views were celebrated at the numerous international gatherings held in America, such as the Third International Congress of Eugenics, which in 1932 was hosted once again at New York City's American Museum of Natural History. Theory became doctrine when proliferated in the many eugenic newsletters, books, and journal articles published by the American movement. America's most venerable universities and academic authorities also reinforced the view that eugenic science was legitimate. [42]

Some nations, such as France and Italy, rejected their native eugenic movements. Some, such as Holland, only enacted broadly-based registration laws. Some, such as Lithuania and Brazil, enacted eugenic marriage laws. Some, such as Finland, went as far as forced sterilization. [43]

One nation, Germany, would go further than anyone could imagine.
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Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

Postby admin » Thu Jul 31, 2014 3:36 am

CHAPTER 13: Eugenicide

Murder was always an option.

Point eight of the Preliminary Report of the Committee of the Eugenic Section of the American Breeders Association to Study and to Report on the Best Practical Means fir Cutting Off the Defective Germ-Plasm in the Human Population specified euthanasia as a possibility to be considered. [1] Of course euthanasia was merely a euphemism-actually a misnomer. Eugenicists did not see euthanasia as a "merciful killing" of those in pain, but rather a "painless killing" of people deemed unworthy of life. The method most whispered about, and publicly denied, but never out of mind, was a "lethal chamber."

The lethal chamber first emerged in Britain during the Victorian era as a humane means of killing stray dogs and cats. Dr. Benjamin Ward Richardson patented a "Lethal Chamber for the Painless Extinction of Lower Animal Life" in the 1880s. Richardson's original blueprints show a large wood- and glass-paneled chamber big enough for a Saint Bernard or several smaller dogs, serviced by a tall slender tank for carbonic acid gas, and a heating apparatus. In 1884 the Battersea Dogs Home in London became one of the first institutions to install the device, and used it continuously with "perfect success" according to a sales proposal at the time. By the turn of the century other charitable animal institutions in England and other European countries were also using the chamber. [2]

This solution for unwanted pets was almost immediately contemplated as a solution for unwanted humans -- criminals, the feebleminded and other misfits. The concept of the lethal chamber was common vernacular by the turn of the century. When mentioned, it needed no explanation; everyone understood what it meant.

In 1895, the British novelist Robert Chambers penned his vision of a horrifying world twenty-five years into the future. He wrote of a New York where the elevated trains were dismantled and "the first Government Lethal Chamber was opened on Washington Square." No explanation of "Government Lethal Chamber" was offered-or necessary. Indeed, the idea of gassing the unwanted became a topic of contemporary chitchat. In 1901, the British author Arnold White, writing in Efficiency and Empire, chastised "flippant people of lazy mind [who] talk lightly of the 'lethal chamber' .... " [3]

In 1905, the British eugenicist and birth control advocate H. G. Wells published A Modern Utopia. "There would be no killing, no lethal chambers," he wrote. Another birth control advocate, the socialist writer Eden Paul, differed with Wells and declared that society must protect itself from "begetters of anti-social stocks which would injure generations to come. If it [society] reject the lethal chamber, what other alternative can the socialist state devise?" [4]

The British eugenicist Robert Rentoul's 1906 book, Race Culture; Or, Race Suicide?, included a long section entitled "The Murder of Degenerates." In it he routinely referred to Dr. D. F. Smith's earlier suggestion that those found guilty of homicide be executed in a "lethal chamber" rather than by hanging. He then cited a new novel whose character "advocate[d] the doctrine of 'euthanasia' for those suffering from incurable physical diseases." Rentoul admitted he had received many letters in support of killing the unfit, but he rejected them as too cruel, explaining, "These [suggestions] seem to fail to recognize that the killing off of few hundreds of lunatics, idiots, etc., would not tend to effect a cure." [5]

The debate raged among British eugenicists, provoking damnation in the press. In 1910, the eugenic extremist George Bernard Shaw lectured at London's Eugenics Education Society about mass murder in lethal chambers. Shaw proclaimed, "A part of eugenic politics would finally land us in an extensive use of the lethal chamber. A great many people would have to be put out of existence, simply because it wastes other people's time to look after them." Several British newspapers excoriated Shaw and eugenics under such headlines as "Lethal Chamber Essential to Eugenics." [6]

One opponent of eugenics condemned "much wild and absurd talk about lethal chambers .... " But in another article a eugenicist writing under the pseudonym of Vanoc argued that eugenics was needed precisely because systematic use of lethal chambers was unlikely. "I admit the word 'Eugenics' is repellent, but the thing is essential to our existence .... It is also an error to believe than the plans and specifications for County Council lethal-chambers have yet been prepared." [7]

The Eugenics Education Society in London tried to dispel all "dark mutterings regarding 'lethal chambers.'" Its key activist Saleeby insisted, "We need mention, only to condemn, suggestions for 'painless extinction,' lethal chambers of carbonic acid, and so forth. As I incessantly have to repeat, eugenics has nothing to do with killing .... " Saleeby returned to this time and again. When lecturing in Battle Creek, Michigan, at the First National Conference on Race Betterment in 1914, he emphasized a vigorous rejection of "the lethal chamber, the permission of infant mortality, interference with [pre]-natal life, and all other synonyms for murder." [8]

But many British eugenicists clung to the idea. Arthur F. Tredgold was a leading expert on mental deficiency and one of the earliest members of the Eugenics Education Society; his academic credentials eventually won him a seat on the Brock Commission on Mental Deficiency. Tredgold's landmark Textbook on Mental Deficiency, first published in 1908, completely avoided discussion of the lethal chamber. But three subsequent editions published over the next fourteen years did discuss it, with each revision displaying greater acceptance of the idea. In those editions Tredgold equivocated: "We may dismiss the suggestion of a 'lethal chamber.' I do not say that society, in self-defense, would be unjustified in adopting such a method of ridding itself of its anti-social constituents. There is much to be said for and against the proposal. ... " By the sixth edition, Tredgold had modified the paragraph to read: "The suggestion [of the lethal chamber] is a logical one .... It is probable that the community will eventually, in self-defense, have to consider this question seriously." The next two editions edged into outright, if limited, endorsement. While qualifying that morons need not be put to death, Tredgold concluded that for some 80,000 imbeciles and idiots in Britain, "it would be an economical and humane procedure were their existence to be painlessly terminated .... The time has come when euthanasia should be permitted .... " [9]

Leaders of the American eugenic establishment also debated lethal chambers and other means of euthanasia. But in America, while the debate began as an argument about death with dignity for the terminally ill or those in excruciating pain, it soon became a palatable eugenic solution. In 1900, the physician W. Duncan McKim published Heredity and Human Progress, asserting, "Heredity is the fundamental cause of human wretchedness .... The surest, the simplest, the kindest, and most humane means for preventing reproduction among those whom we deem unworthy of this high privilege [reproduction], is a gentle, painless death." He added, "In carbonic acid gas, we have an agent which would instantaneously fulfill the need." [10]

By 1903, a committee of the National Conference on Charities and Correction conceded that it was as yet undecided whether "science may conquer sentiment" and ultimately elect to systematically kill the unfit. In 1904, the superintendent of New Jersey's Vineland Training School, E. R. Johnstone, raised the issue during his presidential address to the Association of Medical Officers of American Institutions for Idiotic and Feebleminded Persons. "Many plans for the elimination [of the feebleminded] have been proposed," he said, referred to numerous recently published suggestions of a "painless death." That same year, the notion of executing habitual criminals and the incurably insane was offered to the National Prison Association. [11]

Some U.S. lawmakers considered similar ideas. Two years later, the Ohio legislature considered a bill empowering physicians to chloroform permanently diseased and mentally incapacitated persons. In reporting this, Rentoul told his British colleagues that it was Ohio's attempt to "murder certain persons suffering from incurable disease." Iowa considered a similar measure. [12]

By 1910, the idea of sending the unfit into lethal chambers was regularly bandied about in American sociological and eugenic circles, causing a debate no less strident than the one in England. In 1911, E. B. Sherlock's book, The Feebleminded: a guide to study and practice, acknowledged that "glib suggestions of the erection of lethal chambers are common enough .... " Like others, he rejected execution in favor of eugenic termination of bloodlines. "Apart from the difficulty that the provision of lethal chambers is impracticable in the existing state law ... ," he continued, "the removal of them [the feebleminded] would do practically nothing toward solving the chief problem with the mentally defective set ... , the persistence of the obnoxious stock." [13]

But other eugenicists were more amenable to the idea. The psychologist and eugenicist Henry H. Goddard seemed to almost express regret that such proposals had not already been implemented. In his famous study, The Knllikak Family, Goddard commented, "For the low-grade idiot, the loathsome unfortunate that may be seen in our institutions, some have proposed the lethal chamber. But humanity is steadily tending away from the possibility of that method, and there is no probability that it will ever be practiced." Goddard pointed to family-wide castration, sterilization and segregation as better solutions because they would address the genetic source. [14]

In 1912, Laughlin and others at the Eugenics Section of the American Breeders Association considered euthanasia as the eighth of nine options. Their final report, published by the Carnegie Institution as a two-volume bulletin, enumerated the "Suggested Remedies" and equivocated on euthanasia. Point eight cited the example of ancient Sparta, fabled for drowning its weak young boys in a river or letting them die of exposure to ensure a race of warriors. Mixing condemnation with admiration, the Carnegie report declared, "However much we deprecate Spartan ideals and her means of advancing them, we must admire her courage in so rigorously applying so practical a system of selection .... Sparta left but little besides tales of personal valor to enhance the world's culture. With euthanasia, as in the case of polygamy, an effective eugenical agency would be purchased at altogether too dear a moral price." [15]

William Robinson, a New York urologist, published widely on the topic of birth control and eugenics. In Robinson's book, Eugenics, Marriage and Birth Control (practical Eugenics), he advocated gassing the children of the unfit. In plain words, Robinson insisted: "The best thing would be to gently chloroform these children or to give them a dose of potassium cyanide." Margaret Sanger was well aware that her fellow birth control advocates were promoting lethal chambers, but she herself rejected the idea completely. "Nor do we believe," wrote Sanger in Pivot of Civilization, "that the community could or should send to the lethal chamber the defective progeny resulting from irresponsible and unintelligent breeding." [16]

Still, American eugenicists never relinquished the notion that America could bring itself to mass murder. At the First National Conference on Race Betterment, University of Wisconsin eugenicist Leon]. Cole lectured on the dysgenic effects of charity and medicine on eugenic progress. He made a clear distinction between Darwin's concept of natural selection and the newer idea of simple "selection." The difference, Cole explained, "is that instead of being natural selection it is now conscious selection on the part of the breeder. ... Death is the normal process of elimination in the social organism, and we might carry the figure a step further and say that in prolonging the lives of defectives we are tampering with the functioning of the social kidneys!" [17]

Paul Popenoe, leader of California's eugenics movement and coauthor of the widely-used textbook Applied Eugenics, agreed that the easiest way to counteract feeblemindedness was simple execution. "From an historical point of view," he wrote, "the first method which presents itself is execution .... Its value in keeping up the standard of the race should not be underestimated." [18]

Madison Grant, who functioned as president of the Eugenics Research Association and the American Eugenics Society, made the point clear in The Passing of the Great Race. "Mistaken regard for what are believed to be divine laws and a sentimental belief in the sanctity of human life tend to prevent both the elimination of defective infants and the sterilization of such adults as are themselves of no value to the community. The laws of nature require the obliteration of the unfit and human life is valuable only when it is of use to the community or race." [19]

On November 12, 1915, the issue of eugenic euthanasia sprang out of the shadows and into the national headlines. It began as an unrelated medical decision on Chicago's Near North Side. At 4 A.M. that day, a woman named Anna Bollinger gave birth at German-American Hospital. The baby was somewhat deformed and suffered from extreme intestinal and rectal abnormalities, as well as other complications. The delivering physicians awakened Dr. Harry Haiselden, the hospital's chief of staff. Haiselden came in at once. He consulted with colleagues. There was great disagreement over whether the child could be saved. But Haiselden decided the baby was too afflicted and fundamentally not worth saving. It would be killed. The method -- denial of treaunent. [20]

Catherine Walsh, probably a friend of Anna Bollinger's, heard the news and sped to the hospital to help. She found the baby, who had been named Allan, alone in a bare room. He was naked and appeared to have been lying in one position unattended. Walsh urgently called for Haiselden, "to beg that the child be taken to its mother," and dramatically recalled, "It was condemned to death, and I knew its mother would be its most merciful judge." [21]

Walsh pleaded with Haiselden not to kill the baby by withholding treatment. "It was not a monster -- that child," Walsh later told an inquest. "It was a beautiful baby. I saw no deformities." Walsh had patted the infant lightly. Allan's eyes were open, and he waved his tiny fists at her. She kissed his forehead. "I knew," she recalled, "if its mother got her eyes on it she would love it and never permit it to be left to die." Begging the doctor once more, Walsh tried an appeal to his humanity. "If the poor little darling has one chance in a thousand," she pleaded, "won't you operate and save it?" [22]

Haiselden laughed at Walsh, retorting, "I'm afraid it might get well." He was a skilled and experienced surgeon, trained by the best doctors in Chicago, and now chief of the hospital's medical staff. He was also an ardent eugenicist. [23]

Chicago's health commissioner, Dr. John Dill Robertson, learned of the deliberate euthanasia. He went to the hospital and told Haiselden he did not agree that "the child would grow up a mental defective." He later recollected, "I thought the child was in a dying condition, and I had doubts that an operation then would save it. Yet I believed it had one chance in 100,000, and I advised Dr. Haiselden to give it this one chance." But Haiselden refused. [24]

Quiet euthanasia of newborns was not uncommon in Chicago. Haiselden, however, publicly defended his decision to withhold treatment as a kind of eugenic expedient, throwing the city and the nation into moral turmoil amid blaring newspaper headlines. An inquest was convened a few days later. Some of Haiselden's most trusted colleagues were impaneled on the coroner's jury. Health Commissioner Robertson testified, "I think it very wrong not to save life, let that life be what it may. That is the function of a physician. I believe this baby might have grown up to be an average man .... I would have operated and saved this baby's life .... " [25]

At one point Haiselden angrily interrupted the health commissioner's testimony to question why he was being singled out when doctors throughout Chicago were routinely killing, on average, one baby every day, under similar circumstances. Haiselden defiantly declared, "I should have been guilty of a graver crime if I had saved this child's life. My crime would have been keeping in existence one of nature's cruelest blunders." A juror shot back, "What do you mean by that?" Haiselden responded, "Exactly that. I do not think this child would have grown up to be a mental defective. I know it." [26]

After tempestuous proceedings, the inquest ruled, "We believe that a prompt operation would have prolonged and perhaps saved the life of the child. We find no evidence from the physical defects that the child would have become mentally or morally defective." The doctor jurors concluded that the child had at least a one-in-three chance -- some thought an "even chance" -- of surviving. But they also decided that Haiselden was within his professional rights to decline treatment. No law compelled him to operate on the child. The doctor was released unpunished, and efforts by the Illinois attorney general to indict him for murder were blocked by the local prosecutor. [27]

The medical establishment in Chicago and throughout the nation was rocked. The Chicago Tribune ran a giant banner headline across the width of its front page: "Baby Dies; Physician Upheld." One reader in Washington, D.C., wrote a letter to the editor asking, "Is it not strange that the whole country should be so shaken, almost hysterical, over the death of a babe never consciously alive ... ? " But the nation was momentarily transfixed. [28]

Haiselden considered his legal vindication a powerful victory for eugenics. "Eugenics? Of course it's eugenics," he told one reporter. On another occasion he remarked, "Which do you prefer -- six days of Baby Bollinger or seventy years of Jukes?" [29]

Emboldened, Haiselden proudly revealed that he had euthanized other such newborns in the past. He began granting high-profile media interviews to advertise his determination to continue passively euthanizing infants. Within two weeks, he had ordered his staff to withhold treatment from several more deformed or birth-defected infants. Haiselden would sometimes send instructions via cross-country telegraph while on the lecture tour that arose from his eugenic celebrity. Other times he would handle it personally, like the time he left a newly delivered infant's umbilical cord untied and let it bleed to death. Sometimes he took a more direct approach and simply injected newborns with opiates. [30]

The euthanasia of Allan Bollinger may have begun as one doctor's controversial professional decision, but it immediately swirled into a national eugenic spectacle. Days after the inquest ruling, The Independent, a Hearst weekly devoted to pressing issues of the day, ran an editorial asking "Was the Doctor Right?" The Independent invited readers to sound off. In a special section, The Independent published supportive letters from prominent eugenicists, including Davenport himself. "If the progress of surgery," wrote Davenport, "is to be used to the detriment of the race ... it may conceivably destroy the race. Shortsighted they who would unduly restrict the operation of what is one of nature's greatest racial blessings -- death." [31]

Haiselden continued to rally for eugenic euthanasia with a six-week series in the Chicago American. He justified his killings by claiming that public institutions for the feebleminded, epileptic and tubercular were functioning as lethal chambers of a sort. After clandestinely visiting the Illinois Institution for the Feebleminded at Lincoln, Illinois, Haiselden claimed that windows were deliberately left open and unscreened, allowing drafts and infecting flies to swarm over patients. He charged that Lincoln consciously permitted "flies from the toilets, garbage and from the eruptions of patients suffering from acute and chronic troubles to go at will over the entire institution. Worse still," he proclaimed, "I found that inmates were fed with the milk from a herd of cattle reeking with tuberculosis." [32]

At the time, milk from cattle with tuberculosis was a well-known cause of infection and death from the disease. [33] Lincoln maintained its own herd of seventy-two cows, which produced about 50,000 gallons of milk a year for its own consumption. Ten diseased cows had died within the previous two years. State officials admitted that their own examinations had determined that as many as half of the cows were tubercular, but there was no way to know which ones were infected because "a tubercular cow may be the fattest cow in the herd." Lincoln officials claimed that their normal pasteurization "by an experienced employee" killed the tuberculosis bacteria. They were silent on the continuous handling of the milk by infected residents. [34]

Medical watchdogs had often speculated that institutions for the feeble-minded were really nothing more than slow-acting lethal chambers. But Haiselden never resorted to the term lethal chamber. He called such institutions "slaughterhouses." [35]

In tuberculosis colonies, residents continuously infected and reinfected each other, often receiving minimal or no treatment. At Lincoln, the recently established tuberculosis unit housed just forty beds for an estimated tubercular population of hundreds. Lincoln officials asserted that only the most severely infected children were placed in that ward. They stressed that other institutions for the feebleminded recorded much higher mortality rates, some as high as 40 percent. [36]

Eugenicists believed that when tuberculosis was fatal, the real culprit was not bacteria, but defective genes. The ERO kept special files on mortality rates resulting from hereditary tuberculosis, compiled by the Belgian eugenicist Govaerts and others. [37]

Tuberculosis was an omnipresent topic in textbooks on eugenics. Typical was a chapter in Davenport's Heredity in Relation to Eugenics (1911). He claimed that only the submerged tenth was vulnerable. "The germs are ubiquitous .... Why do only 10 percent die from the attacks of this parasite? ... It seems perfectly plain that death from tuberculosis is the result of infection added to natural and acquired non-resistance. It is then highly undesirable that two persons with weak resistance should marry .... " Popenoe and Johnson's textbook, Applied Eugenics, devoted a chapter to "Lethal Selection," which operated "through the destruction of the individual by some adverse feature of the environment, such as excessive cold, or bacteria, or by bodily deficiency." [38]

Some years earlier, the president of the National Conference on Charities and Correction had told his institutional superintendents caring for the feebleminded, "We wish the parasitic strain ... to die out." Even an article in Institution Quarterly, Illinois's own journal, admitted, "it would be an act of kindness to them, and a protection to the state, if they could be killed." [39]

No wonder that at one international conference on eugenics, Davenport proclaimed without explanation from the podium, "One may even view with satisfaction the high death rate in an institution for low grade feeble-minded, while one regards as a national disaster the loss of ... the infant child of exceptional parents." [40]

Haiselden himself quipped, "Death is the Great and Lasting Disinfectant." [41]

Haiselden's accusations of deliberate passive euthanasia by neglect and abuse could neither be verified nor dismissed. Lincoln's understaffed, overcrowded and decrepit facility consistently reported staggering death rates, often as high as 12 percent per year. In 1904, for example, 109 of its epileptic children died, constituting at least 10 percent and probably far more of its youth population; cause of death was usually listed as "exhaustion due to epileptic seizures." Between 1914 and 1915, a bout of dysentery claimed eight patients; "heat exhaustion" was listed as the cause. During the same period, four individuals died shortly after admission before any preliminary examination at all; their deaths were categorized as "undetermined." [42]

For some of its most vulnerable groups, Lincoln's death rate was particularly high. As many as 30 percent of newly admitted epileptic children died within eighteen months of admission. Moreover, in 1915, the overall death rate among patients in their first two years of residence jumped from 4.2 percent to 10 percent. [43]

Tuberculosis was a major factor. In 1915, Lincoln reported that nearly all of its incoming patients were designated feebleminded; roughly 20 percent were classified as epileptics; and some 27 percent of its overall population were "in the various stages of tubercular involvement." No isolation was provided for infected patients until the forty-bed tuberculosis unit opened. Lincoln officials worried that the statistics were "likely to leave the impression that the institution is a 'hot-bed' for the spread of tuberculosis." Officials denied this, explaining that many of the children came from filthy environments, and "the fact that feebleminded children have less resistance, account(s) for the high percentage of tuberculosis found among them." [44]

Lincoln officials clearly accepted the eugenic approach to feeblemindedness as gospel. Their reports and explanations were laced with scientific quotations on mental deficiency from Tredgold, who advocated euthanasia for severe cases, and Barr, who extolled the wisdom of the Kansas castrations. Lincoln officials also made clear that they received many of their patients as court-ordered institutionalizations from the Municipal Court of Chicago; as such, they received regular guidance from the court's supervising judge, Harry Olson. Eugenical News praised Olson for operating the court's psychopathic laboratory, which employed Laughlin as a special consultant on sterilization. Olson was vital to the movement and hailed by Eugenical News as "one of its most advanced representatives." In 1922, Olson became president of the Eugenics Research Association. [45]

Moreover, staff members at Lincoln were some of the leading eugenicists in Illinois. Lincoln psychologist Clara Town chaired the Eugenics Committee of the Illinois State Commission of Charities and Corrections. Town had helped compile a series of articles on eugenics and feeblemindedness, including one by her friend Henry H. Goddard, who had invented the original classifications of feeblemindedness. One reviewer described Town's articles as arguments that there was little use in caring for the institutionalized feebleminded, who would die anyway if left in the community; caring for them was little more than "unnatural selection." [46]

For decades, medical investigators would question how the death rates at asylums, including the one in Lincoln, Illinois, could be so high. In the 1990s, the average life expectancy for individuals with mental retardation was 66.2 years. In the 1930s, the average life expectancy for those classified as feebleminded was approximately 18.5 years. Records suggest that a disproportionate percentage of the feebleminded at Lincoln died before the age of ten. [47]

Haiselden became an overnight eugenic celebrity, known to the average person because of his many newspaper articles, speaking tours, and his outrageous diatribes. In 1917, Hollywood came calling. The film was called The Black Stork. Written by Chicago American reporter Jack Lait, it was produced in Hollywood and given a massive national distribution and promotion campaign. Haiselden played himself in a fictionalized account of a eugenically mismatched couple who are counseled by Haiselden against having children because they are likely to be defective. Eventually the woman does give birth to a defective child, whom she then allows to die. The dead child levitates into the waiting arms of Jesus Christ. It was unbridled cinematic propaganda for the eugenics movement. [48]

In many theaters, such as the LaSalle in Chicago, the movie played continuously from 9 A.M. until 11 P.M. National publicity advertised it as a "eugenic love story." Sensational movie posters called it a "eugenic photoplay." One advertisement quoted Swiss eugenicist Auguste Forel's warning: "The law of heredity winds like a red thread through the family history of every criminal, of every epileptic, eccentric and insane person. Shall we sit still ... without applying the remedy?" Another poster depicted Haiselden's office door with a notice: "BABIES NOT TREATED." In 1917, a display advertisement for the film encouraged: "Kill Defectives, Save the Nation and See 'The Black Stork.''' [49]

The Black Stork played at movie theaters around the nation for more than a decade. [50]

Gassing the unwanted, the lethal chamber and other methods of euthanasia became a part of everyday American parlance and ethical debate some two decades before President Woodrow Wilson, in General Order 62, directed that the "Gas Service" become the "Chemical Warfare Service," instructing them to develop toxic gas weapons for world war. The lethal chamber was a eugenic concept more than two decades before Nevada approved the first such chamber for criminal executions in 1921, and then gassed with cyanide a Chinese-born murderer, the first such execution in the world. Davenport declared that capital punishment was a eugenic necessity. Popenoe's textbook, Applied Eugenics, listed execution as one of nine suggested remedies for defectives -- without specifying criminals. [51]

In the first decades of the twentieth century, America's eugenics movement inspired and spawned a world of look-alikes, act-alikes and thinkalikes. The U.S. movement also rendered scientific aid and comfort to undisguised racists everywhere, from Walter Plecker in Virginia right across Europe. American theory, practice and legislation were the models. In France, Belgium, Sweden, England and elsewhere in Europe, each clique of raceological eugenicists did their best to introduce eugenic principles into national life; perhaps more importantly, they could always point to recent precedents established in the United States.

Germany was no exception. German eugenicists had formed academic and personal relationships with Davenport and the American eugenic establishment from the turn of the century. Even after World War I, when Germany would not cooperate with the International Federation of Eugenic Organizations because of French, English and Belgian involvement, its bonds with Davenport and the rest of the U.S. movement remained strong. American foundations such as the Carnegie Institution and the Rockefeller Foundation generously funded German race biology with hundreds of thousands of dollars, even as Americans stood in breadlines. [52]

Germany had certainly developed its own body of eugenic knowledge and library of publications. Yet German readers still closely followed American eugenic accomplishments as the model: biological courts, forced sterilization, detention for the socially inadequate, debates on euthanasia. As America's elite were describing the socially worthless and the ancestrally unfit as "bacteria," "vermin," "mongrels" and "subhuman," a superior race of Nordics was increasingly seen as the final solution to the globe's eugenic problems. [53]

America had established the value of race and blood. In Germany, the concept was known as Rasse und Blut.

U.S. proposals, laws, eugenic investigations and ideology were not undertaken quietly out of sight of German activists. They became inspirational blueprints for Germany's rising tide of race biologists and race-based hatemongers, be they white-coated doctors studying Eugenical News and attending congresses in New York, or brown-shirted agitators waving banners and screaming for social upheaval in the streets of Munich.

One such agitator was a disgruntled corporal in the German army. He was an extreme nationalist who also considered himself a race biologist and an advocate of a master race. He was willing to use force to achieve his nationalist racial goals. His inner circle included Germany's most prominent eugenic publisher. In 1924, he was serving time in prison for mob action. [54] While in prison, he spent his time poring over eugenic textbooks, which extensively quoted Davenport, Popenoe and other American raceological stalwarts. [55] Moreover, he closely followed the writings of Leon Whitney, president of the American Eugenics Society, and Madison Grant, who extolled the Nordic race and bemoaned its corruption by Jews, Negroes, Slavs and others who did not possess blond hair and blue eyes. The young German corporal even wrote one of them fan mail. [56]

In The Passing of the Great Race, Madison Grant wrote: "Mistaken regard for what are believed to be divine laws and a sentimental belief in the sanctity of human life tend to prevent both the elimination of defective infants and the sterilization of such adults as are themselves of no value to the community. The laws of nature require the obliteration of the unfit and human life is valuable only when it is of use to the community or race." [57]

One day in the early 1930s, AES president Whitney visited the home of Grant, who was at the time chairing a eugenic immigration committee. Whitney wanted to show off a letter he had just received from Germany, written by the corporal, now out of prison and rising in the German political scene. Grant could only smile. He pulled out his own letter. It was from the same German, thanking Grant for writing The Passing of the Great Race. The fan letter stated that Grant's book was "his Bible." [58]

The man writing both letters to the American eugenic leaders would soon burn and gas his name into the blackest corner of history. He would duplicate the American eugenic program -- both that which was legislated and that which was only brashly advocated -- and his group would consistently point to the United States as setting the precedents for Germany's actions. And then this man would go further than any American eugenicist ever dreamed, further than the world would ever tolerate, further than humanity will ever forget.

The man who sent those letters was Adolf Hitler. [59]

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Francis Galton's original scrap of paper inventing the term eugenics. UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON ARCHIVES

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Gregor Mendel, discoverer of the principles of heredity. AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY

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Francis Galton, father of eugenics. UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON ARCHIVES

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First Race Betterment Conference Banquet, 1914. AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY

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Chicago Tribune report of Dr. Harry Haiselden's infant euthanasia, November 1915. COURTESY OF MARTIN PERNICK

THE CHICAGO DAILY TRIBUNE

He's Going to Let Her Baby Die; This Woman Says "It's for Best."

DR. H.F. HAISELDEN
MRS. ANNA BOLLINGER

DOES HUMANITY DEMAND THE SAVING OF DEFECTIVE BABIES?

DOCTOR TO LET DEFECTIVE BABY EXPIRE UNAIDED

Mother Approves Surgeon's Refusal to Prolong Life of Malformed Infant.

(Continued from first page.)

... allowed to die by not tieing the umbilical cord. If the cord, which must be severed at birth, is not tied immediately after, the infant will die of loss of blood. I do not mean to say that children are permitted often to die by their physicians. But such deaths are not infrequent.

"Instead of struggling to save deformed children and those marked plainly for insanity and uselessness," the surgeon continued, "physicians should have only the fit. I have thought over this problem for years.

"There are no defectives among the Japanese. The surgeons of Nippon often fail to tie the umbilical cord. As a result, the Japanese are a wonderfully vigorous ...


Image

Movie industry ad for The Black Stork, April 1917. COURTESY OF MARTIN PERNICK

The eugenic photoplay --

"The Black Stork"

is being sold on a state rights basis by the

Sheriott Pictures Corporation
219 West 42nd Street
New York City

DR. H.J. HALSELDEN

BLACK STORK BABIES NOT TREATED!


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Image from The Black Stork depicting a euthanized baby floating to Jesus. "ARE YOU FIT TO MARRY" PRESERVATION FUNDED BY THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN HISTORICAL FILM COLLECTION; COURTESY OF MARTIN PERNICK AND JOHN ALLEN

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Charles B. Davenport AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY

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Charles B. Davenport AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY

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Harry H. Laughlin PICKLER MEMORIAL LIBRARY

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Charles B. Davenport leads a training session with field workers at the ERO, 1913. COLD SPRING HARBOR LABORATORY ARCHIVE

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Harry H. Laughlin and Charles B. Davenport pose with ERO field workers, 1914. COLD SPRING HARBOR LABORATORY ARCHIVE

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Eugenics Record Office files. COLD SPRING HARBOR LABORATORY ARCHIVE

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Eugenics Record Office files. COLD SPRING HARBOR LABORATORY ARCHIVE

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Exhibit poster showing dwellings of the so-called Tribe of Ishmael. AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY

THE TRIBE OF ISHMAEL

A GROUP OF DEGENERATES

FOUND IN INDIANA KENTUCKY OHIO ILLINOIS

MISSOURI AND IOWA

6000 PERSONS IN 1890

10000 IN 1921

THEY ARE

PAUPERS BEGGARS AND THIEVES

CRIMINALS PROSTITUTES WANDERERS

MOST OF THEM ARE FEEBLEMINDED

THEY HAVE BEEN FOUND IN THE PRISONS JAILS INSTITUTIONS

POOR ASYLUMS AND ORPHANS HOMES IN INDIANA FOR YEARS

SOME HAVE BECOME GOOD CITIZENS

THE GREAT MAJORITY ARE STILL MATING LIKE TO LIKE AND

REPRODUCING UNSOCIAL OFFSPRING

THE TRIBE OF ISHMAEL


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Exhibit: "Some people are born to be a burden on the rest," circa 1926. AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY

This light flashes every 15 seconds

Every 15 seconds $100 of your money goes for the care of persons with bad heredity such as the insane feeble-minded criminals & other defectives

Some people are born to be a burden on the rest.

This light flashes every 16 seconds

Every 16 seconds a person is born in the United States

Fitter Families CONTEST

EASTERN STATES EXPOSITION

This light flashes every 7-1/2 minutes

Every 7-1/2 minutes a high grade person is born in the United States who will have ability to do creative work & be fit for leadership. About 4% of all Americans come within this class.


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Exhibit poster: "Marriages, Fit and Unfit." AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY

MARRIAGES - FIT AND UNFIT

1. PURE + PURE: CHILDREN NORMAL

2. ABNORMAL + ABNORMAL: CHILDREN ABNORMAL

3. PURE + ABNORMAL: CHILDREN NORMAL BUT TAINTED: SOME GRANDCHILDREN ABNORMAL

4. TAINTED + ABNORMAL: CHILDREN 1/2 NORMAL BUT TAINTED 1/2 ABNORMAL

5. TAINTED + PURE: CHILDREN 1/2 PURE NORMAL, 1/2 NORMAL BUT TAINTED

6. TAINTED + TAINTED: CHILDREN OF EVERY FOUR, 1 ABNORMAL, 1 PURE NORMAL, AND 2 TAINTED

PURE: NORMAL AND TRANSMITTING ONLY NORMAL

TAINTED: NORMAL BUT CAN TRANSMIT ABNORMALITY

ABNORMAL: SHOWING THE ABNORMALITY

HOW LONG ARE WE AMERICANS TO BE SO CAREFUL FOR THE PEDIGREE OF OUR PIGS AND CHICKENS AND CATTLE -- AND THEN LEAVE THE ANCESTRY OF OUR CHILDREN TO CHANCE, OR TO "BLIND" SENTIMENT?


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ERO copy of the September 1910 edition of Archiv fur Rassen- und Gesellschafts- Biologie, featuring articles by German eugenics founding father Alfred Ploetz, Ernst Rudin (who later became president of the International Federation of Eugenic Organizations), and Roderick Plate (who would become a demographic and statistical expert for Nazi killer Adolf Eichmann). AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY

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Eugenics, March 1929 edition, featuring articles by Virginia racist Walter Plecker and birth control advocate Margaret Sanger. VERMONT STATE PUBLIC RECORDS DIVISION

EUGENICS

A Journal of Race Betterment

YEA, I HAVE A GOODLY HERITAGE

VOLUME II, MARCH 1929, NUMBER 3

Birth Control and Genius

DR. C. C. LITTLE
DR. HANNAH M. STONE
MARGARET SANGER
FATHER JOHN A. McCLOREY
MRS. F. ROBERTSON JONES

RACE MIXTURE AND THE NEXT CENSUS

By W. A. PLECKER
State Registrar of Vital Statistics, Virginia

30 cents the copy, $3,00 a year


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Carrie Buck standing in a park, date unknown. AUTHOR'S COLLECTION

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Code list for IBM Hollerith punch card system used in the Jamaica Race Crossing Study, 1928. AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY

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Margaret Sanger PLANNED PARENTHOOD FEDERATION

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ERO's copy of German eugenicist Erwin Baur photograph. AMERICAN PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY

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Ernst Rudin, director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics. MAX PLANCK INSTITUT FUR PYSCHIATRIE, HISTORISCHES ARCHIV DER KLINIK

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Edwin Katzen-Ellenbogen at Buchenwald with a warm hat he claimed he never wore. NATIONAL ARCHIVES

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Nazi Interior Minister Wilhelm Frick propagandizing for forced sterilization in Eugenical News, March-April 1934. AUTHOR'S COLLECTION

VOL. XIX, No. 2

MARCH-APRIL, 1934

EUGENICAL NEWS

CURRENT RECORD OF HUMAN GENETICS AND RACE HYGIENE

GERMAN POPULATION AND RACE POLITICS. *

AN ADDRESS BY DR. FRICK, REICHSMINISTER FOR THE INTERIOR, BEFORE THE FIRST MEETING OF THE EXPERT COUNCIL FOR POPULATION- AND RACE-POLITICS HELD IN BERLIN, JUNE 28, 1933.

German Men and Women:

While thanking you for your ready cooperation I take the liberty of giving you today a survey of the work which we propose to do, as well as an outline of the goal which we want to reach.

The National Socialistic movement under the leadership of Adolf Hitler deserves the merit of having preserved the German nation from utter political disruption and the Reich from disorganization. It would be a great mistake to believe that now the main problem has been solved. Any one with perspicacity knows that the most difficult task has yet to be accomplished, namely to stop the national and cultural ruin. German is one of the countries which not only had to bear the main burden of the World War with tremendous losses of its best men and racial constituents, but it is also the one country which has been threatened (during as well as after the war) with a decreasing birth-rate. While at the beginning of this century we still had approximately two million births per year, today these only amount to 975,000. In 1900 there were 36 living births to 1000 inhabitants -- this number dwindled down to about 15 in 1932. The number of children, then, is alarmingly decreasing -- the post-war two-child system has been superseded; the German nation has adopted the one-child and even the no-child system.

Notwithstanding the successful results achieved in reducing mortality and lengthening the span of life by means of general hygiene, control of infectious diseases, social hygiene and medicine, the decrease in mortality is not sufficient to preserve the population as a biologic national entity. Today rough figures of births and deaths give only an inadequate estimate; in order to recognize the true situation from the standpoint of population-politics, we must carefully sift the vital debits and credits by considering the age distribution of the various classes. According to the figures of the Statistical Reichsmat, the German nation with its present low birth-rate is no longer able to maintain itself by its own strength. With 15 births to 1000 inhabitants the figure falls about 30% below the increase needed to maintain the population number in the future. With the present birth-rate neither Berlin nor other large German cities, not even the medium and small towns are able to maintain their population number. Only the rural communities still have a minimal excess of births, but this is no longer sufficient to offset the loss in the German

_______________

Notes:

* Translated from the German for the EUGENICAL NEWS by A. Hellmer.


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Lavish praise for and photos of "Verschuer's Institute" in Eugenical News, June 1936. AUTHOR'S COLLECTION

EUGENICAL NEWS

60

and twins; and in this work there will not be investigated alone interesting twins, but all twins and families of definite geographical origin must be considered. It is desirable to determine what traits of bodily and mental sort, what diseases and anomalies in mankind are hereditary; according to what laws they are transmitted from one generation to the other; how far external influences that may act in inhibiting or accelerating fashion must be taken into consideration, and many other points.

The plan of the Universitat Institut fur Erbbiologie und Rassenhygiene, which occupies the second floor of the People's Hygiene House, shows a larger and a smaller lecture hall and a series of rooms for investigation, for the director and assistants, for library, for archives, for special investigators and also clinical rooms, about sixty-two rooms in all, mostly, however, of small size. Some idea of the interior is given in Fig. 2.

The EUGENICAL NEWS extends best wishes to Dr. O. Reiherr von Verschuer for the success of his work in his new and favorable environment.

FIG. 1. Haus der Volksgesundheit on south bank of the Main. Verschuer's Institute is located on the second floor.

FIG. 2. Corridor through the clinical part of Institute.


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Enthusiastic essay about Nazi breeding experiments in Journal of Heredity, 1942. AUTHOR'S COLLECTION

ON THE BREEDING OF ARYANS

And Other Genetic Problems of War-time Germany

TAGE U. H. ELLINGER

DURING a visit to Germany in the winter of 1939-40, I had an opportunity to meet some of my fellow geneticists, who seemed to be working undisturbed by the campaign and the "mopping up" in Poland, and by the hectic preparations for the assaults on a great many peaceful countries such as Denmark, Norway, Holland, and Belgeium. The following unpretentious notes, written for laymen, may perhaps interest some of their many American friends.

Quite a few of them were busy treating or rather mistreating the sex cells of animals and plants in order to produce new varieties. I was introduced to all kinds of extraordinary creatures produced in that way, mice without toes or with corkscrew tails, flies that violated the very definition of a fly by having four wings instead of two, funny-looking moths, and strange plants.

Radiation, especially with X-rays, is the principal means of producing such new kinds, or rather monsters, of animals and plants, and the wizard in this business was a Russian, Dr. Timofeeff-Ressovsky, who has found an asylum at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Brain Research. An industrial concern has presented him with the enormous machines with which he radiates the minute sex cells of tiny little Drosophila flies.

Timofeeff is a fanatic and an enthusiast. I was really spellbound while he gave me a three-hour lecture on his work, incessantly gesticulating as he walked up and down the floor. The German staff of the Institute looked at this strange and temperamental Russian with amusement and sincere admiration. They even granted him a freedom of speech and opinion they would deny any other human being.

Genuine German thoroughness characterized Professor Nachtsheim's elaborate experiments on the heredity of disease. Since one can not very well make human patients mate and produce numerous babies to suit the analysis of a pathological problem, he had resorted to rabbits. These obliging and fertile animals suffer from a great many troubles like our own. It was a pathetic sight to look at the hundreds of incurables in the rabbit houses. But at that, our own institutions housing people afflicted with hereditary diseases are no less disconsolate.

When I went to see the famous old "Geheimrat" Fischer at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, an S.A. man in black uniform was present during the conversation. He was introduced as Dr. Abel, and the director afterwards asked him to show me around. The result was that we spent several days together.

Twins in the "New Order"

Twins have, of course, for a long time been a favorite material for the study of the relative importance of heredity and environment, of nature and nurture. It does, however, take a dictatorship to oblige some ten thousand pairs of twins, as well as triplets and even quadruplets, to report to a scientific institute at regular intervals for all kinds of recordings and tests.

I was particularly interested in their laboratory for the study of the inheritance of behavior and mental capacities. For this purpose, the twins were placed in two identical rooms, separated by a narrow corridor for the observer, who had a free view over both rooms through big windows in the walls. These, however, were fitted with that remarkable kind of glass through which you can see in one direction ...


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Human Betterment Foundation Annual Report for 1935 citing a letter from board member C. M. Goethe to racist eugenicist E. S. Gosney, bragging: "You will be interested to know that your work has played a powerful part in shaping the opinions of the group of intellectuals who are behind Hitler in this epoch-making program. Everywhere I sensed that their opinions have been tremendously stimulated by American thought, and particularly by the work of the Human Betterment Foundation. I want you, my dear friend, to carry this thought with you for the rest of your life, that you have really jolted into action a great government of 60 million people." VERMONT STATE PUBLIC RECORDS DIVISION

THE HUMAN BETTERMENT FOUNDATION
(A NON-PROFIT CORPORATION)

EXECUTIVE OFFICES:
SUITE 321, PACIFIC SOUTHWEST BUILDING
PHONE WAKEFIELD 6374

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA

CHARTER MEMBERS:
E.S. GOSNEY
OTIS H. CASTLE
HENRY M. ROBINSON
DAVID STARR JORDAN
PAUL MC B. PERIGORD
RUDOLPH I. COFFEE
LEWIS M. TERMAN
C. M. GOETHE
JOE G. CRICK
PAUL POPENOE
GEORGE DOCK
OSCAR FORD
A.D. SHAMEL
SARAH H. GOSNEY
LOIS G. CASTLE
GLADYS G. CRICK
ROBERT FREEMAN
MERLE N. SMITH
S.J. HOLMES
HERBERT M. EVANS
CHAS. H. PRISK
A.B. RUDDOCK
JUSTIN MILLER
JOHN VRUWINK
WILLIAM B. MUNRO
R.B. VON KLEINSMID

OFFICERS AND TRUSTEES:
E.S. GOSNEY, PRESIDENT
OTIS H. CASTLE, VICE-PRESIDENT
GEORGE DOCK, VICE-PRESIDENT
PAUL POPENOE, SECRETARY
JOE G. CRICK, TREASURER
C.M. GOETHE
WILLIAM B. MUNRO
HENRY M. ROBINSON
A.B. RUDDOCK

REPORT TO THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE HUMAN BETTERMENT FOUNDATION, FOR THE YEAR ENDING FEBRUARY 12, 1935.

During the past year a large part of the resources of the Foundation has been devoted to a second survey of sterilization in California, in collaboration with the California Bureau of Juvenile Research. The task of collecting case histories from the state institutions was completed by the Foundation workers, and all of these were tabulated and coded. Hollerith cards were then punched for each individual, 67 facts being thus recorded for each of about 8,000 persons. These cards are now being sorted to make 1500 scatter diagrams, which will reveal the correlations of all of the facts. Males and females are tabulated separately, as are also the insane and feeble-minded. In this immense but highly important task, the staff of the Foundation has been helped by six SERA workers furnished by the Bureau of Juvenile Research. The study should be completed within the next year, and will not merely bring up to date the previous study which this Foundation made (beginning in 1926), but will extend it and result in a great deal of new and valuable information.

The Foundation has a poster exhibit in connection with the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in Pasadena in September. Frank C. Reid of the Foundation staff spent most of the time during the week in charge of this exhibit, contacting leaders in the field of public health from all over the United States. An outstanding feature of the meeting was also the eugenics exhibit of the German government, which was devoted largely to sterilization. This is re- ...

Goethe of Sacramento, one of the members of the Foundation, wrote as [illegible] to Mr. Gosney:

"You will be interested to know that your work has played a powerful part in shaping the opinions of the group of intellectuals who are behind Hitler in this epoch-making program. Everywhere I sensed that their opinions have been tremendously stimulated by American thought, and particularly by the work of the Human Betterment Foundation. I want you, my dear friend, to carry this thought with you for the rest of your life, that you have really jolted into action a great government of 60,000,000 people."

The offices of the Foundation are frequently visited by distinguished people from out of town. Among the most recent callers who were in- [illegible] in eugenic sterilization were: Dr. Harry H. Benjamin of New York, Dr. Wilhelm Krauss of the Institute of Race Biology, Sweden; and ...


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Nazi eugenicist Dr. Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer examining twins; his assistant, Josef Mengele, continued the experiments at Auschwitz. MAX PLANCK GESELLSCHAFT ARCHIV

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Nazi eugenicist Dr. Otmar Freiherr von Verschuer examining twins; his assistant, Josef Mengele, continued the experiments at Auschwitz. MAX PLANCK GESELLSCHAFT ARCHIV

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Auschwitz's murderous doctor, Josef Mengele. AUSCHWITZ ARCHIV
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Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

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CHAPTER 14: Rasse und Blut

Negative eugenic solutions appeared in Germany at the end of the nineteenth century.

From 1895 to 1900, German physician Gustav Boeters worked as a ship's doctor in the United States and traveled throughout the country. He learned of America's castrations, sterilizations and numerous marriage restriction laws. When Boeters returned to Germany, he spent the next three decades writing newspaper articles, drafting proposed legislation and clamoring to anyone who would listen to inaugurate eugenic sterilization. Constantly citing American precedents, from its state marriage restriction statutes to sterilization laws from Iowa to Oregon, Boeters passionately argued for Germany to follow suit. "In a cultured nation of the first order -- the United States of America -- that which we strive toward [sterilization legislation], was introduced and tested long ago. It is all so clear and simple." Eventually, Boeters became so fixated on the topic that he was considered delusional and was forced to retire from his post as a medical officer in Saxony -- but not before prompting German authorities to seriously consider eugenic laws. [1]

While Boeters was touring America, so was German physician Alfred Ploetz. A socialist thinker, Ploetz had traveled to America in the mid-1880s to investigate utopian societies. He became caught up in the post-Civil War American quest to breed better human beings. In Chicago, in 1884, he studied the writings of leading American utopians. He also spent several months working at the Icarian Colony, an obscure utopian community in Iowa. Ploetz was disappointed to find the Icarians socially disorganized, and he began to believe that racial makeup was the key to social success. [2]

Ploetz also opened a medical practice in Springfield, Massachusetts, and began to breed chickens. Later, he moved to Meriden, Connecticut, where he graduated to human breeding projects. By 1892, Ploetz had already compiled 325 genealogies of local families and hoped to gather even more from a nearby secret German lodge. A colleague recalled that Ploetz was convinced "the Anglo-Saxons of America would be left behind, unless they adopted a policy that would change the relative proportions of the population." [3]

Like his medical and utopian colleagues, Ploetz was undoubtedly a devotee of the late nineteenth century's hygiene and sanitary movement that sought to eradicate germs and disease. One of the leading exponents of this movement was Benjamin Ward Richardson, inventor of the lethal chamber and author of Hygeia, A City of Health. The same conflicts that perplexed late-nineteenth-century British and American social Darwinists, from Spencer to New York's human breeding advocates, also confronted German hereditarians. By the mid-1880s, Ploetz had propounded a eugenic racial theory. Galton's term eugenics had not yet been translated, and Ploetz coined the term Rassenhygiene (racial hygiene). He articulated his notions of racial and social health in a multivolume 1895 work, The Foundations of Racial Hygiene. Volume one was entitled Fitness of Our Race and the Protection of the Weak. His colleagues later argued that the term Rassenhygiene should not be translated into English as race hygiene, but as eugenics. The two were one and the same. [4]

Ploetz believed that a better understanding of heredity could help the state identify and encourage the best specimens of the German race. Ironically, while Ploetz believed in German national eugenics and harbored strong anti-Semitic sentiments, [5] he included the Jews among Germany's most valuable biological assets. After returning to Germany, Ploetz in 1904 helped found the Journal Archiv fur Rassen- und Gesellschaftsbiologie (Archives of Race Science and Social Biology), and the next year he organized the Society for Racial Hygiene (Gesellschaft fur Rassenhygiene) to promote eugenic research. Both entities functioned as the principal clearinghouses for German eugenics for years to come. Understandably, Ploetz emerged as Germany's leading race theorist and was often described as "the founder of eugenics as a science in Germany." [6]

Even as Boeters and Ploetz were formulating their American-influenced ideas, German social theorist Alfred Jost argued in his 1895 booklet, The Right to Death, that the state possessed the inherent right to kill the unfit and useless. The individual's "right to die" was not at issue; rather, Jost postulated, it was the state's inherent "rights to [inflict] death [that are] the key to the fitness of life." [7] The seeds of German negative eugenics were planted.

With Nordic superiority as the centerpiece of American eugenics, Davenport quickly established good personal and professional relations with German race hygienists. As director of the Carnegie Institution's Station for Experimental Evolution, Davenport was more than happy to correspond frequently with German eugenic thinkers on matters major and mundane. In the first decade of the twentieth century, typed and handwritten letters sailed back and forth across the Atlantic, encompassing requests for copies of the latest German research to replies to German appeals for Carnegie donations for a memorial to Mendel. [8]

Quickly, Davenport and the Carnegie Institution became the center of the eugenic world for German researchers. America was enacting a growing body of eugenic laws and governmental practices, and the movement enjoyed wealthy backers and the active support of U.S. officials. While a small group of German social thinkers merely expounded theory, America was taking action. At the same time, by virtue of their blond and blue-eyed Nordic nature as well as their stellar scientific reputation, Germany's budding eugenicists became desirable allies for the Americans. A clear partnership emerged in the years before World War I. In this relationship, however, America was far and away the senior partner. In eugenics, the United States led and Germany followed.

One of Davenport's earliest German allies was the anthropologist and eugenicist Eugen Fischer. Fischer was among the first "corresponding scientists" recruited by Davenport when the Cold Spring Harbor facility opened in 1904. Before long Davenport and Fischer were exchanging their latest research, including studies on eye color and hair quality. In 1908, Fischer expanded into research on race mixing between whites and Hottentots in Africa, focusing on the children known as "Rehoboth bastards." Miscegenation fascinated Davenport. He and his colleagues, both German and American, jointly pursued studies on race mixing for years to come. [9]

When Davenport elevated eugenics into a global movement, he chose German eugenicists for a major role, and British leaders went along. Indeed, the First International Congress of Eugenics in London was scheduled for July of 1912 to coincide with summer visits to Great Britain by leading German and American eugenicists. At the time, these two groups were seen as the giants of eugenic science. [10] But in fact there was only room for one giant in the post-Galtonian world -- and that would be America. When Ploetz founded the Society for Racial Hygiene in Berlin in 1905, it was little more than an outgrowth of his own social circle and his publication, Archiv fur Rassen- und Gesellschaftsbiologie. By the end of 1905, the Society for Racial Hygiene had just eighteen German and two non- German members. Even when so-called "branches" opened in other German cities, these chapters usually claimed only a handful of members. The society was less a national organization devoted to Germany's territorial borders than it was a Germanic society devoted to the Nordic roots and Germanic language innervating much of northwestern Europe. Ploetz himself maintained Swiss citizenship, as did some of his key colleagues. Thinking beyond Germany's borders, Ploetz expanded the group within a few years into the International Society for Race Hygiene. So-called branches were established in Norway and Sweden, but again, these branches were comprised of just a handful of eugenic compatriots. [11]

As society members traveled through other traditionally Germanic and Nordic lands, however, they recruited more fellow travelers. By 1909, Ploetz's growing international organization numbered more than 120 members, although most were German nationals. In the summer of that year, the organization gained prestige when Galton agreed to become its honorary president, just as he had for the budding Eugenics Education Society. [12]

Two years later, in 1911, Ploetz raised his group's profile again, this time by participating in the International Hygiene Exhibition in Dresden. But the Anglo-American bloc was clearly reluctant to see the German wing rise on the world eugenic stage. After a series of negotiations, the Anglo- American group for all intents and purposes absorbed Ploetz's budding international network into their larger and better-financed movement. [13]

Ploetz was brought in as a lead vice president of the First International Congress of Eugenics in London in 1912. He was one of about fifteen individuals invited back to Paris the next year to create the Permanent International Eugenics Committee. This new and elite panel evolved into the International Eugenics Commission and later became the International Federation of Eugenic Organizations, which governed the entire worldwide movement. After some failed attempts to regain leadership, Ploetz and his societies finally bowed to American eugenicists and their international eugenics agencies. [14]

After 1913, the United States continued to dominate by virtue of its widespread legislative and bureaucratic progress as well as its diverse research programs. These American developments were closely followed and popularized within the German scientific and eugenic establishment by Geza von Hoffmann, an Austro-Hungarian vice consul who traveled throughout the United States studying eugenic practices. Von Hoffmann's 1913 book, Racial Hygiene in the United States (Die Rassenhygiene in den Vereinigten Staaten von Nordamerika), exhaustively detailed American laws on sterilization and marriage restrictions, as well as methods of field investigation and data collection. With equal thoroughness, he delineated America's eugenic organizational structure -- from the Rockefeller Foundation to the institutions at Cold Spring Harbor. Then, in alphabetical order, he summarized each state's eugenic legislation. A comprehensive eighty-four-page bibliography was appended, with special subsections for such topics as "euthanasia" and "sterilization." [15]

Most importantly, von Hoffmann's comprehensive volume held up American eugenic theory and practice as the ideal for Germany to emulate. "Galton's dream," he wrote, "that racial hygiene should become the religion of the future, is being realized in America .... America wants to breed a new superior race." Von Hoffmann repeatedly chided Germany for allowing mental defectives to roam freely when in America such people were safely in institutions. Moreover, he urged Germany to follow America's example in erecting race-based immigration barriers. For years after Racial Hygiene in the United States was published, leading German eugenicists would credit von Hoffmann's book on America's race science as a seminal reference for German biology students. [16]

Laughlin and the Eugenics Record Office were the leading conduits of information for von Hoffmann. The ERO sent von Hoffmann its special bulletins and other informational summaries. In turn, von Hoffmann hoped to impress Laughlin with updates of his own. He faithfully reported the latest developments in Germany and Austria, such as the formation of a new eugenic research society in Leipzig, a nascent eugenic sexology study group in Vienna, and genetic conference planning in Berlin. [17]

But it was the American developments that captivated von Hoffmann. Continually impressed with Laughlin's ideas, he frequently reported the latest American news in German medical and eugenic literature. "I thank you sincerely," von Hoffmann wrote Laughlin in a typical letter dated May 26, 1914, "for the transmission of your exhaustive and interesting reports. The far-reaching proposal of sterilizing one tenth of the population impressed me very much. I wrote a review of [the] report ... in the Archiv fur Rassen- und Gesellschaftsbiologie [Ploetz's journal]." [18]

Eager to be a voice for German eugenics in America, von Hoffmann also contributed articles about German developments to leading U.S. publications. In October of 1914, his article "Eugenics in Germany" appeared in the Journal of Heredity, explaining that while sterilization was being debated, "the time has not yet come for such a measure in Germany." In the same issue, the Journal of Heredity published an extensive review of Fischer's book about race crossing between Dutch and Hottentots in Africa, and the resulting "Rehoboth bastard" hybrids. Indeed, German eugenic philosophy and progress were popular in the Journal of Heredity. In 1914, for example, they published an article tracing the heredity of Bismarck, an article outlining plans for a new experimental genetics lab in Berlin, an announcement for the next international genetics conference in Berlin, and reviews of the latest German books. [19]

In the fall of 1914, the Great War erupted. During the war, "the eugenics movement in Germany stood entirely still," as one of Germany's top eugenic leaders later remembered in Journal of Heredity. Ploetz withdrew to his estate. Sensational headlines in American newspapers reported and denounced German atrocities against civilians, such as bayoneting babies and mutilating women's breasts. Many of these stories were later found to be utterly unfounded. But despite the headlines, the American eugenics movement strengthened ties with its German scientific counterparts. In 1916, Madison Grant's The Passing of the Great Race declared that the white Nordic race was destined to rule the world, and confirmed the Aryan people's role in it. German nationalists were heartened by America's recognition of Nordic and Aryan racial superiority. Reviews of the book inspired a spectrum of German scientists and nationalists to think eugenically even before the work was translated into German. [20]

American fascination with the struggling German eugenics movement continued right up until the United States entered the war in April of 1917. In fact, the April issue of Eugenical News summarized in detail von Hoffmann's latest article in Journal of Heredity. It outlined Germany's broad plans to breed its own eugenically superior race after the war to replace German men lost on the battlefield. The article proposed special apartment buildings for desirable single Aryan women and cash payments for having babies. [21]

America entered the war on April 6, 1917. Millions died in battle. At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, a defeated Germany finally agreed to an armistice, ending the bloody conflict. The Weimar Republic was created. A peace treaty was signed in June of 1919. American eugenics' partnership with the German movement resumed. [22]

Laughlin prepared a detailed pro-German speech for the Ninth Annual Meeting of the Eugenics Research Association, held at Cold Spring Harbor in June of 1920. In the text, Laughlin analyzed Germany's newly imposed democratic constitution point by point, identifying the clauses that authorized eugenic and racial laws. These included a range of state powers, from "Article 7 ... [allowing] protection of plants from disease and pests" to "Articles 119 to 134 inclusive [which] prescribe the fundamental law of Germany in reference to the social life." Declaring that "modern civilization" itself depended on German and Teutonic conquest, Laughlin closed by assuring his colleagues, "From what the world knows of Germanic traits, we logically concede that she will live up to her instincts of race conservation .... " Laughlin never actually delivered the speech, probably because of time constraints, so Eugenical News published it in their next issue, as did a subsequent edition of the official British organ, Eugenics Review. Reprints of the Eugenics Review version were then circulated by the ERO. [23]

Scientific correspondence also resumed. Shortly after Laughlin's enthusiastic appraisal, a eugenicist at the Institute for Heredity Research in Potsdam requested ERO documentation for his advisory committee's presentation to the local government. Davenport dispatched materials and supporting statements "that will be of use to you in your capacity as advisor to the Government in matters of race hygiene." ERO staffers had missed their exchanges with German colleagues, and Davenport assured his Potsdam friend, "I read your letter to our staff at its meeting on Monday and they were interested to hear from you." Information about the new advisory committee was published in the very next issue of Eugenical News. German race scientists reciprocated by sending their own research papers for Davenport's review, covering a gamut of topics from inherited human traits to mammalian attributes. [24]

But efforts by German eugenicists to join America's international movement were still hampered by the aftershocks of the war. Under the Treaty of Versailles, Germany agreed to pay the Allies massive war reparations, 132 billion marks or 33 billion dollars. This crippled the finances of all of Germany, including its raceologists. Meanwhile, German nationalists were enraged because France and Belgium now occupied the Rhineland. France's army had long included African soldiers from its colonies -- such as Senegal, Mali and North Africa -- who were now mingling with German women and would ultimately father several hundred children of mixed race in Germany. [25]

Infuriated Germans refused to cooperate with international committees that included Belgian or French scientists. Nor did they have the money to travel, even within Europe. The International Congress of Hygiene, for instance, originally scheduled for May of 1921 in Geneva, was cancelled because "the low value of the currency of many countries and the high value of the Swiss franc make it impossible for many countries to send delegates," as one published notice explained. [26]

Hence German scientists were unable and unwilling to attend the Second International Congress of Eugenics in New York in September of 1921. Instead, they sent bitter protest letters to Cold Spring Harbor, denouncing the French and Belgian occupation of their land and seeking moral support from colleagues in America. Indeed, even though invitations to the congress were mailed to eugenicists around the world by the State Department, the Germans were excluded due to escalating postwar diplomatic and military tensions. Three weeks before the Second Congress, Davenport wrote to one prominent Berlin colleague, Agnes Bluhm, "profound regrets that international complications have prevented formal invitations to the International Eugenics Congress in New York City." He added his "hope that by the time of the following Congress such complications will have been long removed." So once again American science took center stage in international eugenics. Alienated from much of the European movement, Germany's involvement in the field was now mainly limited to correspondence with Cold Spring Harbor. [27]

In 1922, Germany defaulted on its second annual reparations payment. France and Belgium invaded Germany's rich industrial Ruhr region on January 11, 1923, to seize coal and other assets. During the height of the harsh Ruhr occupation, the Weimar government began printing money day and night to support striking German workers. This shortsighted move made Germany's currency worthless nearly overnight, leading to unprecedented hyperinflation. [28]

All of these factors contributed to Germany's isolation from organized eugenics. Efforts by Davenport in 1920 and 1921 to include German scientists in the International Eugenics Commission were rebuffed. None of the players wanted to sit together. Determined to bring German eugenicists back into the worldwide movement, Davenport traveled to Europe in 1922. He selected Lund, Sweden, as the site of the 1923 conference, because, as he confided to a German colleague, "it would be convenient to Berlin." It also circumvented Allied nations such as Belgium, England and France. Davenport then arranged for his colleagues on the IEC to take the first step and formally invite German representatives to join the commission. But tensions over the Rhineland and reparations were still too explosive for the Germans to agree. By the spring of 1923, Davenport had to concede in frustration, "German delegates would not meet in intimate association with the French." [29]

Davenport wrote to one key German eugenicist, "I implore you, that you will use your influence to prevent such a backward step. The only way we can heal the wounds caused by the late war is to repress these sad memories from our scientific activities. It will do a lot to restore international science and to set an example for other scientific organizations to follow if a delegate is sent to the meeting of the Commission to be held in Lund next autumn." [30]

But the occupation of the Ruhr by French and Belgian forces further inflamed angry German eugenicists. "Cooperative work between Germans and French seems to be impossible so long as the Ruhr invasion lasts," one embittered German eugenic leader wrote Davenport. "If in America a foreign power had entered and held in its grasp the chief industrial area surely no American man of science would sit with a representative of that other nation at a table. Therefore, one should correspondingly not expect Germans to do this." [31]

Weimar continued to print money around the clock, creating hour-to-hour hyperinflation. Fabulous stories abounded of money being carted around in wheelbarrows and being used to stoke furnaces. One famous story centered on a Freiburg University student who ordered a cup of coffee listed on the menu for 5,000 marks; by the time he ordered a refill, the second cup cost 9,000 marks. Another told of an insurance policy redeemed to buy a single loaf of bread. The American dollar, which had traded for 1,500 marks in 1922, was worth 4.2 trillion marks by the end of 1923. [32]

German extremists tried to exploit the hyperinflation crisis to start a political revolution to abrogate the Treaty of Versailles. Among the agitators was Adolf Hitler. In November of 1923, Hitler organized the Beer Hall Putsch in Munich. He hoped to seize power in Bavaria and march all the way to Berlin. His rebellion was quickly put down. Hitler was sentenced to five years in prison, to be served at Landsberg Fortress. Referring to his jail cell as his "university," Hitler read voraciously. It was during these prison years that Hitler solidified his fanatical eugenic views and learned to shape that fanaticism into a eugenic mold. [33]

Where did Hitler develop his racist and anti-Semitic views? Certainly not from anything he read or heard from America. Hitler became a mad racist dictator based solely on his own inner monstrosity, with no assistance from anything written or spoken in English. But like many rabid racists, from Plecker in Virginia to Rentoul in England, Hitler preferred to legitimize his race hatred by medicalizing it, and wrapping it in a more palatable pseudoscientific facade -- eugenics. Indeed, Hitler was able to recruit more followers among reasonable Germans by claiming that science was on his side.

The intellectual outlines of the eugenics Hitler adopted in 1924 were strictly American. He merely compounded all the virulence of long-established American race science with his fanatic anti-Jewish rage. Hitler's extremist eugenic science, which in many ways seemed like the logical extension of America's own entrenched programs and advocacy, eventually helped shape the institutions and even the machinery of the Third Reich's genocide. By the time Hitler's concept of Aryan superiority emerged, his politics had completely fused into a biological and eugenic mindset.


When Hitler used the term master race, he meant just that, a biological "master race." America crusaded for a biologically superior race, which would gradually wipe away the existence of all inferior strains. Hitler would crusade for a master race to quickly dominate all others. In Hitler's view, eugenically inferior groups, such as Poles and Russians, would be permitted to exist but were destined to serve Germany's master race. Hitler demonized the Jewish community as social, political and racial poison, that is, a biological menace. He vowed that the Jewish community would be neutralized, dismantled and removed from Europe. [34]

Nazi eugenics would ultimately dictate who would be persecuted, how people would live, and how they would die. Nazi doctors would become the unseen generals in Hitler's war against the Jews and other Europeans deemed inferior. Doctors would create the science, devise the eugenic formulas, write the legislation, and even hand-select the victims for sterilization, euthanasia and mass extermination.

Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess, coined a popular adage in the Reich, "National Socialism is nothing but applied biology." [35]

While in prison, at his "university," Hitler codified his madness in the book Mein Kampf, which he dictated to Hess. He also read the second edition of the first great German eugenic text, Foundation of Human Heredity and Race Hygiene (Grundriss der menschlichen Erblichkeitslehre und Rassenhygiene), which had been published in 1921. Germany's three leading race eugenicists, Erwin Baur, Fritz Lenz and Eugen Fischer, authored the two-volume set. [36] All three of the book's authors were closely allied to American eugenic science and Davenport personally. Their eugenics originated at Cold Spring Harbor.

Baur, an intense racist, closely studied American eugenic science and formulated his ideas accordingly. He was comfortable confiding to his dear friend Davenport just how those ideas fused with nationalism. For example, in November of 1920, about a year before Foundation of Human Heredity and Race Hygiene went to press, Baur wrote to Davenport in almost perfect English, "The Medical Division of the Prussian Government has asked me to prepare a review of the eugenical laws and Vorschriften [regulations] which have already been introduced into the differed States of your country." He emphasized, "Of especial interest are the marriage certificates (Ehebestimmung) -- certificates of health required for marriage, laws forbidding marriage of hereditarily burdened persons among others -- [and] further the experiments made in different states with castration of criminals and insane. [37]

"It is at present extraordinarily difficult [here in Germany] to gather together the desired material [about U.S. legislation]," Baur continued. "I am thinking, however, that perhaps in your institute [Carnegie Institution] all this material has been already gathered. That, perhaps, there may be some recent printed report on the matter. If my idea is correct I would be exceedingly thankful to you if you could help me with a collection of the material." [38]

Baur then bitterly complained about confiscatory war reparations under the Treaty of Versailles, and the presence of French and Belgian- African troops as enforcers. "The entire work of eugenics is very difficult with us," Baur reported, "all children in the cities are entirely insufficiently nourished. Everywhere milk and fat are lacking, and this matter will become yet greater if we now shall give up to France and Belgium the milch [milk] cows which they have requisitioned [for war reparations]. The entirely unnecessary huge army of occupation eats us poor, but eugenically the worst is what we call the Black Shame, the French negro regiments, which are placed all over Germany and which in the most shameful fashion give free rein to their impulses toward women and children. By force and by money they secure their victims -- each French negro soldier has, at our expense, a greater income than a German professor -- and the consequence is a frightful increase of syphilis and a mass of mulatto children. Even if all French-Belgian tales of mishandling by German soldiers were true, they have been ten times exceeded by what now -- in peace! -- happens on German soil. [39]

"But I have wandered far from my theme," Baur continued. "We have under the new government an advisory commission for race hygiene ... [which] will in the future pass upon all new bills from the eugenical standpoint. It is for this commission that I wish to prepare the Referate [reports] on American eugenic laws." Baur added that the Carnegie researcher Alfred Blakeslee's "paper is in press [for publication in Germany], the plate is at the lithographers." [40]

Baur was one of the principal German scientists Davenport had implored to join the International Eugenics Commission. [41]

Baur's coauthor, Fritz Lenz, like many German eugenicists, was long an aficionado of American sterilization. He lectured German audiences that they were lagging far behind America. Like Baur, Lenz was among the German eugenic leaders Davenport beckoned to join him at the helm of world eugenics. Lenz reluctantly refused Davenport's entreaties to attend either an international commission or congress, and in 1923 candidly declared to Davenport, "Europe goes with rapid steps toward a new frightful war, in which Germany will chiefly participate .... That is the position in Europe and, therefore, I do not believe the time for international congresses has arrived so long as France occupies the Ruhr, that is, not before the second World War. I do not wish this certainly; I know that our race in it would suffer more heavily than in the past World War but it cannot be avoided." [42]

Lenz suggested to Davenport that while he could not participate in international gatherings, German and American eugenics could and should continue to advance eugenic science between them, mainly by corresponding. California eugenic leader Popenoe had already established a vigorous exchange with Lenz. Lenz wanted such bilateral contact extended to the ERO as well. "I would be thankful," he wrote Davenport, "if I also could secure the publications of the Eugenics Record Office in order to notice them [report on them] in the Archiv fur Rassen- und Gesellschaftsbiologie [Archives of Race Science and Social Biology]. I have much missed the bulletins of these last years." Lenz closed his letter with "the hope of a work of mutual service."43 Lenz later predicted, "The next round in the thousand year fight for the life of the Nordic race will probably be fought in America." [44]

The third coauthor of Foundation of Human Heredity and Race Hygiene was Eugen Fischer, a Carnegie Institution "corresponding scientist" since 1904. Fischer was a close colleague of Davenport's, and they would form an international eugenic partnership that would last years. [45]

The two-volume Foundation of Human Heredity and Race Hygiene that Hitler studied focused heavily on American eugenic principles and examples. The book's short bibliography and footnotes listed an abundance of American writers and publications, including the Journal of Heredity, various Bulletins of the Eugenics Record Office, Popenoe's Applied Eugenics, Dugdale's The Jukes, Goddard's The Kallikak Family and Davenport's own three books, Heredity in Relation to Eugenics, The Hill Folk and The Nams. Of course, the Baur-Fischer-Lenz work also featured themes and references from von Hoffmann's Racial Hygiene in the United States and Hitler's favorite, Madison Grant's The Passing of the Great Race. [46]

The Baur-Fischer-Lenz volumes also included repeated explorations and reiterations of American eugenic issues. World War I U.S. Army testing had revealed that "the high percentage of blue eyes [among recruits] is remarkable." The authors then noted the decline of blue-eyed men since the trait was measured in Civil War recruits. The anthropological fine points of American immigration were probed. For example, Fischer wrote, "In the children of Jews who have emigrated from eastern or central Europe to the United States, the skulls are narrower than those of their broad-skulled parents, and this comparative narrowness is more marked in proportion to the number of years that have elapsed since the migration .... Sicilians acquire somewhat broader heads in the United States." Repeated references to American Indian, Negro, and Jewish characteristics were liberally sprinkled throughout the volumes. They also included information on the Eugenics Record Office and Indiana's pioneering sterilization doctor, Harry Clay Sharp. [47]

The Baur-Fischer-Lenz volumes were well received in Cold Spring Harbor. Davenport promised he would write a review for Eugenical News. Both Eugenical News and Journal of Heredity ran favorable reviews of each subsequent revised edition. One of Popenoe's reviews in Journal of Heredity, this one in 1923, lauded the work as "worthy of the best traditions of German scholarship, and ... to be warmly recommended." Popenoe especially praised Lenz's sixteen-point program, which outlined plans to cut off defective lines of descent and the "protection of the Nordic race." [48]

It was no accident that Hitler read Foundation of Human Heredity and Race Hygiene. It was published by Julius Lehmann of Lehmanns Verlag, Germany's foremost eugenic publishing house. Someone at Lehmanns happily reported to Lenz that Hitler had read his book. Lehmanns Verlag also published Ploetz's Archiv fur Rassen- und Gesellschaftsbiologie, the Monatsschrift fur Kriminalbiologie (Monthly Journal of Criminal Biology), and von Hoffmann's Racial Hygiene in the United States. The year after Hitler was imprisoned, Lehmanns published the German translation of Grant's The Passing of the Great Race. [49]

Julius Lehmann was not just a publisher with a proclivity for race biology. He was a shoulder-to-shoulder coconspirator with Hitler during the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch, and was at Hitler's side on November 8, 1923, when the National Socialists launched their abortive coup against the Bavarian government. After the beer hall ruckus, Bavarian officials were held hostage at Lehmann's ornate villa until the uprising was suppressed. As the revolt collapsed, Lehmann, a financial supporter as well as a friend, convinced the Nazi guards to allow their captives to escape rather than execute them. Lehmann was the connection between the theory of the Society for Racial Hygiene and the action of militants such as the Nazis. [50]

Hitler openly displayed his eugenic orientation and thorough knowledge of American eugenics in much of his writing and conversation. For example, in Mein Kampf he declared: "The demand that defective people be prevented from propagating equally defective offspring is a demand of the clearest reason and, if systematically executed, represents the most humane act of mankind. It will spare millions of unfortunates undeserved sufferings, and consequently will lead to a rising improvement of health as a whole." [51]

Hitler mandated in Mein Kampf that "The Peoples' State must set race in the center of all life. It must take care to keep it pure .... It must see to it that only the healthy beget children; that there is only one disgrace: despite one's own sickness and deficiencies, to bring children into the world .... It must put the most modern medical means in the service of this knowledge. It must declare unfit for propagation all who are in any way visibly sick or who have inherited a disease and can therefore pass it on, and put this into actual practice." [52]

Hitler railed against "this ... bourgeois-national society [to whom] the prevention of the procreative faculty in sufferers from syphilis, tuberculosis, hereditary diseases, cripples, and cretins is a crime .... A prevention of the faculty and opportunity to procreate on the part of the physically degenerate and mentally sick, over a period of only six hundred years, would not only free humanity from an immeasurable misfortune, but would lead to a recovery which today seems scarcely conceivable .... The result will be a race which at least will have eliminated the germs of our present physical and hence spiritual decay." [53]

Repeating standard American eugenic notions on hybridization, Hitler observed, "Any crossing of two beings not at exactly the same level produces a medium between the level of the two parents. This means: the offspring will probably stand higher than the racially lower parent, but not as high as the higher one .... Such mating is contrary to the will of Nature for a higher breeding of all life." [54]

In some cases, Hitler's eugenic writings resembled passages from Grant's The Passing of the Great Race. Grant wrote, "Speaking English, wearing good clothes and going to school and to church do not transform a Negro into a white man. or was a Syrian or Egyptian freedman trans formed into a Roman by wearing a toga and applauding his favorite gladiator in the amphitheater." [55]

In a similar vein, Hitler wrote, "But it is a scarcely conceivable fallacy of thought to believe that a Negro or a Chinese, let us say, will turn into a German because he learns German and is willing to speak the German language in the future and perhaps even give his vote to a German political party." He also noted, "Surely no one will call the purely external fact that most of this lice-ridden [Jewish] migration from the East speaks German a proof of their German origin and nationality." [56]

Grant wrote, "What the Melting Pot actually does in practice can be seen in Mexico, where the absorption of the blood of the original Spanish conquerors by the native Indian population has produced the racial mixture which we call Mexican and which is now engaged in demonstrating its incapacity for self-government. The world has seen many such mixtures and the character of a mongrel race is only just beginning to be understood at its true value." [57]

In a similar vein, Hitler wrote, "North America, whose population consists in by far the largest part of Germanic elements who mixed but little with the lower colored peoples, shows a different humanity and culture from Central and South America, where the predominantly Latin immigrants often mixed with the aborigines on a large scale." [58]

Mein Kampf also displayed a keen familiarity with the recently-passed U.S. National Origins Act, which called for eugenic quotas. "There is today one state in which at least weak beginnings toward a better conception [of immigration] are noticeable. Of course, it is not our model German Republic, but the [United States], in which an effort is made to consult reason at least partially. By refusing immigrants on principle to elements in poor health, by simply excluding certain races from naturalization, it professes in slow beginnings a view which is peculiar to the Peoples' State." [59]

In page after page of Mein Kampf's rantings, Hitler recited social Darwinian imperatives, condemned the concept of charity, and praised the policies of the United States and its quest for Nordic purity. Perhaps no passage better summarized Hitler's views than this from chapter 11: "The Germanic inhabitant of the American continent, who has remained racially pure and unmixed, rose to be master of the continent; he will remain the master as long as he does not fall a victim to defilement of the blood." [60]

Hitler proudly told his comrades just how closely he followed American eugenic legislation. "Now that we know the laws of heredity," he told a fellow Nazi, "it is possible to a large extent to prevent unhealthy and severely handicapped beings from coming into the world. I have studied with great interest the laws of several American states concerning prevention of reproduction by people whose progeny would, in all probability, be of no value or be injurious to the racial stock .... But the possibility of excess and error is still no proof of the incorrectness of these laws. It only exhorts us to the greatest possible conscientiousness .... It seems to me the ultimate in hypocrisy and inner untruth if these same people [social critics] -- and it is them, in the main -- call the sterilization of those who are severely handicapped physically and morally and of those who are genuinely criminal a sin against God. I despise this sanctimoniousness .... " [61]

Reflecting upon the race mixing caused by occupying French-African troops and his hope for Nordic supremacy, Hitler later told one reporter, "One eventually reaches the conclusions that masses of men are mere biological plasticine [clay]. We will not allow ourselves to be turned into niggers, as the French tried to do after 1918. The nordic blood available in England, northern France and North America will eventually go with us to reorganize the world." [62]

Moreover, as Hitler's knowledge of American pedigree techniques broadened, he came to realize that even he might have been eugenically excluded. In later years, he conceded at a dinner engagement, "I was shown a questionnaire drawn up by the Ministry of the Interior, which it was proposed to put to people whom it was deemed desirable to sterilize. At least three-quarters of the questions asked would have defeated my own good mother. If this system had been introduced before my birth, I am pretty sure I should never have been born at all!" [63]

Nor did Hitler fail to grasp the eugenic potential of gas and the lethal chamber. Four years before Mein Kampf was written, a psychiatrist and a judge published their treatise, Permission to Destroy Life Unworthy of Life, which insisted that the medical killing of the unfit, such as the feebleminded, was society's duty; but the extermination had to be overseen by doctors. Several subsequent publications endorsed the same view, making the topic au courant in German eugenic circles. Hitler, who had himself been hospitalized for battlefield gas injuries, wrote about gas in Mein Kampf "If at the beginning of the War and during the War twelve or fifteen thousand of these Hebrew corrupters of the people had been held under poison gas, as happened to hundreds of thousands of our best German workers in the field, the sacrifices of millions at the front would not have been in vain. On the contrary: twelve thousand scoundrels eliminated in time might have saved the lives of a million real Germans, valuable for the future." [64]

On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler seized power following an inconclusive election. During the twelve-year Reich, he never varied from the eugenic doctrines of identification, segregation, sterilization, euthanasia, eugenic courts and eventually mass termination of germ plasm in lethal chambers. During the Reich's first ten years, eugenicists across America welcomed Hitler's plans as the logical fulfillment of their own decades of research and effort. Indeed, they were envious as Hitler rapidly began sterilizing hundreds of thousands and systematically eliminating non-Aryans from German society. This included the Jews. Ten years after Virginia passed its 1924 sterilization act, Joseph DeJarnette, superintendent of Virginia's Western State Hospital, complained in the Richmond Times- Dispatch, "The Germans are beating us at our own game." [65]

Most of all, American raceologists were intensely proud to have inspired the purely eugenic state the Nazis were constructing. In those early years of the Third Reich, Hitler and his race hygienists carefully crafted eugenic legislation modeled on laws already introduced across America, upheld by the Supreme Court and routinely enforced. Nazi doctors and even Hitler himself regularly communicated with American eugenicists from New York to California, ensuring that Germany would scrupulously follow the path blazed by the United States. [66] American eugenicists were eager to assist. As they followed the day-to-day progress of the Third Reich, American eugenicists clearly understood their continuing role. This was particularly true of California's eugenicists, who led the nation in sterilization and provided the most scientific support for Hitler's regime. [67]

In 1934, as Germany's sterilizations were accelerating beyond five thousand per month, the California eugenic leader and immigration activist C. M. Goethe was ebullient in congratulating E. S. Gosney of the San Diego-based Human Betterment Foundation for his impact on Hitler's work. Upon his return in 1934 from a eugenic fact-finding mission in Germany, Goethe wrote Gosney a letter of praise. The Human Betterment Foundation was so proud of Goethe's letter that they reprinted it in their 1935 Annual Report. [68]

"You will be interested to know," Goethe's letter proclaimed, "that your work has played a powerful part in shaping the opinions of the group of intellectuals who are behind Hitler in this epoch-making program. Everywhere I sensed that their opinions have been tremendously stimulated by American thought, and particularly by the work of the Human Betterment Foundation. I want you, my dear friend, to carry this thought with you for the rest of your life, that you have really jolted into action a great government of 60 million people." [69]
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Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

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PART 1 OF 2

CHAPTER 15: Hitler's Eugenic Reich

On the evening of Friday, September 27, 1929, the upper echelon of eugenics met in majestic and Mussolini-ruled Rome, in the high-ceilinged library of the newly created Central Statistical Institute. [1]

They came from Sweden, Norway, Holland, Italy, England, Germany and the United States, gathering as the International Federation of Eugenic Organizations. Among this group, two men ruled supreme: Charles Davenport and Eugen Fischer. A large map dominated the room. This was no ordinary map, but an atlas of the defective populations on every inhabited continent. [2]

The men were flushed with excitement. Just two hours earlier, they had met personally with Mussolini at the Piazza Venezia, with a view of Trajan's Column of antiquity. Indeed, their mission was a return to hereditary antiquity. All were intensely aware that they were assembled for a sacred duty in a city they revered as "the oldest capital of the world." Davenport read the preliminary report of the Committee on Race Crossing. Entire populations of the unfit were designated. The eugenic atlas and other maps were scrutinized for the "regions in which the Committee had ascertained that tolerably pure races were intermarrying ... [creating] first generation hybrids." These would be the first people subjected to eugenical measures. [3]

Jon Alfred Mjoen of Norway displayed a map of his country, pinpointing regions with high concentrations of tuberculosis; he proclaimed that the tubercular zones constituted "a map of race crosses in Norway." Mjoen wanted to target Lapp, Finn and Norwegian hybrids. Captain George Pitt- Rivers of England called for anthropologists to help catalog ethnographic statistics, asserting that the most dangerous effect of miscegenation was its disruption of "the ethnic equilibrium shown in the differential survival rate." The Dutch representative focused on the mixed breeds of the Java islands. In describing America's problem, Davenport spoke of U.S. Army intelligence testing that documented high levels of mental defectives. He also discussed tuberculosis rates in Virginia, comparing what he called "the Black Belt" against other areas in the state. Fischer insisted that the "whole weight of the Federation should be engaged in supporting this work." He suggested that "Jew-Gentile crosses providing excellent material were obtainable in most European countries, and that bastard twins would give splendid data." [4]

During the course of their deliberations, the eugenic leaders agreed that paupers, mental defectives, criminals, alcoholics and other inferior strains should be incarcerated en masse. They resolved that "all ... members [should] bring to the notice of their governments the racial dangers involved in allowing defective persons, after training and rehabilitation in institutions, to return to free life in the community." In other words, they were advocating permanent incarceration. Only later did someone think to amend the resolution to read, "whilst retaining their ability to procreate." [5]

The worldwide cataloging of the unfit was to begin at once. It would start on "the American continent and certain small and large islands in the oceans." At this point, America was still the only country with years of experience in state-sanctioned sterilization and other eugenic legislation. Fischer chimed in, however, that changes in the German criminal code were coming, and these would soon enable widespread sterilization and other eugenic measures there. [6]

Hitler's arrival on the eugenic scene changed the entire partnership between German and American eugenicists.

America had shown Germany the way during the first two decades of the twentieth century, treating the struggling German movement with both parental fascination and Nordic admiration. But when Hitler emerged in 1924, the relationship quickly shifted to an equal partnership. National Socialism promised a sweeping hereditary revolution, establishing dictatorial racial procedures American activists could only dream of. During the period between wars, the American movement viewed National Socialism as a rising force that could, if empowered, impose a new biological world order. Nazi eugenicists promised to dispense with the niceties of democratic rule. So even if America's tower of legislation, well-funded research and entrenched bureaucratic programs still monopolized the world of applied eugenics in the 1920s, National Socialism promised to own the next decade. American eugenicists welcomed the idea.

As early as 1923, Davenport and Laughlin decided that Eugenical News should add a subtitle to its name. It became Eugenical News: Current Record of Race Hygiene. [7] In doing so, the publication discarded any pretense that it might be anything other than a race science journal. Adding Germany's unique term for eugenics, race hygiene, was also a bow by the American movement to the Germans.

By 1923, articles from Archiv fur Rassen- und Gesellschaftsbiologie (Archives of Race Science and Social Biology) were highlighted and summarized almost quarterly in Eugenical News. In fact, no longer did such reviews bear specific headlines about interesting articles; rather, the summaries appeared as though they were regular columns, often just headlined "Archiv fur Rassen- und Gesellschaftsbiologie," and proceeded to explore the contents of the journal's latest issue. Articles by Lenz, Fischer and Baur were among those most frequently featured. [8]

In the 1920s, German raceologists became even more sought after as authors and topics for the Journal of Heredity and Eugenical News, thus increasing their influence in American eugenic circles. For instance, in May of 1924 Fritz Lenz authored a long article for the Journal of Heredity simply titled "Eugenics in Germany," with the latest news and historical reminiscences. California eugenicist Paul Popenoe, head of the Human Betterment Foundation, functioned as Lenz's principal translator in the United States. Similar articles were published from time to time as updates, thus keeping the American movement's attention riveted on the vicissitudes of the German school. A typically enthralled review of the latest German booklet on race hygiene ran in the October 1924 Eugenical News with the lead sentence: "It was a happy thought that led Dr. Lewellys F. Barker, a leading eugenicist as well as a physician, to translate the little book of Dr. H.W. Siemens, of Munich, into English." [9] Such fawning editorial treatment appeared in virtually every edition of American eugenic journals.

Nor was coverage of German race hygienists and their work limited to the eugenic press. They were reported as legitimate medical news in almost every issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, chiefly by the journal's German correspondent. For example, in May of 1924, Erwin Baur's latest lecture to Berlin's local eugenics society was covered in great detail in a two-column story. JAMA repeated, without comment or qualification, Baur's race politics. "A person of moderate gifts may be educated to be very efficient," the article read, "but he will never transmit other than moderate gifts to his own offspring. The attempts to elevate the negroes of the United States by giving them the same educational advantages the white population receives have necessarily failed." The article also regurgitated Baur's contention that the Jukes family was proof positive of eugenically damaged ancestry. "Race suicide," JAM A continued from Baur's speech, "brought about the downfall of Greece and Rome, and Germany is confronted by the same peril." JAMA used no quotation marks and presented the statements as unredacted medical knowledge. [10]

Nor did the rise of Hitler in Weimar race politics, after 1924, diminish the frequency or prominence of German raceologists' exposure in the American eugenic press. The January 1926 issue of Eugenical News featured a long article, written by Lenz, entitled "Are the Gifted Families in America Maintaining Themselves?" Dense with statistics and formulas, Lenz's article analyzed recent California eugenic research with a German mindset, warning "the dying out of the gifted families ... of the North American Union [United States] proceeds not less rapidly; and also among us in Europe .... I think one ought not to look at the collapse of the best elements of the race without action." [11]

When Lehmann's fascist publishing house released a series of race cards, that is, popular trading cards depicting racial profiles -- from the Tamils ofIndia to the primitive Baskirs of the Ural Mountains -- their availability was fondly reported in Eugenical News. Fascinated with the novelty, Eugenical News suggested, however, that the cards could be improved if the pictures would reveal more body features. German race cards, just like many baseball cards, came ten to a package. [12]

In May of 1927, Eugenical News reported the introduction of a German "race biological index," to eugenically rate different ethnic groups. The article repeated German warnings "of the danger of an eruption of colored races over Europe, through the French colonies and colonial troops." In the article, German researchers urged "further studies in America, both of Indians and American negroes, as compared with those still living in Africa." [13] German race analyses of American society were always well received.

Unqualified German racial references to Jews gradually became commonplace in American publications as well. For example, in the April 1924 issue of Eugenical News, an article reviewing a new German "racial pride" book published by Lehmanns mentioned, "In an appendix the Jews are considered, their history and their role in Germany." A German article on consanguineous marriages summarized in the November 1925 issue of Eugenical News stated, "Their evil consequences ... are pointed out [and] ... are commoner among Jews and royalty than elsewhere in the population." A December 1927 summary of a German article reported, "The social biology and social hygiene of the Jew is treated by the distinguished anthropologist, Wissenberg of Ukrania. This has largely to do with the vital statistics of the Jews in Odessa and Elizabethgrad, with special relation of the Jews to acute infection." In April of 1929, a Eugenical News book review entitled "Noses and Ears" informed readers, "The straight nose of Gentiles seems to dominate over the convex nose of Jews." [14] No explanation was necessary or offered for these out-of-context references to Jews. That Jews were eugenically undesirable was a given in German eugenics, and many American eugenicists adopted that view as well.

By the mid-twenties, Germany had achieved preeminence in both legitimate genetic research and racial biology. Germany's new status arose, in large measure, from its distinguished Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes. An outgrowth of the esteemed Kaiser Wilhelm Society, the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes would over time develop a network of research institutions devoted to the highest pursuits of science. These included the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics, boasting a shelf of Nobel Prizes, a sister institute for chemistry, another for biology, another for pathology, and many more. The twenty-plus Kaiser Wilhelm organizations were easily confused and bore related names. But while they were related, they were independent and often located in different cities. In fact, at one point Davenport confessed to a London colleague, "There are so many Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes, that it is necessary to specify." [15]

Also among the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes were several that would soon make their mark in the history of medical murder. The first was the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Psychiatry. The second was the Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics. The third was the Institute for Brain Research. All received funding and administrative support from Americans, especially the Rockefeller Foundation.

J ames Loeb, an American banker and art lover of German-Jewish descent who lived in Europe, was among the first to subsidize the organizations that evolved into the Kaiser Wilhelm group. In early 1916, Loeb granted 500,000 marks to the German Psychiatric Institute in Munich. [16] Loeb's money, however, was quickly overshadowed by the Rockefeller Foundation's.

Rockefeller's connection to German biomedicine traced back to the early years of the twentieth century, when Germany's scientific preeminence was first challenged by America and its new system of corporate philanthropic funding begun by Carnegie, Rockefeller and Harriman. Medical educator Abraham Flexner was among the first to establish significant corporate philanthropic financial links with Germany. Flexner completed his monumental Carnegie Institution survey, Medical Education in the United States and Canada, in 1910. The prodigious report compared North America's medical inadequacy to Germany's excellence. Flexner next turned to Europe, creating the 1912 report, Medical Education in Europe. Soon Flexner was renowned for his pioneering reports and was invited to help lead medical efforts at Rockefeller's powerful new foundation. [17]

One of Flexner's first Rockefeller efforts yielded the 1914 study, Prostitution in Europe, which featured an introduction by John D. Rockefeller Jr. himself. Prostitution was a topic of recurring interest to both Rockefeller and his foundation. At about this time, 1914, German academicians began to realize that generous American-style philanthropy was a springboard to higher scientific achievement. Several esteemed German academicians and industrialists organized the Kaiser Wilhelm Society in this vein, with Kaiser Wilhelm II as its chief patron. The society sponsored the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes, dedicated to a spectrum of new scientific disciplines. But the First World War, the Treaty of Versailles, and the crippling inflation of the early twenties paralyzed the KWI and German scientific progress. [18]

To literally save German science, Rockefeller money -- guided by Flexner's recommendations -- came to the rescue in November of 1922. Because anti-German feeling engendered by the war still roiled in America, and because Rockefeller, like many, distrusted German universities, viewing them as hotbeds of political agitation and warmongering academics, the Rockefeller Foundation circumvented the universities, the traditional channels of scientific funding. Instead, the foundation inaugurated its own special funding committee. Flexner selected his longtime Berlin friend Heinrich Poll to lead the committee. Poll had assisted Flexner during his earlier survey of German medical schools. Poll, also a leading eugenicist, advised the Prussian Ministry of Health and lectured extensively on hereditary traits and feeblemindedness. Since relations between Germany and the United States were still uneasy late into 1922, the foundation in large part administered the massive donations through its Paris office. [19]

Rockefeller Foundation money began to flow immediately. During the final weeks of 1922, 194 fellowships were awarded, totaling $65,000. The next year, 262 fellowships were awarded for a total of $135,000. By 1926, Rockefeller had donated some $410,000 -- almost $4 million in twenty-first- century money -- to hundreds of German researchers, either directly or indirectly through international programs that passed funds through to German recipients. [20]

Quickly, Rockefeller's freely flowing money, distributed by Poll, became a forceful and intrusive factor in German research. Scientists across Germany eagerly sent in reports of their worthiness, each hoping to be the next recipient. By March of 1923, leading German researchers, such as Fritz Haber, were grumbling to each other about "King Poll," whom they said exercised an intolerable control over Rockefeller grants and therefore German science itself. [21]

Ignoring any criticism, the Rockefeller Foundation only increased its extravagant spending. Loeb was instrumental in convincing Flexner to marshal Rockefeller millions for Loeb's favorite, the German Psychiatry Institute. Rockefeller officials were fascinated with the promise of psychiatry, and they began aligning themselves with German psychiatrists of all stripes. The German Psychiatry Institute was the first to receive big money. In May of 1926, Rockefeller awarded the institute $250,000 shortly after it amalgamated with the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute to become the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Psychiatry. The following November, Rockefeller trustees allocated the new institute an additional $75,000. [22]

Among the leading psychiatrists at the institute was Ernst Rudin, who headed the genealogical and demographic department. Rudin would soon become director of the institute. Later, he would become an architect of Hitler's systematic medical repression. [23]

Who was Rudin? A founding father of German eugenics in the Weimar days, Rudin was considered by American circles as among the most promising raceologists in Germany. In the 1890s, Rudin joined Alfred Ploetz in a quest for utopian socialism. The two men became fast friends after Ploetz married Rudin's sister. From the beginning, Rudin's impulse was to stop dangerous human breeding. At the 1903 International Congress Against Alcoholism, Rudin declared that the condition was an inherited trait. Alcoholics, he argued, should be segregated and allowed to marry only if they were first sterilized. In 1905, Rudin cofounded the Society for Racial Hygiene (Gesellschaft fur Rassenhygiene) with Ploetz. During the next several years, Rudin pontificated against the unfit in articles and in his travels. [24]

After World War I, as the chief of the German Psychiatry Institute's genealogical and demographic department, Rudin began assembling a massive catalog of family profiles from the records of prisons, churches, insane asylums, hospitals, and from family interviews. By 1926, Rudin was granted special permission by the Reich Ministry of the Interior to consult criminal and institutional records and report back with his own findings. In other words, Rudin's operation began forming the same types of discreet governmental relationships that the Eugenics Record Office had structured in the United States during the previous fifteen years. [25]

Rudin, of course, was quite visible in America. Articles by and about him had run in the national eugenic press for years. In May of 1922, the Journal of Heredity published a brief about a discussion by Rudin on the inheritance of mental defects. In June of 1924, Eugenical News informed its readership that Rudin was building an extensive collection of family histories, and assured "a vast quantity of data has been obtained." Later that year, in the September issue, Eugenical News published a follow-up report, asserting that Rudin's studies of the "inheritance of mental disorders are the most thorough that are being undertaken anywhere. It is hoped that they will be long continued and expanded." A 1925 Eugenical News article praising the family tree archives of the German Psychiatric Institute celebrated Rudin, "whose dynamic personality infuses itself throughout the entire establishment." By this time Rudin was the star of German eugenics. Later, the Journal of the American Medical Association also published a long report about Rudin's work on heredity and mental disease. [26]

Davenport's efforts to bring the Germans back into the international movement were more than successful. In 1928, the International Federation of Eugenic Organizations met in Munich. Rudin functioned as the gracious host when IFEO members, including the impressed American delegation, were treated to a guided tour of Rudin's department at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Psychiatry. The next year, the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Psychiatry was selected for IFEO membership. In 1932, Davenport consented to relinquish the presidency of the IFEO, and Rudin was elected to succeed him. Laughlin was proud to offer the nomination. The vote was unanimous. [27] German race hygiene was now primed to seize the reins of the international movement and become senior in its partnership with the American branch.

In 1927, the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes added another eugenic establishment, the Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics (Kaiser Wilhelm Institut fur Anthropologie, menschliche Erblehre und Eugenik), located in Berlin-Dahlem. The name itself symbolized the affinity between the American and German movements. Earlier, Eugenical News had adopted a subtitle in homage to the German term race hygiene; now the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes reciprocated by including the term eugenics in tribute to the American movement. [28]

The first director of the Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics was Eugen Fischer, a longtime Carnegie Institution associate and Davenport collaborator. This new institute was not funded by American capital, but rather by an assortment of German government agencies -- local, Prussian and federal -- to whom eugenics and race science were becoming increasingly important. The Ministry of the Interior provided the largest single donation: 500,000 marks. The Prussian Ministry of Science donated some 400,000 marks, including the land itself. Small amounts were also contributed by the provinces of Upper Silesia, the Rhine, Westphalia and the municipality of Essen. Funds from industrialists, such as the Thyssen brothers, comprised just token monies. [29] While the institute's initial funding was German, it enjoyed both the envy and unqualified support of the American eugenics establishment.

The grand opening of the Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics took place in September of 1927 as an official function of the Fifth International Congress on Genetics in Berlin. Davenport was chairman of the human eugenics program and an honorary president of the congress. Baur was chairman of the local German eugenics committee. The congress was the first major international scientific event to be held in Germany since the Great War. [30]

The congress began on September 11, 1927, with approximately one thousand delegates from all over the world gathered in a gala Berlin setting. Registrants were first greeted with a Sunday dinner at the zoo, then a barrage of sumptuous banquets staged by the Berlin Municipality and formal dinner events enlivened by divertimenti, followed by the finest liquors and cigars. Museum tours were scheduled for the ladies, and everyone was invited to a special performance at the Opera House. [31] Germany was unfurling the red carpet to celebrate its regained scientific leadership.

Welcoming grandiloquence by both government officials and local academics eventually gave way to the real business of the conference: genetics. A procession of several dozen research papers and exhibits reported the latest developments in a spectrum of related disciplines, from genuine scientific revelations about the genetics of plants and animals, to the most recent advances in cytology, to the newest slogans and Mendelian math of traditional racial eugenics. A large Carnegie contingent was on hand to contribute its own research, proffering papers and delivering lectures. [32]

On the afternoon of September 27, Davenport and his colleagues traveled to Berlin-Dahlem for the much-anticipated grand opening of the new Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics. Davenport had been eager to congratulate his friend Fischer in person from the moment he had learned about his appointment almost a year earlier. Situated on about an acre of land, with a museum in the basement and a complex of lecture rooms, measurement labs and libraries on most other floors, the institute was the new centerpiece of eugenic research in Germany. As the leader of American eugenics, Davenport proudly delivered one of the commemorating addresses at the grand opening. The next year, the IFEO added the new institute to its roster. Davenport was so impressed with Fischer's institute that he felt obliged to provide a brief history of eugenic progress in America to the institute's administration. [33]

The third Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Germany's eugenic complex was the Institute for Brain Research. Like other Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes, this one grew out of a research operation created years earlier by the family of psychiatrist Oskar Vogt, which merged into the KWI in 1915. In those days the Institute for Brain Research was housed in a modest neurological laboratory also run by Vogt. Everything changed when the Rockefeller money arrived in 1929. A grant of $317,000 allowed the institute to construct a major building and take center stage in German race biology. Rockefeller funders were especially interested in the Institute's Department of Experimental Genetics, headed by Russian geneticist Nikolai Timofeeff-Ressovsky. The Institute for Brain Research received additional grants from the Rockefeller Foundation during the next several years. [34]

By the late twenties, Davenport and other Americans had created a whirlwind of joint projects and entanglements with German eugenics. No longer content to direct purely domestic efforts, the two schools now eyed the rest of the world. They graduated from discussion and philosophy to concrete plans and actions. Among the most ambitious of these was a project to identify and subject to eugenic measures every individual of mixed race, everywhere. The approach would be along the lines created in the United States. Identification was the first step. In 192 7, Davenport proposed a systematic survey of mixed-race populations in every region of the world. It would cover all Africans, Europeans, Asians, Mexicans, indigenous peoples and others who had mixed during centuries of modern civilization.

The global search for hybrids originated around February of 1926. Davenport had made the acquaintance of wealthy raceologist Wickliffe Draper, who shared Davenport's anxiety about human hybridization. The plan was to conduct field surveys using questionnaires, just as eugenicists had done in various counties and remote areas around the United States. But this time they would cover not just a state, not just a nation, but eventually every populated region on earth. [35]

They needed a demonstration project. Davenport's first impulse was to survey New York City, but he thought mixed-race individuals would be easier to identify in foreign countries or colonies. "I am suggesting Jamaica," Davenport wrote Draper on February 23, 1926, " ... because I take it that there is a larger proportion of mulattoes." Within three weeks, Draper wrote a check to the Eugenics Research Association for $10,000 to defray the costs of a two-year study of "pure-blooded negroes, as found in the western hemisphere ... and of white, as found in the same places with especial reference to inheritance of the differential traits in mulatto offspring." [36]

Over the next two years, Davenport's investigators deftly researched the family backgrounds of 370 individuals, taken from the local penitentiary and from the city center of Kingston. The American Consul in Jamaica interceded with the British Colonial Office to provide special access to the island's jails, schools and doctors. Some eight thousand sheets of information were generated by field workers and archived in the Eugenics Record Office. [37]

But the Jamaica project featured something totally new. For the first time, personal information and eugenic traits were punched into IBM's Hollerith data processing machines. International Business Machines would be a perfect match for eugenics. People tracking was the company's business. IBM's technology involved hundreds of thousands of custom-designed punch cards processed through punching, tabulating and sorting machines. Hollerith punch cards could store an almost unlimited amount of information on people, places and processes by virtue of the holes strategically punched into their columns and rows. Hollerith processors then read these holes and tabulated the results. Hollerith cards were originally developed for the U.S. Census, and IBM enjoyed a global monopoly on data processing. More than just counting machines, Hollerith systems could cross-tabulate all information on individuals and then match or cross-reference the data to their plain paper or already-punched street addresses or other geographic identifiers. Hence, people identified with certain traits could be easily located for additional eugenic action. [38]

For example, these high-speed tabulators could quickly identify a specific class of eugenic subjects, say, all first-generation morons of Mexican extraction with vision problems. All relatives across extended family trees could be connected to the selected individuals. Or the machines could identify all eugenically inferior residents in a single village, plus their descendants living elsewhere. At the rate of 25,000 cards per hour, IBM machines could rapidly search out the holes, stack the cards and provide seemingly miraculous results. Continuous refinements in high-speed Hollerith technology would soon permit alphabetizing and printouts. As massive numbers of individuals passed from identification to segregation to sterilization and beyond, even the workflow could be managed by IBM technology, using card designs, punching patterns and equipment arrays, each custom configured to a specific use. Mass eugenics required efficient systems. [39] IBM was willing.

IBM managers desired the lucrative ERO account, but the process of punching in the hundreds of thousands of existing index cards at Cold Spring Harbor was simply too massive and expensive an undertaking. But if brought into a project at the outset, IBM could cost-effectively tabulate all names, racial information, medical characteristics and other eugenic data. This required IBM engineers to confer with Davenport's eugenic investigators to jointly plan the program, ensuring that data was collected in a fashion that could be systematically coded and punched into Hollerith machines for later retrieval and management. To design the system correctly, the IBM engineers needed to know both the eugenic information that Carnegie researchers wanted to input as well as how they wanted the results retrieved. IBM always needed to know the end result in order to design the system. In a report on the Jamaica project, Davenport confirmed, "The test records were scored as received chiefly by Miss Bertha Jacobson. Codes for each of the traits to be tabulated were worked out, adapted to the Hollerith punch cards. Ratios were computed." [40]

IBM custom-designed the layout for at least forty-five variables to be punched in on the Jamaica project for later retrieval by eugenicists. Sex and race were to be punched into column 1. Age in column 2. Height in columns 3 and 4. Cranial capacity in column 18. Foot length in column 24. Army Alpha intelligence testing in column 33, and Beta testing in column 32. Information on fingerprints was punched into columns 44 and 45. At one point, Davenport considered securing data from banks about how much money was in each individual's account and cross-referencing this information against eugenic standards. [41]

The 1927-1928 Jamaica race-crossing investigation was the first time IBM devised a system to track and report racial characteristics. Five years later, IBM, under the leadership of its president, Thomas J. Watson, would adapt the same technology to automate the race warfare and Jewish persecution in Hitler's Reich. IBM custom-designed the indispensable systems that located European Jews and other undesirables, and then provided a multiplicity of custom-tailored punch card programs to help the Nazis trace family trees, index bank accounts and other property, organize eugenic campaigns and even manage extermination in death camps. Indeed, a decade later, the SS Race Office employed a punch card with physical attributes specified column-by-column in a fashion almost identical to those first worked out for the Jamaica study. [42]

The pilot investigation in Jamaica went well, so well that the Carnegie Institution proudly published a major research volume on the project. Even as the program was underway, in February of 1927, Davenport was confident enough to contact Fischer in Germany and discuss ideas with him. "No one has greater experience in the field than you," wrote Davenport, "and we shall of course want to get the benefit of that experience." A few days later, he notified the IFEO secretary in London that a race-crossing committee would be needed "in view of ... the international nature of the problem." In short order, Fischer was invited to join the committee. Davenport would chair the panel. [43]

The campaign to identify mixed-race people of all varieties across America began on November 14, 1928, with one of the ERO's well-honed, massive letter-writing efforts. Beginning that day, scores of letters were mailed by Davenport to eugenic contacts at universities, prisons, agricultural colleges, as well as to members of the American Breeders Association and other interested parties in every state from California to Florida and even the Alaska territory. It was the first step in searching out the racially unacceptable. Davenport's letters were all variations on a few forms:

The I.F.E.O. is making a survey of the points of contact of dissimilar human races in different parts of the world. In carrying out this program may I call upon you for some assistance? We should be glad if you would inform us if there are areas where widely different races of mankind have recently begun to come into contact in your state. By races we have in mind not only primary races, like white, negro, Indian and Orientals but also very dissimilar European races. Especially important would be localities where the first and second hybrid generations can be secured in considerable numbers. [44]


A letter went to sociologist Raymond Bellamy at the Florida State College for Women; Bellamy replied, "I am glad to do anything I can to help," and specified Negroes and Seminole Indians in South Florida, and Cubans in Tampa. A copy went to W. E. Bryan, a plant breeder at the University of Arizona in Tucson; Bryan reported race-mixing between American Indians and Mexicans, and suggested using a field worker who could speak Spanish. A letter went to J.S. Blitch, superintendent of the Florida State Reformatory; Blitch responded that of his 1,640 prisoners, fewer than a third were white, the rest being "plain negro stock." UCLA official Bennet Allen replied that Los Angeles was home to many ethnic groups, including Japanese, Mexican, Italian, and Portuguese. He also reported that the Mexicans and the Japanese rarely married outside their respective groups. Henry Bolley of the North Dakota Agricultural College's Botany Department reported "half-breeds among our North Dakota Indians, but I think largely of French origin," as well as farmers of Russian and possibly Polish heritage. [45]

On February 29, 1929, Davenport went global. He mass mailed letters to eugenic contacts and official sources in countries on every continent, signing them as president of the IFEO's Committee on Race Crossing. The letters all declared:

The committee on race crossing of the Federation is seeking to plot the lines, or areas, where race crossing between dissimilar, more or less pure races is now occurring or has been occurring during the last two generations. The committee would appreciate very much your assistance. We should be glad to have a statement from you as to the location in your country or the principal regions of such race crossing, the races involved (e.g. European and negro, European and Amerindian, Chinese, Malay, North European and Mediterranean) together with the number of generations during which hybridization has been going on on a significant scale. [46]


In Norway, Dr. Halfdan Bryn focused on "the northern parts of the country," where, over the centuries, Laplanders and Alpines had mixed with pure Nordics; Bryn added that his forthcoming book, to be published by Lehmann in Munich, would include plenty of pictures of "Norwegian hybrids." In Moscow, Professor Bunak, director of the Institute of Anthropology, explained that the Eastern European plains, the Caucasus, Siberia and Turkistan all featured "numerous tribes, [such] as North European, Baltic, Mediterranean, Armenoid, Uralian (Ougrofinnic), Mongolic, Turck and others" who had intermingled during the past twenty to thirty centuries; more recently, Yakoutian-Russians and other "race-hybrids" had proliferated through the regions. In colonial Rhodesia, a museum zoologist acknowledged some Bantu and Asiatic mixtures, but he assured Davenport that "miscegenation is regarded by decent persons as severely as it probably is in the Southern States of the USA." Reports came from Brazil, China, Holland, France, Fiji, Chile and many more countries. [47]

In locations with no known eugenic contacts, Davenport resorted to Laughlin's network of American consuls. In the Azores, Vice-Consul Prescott Childs demonstrated an excellent knowledge of eugenic principles and reported that due to the islands' remoteness, very few of Breton or Flemish blood had mixed with pure Portuguese; Childs added that his real "eugenic concern" was too much intermarriage, which he believed led to increased insanity. In Harbin, American Consul C. C. Hansen pointed out that a number of Russians had migrated into North Manchuria resulting in "intermingling of Chinese men with Russian women"; Hansen reported the villages along various rivers where "half-caste children ... of the first generation" could be located. In Nairobi, American Consul Charles Albrecht outlined the geographic districts of Kenya and attached a list of photographers "who might be able to furnish you with photographs of race hybrids." In Estonia, Tahiti and other remote locations, American consuls pledged their assistance. [48]

At 6:15 P.M. on Friday, September 27, 1929, the International Federation of Eugenic Organizations met in Rome to consider the preliminary report of the Committee on Race Crossing. From their perspective, identification and eugenic countermeasures of all sorts were more than pressing -- the world was in crisis, and they were in a race against time. Mussolini, a dictator, was not hampered by the checks and balances of democracy. The IFEO wanted to enlist him to help impose stern eugenic measures in Italy. Since the summer, Fischer and Davenport had been working on a special appeal to Il Duce. Now, in the Piazza Venezia, they and their colleagues would have an audience with Mussolini. [49]

Fischer stepped forward to read the long appeal. It was not lost on the delegation that they were in Rome, seat of the Catholic Church, which strenuously opposed all forms of eugenics. "It seems natural and desirable," Fischer read, "when considering eugenic problems, that some expression of our hopes and wishes should be addressed to the great statesman who ... shows more than any other leader today ... how much he has the eugenic problems of his people at heart." Fischer went on to label the effects of race mixing "catastrophes," and urged immediate measures to "[set] a model to the world by showing that energetic administration can make good the damage." In an emotional crescendo to his appeal, Fischer declared, "The urgency brooks no delay; the danger is imminent." [50]

Two hours later, the men retreated to the elegant library of the Central Statistical Institute where they huddled over maps, reports, tables and surveys as they plotted the course of their global eugenic action. Virginia, the Java Islands, Norway, Germany, all of Europe, all of the United States, all of the British Empire. The world. With trained field workers and Hollerith data processing equipment, the unfit could be quickly and methodically identified, quantified, qualified and prioritized for countermeasures -- whether they resided in big cities, the hinterlands or island villages. Every delegate was instructed to lobby his government for cooperation. [51]

Davenport was encouraged. Fascism was on the rise in Europe, and he realized it was time to relinquish the reins. On December 2, 1929, Davenport wrote to Fischer asking him to assume chairmanship of the Committee on Race Crossing. Rudin would soon replace Davenport as IFEO president as well. The Germans were the future. Davenport wrote Ploetz in Munich, "Personally, I am very glad that the Federation is now under the Leitung [leadership] of a German." [52]

Fischer was willing to assume leadership of the Committee on Race Crossing, but who would pay the postage and printing costs? Davenport replied that the IFEO treasury would, since "it is more important to spend our money that way than almost any other." Davenport and Fischer coauthored a questionnaire to be sent worldwide "to the persons living and working in foreign regions, physicians, missionaries, merchants, farmers and travelers," asking them to "send as detailed and significant data as possible." The questionnaires would be produced in English, Spanish and German. Davenport and Fischer reported in a joint memo that the data would eventually identify not only race-crossed individuals, "but entirely foreign people, that is the so-called colored ones." [53]

As the thirties opened, many key players in the American eugenics movement continued to support German raceology. In December of 1929, the Rockefeller Foundation began a five-year subsidy of Fischer's German national "anthropological survey" with a donation totaling $125,000. Although the study was labeled "anthropological," it was in fact racial, eugenic and, in part, directed at German Jewry. German officials who supported the proposal for the study made this clear in a letter to the foundation. They would not survey a single large sample of people "of an ancient type"; instead, they would select multiple smaller cross-sections of the general population, which would "be examined in its genealogical and historical relationships with the help of church records, place and family histories." The Germans specified, "In this way it is hoped to find new solutions about the appearance of certain signs of degeneration, especially the distribution of hereditary pathological attributes." [54]

The letter continued, "From the eugenic standpoint, questions will be submitted on the biological conditions of families, the number of births and abortions, succession and rate of births, and finally questions on the decline of births and birth registration in the region being investigated .... A determination of blood groups will also be undertaken .... There is also planned an investigation of the Westphalian aristocracy, of the old-established Jewish population of Frankfurt, and the so-called old lineage of some other towns .... For certain eugenic discussions it seemed of the greatest importance to obtain useful support for the question of ... pathological lines of heredity among the population." [55]

Rockefeller executives quickly approved the idea, channeling the money through the Emergency Fund for German Science. Rockefeller trustees authorized the grant in the midst of the devastating worldwide depression ignited by the stock market crash of 1929. As breadlines stretched across American cities, the economic crisis also crippled the German economy. [56] German eugenicists needed all the financial assistance they could get.

In August of 1930, Germany's Archiv fur Rassen- und Gesellschaftsbiologie ran a tribute to Ploetz on his seventieth birthday. Among those extending kudos were Davenport and Popenoe on behalf of the United States. In October of 1930, Eugenical News called the edition "a worthy tribute of esteem and affection for the genial and high-minded scholar whom it honors." In the same issue of Eugenical News, an article entitled "Jews in West Africa" reviewed a book claiming "evidence of Jewish infiltration" among the Masai tribes of Africa as a result of a "trek of Jews from Jerusalem to the Niger." The book was deemed "a good example of the deductive method ... so great as to make the book a very valuable contribution." The next news item congratulated J. F. Lehmann, now openly Nazi, for being Germany's leading eugenic publisher. At about that time, the IFEO created a Committee on Racial Psychiatry under Rudin's chairmanship. [57]

In December of 1930, Eugenical News reprinted Rudin's long paper, "Hereditary Transmission of Mental Diseases." In it Rudin declared, "Humanity demands that we take care of all that are diseased -- of the hereditarily diseased too -- according to our best knowledge and power; it demands that we try to cure them from their personal illnesses. But there is no cure for the hereditary dispositions themselves. In its own interest, consequently, and with due respect to the laws of nature, humanity must not go so far as to permit a human being to transmit his diseased hereditary dispositions to his offspring. In other words: Humanity itself calls out an energetic halt to the propagation of the bearer of diseased hereditary dispositions." [58]

Rudin advocated sterilization of all members of an unfit individual's extended family. "It becomes clear," he argued, "that, in these cases, propagation ought to be renounced ... for other degrees of relationship, e.g., for the nephews and nieces, grandchildren .... We must make the eugenic ideal a sacred tradition. It must be rooted so deeply in man, and at the right time, that the respect he owes it becomes a matter of course with him, and that he will find love without trespassing on the laws of eugenics." [59]

In 1931, Rockefeller approved an additional ten-year grant totaling $89,000 to Rudin's Institute for Psychiatry. This grant funded research by two doctors into the links between blood, neurology and mental illness. It reflected a growing trend among some philanthropic foundations to avoid funding scientific organizations focused on eugenics, which in recent years had come under fire for being too political and too scientifically shoddy [.6]0 Genetics, psychiatry, brain research, anthropology and sociology were all preferable destinations for American biologic research dollars. One Rockefeller memo observed, "Race biology today suffers immensely from its mixture with political dogmas and drives"; in that instance, the foundation had granted $90,000 to a eugenic geneticist who had studied at Cold Spring Harbor, because they felt the recipient was worthy. Moreover, eugenicists were constantly seeking the "carriers" -- the normal people who transmitted defective genes that might crop up once in several generations. Because of the bad publicity surrounding this idea, and the growing belief that eugenics was more racism than science, the new breed of eugenicists began looking for blood identifiers that seemed ethnically neutral. Even still, the searches remained race-specific. [61]

Whether under the banner of psychiatry, anthropology, genetics or race hygiene, American funding was still consciously promoting eugenic research. For example, in 1931, the Carnegie Institution contributed $5,000 for an international genetics congress and the separate Carnegie Endowment added $3,500. Davenport also contacted the Rockefeller Foundation to enlist their support for this event. [62]

Also in 1931, the famous Baur-Fischer-Lenz volume, Foundation of Human Heredity and Race Hygiene (Grundriss der menschlichen Erblichkeitslehre und Rassenhygiene), was translated into English. One chapter was entitled "Racial Psychology" and cited a study demonstrating that "the racial endowment of the Jews finds expression in the nature of the offences they commit." Another passage asserted that "fraud and the use of insulting language really are commoner among Jews," adding, "It is said that Jews are especially responsible for the circulation of obscene books and pictures, and for carrying on the White Slave Trade. Most of the White Slave traders are said to be Ashkenazic Jews." Another passage insisted, "The Jews could not get along without the Teutons." The term Jewish Question (Judenfrage), which was used throughout the book, required no explanation. [63]

A 1931 review of the newly translated book in Eugenical News lauded the work and declared, "the section on methodology is especially valuable," adding that it was now the "standard treatise" on the topic. The review concluded, "We welcome the English translation, which seems to have been well done .... We bespeak for it a wide circulation." [64]

During 1931 and 1932, Hitler became an increasingly loud and pernicious voice for persecution, fascist repression and warlike territorial occupation. In America he was heard on radios, seen in newsreels and read in newspapers. Virulent and very public anti-Semitism was sweeping across Germany. [65] None of this caused American eugenic circles to pause in their support of German eugenics.

In the March-April edition of Eugenical News, the long essay "Hitler and Racial Pride" heaped praise on the up-and-coming leader. One passage proclaimed, "The Aryans are the great founders of civilizations .... The mixing of blood, the pollution of race ... has been the sole reason why old civilizations have died out." The Hitlerite term Aryan was now becoming synonymous with the traditional Nordic. In another passage, the article cited an earlier New York Times report declaring, "The Hitlerites hold the Nordic race to be 'the finest flower on the tree of humanity' ... It must be bred ... according to the 'criteria of race hygiene and eugenics."' [66]

On May 13, 1932, the Rockefeller Foundation in New York dispatched a radiogram to its Paris office:

JUNE MEETING EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE NINE THOUSAND DOLLARS OVER THREE YEAR PERIOD TO KWG INSTITUTE ANTHROPOLOGY FOR RESEARCH ON TWINS AND EFFECTS ON LATER GENERATIONS OF SUBSTANCES TOXIC FOR GERM PLASM. NATURE OF STUDIES REQUIRES ASSURANCE OF AT [Rockefeller's director of science in Europe, Augustus Trowbridge]. [67]


At about that time, Fischer and other eugenicists were busy presenting drafts of compulsory sterilization laws to the Weimar authorities. During a committee meeting on the subject in the summer of 1932, Fischer shouted at the Nazi representative, "Your party has not been in existence nearly as long as our eugenic movement!" One leading eugenicist at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Biology later bristled, "The Nazis took over the whole draft and they used the most inhumane and execrable methods to put the humane measures, which we had conscientiously and responsibly drafted, into everyday practice." [68]

The Third International Congress of Eugenics was held in New York City in August of 1932, once again at the American Museum of Natural History. Although organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation were donating vast sums to German eugenics for research and travel, the grants were frequently limited to specific activities within Germany or neighboring countries. Hence there was no money for the German delegation to travel to Manhattan. or did Carnegie make up the shortfall. Davenport apologized in a letter to Fischer. "Of course, the depression at this time has interfered with our efforts to secure funds to help defray the expense of our foreign colleagues .... We are very much disappointed that you and other friends from Europe may not be able to ... come to the United States and see the work going on there. We had hoped you would come and find your expenses paid by giving some lectures." But the German delegation did not come, and instead sent a few poster exhibits from the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Anthropology, Human Heredity and Eugenics. At the opening ceremonies Davenport lamented the absence of the German delegation and lauded their leadership. [69]

The September-October Eugenical News carried another long article praising Hitler and his eugenic ideas. It also explained how his ideology had been guided by such American authors as Lothrop Stoddard and Madison Grant. German elections were looming, and the article prophesied the results. "The Hitler movement sooner or later promises to give him full power, [and] will bring to the Nordic movement general recognition and promotion by the state." The article added, "When they [the Nazis] take over the government in Germany, in a short time there may be expected new race hygienic laws and a conscious Nordic culture and 'foreign policy."' [70]

The next month, November of 1932, Germany held a fractious election. Hitler received twelve million votes, approximately a third, but no majority. A coalition government was out of the question because other parties refused to share power with Hitler and vice versa. [71]

January 30, 1933, as America awoke, swastikas flew above Berlin, Munich, Leipzig and the other strongholds of Nazi agitation. Brown-shirted mobs marched through the streets in celebration, swaggered in beer halls, rode their bicycles in tandem and joyously sang the "Horst Wessel Song." For years the Nazis had promised that upon assuming power they would rebuild Germany's economy, dismantle its democracy, destroy the German Jewish community and establish Aryans as the master race. On January 30, 1933, President Paul von Hindenburg, exasperated with fruitless all-night attempts to create a governing coalition, finally exercised his emergency powers. Hindenburg appointed Adolf Hitler interim chancellor. The Third Reich was born. [72]

***

Years later, many would deny knowledge of what Germany was doing, would claim they only discovered Hitler's merciless anti-Semitic and political repression, as well as the Reich's fascist medical programs, after the Allies triumphed in 1945. But in truth, Hitler's atrocities against Jews and others were chronicled daily on the pages of America's newspapers, by wire services, radio broadcasts, weekly newsreels, and national magazines. [73] Germany bragged about its anti-Jewish measures and eugenic accomplishments. An entire propaganda operation was established under Joseph Goebbels to publicize the information. [74] Simultaneously, American eugenicists kept day-to-day tabs on the Nazi eugenic program. As of January 30, 1933, however, the American-German eugenic partnership was obsolete. Germany was now completely leading the way, despite a hurricane of anti-Nazi denunciations and retaliatory economic boycotts. [75]

Once in power, Hitler's government immediately began issuing legal decrees to exclude Jews from professional and governmental life, and used other brutal methods -- including condoned street violence -- to eliminate political opponents. Dachau concentration camp opened on March 20, 1933, amid international news coverage of the event. Refugees, including many Jewish scientists, poured out of Germany. Their plight was visible in the cities of the world. [76]

It did not take Germany long to implement its eugenic vision. The first law was decreed July 14, 1933: Reich Statute Part I, No. 86, the Law for the Prevention of Defective Progeny. It was a mass compulsory sterilization law. Rudin was coeditor of the official rules and commentary on the law. [77]
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