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

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

Postby admin » Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:15 pm

War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race
by Edwin Black
© 2003 Edwin Black




To my mother who at present is unable to read this book, but who still remembers when American principles of eugenics came to Nazi-occupied Poland.

Table of Contents:

Inside Cover
A Note on the Text
Part One: From Peapod to Persecution
o CHAPTER 1: Mountain Sweeps
o CHAPTER 2: Evolutions
o CHAPTER 3: America's National Biology
o CHAPTER 4: Hunting the Unfit
o CHAPTER 5: Legitimizing Raceology
o CHAPTER 6: The United States of Sterilization
o CHAPTER 7: Birth Control
o CHAPTER 8: Blinded
o CHAPTER 9: Mongrelization
o CHAPTER 10: Origins
o CHAPTER 11: Britain's Crusade
o CHAPTER 12: Eugenic Imperialism
o CHAPTER 13: Eugenicide
o CHAPTER 14: Rasse und Blut
o CHAPTER 15: Hitler's Eugenic Reich
o CHAPTER 16: Buchenwald
o CHAPTER 17: Auschwitz
o CHAPTER 18: From Ashes to Aftermath
o CHAPTER 19: American Legacy
o CHAPTER 20: Eugenics Becomes Genetics
o CHAPTER 21: Newgenics
Major Sources
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Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

Postby admin » Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:17 pm

Inside Jacket

The explosive true story of America's century-long attempt to create a master race -- by the author of the New York Times bestseller IBM and the Holocaust.

In War Against the Weak, award-winning investigative journalist Edwin Black connects the crimes of the Nazis to a pseudoscientific American movement of the early twentieth century called eugenics. Based on selective breeding of human beings, eugenics began in laboratories on Long Island, but it ended in the concentration camps of Nazi Germany. Ultimately, over 60,000 "unfit" Americans were coercively sterilized, a third of them after Nuremberg declared such practices crimes against humanity.

It started in 1904, when a small group of U.S. scientists launched an ambitious new race-based movement that was championed by our nation's social, political, and academic elite. Funded by America's leading corporate philanthropies, such as the Carnegie Institution and the Rockefeller Foundation, and entrenched in classrooms across America, eugenicists sought to eliminate social "undesirables. Their methods: forced sterilization, human breeding programs, marriage prohibition, and even passive euthanasia. Perhaps more shocking -- eugenics was sanctioned by the Sup0reme Court. Cruel and racist laws were enacted in twenty-seven U.S. states, and the supporters of eugenics included such progressive thinkers as Woodrow Wilson, Margaret Sanger, and Oliver Wendell Holmes.

The victims of eugenics were poor white people from New England to California, immigrants from across Europe, Blacks, Jews, Mexicans, Native Americans, epileptics, alcoholics, petty criminals, the mentally ill, and anyone else who did not resemble the blond and blue-eyed Nordic ideal the eugenics movement glorified. Through international academic exchanges, American eugenicists exported the movement worldwide. It eventually caught the fascination of Adolf Hitler.

To write War Against the Weak, Edwin Black led a team of fifty researchers in dozens of archives in four countries, generating some 50,000 documents. In this rigorous, comprehensive, brilliantly told story that spans a century, readers will discover the chilling truth of how the scientific rationales that drove Nazi doctors were first concocted by "scientists" at the Carnegie Institution in New York; how the Rockefeller Foundation's massive financial grants to German scientists culminated in Mengele's heinous experiments at Auschwitz; how, after World War II, eugenics was reborn as human genetics; and why confronting the history of eugenics is essential to understanding the implications of the Human Genome Project and twenty-first-century genetic engineering.

Edwin Black is the award-winning and New York Times-bestselling author of IBM and the Holocaust and The Transfer Agreement, as well as a novel, Format C:. He lives near Washington, D.C. His website is http://www.edwinblack.com.

Jacket design by Archie Ferguson

Cover photo by Philip Gendreau © Bettmann/Corbis

Author photo by Lloyd Wolf


Back Cover:

"Edwin Black has again written a unique and important book. Until now eugenics in the U.S. and in Germany have not been analyzed together. One assumed they had little in common. This was not so. Their joint past was bloody and their future is disquieting."
-- BENNO MULLER-HILL, Institute of Genetics, Cologne University, author of Murderous Science

"A gripping account of the evils of eugenics. Edwin Black brings home the misery inflicted by the eugenic zealots."
-- PAUL WEINDLING, Department of History, Oxford Brookes University, author of Health, Race and German Politics Between National Unification and Nazism, 1870-1940

"Black has conclusively shown that Nazi eugenics was derived from notions espoused by a self-chosen American elite --- Hitler and his fanatics further perverted this iniquity in their attempt to exterminate all Gypsies and all Jews, whom they considered racially inferior -- that is eugenically inferior. The American antecedents in this book were a revelation to me."
-- ROBERT WOLFE, former chief archivist for captured German records, National Archives, Washington, D.C.

"A triumph of historical research and storytelling. It provides new information and insights on the pseudoscience that brought humanity to the brink of creating a monstrous master race."
-- J. DAVID SMITH, provost and senior vice chancellor, University of Virginia-Wise, author of The Sterilization of Carrie Buck

"[Black] carefully documents the links of the American eugenics movement to the horror of the crimes of Nazi Germany ... Black's careful scholarship will have to make [readers] reconsider the innocence of the acceptance of any simple racist notions by elites."
-- WILLIAM E. SPRIGGS, executive director, National Urban League Institute for Opportunity and Equality

"An astonishing history ... and a gripping narrative. This is a must-read."
-- ABRAHAM H. FOXMAN, national director, Anti-Defamation League
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Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

Postby admin » Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:19 pm


Where do I begin to express gratitude, when so many people in so many places have lent so many hands to advance the cause of this years-long project? More than fifty researchers in fifteen cities in four countries, assisted by scores of archivists and librarians at more than one hundred institutions, combined to ingather and organize some 50,000 documents, together with hundreds of pages of translation, as well as to review hundreds of books and journals, all to collectively tear away the thickets of mystery surrounding the eugenics movement around the world. I cannot name all who need naming because of space limitations. In many cases, I do not even know them all. Many helped behind the scenes. But if great projects depend upon great efforts by a vast network, then War Against the Weak is greatly indebted indeed.

I must begin by thanking my corps of skilled researchers, mostly volunteers. Because the information needed for War Against the Weak resided in many out-of-the-way archives as well as major repositories, the challenge was to locate the right person in the right place at the right time, from the hilly back country of southern Virginia to Berlin. Recruits came from the Internet, organizational bulletin boards, word of mouth and my personal website, as well as the devoted research team involved with my previous books, IBM and the Holocaust and The Transfer Agreement. Some worked for a few days in a strategic location to extract vital information; others worked for months at a time in archives or my office.

Thanks are due to at least eight people in Germany, including Dennis Riffel, Christina Herkommer and Jakob Kort, who worked tirelessly in Berlin, Munich, Heidelberg, Koblenz and Munster at the archives and libraries of the Max Planck Institutes (successor to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes), Bundesarchiv, Heidelberg University, Munster University, the Frei University and many other locations reviewing and summarizing thousands of pages. The laser-like ability of Riffel, Herkommer and their colleagues to identify connections spanning decades between Germans and Americans was indispensable.

In London, Jane Booth, Julie Utley, Diane Utley and several others spent months checking numberless documents, reviewing pamphlets and squinting at microfiche at the Public Record Office, Wellcome Library, University College of London Archives, British Library, Cambridge and other repositories to uncover links across the Atlantic.

In New York, more than a dozen researchers including Max Gross assisted me at the New York Public Library, the archives of New York University, Columbia University, and the Planned Parenthood Foundation. In Virginia, Susan Fleming Cook, Bobby Holt and Aaron Crawford dug through special and restricted library collections, archives, little-known museums, courthouse and institutional records, as well as the files of the ACLU. In California I was assisted by Lorraine Ramsey who worked in Chico, Sacramento and the University of California at Berkeley; Joanne Goldberg at the archives of the Hoover Institution and Stanford University; and others.

No fewer than eight researchers, including Christopher Reynolds and David Keleti, spent long hours at the American Philosophical Society archives in Philadelphia, the country's most precious eugenic resource. I owe a debt to Ashley and Jodie Hardesty who, among a team of four, scoured the valuable files of Vermont eugenicists, which in many cases were still waiting to be processed. At Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri, I recruited a cadre of students to scrutinize thousands of pages of documents from the files of Harry Laughlin in the Pickler Memorial Library and its archive, and two of the most helpful were Benjamin Garrett and Courtney Carter. The project was also aided when attorney Charles Bradley volunteered to provide follow-up at the Rockefeller Archives.

Of special importance was Phyllis Bailey of Montreal, who labored at university libraries in Montreal, the Public Records of Vermont, the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, and the Rockefeller Archives in Sleepy Hollow, New York. Bailey drove from archive to archive displaying extraordinary research skill and keen intellectual understanding of the injustices she was investigating.

My Washington, D.C., research staff -- about a dozen individuals -- displayed unflagging tenacity in researching at numerous archives, analyzing and organizing thousands of documents, as well as delivering incomparable research and manuscript detail work. No research project could ask for more. Here I include Kate Hanna, who worked at the National Library of Medicine and the Library of Congress, and, wielding her uncanny memory could recall almost every line of thousands of pages of eugenics journals she reviewed. Once Kate even corrected the date on an archival photograph.

Paul Dwyer displayed a special acumen for locating obscure volumes at numerous libraries, including American University, Catholic University, George Washington University, George Mason University, the University of the District of Columbia and others; he was also among a team of a dozen that pored through record groups at the National Archives. Eve Jones searched files at the National Archives and the Carnegie Institution, and my own considerable archival holdings.

John Corrado, assisted by Eve Jones, led the four-person fact and footnote verification team whose chore it was to cross-examine every fact and bit of fact context and then create the documentation trail, footnote by footnote, folder by folder. Corrado is also an exceptional researcher. Often, as I pounded my keyboard, I would call out an obscure name from decades past; within moments, Corrado was able to report the details. He is a researcher's researcher.

Corrado, Jones, Hanna and Dwyer were augmented and assisted by Patricia Montesinos, Alexandra Carderelli, Greg Greer, Eric Smith, Erica Ashton and several others. Numerous translators worked arduously and often with little notice; chief among them was Susan Steiner, and Karl Lampl also helped.

War Against the Weak could never have been completed without the exceptional cooperation of literally scores of archivists and librarians. Some archivists helped by producing as many as five thousand photocopies from a single institution, often making an exception to their copying regulations, and with special file and fact searches, as well as fellowship.

In England, those who deserve thanks include Anne Lindsay, Helen Wakely, Tracy Tillotson, Chris Hilton and many others at the Wellcome Library; Stephen Wright and Julie Archer at University College of London; and numerous staffers at the Public Record Office and the British Library.

In Germany, the list is long and represents the best of Germany's unparalleled archival services, as well as its dedication to understanding its own history. At the top of the list is Matthias M. Weber, archivist at the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry and an expert on German eugenics, who spent many hours assisting my project. Wilhelm Lenz and Annegret Neupert at Bundesarchiv both in Berlin and Koblenz greatly expedited our work. Hans Ewald Kessler gave good advice and facilitated our access at Heidelberg University archives and Robert Giesler did the same at the university archives at Miinster. Harry Stein at Buchenwald Archive was indispensable in locating and providing copies of Katzen-Ellenbogen trial materials lost at the National Archives in Washington. Helmut Freiherr von Verschuer granted permission to freely examine his father's records. Many more German librarians and archivists are not named for lack of space and I apologize.

In the United States, I worked with dozens of repositories, many holding local and seemingly innocuous materials and unaware of their international value. The list stretched from community historical societies and corporate libraries to the major eugenic archives. Four institutions rendered profound assistance and their archivists reside at the apex of archival personalities preserving the history of eugenics. Judith Sapko, archivist extraordinaire at Pickler Memorial Library, labored more than I am permitted to say; Sapko was in constant contact with me during months of research. James Byrnes and Jennifer Johnsen at Planned Parenthood's McCormack Library displayed unrivalled and unflinching cooperation by continuously faxing materials -- often within minutes of my request -- to verify or disprove information about Margaret Sanger. At Cold Spring Harbor, Clare Bunce was a champion of research assistance, helping even as her own archives were in flux; Mila Pollock was also an important help. Valerie Lutz and Rob Cox, undermanned and greatly taxed, did their utmost to respond to pressing needs at the American Philosophical Society for more than a year.

There were many more in America. Marie Carpenti at the National Archives, Amy Fitch and Tom Nussbaum at the Rockefeller Archives and John Strom at the Carnegie Institution Archives all helped continuously.

Several people at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum assisted greatly, including archivist Henry Mayer, several librarians, Tom Cooney and Andy Hollinger. Unfortunately, the executive staff at USHMM refused to open its records regarding IBM and certain other corporations, as well as the topic of American corporations and eugenics, and even rebuffed a Freedom of Information Act request, claiming the museum was immune to FOIA requests. But this did not stop others at the museum from doing their best to provide other traditional historical materials, and I thank them.

In addition, dozens of librarians helped, finding and copying rare newspapers, journals and other special materials in their collections. At the top of the list is Janice Kaplan at the New York Academy of Medicine Library, and David Smith, a reference librarian of the New York Public Library; both worked with me for months. Anne Houston at Tulane University and the staff of the Rockville Public Library also deserve special mention, as does Charles Saunders and the staff at the Richmond Times- Dispatch newspaper morgue. I apologize to many more who cannot be listed for lack of space.

Numerous state officials went above and beyond. These include Margaret Walsh, Judith Dudley and James S. Reinhard at Virginia's Department of Hygiene, for allowing me to be the first to receive documents from the files of the Central Virginia Training School regarding Carrie Buck. I also thank state of Vermont officials for helping with important archival documents relating to the Hitler regime. Many more state officials worked with me on a confidential basis to reveal closed records. Their names cannot be revealed, but they know who they are.

Literally dozens of experts, eyewitnesses and other sources gave of their time to provide documentation in their possession, help trace facts or exchange ideas. In some instances the exchanges were brief, and in some cases the consultations were extensive and spanned weeks of effort. Among them were Sam Edelman, Nancy Gallagher, Daniel Kevles, Paul Lombardo, Barry Mehler, K. Ray Nelson, Diane Paul, Steve Selden, and Stephen Trombley.

Great guidance, page by page, stretching over many weeks, was rendered by Max Planck archivist Matthias Weber and geneticist Benno Miiller-Hill in Germany; health policy historian Paul Weindling in England; eugenics author]' David Smith at the University of Virginia; and National Archives Nazi historian and archivist Robert Wolfe in the U.S. I am also grateful to the many other draft readers whose comments were so essential, including S. Jay Olshansky, a health issues expert at the University of Illinois; William Seltzer, a demographic and census expert at Fordham University; archivist Piotr Setkiewicz at Auschwitz Museum; William Spriggs of the National Urban League; Ariel Szczupak in Jerusalem; Abraham H. Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League; Malcolm Hoenlein at the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations; and more than a dozen others.

In each of my books, I have paid tribute to the musical talents of those who have inspired and energized me. Crowning the playlist are Danny Elfman, Jerry Goldsmith and Hans Zimmer. To this I add John Barry, BT, Moby, Afro Celt Sound System, John Williams and, of course, Dmitri Shostakovich.

Polishing a manuscript is a never-ending process, and here I extend special recognition to Elizabeth Black, Eve Jones, Phyllis Bailey and many others who devoted endless hours to the numerous revisions, tweaks and updates. In particular, Jones's deft understanding of both the historical facts and editorial fine-tuning will be felt on every page.

No author could have asked for a better publishing team. I have been blessed with great editors during the past three decades and among the very finest was Jofie Ferrari-Adler, who melded with every sentence and brought great skill and polish to the finished product. Four Walls Eight Windows publisher John Oakes believed in the book from the beginning and mobilized the entire company behind it; it has been an honor to travel with him. Publicist Penny Simon, who worked with me on IBM and the Holocaust, aided this project with her ceaseless energies. Most of all, this project would not have been possible without the steadfast support of my agent and manager, Lynne Rabinoff, who embodies the best of literary representation here and abroad; few authors are fortunate enough to have an agent so dedicated and energized, and Lynne's imprint will be felt throughout this book.

A special word must be written for my family, robbed of my presence for two years while I was holed up amidst stacks of documents. Their indulgence was indispensable.

Washington, D. C.
June 1, 2003
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Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

Postby admin » Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:27 pm


Voices haunt the pages of every book. This particular book, however, speaks for the never-born, for those whose questions have never been heard -- for those who never existed.

Throughout the first six decades of the twentieth century, hundreds of thousands of Americans and untold numbers of others were not permitted to continue their families by reproducing. Selected because of their ancestry, national origin, race or religion, they were forcibly sterilized, wrongly committed to mental institutions where they died in great numbers, prohibited from marrying, and sometimes even unmarried by state bureaucrats. In America, this battle to wipe out whole ethnic groups was fought not by armies with guns nor by hate sects at the margins. Rather, this pernicious white-gloved war was prosecuted by esteemed professors, elite universities, wealthy industrialists and government officials colluding in a racist, pseudoscientific movement called eugenics. The purpose: create a superior Nordic race.

To perpetuate the campaign, widespread academic fraud combined with almost unlimited corporate philanthropy to establish the biological rationales for persecution. Employing a hazy amalgam of guesswork, gossip, falsified information and polysyllabic academic arrogance, the eugenics movement slowly constructed a national bureaucratic and juridical infrastructure to cleanse America of its "unfit." Specious intelligence tests, colloquially known as IQ tests, were invented to justify incarceration of a group labeled "feebleminded." Often the so-called feebleminded were just shy, too good-natured to be taken seriously, or simply spoke the wrong language or were the wrong color. Mandatory sterilization laws were enacted in some twenty-seven states to prevent targeted individuals from reproducing more of their kind. Marriage prohibition laws proliferated throughout the country to stop race mixing. Collusive litigation was taken to the U.S. Supreme Court, which sanctified eugenics and its tactics.

The goal was to immediately sterilize fourteen million people in the United States and millions more worldwide -- the "lower tenth" -- and then continuously eradicate the remaining lowest tenth until only a pure Nordic super race remained. Ultimately, some 60,000 Americans were coercively sterilized and the total is probably much higher. No one knows how many marriages were thwarted by state felony statutes. Although much of the persecution was simply racism, ethnic hatred and academic elitism, eugenics wore the mantle of respectable science to mask its true character.

The victims of eugenics were poor urban dwellers and rural "white trash" from New England to California, immigrants from across Europe, Blacks, Jews, Mexicans, Native Americans, epileptics, alcoholics, petty criminals, the mentally ill and anyone else who did not resemble the blond and blue-eyed Nordic ideal the eugenics movement glorified. Eugenics contaminated many otherwise worthy social, medical and educational causes from the birth control movement to the development of psychology to urban sanitation. Psychologists persecuted their patients. Teachers stigmatized their students. Charitable associations clamored to send those in need of help to lethal chambers they hoped would be constructed. Immigration assistance bureaus connived to send the most needy to sterilization mills. Leaders of the ophthalmology profession conducted a long and chilling political campaign to round up and coercively sterilize every relative of every American with a vision problem. All of this churned throughout America years before the Third Reich rose in Germany.

Eugenics targeted all mankind, so of course its scope was global. American eugenic evangelists spawned similar movements and practices throughout Europe, Latin America and Asia. Forced sterilization laws and regimens took root on every continent. Each local American eugenic ordinance or statute -- from Virginia to Oregon -- was promoted internationally as yet another precedent to be emulated by the international movement. A tightly-knit network of mainstream medical and eugenical journals, international meetings and conferences kept the generals and soldiers of eugenics up to date and armed for their nation's next legislative opportunity.

Eventually, America's eugenic movement spread to Germany as well, where it caught the fascination of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi movement. Under Hitler, eugenics careened beyond any American eugenicist's dream. National Socialism transduced America's quest for a "superior Nordic race" into Hitler's drive for an "Aryan master race." The Nazis were fond of saying "National Socialism is nothing but applied biology," and in 1934 the Richmond Times-Dispatch quoted a prominent American eugenicist as saying, "The Germans are beating us at our own game."

Nazi eugenics quickly outpaced American eugenics in both velocity and ferocity. In the 1930s, Germany assumed the lead in the international movement. Hitler's eugenics was backed by brutal decrees, custom-designed IBM data processing machines, eugenical courts, mass sterilization mills, concentration camps, and virulent biological anti-Semitism -- all of which enjoyed the open approval of leading American eugenicists and their institutions. The cheering quieted, but only reluctantly, when the United States entered the war in December of 1941. Then, out of sight of the world, Germany's eugenic warriors operated extermination centers. Eventually, Germany's eugenic madness led to the Holocaust, the destruction of the Gypsies, the rape of Poland and the decimation of all Europe.

But none of America's far-reaching scientific racism would have risen above ignorant rants without the backing of corporate philanthropic largess.

Within these pages you will discover the sad truth of how the scientific rationales that drove killer doctors at Auschwitz were first concocted on Long Island at the Carnegie Institution's eugenic enterprise at Cold Spring Harbor. You will see that during the prewar Hitler regime, the Carnegie Institution, through its Cold Spring Harbor complex, enthusiastically propagandized for the Nazi regime and even distributed anti-Semitic Nazi Party films to American high schools. And you will see the links between the Rockefeller Foundation's massive financial grants and the German scientific establishment that began the eugenic programs that were finished by Mengele at Auschwitz.

Only after the truth about Nazi extermination became known did the American eugenics movement fade. American eugenic institutions rushed to change their names from eugenics to genetics. With its new identity, the remnant eugenics movement reinvented itself and helped establish the modern, enlightened human genetic revolution. Although the rhetoric and the organizational names had changed, the laws and mindsets were left in place. So for decades after Nuremberg labeled eugenic methods genocide and crimes against humanity, America continued to forcibly sterilize and prohibit eugenically undesirable marriages.

I began by saying this book speaks for the never-born. It also speaks for the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees who attempted to flee the Hitler regime only to be denied visas to enter the United States because of the Carnegie Institution's openly racist anti-immigrant activism. Moreover, these pages demonstrate how millions were murdered in Europe precisely because they found themselves labeled lesser forms of life, unworthy of existence -- a classification created in the publications and academic research rooms of the Carnegie Institution, verified by the research grants of the Rockefeller Foundation, validated by leading scholars from the best Ivy League universities, and financed by the special efforts of the Harriman railroad fortune. Eugenics was nothing less than corporate philanthropy gone wild.

Today we are faced with a potential return to eugenic discrimination, not under national flags or political credos, but as a function of human genomic science and corporate globalization. Shrill declarations of racial dominance are being replaced by polished PR campaigns and patent protections. What eugenics was unable to accomplish in a century, newgenics may engineer in a generation. The almighty dollar may soon decide who stands on which side of a new genetic divide already being demarcated by the wealthy and powerful. As we speed toward a new biological horizon, confronting our eugenic past will help us confront the bewildering newgenic future that awaits.

I first became interested in eugenics while researching my previous books, The Transfer Agreement and IBM and the Holocaust. The Transfer Agreement, published in 1984, documented the tempestuous worldwide anti-Nazi boycott, which included vigorous efforts to stop American organizations from funding medical research. At the time I could not understand why Nazi medical research was so important to American corporate philanthropists. The scope of eugenics escaped me. Then in 2000, while researching IBM and the Holocaust -- which revealed IBM's role in automating Germany's eugenic institutions -- I finally came to see that eugenics was a life and death proposition for Europe's Jews. Yet I still didn't realize that this bizarre cult of Nazi race science was organically linked to America.

As I explored the history of eugenics, however, I soon discovered that the Nazi principle of Nordic superiority was not hatched in the Third Reich but on Long Island decades earlier -- and then actively transplanted to Germany. How did it happen? Who was involved? To uncover the story I did as I have done before and launched an international investigation. This time, a network of dozens of researchers, mostly volunteers, working in the United States, England, Germany and Canada unearthed some 50,000 documents and period publications from more than forty archives, dozens of library special collections and other repositories (see Major Sources). But unlike the Holocaust field, in which the documentation is centralized in a number of key archives, the information on eugenics is exceedingly decentralized and buried deep within numerous local and niche repositories.

In the United States alone, the investigation brought my team to the archival holdings of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia, to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, to Truman State University in northeastern Missouri, to numerous obscure community colleges in the Appalachian states, and a long list of state archives, county historical files and institutional archives where personal papers and period materials are stored. I also spent much time in many small, private libraries and archives, such as the one maintained by Planned Parenthood. We examined records at the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Institution. There are probably two hundred important repositories in America, many of them special collections and manuscript departments of local libraries or universities. Because eugenics was administered on the local level, every state probably possesses three to five sites hosting important eugenic documentation. I only accessed a few dozen of these across America. Much more needs to be done and American researchers will surely be kept busy for a decade mining the information.

In England I visited the British Library, the Well come Library, the University College of London, the Public Record Office and other key archives. These not only provided the information on Britain's eugenic campaigns, but also yielded copies of correspondence with American eugenic organizations that are simply not available in the American holdings. For example, strident propaganda pamphlets long cleansed from American files are still stored in the British records.

Because the German and American wings collaborated so closely, the German archives clearly traced the development of German race hygiene as it emulated the American program. More importantly, because the American and German movements functioned as a binary, their leaders bragged to one another and exchanged information constantly. Therefore I learned much about America's record by examining Reich-era files. For instance, although the number of individuals sterilized in Vermont has eluded researchers in that state, the information is readily available in the files of Nazi organizations. Moreover, obscure Nazi medical literature reveals the Nazis' understanding of their American partners. Probing the prodigious files of Nazi eugenics took my project to the Bundesarchiv in Berlin and Koblenz, the Max Planck Institute in Berlin, Heidelberg University and many other repositories in Germany.

When it was finished, the journey to discover America's eugenic history had taken me from an austere highway warehouse in Vermont, where the state's official files are stacked right next to automotive supplies and retrieved by forklift, to the architectonic British Library, to the massive Bundesarchiv in Berlin -- and every type of research environment in between. Sometimes I sat on a chair in a reading room. Sometimes I poked through boxes in a basement.

Even still, I was not prepared for the many profound built-in challenges to eugenic research. My experiences are rooted in Holocaust investigation, where a well-developed infrastructure is in place. Not so with eugenics. In Holocaust research, archives facilitate unlimited speedy photocopying of documents. The Public Record Office in London produces copies within hours. The National Archives in Washington, D.C., allows self-service photocopying. But the most important eugenic archive in Britain, storing thousands of important documents, limits users to just one hundred copies per year. America's largest eugenic archive, housing vast numbers of papers in numerous collections, limits researchers to just four hundred copies per year. Often the beleaguered and understaffed copy departments in these archives needed between three and four weeks to produce the copies. One archive asked for three months to copy a ten-page document. Fortunately, I was able to circumvent these restrictions by deploying teams of five and ten researchers at these archives, and by virtue of the gracious and indispensable flexibility of archivists who continuously assisted me in this massive project (see Acknowledgments). Only by their special efforts and indulgence was I able to secure as many as five thousand copies from a single archive, and reasonably quickly -- thus allowing me to gain a comprehensive view of the topic and shorten my work by years.

Another profound obstacle has been the fallacious claim by many document custodians, in both state and private archives, that the records of those sterilized, incarcerated and otherwise manipulated by the eugenics movement are somehow protected under doctor-patient confidentiality stretching back fifty to one hundred years. This notion is a sham that only dignifies the crime. Legislation is needed to dismantle such restrictions. No researcher should ever accept assertions by any document custodian that such records are covered by confidentiality protections accorded to medical procedures -- whether in Nazi Germany or the United States. The people persecuted by eugenics were not patients, they were victims. No doctor-patient relationship was established. Most of the unfortunate souls snared by eugenics were deceived and seized upon by animal breeders, biologists, anthropologists, raceologists and bureaucrats masquerading as medical men. Mengele's victims were not patients. or were those in America who were caught up in the fraudulent science of eugenics.

In some instances, records were initially denied to me on this basis. Fortunately, the investigative reporter only gets started when he hears the word no. I demanded full access and was grateful when I received it. I applaud the State of Virginia for allowing me to be the first to receive files on the infamous sterilization of Carrie Buck; copies of those files are now in my office.

The international scope of the endeavor created a logistical nightmare that depended on devoted researchers scouring files in many cities. For months, I functioned as a traffic cop, managing editor and travel coordinator while simultaneously dispatching researchers to follow leads on both sides of the Atlantic. On the same day that one group might be interviewing mountain people in the hills of Virginia, another might be examining the personal papers of a police chief in California, while another in Berlin scanned the financial records of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute to identify American financial assistance, while still others reviewed the pamphlets of the Eugenics Society in London.

We were as likely to scrutinize the visitor registers at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute's guest facility, Harnack House, to see which Americans visited Berlin, as we were to review the mailing lists of Carnegie scientists to see who in Germany was receiving their reports. Progress among my researchers was exchanged by continuous use of the Internet and by the extensive use of faxed and scanned documents. Eventually all of the documents came together in my office in Washington. They were then copied and arranged in chronological folders -- one folder for every month of the twentieth century. The materials were then cross-filed to trace certain trends, and then juxtaposed against articles published month-by-month in journals such as Eugenical News, Journal of Heredity and Eugenics Review, as well as numerous race science publications in Nazi Germany. By pulling anyone monthly folder I could assemble a snapshot of what was occurring worldwide during that month.

When we were done, we had assembled a mountain of documentation that clearly chronicled a century of eugenic crusading by America's finest universities, most reputable scientists, most trusted professional and charitable organizations, and most revered corporate foundations. They had collaborated with the Department of Agriculture and numerous state agencies in an attempt to breed a new race of Nordic humans, applying the same principles used to breed cattle and corn. The names define power and prestige in America: the Carnegie Institution, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Harriman railroad fortune, Harvard University, Princeton University, Yale University, Stanford University, the American Medical Association, Margaret Sanger, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Robert Yerkes, Woodrow Wilson, the American Museum of Natural History, the American Genetic Association and a sweeping array of government agencies from the obscure Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics to the U.S. State Department.

Next came an obsessive documentation process. Every fact and fragment and its context was supported with black and white documents, then double-checked and separately triple-checked in a rigorous multistage verification regimen by a team of argumentative, hairsplitting fact-checkers. Only then was the manuscript draft submitted to a panel of known experts in the field from the United States, Germany, England and Poland, for a line-by-line review. The result: behind each of the hundreds of footnotes, there is a folder that contains the supporting documentation.

To ensure that all of our information was accurate, we also set about verifying the work of numerous other scholars by checking their documentation. We often asked them to provide documents from their files. In other words, we not only documented my book, we verified other works as well. Most of the authors graciously complied, readily faxing copies of their documents or explaining precisely where the information could be found. During this process, however, we discovered numerous errors in many prior works.

For example, in one book an important speech on the value of heredity is attributed to Woodrow Wilson, president of the United States -- the speech was actually given by Jim Wilson, president of the American Breeders Association. I can understand how errors like this occur. Many scholars rely on other scholars' works. Summaries of summaries of summaries yield a lesser truth with every iteration. Except for the work of a few brilliant world-class documenters, such as Daniel J. Kevles, Benno Muller-Hill, Paul Weindling and Martin Pernick, I largely considered published works little more than leads. What's more, there is boundless information on eugenics accumulating on the Internet, some of it very prettily presented, much of it hysterical, and unfortunately, most of it filled with profound errors. Hence whenever possible, I acquired primary source material so I could determine the provable facts for myself.

When the research phase was over, I realized that less than half the information I had assembled would even make it into the book. Frankly, I had amassed enough information to write a freestanding book for each of the twenty-one chapters in this volume. It was painful to pick and choose which information would be included, but I am confident that with so many journalists throughout America now aggressively delving into eugenics, the field will soon be as broad and diversified as the investigations of the Holocaust and American slavery. At least one book could be written for each state, starting with California, which was America's most energetic eugenic state. Critical biographies are needed for the key players. In-depth examinations of the links between Germany and the Pioneer Fund, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Carnegie Institution as well as numerous state officials would be welcome. The role of the Chicago Municipal Court must be further explored.

When I began this project in 2001, many in the public were not even aware of eugenics. Indeed, for a while my publisher did not even want me to include the word eugenics in the title of this book. In reality, however, the topic has been continuously explored over the past decades by several extremely talented academics and students hailing from a range of disciplines from biology to education. Although most were gracious and supportive, I was surprised to find that many tended to guard their information closely. One such author told me she didn't believe another book on eugenics was necessary. ("It depends on how nuanced," she said with some discomfort.) Another professor astonished me by asking for money to answer some questions within his expertise -- the first time I had encountered such a request in thirty-five years of historical research. When I contacted a Virginia professor who had written a dissertation decades earlier, she actually told me she didn't think a member of the media was "qualified" to read her dissertation. One collaborative scholarly eugenic website, ironically funded by a federal grant, restricts media usage while permitting unrestricted scholarly usage.

As I was completing my work, the public was beginning to discover the outlines of eugenics. The Richmond Times-Dispatch, Winston-Salem Journal, and several other publications and radio stations, as well as the Los Angeles Times, New York Times and American Heritage magazine, all produced exemplary articles on various aspects of eugenics. The Winston-Salem Journal series was a feat of investigative journalism. As the manuscript was being typed, the governors of Virginia, Oregon, California, North Carolina and South Carolina all publicly apologized to the victims of their states' official persecution. Others will follow. The topic is now where it belongs, in the hands of hard-driving journalists and historians who will not stop until they have uncovered all the facts.

Now that newspaper and magazine articles have placed the crime of eugenics on the front burner, my book explains in depth exactly how this fraudulent science infected our society and then reached across the world and right into Nazi Germany. I want the full story to be understood in context. Skipping around in the book will only lead to flawed and erroneous conclusions. So if you intend to skim, or to rely on selected sections, please do not read the book at all. This is the saga of a century and can easily be misunderstood. The realities of the twenties, thirties and forties were very different from each other. I have made this request of my readers on prior books and I repeat it for this volume as well.

Although this book contains many explosive revelations and embarrassing episodes about some of our society's most honored individuals and institutions, I hope its contents will not be misused or quoted out of context by special interests. Opponents of a woman's right to choose could easily seize upon Margaret Sanger's eugenic rhetoric to discredit the admirable work of Planned Parenthood today; I oppose such misuse. Detractors of today's Rockefeller Foundation could easily apply the facts of their Nazi connections to their current programs; I reject the linkage. Those frightened by the prospect of human engineering could invoke the science's eugenic foundations to condemn all genomic research; that would be a mistake. While I am as anxious as the next person about the prospect of out-of-control genomics under the thumb of big business, I hope every genetic advance that helps humanity fight disease will continue as fast and as furiously as possible.

This is the right place to note that virtually all the organizations I investigated cooperated with unprecedented rigor, because they want the history illuminated as much as anyone. This includes the Rockefeller Foundation, the Carnegie Institution, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and the Max Planck Institute, successor to the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute. All gave me unlimited access and unstinting assistance. These organizations have all worked hard to help the world discover their pasts and must be commended. Planned Parenthood worked with me closely day after day, searching for and faxing documents, continually demonstrating their interest in the unvarnished truth. The same can be said for numerous other corporations and organizations. This is a book of history, and corporate and philanthropic America must be commended when they cooperate in an investigation as aggressive and demanding as mine.

Indeed, of the scores of societies, corporations, organizations and governmental agencies I contacted around the world, only one obstructed my work. IBM refused me access to its files. Despite this obstruction, I was able to demonstrate that the race-defining punch card used by the SS in Nazi Germany was actually derived from one developed for the Carnegie Institution years before Hitler came to power.

This project has been a long, exhausting, exhilarating odyssey for me, one that has taken me to the darkest side of the brightest minds and revealed to me one reason why America has been struggling so long to become the country it still wants to be. We have a distance to go. Again, I ask how did this happen in a progressive society? After reviewing thousands upon thousands of pages of documentation, and pondering the question day and night for nearly two years, I realize it comes down to just one word. It was more than the self-validation and self-certification of the elite, more than just power and influence joining forces with prejudice. It was the corrupter of us all: it was arrogance.

Washington, D. C.
March 15, 2003
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Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

Postby admin » Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:31 pm

A Note on the Text

War Against the weak utilized published and private sources spanning a century, and in several languages, and as such presented numerous textual challenges. We relied upon established style conventions as often as possible, and, when required, adapted and innovated styles. Readers may notice certain inconsistencies. Some explanation follows.

Every phrase of quoted material has remained as true as possible to the original terminology, punctuation and capitalization, even to the point of preserving archaic and sometimes offensive terms when used by the original source. No attempt was made to filter out ethnic denigrations when they appeared in period materials. Eugenicists in America called themselves eugenicists, but in Britain referred to themselves as eugenists, and sometimes the usage crossed; we used eugenicists in narrative but eugenists whenever it appeared in a specific quotation. In several instances we quoted from profoundly misspelled handwritten letters, and it was our decision to transcribe these as authentically as possible.

When referring to materials originally published in German, journals and magazines are cited by their legal name in German, such as Archiv fur Rossen- und Gesellschaftsbiologie, with the first usage including a translation in parentheses. Titles of books are referred to by their English translations; the first usage includes the original German title in parentheses. When multiple translations of a book title or organization name exist, we selected the most appropriate. We made an exception when a book's title rose to the public awareness of a Mein Kampf. We used the German fur whenever possible but were compelled to use the variant fuer when it was used in American headlines.

For most points of style, this book has followed The Chicago Manual of Style. Unfortunately, not even the near-thousand pages of standards set forth in Chicago could cover all the varied forms in which primary information was received. This is especially true when dealing with electronic sources such as Internet web pages, and actual documents -- new and old -- reproduced in PDF formats, electronic books and other Internet sources. This is one of the first history books to incorporate widespread use of legitimate materials on the Internet. For example, we obtained copies of Papal encyclicals from the Vatican's website, PDFs of original historical programs, and electronic books -- all on the Internet. These are legitimate materials when used with extreme caution.

Citing the Internet is a profound challenge. Given the lack of style consensus, and the fact that websites are continuously updated and rearranged, it was necessary to create a new style for Internet citations. We decided to include just two key elements: the website's home page address and the title of the document. General search engines such as Google and site-specific search engines will be the best means of locating the content of these cited pages. Naturally we retained printouts of all cited web materials.
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Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

Postby admin » Wed Jul 30, 2014 9:55 pm

PART ONE: From Peapod to Persecution

CHAPTER 1: Mountain Sweeps

When the sun breaks over Brush Mountain and its neighboring slopes in southwestern Virginia, it paints a magical, almost iconic image of America's pastoral splendor. Yet there are many painful stories, long unspoken, lurking in these gentle hills, especially along the hiking paths and dirt roads that lead to shanties, cabins and other rustic encampments. Decades later, some of the victims have been compelled to speak.

In the 1930s, the Brush Mountain hill folk, like many of the clans scattered throughout the isolated Appalachian slopes, lived in abject poverty. With little education, often without running water or indoor plumbing, and possessing few amenities, they seemed beyond the reach of social progress. Speaking with the indistinct drawls and slurred vestigial accents that marked them as hillbillies, dressed in rough-hewn clothing or hand-me- downs, and sometimes diseased or poorly developed due to the long-term effects of squalor and malnutrition, they were easy to despise. They were easily considered alien. Quite simply, polite Virginia society considered them white trash.

Yet Brush Mountain people lived their own vibrant rural highlands culture. They sang, played mountain instruments with fiery virtuosity to toe-tapping rhythms, told and retold engaging stories, danced jigs, sewed beautiful quilts and sturdy clothing, hunted fox and deer, fished a pan full and fried it up. [1] Most of all, they hoped for better -- better health, better jobs, better schooling, a better life for their children. Hill people did produce great men and women who would increasingly take their places in modern society. But hopes for betterment often became irrelevant because these people inhabited a realm outside the margins of America's dream. As such, their lives became a stopping place for America's long biological nightmare.

A single day in the 1930s was typical. The Montgomery County sheriff drove up unannounced onto Brush Mountain and began one of his many raids against the hill families considered socially inadequate. More precisely, these hill families were deemed "unfit," that is, unfit to exist in nature. On this day the Montgomery County sheriff grabbed six brothers from one family, bundled them into several vehicles and then disappeared down the road. Earlier, the sheriff had come for the boys' sister. Another time, deputies snared two cousins. [2]

"I don't know how many others they took, but they were after a lot of them," recalled Howard Hale, a former Montgomery County supervisor, as he relived the period for a local Virginia newspaper reporter a half century later. From Brush Mountain, the sheriff's human catch was trucked to a variety of special destinations, such as Western State Hospital in Staunton, Virginia. Western State Hospital, formerly known as the Western Lunatic Asylum, loomed as a tall-columned colonial edifice near a hill at the edge of town. The asylum was once known for its so-called "moral therapy," devised by Director Dr. Francis T. Stribling, who later became one of the thirteen founding members of the American Psychiatric Association. By the time Brush Mountain hillbillies were transported there, Western housed not only those deemed insane, but also the so-called "feebleminded." [3]

No one was quite sure how "feebleminded" was defined. [4] No matter. The county authorities were certain that the hill folk swept up in their raids were indeed mentally -- and genetically -- defective. As such, they would not be permitted to breed more of their kind.

How? These simple mountain people were systematically sterilized under a Virginia law compelling such operations for those ruled unfit. Often, the teenage boys and girls placed under the surgeon's knife did not really comprehend the ramifications. Sometimes they were told they were undergoing an appendectomy or some other unspecified procedure. Generally, they were released after the operation. Many of the victims did not discover why they could not bear children until decades later when the truth was finally revealed to them by local Virginia investigative reporters and government reformers. [5]

Western State Hospital in Staunton was not Virginia's only sterilization mill. Others dotted the state's map, including the Colony for Epileptics and the Feebleminded near Lynchburg, the nation's largest facility of its kind and the state's greatest center of sterilization. Lynchburg and Western were augmented by hospitals at Petersburg, Williamsburg and Marion. Lower-class white boys and girls from the mountains, from the outskirts of small towns and big city slums were sterilized in assembly line fashion. So were American Indians, Blacks, epileptics and those suffering from certain maladies -- day after day, thousands of them as though orchestrated by some giant machine. [6]

Retired Montgomery County Welfare Director Kate Bolton recalled with pride, "The children were legally committed by the court for being feebleminded, and there was a waiting list from here to Lynchburg." She added, "If you've seen as much suffering and depravity as I have, you can only hope and pray no one else goes through something like that. We had to stop it at the root." [7]

"Eventually, you knew your time would come," recalled Buck Smith about his Lynchburg experience. His name is not really Buck Smith. But he was too ashamed, nearly a half century later, to allow his real name to be used during an interview with a local Virginia reporter. "Everybody knew it. A lot of us just joked about it .... We weren't growed up enough to think about it. We didn't know what it meant. To me it was just that 'my time had come."' [8]

Buck vividly recounted the day he was sterilized at Lynchburg. He was fifteen years old. "The call came over the dormitory just like always, and I knew they were ready for me," he remembered. "There was no use fighting it. They gave me some pills that made me drowsy and then they wheeled me up to the operating room." The doctor wielding the scalpel was Lynchburg Superintendent Dr. D. L. Harrell Jr., "who was like a father to me," continued Buck. Dr. Harrell muttered, "Buck, I'm going to have to tie your tubes and then maybe you'll be able to go home." Drowsy, but awake, Buck witnessed the entire procedure. Dr. Harrell pinched Buck's scrotum, made a small incision and then deftly sliced the sperm ducts, rendering Buck sterile. "I watched the whole thing. I was awake the whole time," Buck recalled. [9]

Buck Smith was sterilized because the state declared that as a feebleminded individual, he was fundamentally incapable of caring for himself. Virginia authorities feared that if Buck were permitted to reproduce, his offspring would inherit immutable genetic traits for poverty and low intelligence. Poverty, or "pauperism," as it was called at the time, was scientifically held by many esteemed doctors and universities to be a genetic defect, transmitted from generation to generation. Buck Smith was hardly feebleminded, and he spoke with simple eloquence about his mentality. "I've worked eleven years at the same job," he said, "and haven't missed more than three days of work. There's nothing wrong with me except my lack of education." [10]

"I'll never understand why they sterilized me," Buck Smith disconsolately told the local reporter. "I'll never understand that. They [Lynchburg] gave me what life I have and they took a lot of my life away from me. Having children is supposed to be part of the human race." [11]

The reporter noticed a small greeting card behind Buck Smith. The sterilized man had eventually married and formed a lasting bond with his stepchildren. The card was from those stepchildren and read: "Thinking of you, Daddy." Through tears, Buck Smith acknowledged the card, "They call me Daddy." [12]

Mary Donald was equally pained when she recalled her years of anguish following her sterilization at Lynchburg when she was only eleven. Several years later, she was "released" to her husband-to-be, and then enjoyed a good marriage for eighteen years. But "he loved kids," she remembered. "I lay in bed and cried because I couldn't give him a son," she recounted in her heavily accented but articulate mountain drawl. "You know, men want a son to carry on their name. He said it didn't matter. But as years went by, he changed. We got divorced and he married someone else." With these words, Mary broke down and wept. [13]

Like so many, Mary never understood what was happening. She recalled the day doctors told her. "They ask me, 'Do you know what this meeting is for?' I said, 'No, sir, I don't.' 'Well this is a meeting you go through when you have to have a serious operation, and it's for your health.' That's the way they expressed it. 'Well,' I said, 'if it's for my health, then I guess I'll go through with it.' See, I didn't know any difference." Mary didn't learn she had been sterilized until five years after her operation. [14]

The surgeon's blade cut widely. Sometimes the victims were simply truants, petty thieves or just unattended boys captured by the sheriffs before they could escape. Marauding county welfare officials, backed by deputies, would take the youngsters into custody, and before long the boys would be shipped to a home for the feebleminded. Many were forced into virtual slave labor, sometimes being paid as little as a quarter for a full week of contract labor. Runaways and the recalcitrant were subject to beatings and torturous ninety-day stints in a darkened "blind room." Their release was generally conditional on family acquiescence to their sterilization. [15]

Mary Donald, "Buck Smith," the brothers from Brush Mountain and many more whose names have long been forgotten are among the more than eight thousand Virginians sterilized as a result of coercion, stealth and deception in a wide-ranging program to prevent unwanted social, racial and ethnic groups from propagating. But the agony perpetrated against these people was hardly a local story of medical abuse. It did not end at the Virginia state line. Virginia's victims were among some sixty thousand who were forcibly sterilized all across the United States, almost half of them in California. [16]

Moreover, the story of America's reproductive persecution constitutes far more than just a protracted medical travesty. These simple Virginia people, who thought they were isolated victims, plucked from their remote mountain homes and urban slums, were actually part of a grandiose, decades-long American movement of social and biological cleansing determined to obliterate individuals and families deemed inferior. The intent was to create a new and superior mankind.

The movement was called eugenics. It was conceived at the onset of the twentieth century and implemented by America's wealthiest, most powerful and most learned men against the nation's most vulnerable and helpless. Eugenicists sought to methodically terminate all the racial and ethnic groups, and social classes, they disliked or feared. It was nothing less than America's legalized campaign to breed a super race -- and not just any super race. Eugenicists wanted a purely Germanic and Nordic super race, enjoying biological dominion over all others. [17]

Nor was America's crusade a mere domestic crime. Using the power of money, prestige and international academic exchanges, American eugenicists exported their philosophy to nations throughout the world, including Germany. Decades after a eugenics campaign of mass sterilization and involuntary incarceration of "defectives" was institutionalized in the United States, the American effort to create a super Nordic race came to the attention of Adolf Hitler.

Those declared unfit by Virginia did not know it, but they were connected to a global effort of money, manipulation and pseudoscience that stretched from rural America right into the sterilization wards, euthanasia vans and concentration camps of the Third Reich. Prior to World War II, the Nazis practiced eugenics with the open approval of America's eugenic crusaders. As Joseph DeJarnette, superintendent of Virginia's Western State Hospital, complained in 1934, "Hitler is beating us at our own game." [18]

Eventually, out of sight of the world, in Buchenwald and Auschwitz, eugenic doctors like Josef Mengele would carry on the research begun just years earlier with American financial support, including grants from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Institution. Only after the secrets of Nazi eugenics horrified the world, only after Nuremberg declared compulsory sterilization a crime against humanity, did American eugenics recede, adopt an enlightened view and then resurface as "genetics" and "human engineering." [19] Even still, involuntary sterilization continued for decades as policy and practice in America.

True, the victims of Virginia and hundreds of thousands more like them in countries across the world were denied children. But they did give birth to a burning desire to understand how the most powerful, intelligent, scholarly and respectable individuals and organizations in America came to mount a war against the weakest Americans to create a super race. Just as pressing is this question: Will the twenty-first-century successor to the eugenics movement, now known as "human engineering," employ enough safeguards to ensure that the biological crimes of the twentieth century will never happen again?
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Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

Postby admin » Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:09 pm

CHAPTER 2: Evolutions

Mankind's quest for perfection has always turned dark. Man has always existed in perpetual chaos. Continuously catapulted from misery to exhilaration and back, humanity has repeatedly struggled to overcome vulnerability and improve upon its sense of strength. The instinct is to "play God" or at least mediate His providence. Too often, this impulse is not just to improve, but to repress, and even destroy those deemed inferior.

Eventually, the Judeo-Christian world codified the principle that all human life should be valued. A measure of our turbulent civilization and even of our humanity has always been how well people have adhered to that precept. Indeed, as societies became more enlightened, they extended respect for life to an ever-widening circle of people, including the less fortunate and the less strong.

Racism, group hatred, xenophobia and enmity toward one's neighbors have existed in almost every culture throughout history. But it took millennia for these deeply personal, almost tribal hostilities to migrate into the safe harbor of scientific thought, thus rationalizing destructive actions against the despised or unwanted.

Science offers the most potent weapons in man's determination to resist the call of moral restraint. To forge the new science of human oppression -- a race science -- several completely disconnected threads of history twined. Indeed, it took centuries of development for three disciplines -- socioeconomics, philosophy and biology -- to come together into a resilient and fast-moving pseudoscience that would change the world forever.

Perhaps the story truly begins with the simple concept of charity. Charity is older than the Bible. [1] Organized refuges for the poor and helpless date to the Roman era and earlier. [2] The concept of extending a helping hand was established in the earliest Judeo-Christian doctrine. "There will always be poor people in the land, therefore, I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land," declared Deuteronomy. [3] Jesus Christ based his ministry on helping the helpless -- the lame, the blind, lepers, the mentally deranged, and social outcasts such as thieves and prostitutes. He proclaimed, "The meek ... shall inherit the earth." [4]

After the Roman Empire adopted Christianity, the Canones Arabici Nicaeni of 325 A.D. mandated the expansion of hospitals and other monastic institutions for the sick and needy. [5] During medieval times, the church was chiefly responsible for "houses of pity." [6] In England, such charitable institutions for the poor were abundantly required.

The Black Death killed millions across Europe between 1348 and 1350. Labor shortages motivated bands of itinerant workers and beggars to wander from town to town in search of the highest paying pittance. As they wandered, many resorted to petty thievery, highway robbery, and worse. With their impoverished existence carne the associated afflictions of illiteracy, poor health, rampant disease and physical disability. [7]

During the early and mid-1500s, economic upheavals took their toll on all but the richest of the nobility. Silver from the New World and official coinage debasements caused prices to rise, increasing the suffering of the poor. Tribes of vagrants migrated from the countryside to villages. Later, in response to the booming wool market, England's landowners switched from estate farming to vast sheep breeding enterprises. Consequently, great numbers of farm workers were evicted from their peasant domiciles, bloating the hordes of the unemployed and destitute. This teeming hardship only increased the church's role in tending to a multitude of the wretched and poor. [8]

Everything changed in the 1530s when Pope Clement VII refused to annul Henry VIII's marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Furious, King Henry seized church property and monasteries in England, and charitable institutions slowly became a governmental responsibility. [9] Tending to the poor was expensive but the alternative was food riots. [10]

By the early sixteenth century, the first poor laws were enacted in England. Such measures categorized the poor into two groups. The deserving poor were the very young and the very old, the infirm and families who fell on financial difficulties due to a change in circumstances. The undeserving poor were those who had turned to crime -- such as highwaymen, pickpockets, and professional beggars -- and also included paupers who roamed the country looking for a day's work. The undeserving poor were considered an affliction upon society, and the law laid out harsh punishment. Poverty, or more precisely, vagrancy, was criminalized. Indeed, the concept of criminal vagrancy for those with "no visible means of support" has persisted ever since. [11]

Despite all attempts to contain welfare spending, England's enormous expenditures only escalated. In 1572, compulsory poor law taxes were assessed to each community to pay for poor houses and other institutions that cared for the deranged, diseased and decrepit among them. These taxes created a burden that many resented. [12] Now it was the poor and helpless against the rest of society.

Indeed, a distinct pauper class had emerged. These people were perceived by the establishment as both an arrogant lot who assumed an inherited "right to relief," and as seething candidates for riot and revolution. Overcrowded slums and dismal poorhouses caused England to reform its poor laws and poverty policies several times during the subsequent three hundred years. The urbanization of poverty was massively accelerated by the Industrial Revolution, which established grim, sunless sweatshops and factories that in turn demanded -- and exploited -- cheap labor. Appalling conditions became the norm, inspiring Charles Dickens to rouse the public in novels such as Oliver Twist. Despite progress, by the mid-1800s the state was still spending £1,400 a year (equivalent to about $125,000 in modern money) per 10,000 paupers. The ruling classes increasingly rebelled against "taxing the industrious to support the indolent." [13]

Soot-smeared and highly reproductive, England's paupers were looked down upon as a human scourge. The establishment's derogatory language began to define these subclasses as subhumans. For example, a popular 1869 book, The Seven Curses of London, deprecated "those male and female pests of every civilized community whose natural complexion is dirt, whose brow would sweat at the bare idea of earning their bread, and whose stock-in- trade is rags and impudence." [14]

England's complex of state-sponsored custodial institutions stretched across a distant horizon. Over time, the proliferation of poor houses, lunacy asylums, orphanages, health clinics, epilepsy colonies, rescue shelters, homes for the feebleminded and prisons inevitably turned basic Christian charity into what began to be viewed as a social plague.

While Britain's perceived social plague intensified, a new social philosophy began evolving in Europe. In 1798, English economist Thomas Malthus published a watershed theory on the nature of poverty and the controlling socioeconomic systems at play. Malthus reasoned that a finite food supply would naturally inhibit a geometrically expanding human race. He called for population control by moral restraint. He even argued that in many instances charitable assistance promoted generation-to-generation poverty and simply made no sense in the natural scheme of human progress. Many who rallied behind Malthus's ideas ignored his complaints about an unjust social and economic structure, and instead focused on his rejection of the value of helping the poor. [15]

In the 1850s, agnostic English philosopher Herbert Spencer published Social Statics, asserting that man and society, in truth, followed the laws of cold science, not the will of a caring, almighty God. Spencer popularized a powerful new term: "survival of the fittest." He declared that man and society were evolving according to their inherited nature. Through evolution, the "fittest" would naturally continue to perfect society. And the "unfit" would naturally become more impoverished, less educated and ultimately die off, as well they should. Indeed, Spencer saw the misery and starvation of the pauper classes as an inevitable decree of a "far-seeing benevolence," that is, the laws of nature. He unambiguously insisted, "The whole effort of nature is to get rid of such, and to make room for better .... If they are not sufficiently complete to live, they die, and it is best they should die." Spencer left no room for doubt, declaring, "all imperfection must disappear." As such, he completely denounced charity and instead extolled the purifying elimination of the "unfit." The unfit, he argued, were predestined by their nature to an existence of downwardly spiraling degradation. [16]

As social and economic gulfs created greater generation-to-generation disease and dreariness among the increasing poor, and as new philosophies suggested society would only improve when the unwashed classes faded away, a third voice entered the debate. That new voice was the voice of hereditary science.

In 1859, some years after Spencer began to use the term "survival of the fittest," the naturalist Charles Darwin summed up years of observation in a lengthy abstract entitled The Origin of Species. Darwin espoused "natural selection" as the survival process governing most living things in a world of limited resources and changing environments. He confirmed that his theory "is the doctrine of Malthus applied with manifold force to the whole animal and vegetable kingdoms; for in this case, there can be no artificial increase of food, and no prudential restraint from marriage." [17]

Darwin was writing about a "natural world" distinct from man. But it wasn't long before leading thinkers were distilling the ideas of Malthus, Spencer and Darwin into a new concept, bearing a name never used by Darwin himself: social Darwinism. [18] Now social planners were rallying around the notion that in the struggle to survive in a harsh world, many humans were not only less worthy, many were actually destined to wither away as a rite of progress. To preserve the weak and the needy was, in essence, an unnatural act.

Since ancient times, man has understood the principles of breeding and the lasting quality of inherited traits. The Old Testament describes Jacob's clever breeding of his and Laban's flocks, as spotted and streaked goats were mated to create spotted and streaked offspring. Centuries later, Jesus sermonized, "A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." [19]

Good stock and preferred traits were routinely propagated in the fields and the flocks. Bad stock and unwanted traits were culled. Breeding, whether in grapes or sheep, was considered a skill subject to luck and God's grace.

But during the five years between 1863 and 1868, three great men of biology would all promulgate a theory of evolution dependent upon identifiable hereditary "units" within the cells. These units could actually be seen under a microscope. Biology entered a new age when its visionaries proclaimed that good and bad traits were not bestowed by God as an inscrutable divinity, but transmitted from generation to generation according to the laws of science.

Spencer, in 1863, published Principles of Biology, which suggested that heredity was under the control of "physiological units." [20]

Three years later, the obscure Czech monk Gregor Mendel published his experiments with smooth-skinned and wrinkled peas; he constructed a predictable hereditary system dependent on inherited cellular "elements." [21]

Finally, in 1868, Darwin postulated the notion that "the units throw off minute granules which are dispersed throughout the entire system .... They are collected from all parts of the system to constitute the sexual elements, and their development in the next generation forms a new being; but they are likewise capable of transmission in a dormant state to future generations." Darwin named these minute granules gemmules. [22]

By any name, science had now pulled away the shroud covering the genetic realities of mankind.

Far-flung notions of social planning, philosophy and biology -- centuries in the making -- now gravitated toward each other, culminating in a fascinating new ideology that sought to improve the human race -- not by war or charity, but by the progressive logic of science and mathematics. The driving force behind this revelation was not really a scientist, although his scientific methodology influenced many scientists. He was not really a philosopher, although his ability to weave scientific principles into social philosophy spawned fiery movements of dogma. He was not really a physician, although his analyses of human physiology ultimately governed much of the surgical and medical profession. The man was Francis J. Galton. He was above all a clever and compulsive counter -- a counter of things, of phenomena, of traits, of all manner of occurrences, obvious and obscure, real and conjured. If any pattern could be discerned in the cacophony of life, Galton's piercing ratiocination could detect it and just maybe systemize it to the level of predictability.

Galton never finished his studies at London's King College Medical School and instead studied math at Cambridge, where he quickly became an aficionado of the emerging field of statistics. [23] He joyously applied his arithmetic prowess and razor-like powers of observation to everyday life, seeking correlation. Galton distinguished himself by his ability to recognize patterns, making him an almost unique connoisseur of nature -- sampling, tasting and discerning new character in seemingly random flavors of chaos.

More than correlation, Galton's greatest quest was prediction. To his mind, what he could predict, he could outwit -- even conquer. And so Galton's never-ending impulse was to stand before life and defy its mysteries, one by one, with his indomitable powers of comprehension.

Perhaps counting relieved the throbbing of his constant headaches or was an intellectual consequence of his insatiable desire to excel. More than once, he succumbed to palpitations and even a nervous breakdown amidst the fury of his cogitations. Even his visage seemed sculpted to seek and measure. A pair of bushy eyebrows jutted out above his orbits almost like two hands cupped over the brow of a man peering into an unfathomable distance. At the same time, his dense windswept sideburns swerved back dramatically just behind his earlobes, as though his mind was speeding faster than the rest of his head. [24]

Galton counted the people fidgeting in an audience and tried to relate it to levels of interest. He tried to make sense of waves in his bathtub. He gazed from afar at well-endowed women, using a sextant to record their measurements. "As the ladies turned themselves ... to be admired," wrote Galton, "I surveyed them in every way and subsequently measured the distance of the spot where they stood ... and tabulated the results at my leisure." He even tried to map the concentration of beauty in Britain by noting how many lovely women were located in different regions of the country. [25]

Galton's favorite adage was, "Whenever you can, count." [26]

Much of Galton's quantitative musings amounted to little more than distraction. But some of it became solid science. In 1861, he distributed a questionnaire to the weather stations of Europe, asking the superintendents to record all weather details for the month of December. He found a pattern. Analyzing the data, Galton drew up the world's first weather maps, peppering them with his own idiosyncratic symbols for wind direction, temperature and barometric pressure. His maps, revealing that counterclockwise wind currents marked sudden changes in pressure, eventually made isobaric charts possible. Galton's 1863 publication, Meteorographica: or Methods of Mapping the Weather, greatly advanced the science of meteorology. [27]

Later, he discovered that the raised ridges on human fingertips were each unique. No two were alike. He devised a system for analyzing and categorizing the distinctive sworls, and inking them into a permanent record. Galton simply called these fingerprints. The new discipline permitted the identification of criminals -- this at a time when a wave of crime by unidentifiable felons gripped London and Jack the Ripper prowled the East End. Galton's book, Finger Prints, featured the author's own ten arched across the page as a personal logotype. [28]

About the time Darwin, Spencer and Mendel began explaining the heredity of lower species, Galton was already looking beyond those theories. He began to discern the patterns of various qualities in human beings. In 1865, Galton authored a two-part series for Macmillan Magazine that he expanded four years later into a book entitled Hereditary Genius. Galton studied the biographical dictionaries and encyclopedias, as well as the genealogies of eminent scholars, poets, artists and military men. Many of them were descendants of the same families. The frequency was too impressive to ignore. Galton postulated that heredity not only transmitted physical features, such as hair color and height, but mental, emotional and creative qualities as well. Galton counted himself among the eminent, since he was Darwin's cousin, and both descended from a common grandfather. [29]

Galton reasoned that talent and quality were more than an accident. They could be calculated, managed and sharpened into a "highly gifted race of men by judicious marriages during several consecutive generations." Far from accepting any of Malthus's notions of inhibited procreation, Galton suggested that bountiful breeding of the best people would evolve mankind into a superlative species of grace and quality. He actually hoped to create a regulated marriage process where members of the finest families were only wed to carefully selected spouses. [30]

Galton did not worry that inbred negative qualities would multiply. He said there was "no reason to suppose that, in breeding for the higher order of intellect, we should produce ... a feeble race." He explained his own incapacitating physical frailties away as a manifestation of hereditary distinction. "Men who leave their mark on the world," wrote Galton, "are very often those who, being gifted and full of nervous power, are at the same time haunted and driven by a dominant idea, and are therefore within a measurable distance of insanity." [31]

Galton struggled to find the pattern, the predictability, the numerical formula that governed the character of progeny. Mathematics would be the key to elevating his beliefs from an observation to a science. He didn't have the answer yet, but Galton was certain that the secret of scientific breeding could be revealed -- and that it would forever change humankind. "Could not the undesirables be got rid of and the desirables multiplied?" he asked. [32]

In 1883, Galton published Inquiries into Human Faculty and Development and created a new term for his discipline. He played with many names for his new science. Finally, he scrawled Greek letters on a hand-sized scrap of paper, and next to them the two English fragments he would join into one. The Greek word for well was abutted to the Greek word for born. [33]

In a flourish, Galton invented a term that would tantalize his contemporaries, inspire his disciples, obsess his later followers and eventually slash through the twentieth century like a sword. The finest and the fiendish would adopt the new term as their driving mantra. Families would be shattered, generations would be wiped away, whole peoples would be nearly erased -- all in the name of Galton's word. The word he wrote on that small piece of paper was eugenics. [34]


Eugenics was a protoscience in search of vindicating data. Galton had described the eugenically well-born man as a trend in science, but he desperately sought to quantify the biological process. After all, if Galton could advance from merely discovering the scientific mechanism controlling human character to actually predicting the quality of the unborn, his knowledge would become almost divine. In theory, the master of any enforced eugenics program could play God -- deciding who would be born and who would not. Indeed, the notion of constructing a brave new world by regimented reproduction has never receded.

Numbers were needed. In 1884, Galton opened his Anthropometric Laboratory at London's International Health Exhibition. Using question naires -- just as he had in quantifying weather -- Galton asked families to record their physical characteristics, such as height, weight and even lung power. Later Galton even offered cash rewards for the most comprehensive family history. The data began to accrue. It wasn't long before nine thousand people, including many complete families, offered their physical details for Galton's calculations. [35] He began pasting numbers together, sculpting formulas, and was finally able to patch together enough margins of error and coefficients of correlation into a collection of statistical eugenic probabilities.

At the same time, German cellular biologist August Weismann, using more powerful microscopes, announced that something called "germ plasm" was the true vehicle of heredity. Weismann observed what he termed a "nucleus." He theorized, "The physical causes of all apparently unimportant hereditary habits ... of hereditary talents, and other mental peculiarities must all be contained in the minute quantity of germ-plasm which is possessed by the nucleus of a germ cell." [36] Others would later identify character- conveying threads termed "chromatic loops" or "chromosomes."

Superseding Darwinian precepts of descent and Weismann's germ plasm, Galton, in his essays and an 1889 book entitled Natural Inheritance, tried to predict the precise formulaic relationship between ancestors and their descendants. He concluded, "The influence, pure and simple, of the mid-parent may be taken as 1/2, of the mid-grandparent 1/4, of the mid-great- grandparent 1/8, and so on. That of the individual parent would therefore be 1/4, of the individual grandparent 1/16, of an individual in the next generation 1/64, and so on." In other words, every person was the measurable and predictable sum of his ancestors' immortal germ plasm. Inheritable traits included not only physical characteristics, such as eye color and height, but subtle qualities, such as intellect, talent and personality. Galton ultimately reduced all notions of heritage, talent and character to a series of complex, albeit fatally flawed, eugenic equations. [37]

Above all, Galton concluded that the caliber of progeny always reflected its distant ancestry. Good lineage did not improve bad blood. On the contrary, in any match, undesirable traits would eventually outweigh desirable qualities. [38] Hence, when eugenically preferred persons mated with one another, their offspring were even more valuable. But mixing eugenically well-endowed humans with inferior mates would not strengthen succeeding generations. Rather, it would promote a downward biological spiral. What was worse, two people of bad blood would only create progressively more defective offspring.

It was all guesswork, ancestral solipsism and mathematical acrobatics -- some of it well-founded and some of it preposterous -- forged into a self-congratulatory biology and social science. Scholarly kudos and celebration abounded. Yet Galton himself was forced to admit in 1892, in the preface to the second edition of Hereditary Genius, that his theories and formulae were still completely unprovable. "The great problem of the future betterment of the human race is confessedly, at the present time, hardly advanced beyond the state of academic interest." [39]

Years later, in a preface to a eugenic tract about gifted families, Galton again warned that musing about "improved breeds" of the human race were still nothing more than "speculations on the theoretical possibility." [40]

Nonetheless, Galton remained convinced that germ-plasm was the ultimate, elusive governing factor. As such, environment and the quality of existence were by and large irrelevant and actually an impediment to racial improvement. No amount of social progress or intervention could help the unfit, he insisted. Qualifying his sense of charity with a biological imperative, Galton asserted, "I do not, of course, propose to neglect the sick, the feeble or the unfortunate. I would do all ... for their comfort and happiness, but I would exact an equivalent for the charitable assistance they receive, namely, that by means of isolation, or some other drastic yet adequate measure, a stop should be put to the production of families of children likely to include degenerates." [41]

Galton called for a highly regulated marriage licensing process that society at large would endorse. By prohibiting eugenically flawed unions and promoting well-born partners, Galton believed "what ature does blindly, slowly and ruthlessly, man may do providently, quickly and kindly." [42]

Galton believed that eugenics was too broad a societal quest to be left to individual whim. He espoused a new definition of eugenics that wed the biology to governmental action. "Eugenics," asserted Galton, "is the study of all agencies under social control which can improve or impair the racial quality of future generations." [43]

Galton's ideas ultimately became known as "positive eugenics," that is, suggesting, facilitating, predicting and even legally mandating biologically conducive marriages. Every family hopes its offspring will choose wisely, and Galton hoped his scientific, equation-filled epistles would encourage families and government bureaus to require as much. His convictions, even those involving legislation and marriage regimentation, were, within his own utopian context, deemed noninvasive and nondestructive.

But a few years later, by the dawn of the twentieth century, Galton's notions of voluntary family planning and positive governmental structures would be transmogrified into an entirely different constellation of negative and coercive thought. The new faithful called it "negative eugenics." Galton died in 1911. With his passing, his positive eugenic principles of marriage regimentation also disappeared from the eugenics main stage. Certainly his name lived on as a rallying call, stamped on the plaques of societies and academic departments. But before long others would come along to chew up his ideas and spit them out as something new and macabre, barely resembling the original.

What Galton hoped to inspire in society, others were determined to force upon their fellow man. If Galton was correct -- and these new followers were certain he was -- why wait for personal choice or flimsy statutory power? In their minds, future generations of the genetically unfit -- from the medically infirm to the racially unwanted to the economically impoverished -- would have to be wiped away. Only then could genetic destiny be achieved for the human race -- or rather, the white race, and more specifically, the Nordic race. The new tactics would include segregation, deportation, castration, marriage prohibition, compulsory sterilization, passive euthanasia -- and ultimately extermination.

As the twentieth century opened for business, the eugenic spotlight would now swing across the ocean from England to the United States. In America, eugenics would become more than an abstract philosophy; it would become an obsession for policymakers. Galton could not have envisioned that his social idealism would degenerate into a ruthless campaign to destroy all those deemed inadequate. But it would become nothing less than a worldwide eugenic crusade to abolish all human inferiority.
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Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

Postby admin » Wed Jul 30, 2014 10:50 pm

CHAPTER 3: America's National Biology

America was ready for eugenics before eugenics was ready for America. What in England was the biology of class, in America became the biology of racial and ethnic groups. In America, class was, in large measure, racial and ethnic.

Everything Galtonian eugenics hoped to accomplish with good matrimonial choices, American eugenicists preferred to achieve with draconian preventive measures designed to delete millions of potential citizens deemed unfit. American eugenicists were convinced they could forcibly reshape humanity in their own image. Their outlook was only possible because American eugenicists believed the unfit were essentially subhuman, not worthy of developing as members of society. The unfit were diseased, something akin to a genetic infection. This infection was to be quarantined and then eliminated. Their method of choice was selective breeding -- spaying and cutting away the undesirable, while carefully mating and grooming the prized stock.

Breeding was in America's blood. America had been breeding humans even before the nation's inception. Slavery thrived on human breeding. Only the heartiest Africans could endure the cruel middle passage to North America. Once offloaded, the surviving Africans were paraded atop auction stages for inspection of their physical traits. [1]

Notions of breeding society into betterment were never far from post- Civil War American thought. In 1865, two decades before Galton penned the word eugenics, the utopian Oneida Community in upstate New York declared in its newspaper that, "Human breeding should be one of the foremost questions of the age .... " A few years later, with freshly expounded Galtonian notions crossing the Atlantic, the Oneida commune began its first selective human breeding experiment with fifty-three female and thirty-eight male volunteers. [2]

Feminist author Victoria Woodhull expressed the growing belief that both positive and negative breeding were indispensable for social improvement. In her 1891 pamphlet, The Rapid Multiplication of the Unfit, Woodhull insisted, "The best minds of today have accepted the fact that if superior people are desired, they must be bred; and if imbeciles, criminals, paupers and [the] otherwise unfit are undesirable citizens they must not be bred." [3]

America was ready for eugenic breeding precisely because the most established echelons of American society were frightened by the demographic chaos sweeping the nation. England had certainly witnessed a mass influx of foreigners during the years leading up to Galton's eugenic doctrine. But the scale in Britain was dwarfed by America's experience. So were the emotions.

America's romantic "melting pot" notion was a myth. It did not exist when turn-of-the-century British playwright Israel Zangwill optimistically coined the term. [4] In Zangwill's day, America's shores, as well as the three thousand miles in between, were actually a cauldron of undissolvable minorities, ethnicities, indigenous peoples and other tightly-knit groups -- all constantly boiling over.

Eighteen million refugees and opportunity-seeking immigrants arrived between 1890 and 1920. German Lutherans, Irish Catholics, Russian Jews, Slavic Orthodox -- one huddled mass surged in after another. [5] But they did not mix or melt; for the most part they remained insoluble.

But ethnic volatility during the late 1800s arose from more than the European influx. Race and group hatred crisscrossed the continent. Millions of Native Americans were being forced onto reservations. Mexican multitudes absorbed after the Mexican-American War, in which Mexico lost fully half its land to United States expansion, became a clash point in the enlarged American West and Southwest. Emancipated African slaves struggled to emerge across the country. But freed slaves and their next generation were not absorbed into greater society. Instead, a network of state and local Jim Crow laws enforced apartheid between African Americans and whites in much of the nation, especially in the South. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 temporarily halted the immigration through California of any further Chinese laborers, and blocked the naturalization of those already in the country; the measure was made permanent in 1902. [6]

"Race suicide" was an alarum commonly invoked to restrict European immigration, as 1880 Census Bureau Director Francis Walker did in his 1896 Atlantic Monthly article, "Restriction of Immigration." Walker lamented the statistical imbalance between America's traditional Anglo- Saxon settlers and the new waves flowing in from southern Europe. Eminent sociologist E.A. Ross elevated the avoidance of "race suicide" to a patriotic admonishment, decrying "the beaten members of beaten breeds" from Croatia, Sicily and Armenia flooding in through Ellis Island. Ross warned that such groups "lack the ancestral foundations of American character, and even if they catch step with us they and their children will nevertheless impede our progress." [7]

As the nineteenth century closed, women still could not vote, Native Americans who had survived governmental genocide programs were locked onto often-barren reservations, and Blacks, as well as despised "white trash," were still commonly lynched from the nearest tree -- from Minnesota to Mississippi. In fact, 3,224 Americans were lynched in the thirty-year period between 1889 and 1918 -- 702 white and 2,522 black. Their crimes were as trivial as uttering offensive language, disobeying ferry regulations, "paying attention to [a] white girl," and distilling illicit alcohol. [8]

The century ahead was advertised as an epoch for social progress. But the ushers of that progress would be men and women forged from the racial and cultural fires of prior decades. Many twentieth-century activists were repelled by the inequities and lasting scars of racial and social injustice; they were determined to transform America into an egalitarian republic. But others, especially American eugenicists, switched on the lights of the new century, looked around at the teeming, dissimilar masses and collectively declared they had unfinished business.

Crime analysis moved race and ethnic hatred into the realm of heredity. Throughout the latter 1800s, crime was increasingly viewed as a group phenomenon, and indeed an inherited family trait. Criminologists and social scientists widely believed in the recently identified "criminal type," typified by "beady eyes" and certain phrenological shapes. The notion of a "born criminal" became popularized. [9] Ironically, when robber barons stole and cheated their way into great wealth, they were lionized as noble leaders of the day, celebrated with namesake foundations, and honored by leather-bound genealogies often adorned with coats of arms. It was the petty criminals, not the gilded ones, whom polite society perceived as the great genetic menace.

Petty criminals and social outcasts were abundant in Ulster County, New York. Little did these seemingly inconsequential people know they were making history. In the first decades of the nineteenth century, this rustic Catskill Mountain region became a popular refuge for urban dropouts who preferred to live off the land in pastoral isolation. Fish and game were abundant. The lifestyle was lazy. Civilization was yonder. But as wealthy New Yorkers followed the Hudson River traffic north, planting opulent Victorian mansions and weekend pleasure centers along its banks, the very urbanization that Ulster's upland recluses spurned caught up to them. Pushed from their traditional fishing shores and hillside hunting grounds, where they lived in shanties, the isolated, unkempt rural folk of Ulster now became "misfits." Not a few of them ran afoul of property and behavior laws, which became increasingly important as the county's population grew. [10] Many found themselves jailed for the very lifestyle that had become a local tradition.

In 1874, Richard Dugdale, an executive of the New York Prison Association, conducted interviews with a number of Ulster County's prisoners and discovered that many were blood relatives. Consulting genealogies, courthouse and poorhouse records, Dugdale documented the lineages of no fewer than forty-two families heavily comprised of criminals, beggars, vagrants and paupers. He claimed that one group of 709 individuals were all descendants of a single pauper woman, known as Margaret and crowned "mother of criminals." Dugdale collectively dubbed these forty-two troubled families "the Jukes." His 1877 book, The Jukes, a Study in Crime, Pauperism, Disease and Heredity, calculated the escalating annual cost to society for welfare, imprisonment and other social services for each family. The text immediately exerted a vast influence on social scientists across America and around the world. [11]

While Dugdale's book spared no opportunity to disparage the human qualities of both the simple paupers and the accomplished criminals among the Jukes family, he blamed not their biology, but their circumstances. Rejecting notions of heredity, Dugdale instead zeroed in on the adverse conditions that created generation-to-generation pauperism and criminality. "The tendency of heredity is to produce an environment which perpetuates that heredity," he wrote. He called for a change in social environment to correct the problem, and predicted that serious reform could effect a "great decrease in the number of commitments" within fifteen years. Dugdale cautioned against statistics that inspired false conclusions. He even reminded readers that not a few wealthy clans made their fortunes by cheating the masses -- yet these scandalous people were considered among the nation's finest families. [12]

But Dugdale's cautions were ignored. His book was quickly hailed as proof of a hereditary defect that spawned excessive criminality and poverty -- even though this was the opposite of what he wrote. For exam pie, Robert Fletcher, president of the Anthropological Society of Washington, insisted in a major 1891 speech that germ plasm ruled, that one criminal bred another. "The taint is in the blood," Fletcher staunchly told his audience, "and there is no royal touch which can expel it .... Quarantine the evil classes as you would the plague." [13]

The Jukes was the first such book, but not the last. Tribes of paupers, criminals and misfits were tracked and traced in similar books. The Smokey Pilgrims of Kansas, the Jackson Whites of New Jersey, the Hill Folk of Massachusetts and the Nam family of upstate New York were all portrayed as clans of defective, worthless people, a burden to society and a hereditary scourge blocking American progress. Most convincing was a presentation made in 1888 to the Fifteenth National Conference of Charities and Correction by the social reformer Reverend Oscar McCulloch. McCulloch, a Congregationalist minister from Indianapolis, presented a paper entitled Tribe of Ishmael: A Study of Social Degeneration. The widely-reported speech described whole nomadic pauper families dwelling in Indianapolis, all related to a distant forefather from the 1790s. [14]

Ishmael's descendants were in fact bands of roving petty thieves and con artists who had victimized town and countryside, giving McCulloch plenty of grist for his attack on their heredity. He compared the Ishmael people to the Sacculina parasites that feed off crustaceans. Paupers were inherently of no value to the world, he argued, and would only beget succeeding generations of paupers -- and all "because some remote ancestor left its independent, self-helpful life, and began a parasitic, or pauper life." His research, McCullouch assured, "resembles the study of Dr. Dugdale into the Jukes and was suggested by that." [15]

Many leading social progressives devoted to charity and reform now saw crime and poverty as inherited defects that needed to be halted for society's sake. When this idea was combined with the widespread racism, class prejudice and ethnic hatred that already existed among the turn-of-the- century intelligentsia -- and was then juxtaposed with the economic costs to society -- it created a fertile reception for the infant field of eugenics. Reformers possessed an ingrained sense that "good Americans" could be bred like good racehorses.

Galton had first pronounced his theory of the well-born in 1883. For the next twenty years, eugenics bounced around America's intellectual circles as a perfectly logical hereditary conclusion consistent with everyday observations. But it lacked specifics. Then, as one of the first sparks of the twentieth century, Gregor Mendel's theory of heredity was rediscovered. True, between 1863 and 1868, various theories of heredity had been published by three men: Spencer, Darwin and Mendel. But while Darwin and Spencer presided with great fanfare in London's epicenter of knowledge, Mendel was alone and overlooked by the world of science he aspired to.

The son of simple mountain peasants, Mendel was not socially adept. Combative exchanges with those in authority made him prefer solitude. "He who does not know how to be alone is not at peace with himself," he wrote. Originally, he had hoped to devote himself to the natural sciences. But he failed at the university and retreated to an Augustinian monastery in Brno, Moravia. There, while tending the gardens, he continued the work of a long line of students of plant hybridization. [16]

Mendel preferred peas. Peering through flimsy wire-rim glasses into short tubular microscopes and scribbling copious notes, Mendel studied over ten thousand cross-fertilized pea plants. Key differences in their traits could be predicted, depending upon whether he bred tall plants with short plants, or plants yielding smooth pods with plants yielding wrinkled pods. Eventually, he identified certain governing inheritable traits, which he called "dominating" and "recessive." These could be expressed in mathematical equations, or traced in a simple genealogical chart filled with line-linked A's and B's. Among his many conclusions: when pea plants with wrinkled skins were crossed with plants yielding smooth skins, the trait for wrinkled skin dominated. [17] In other words, the smooth pea pod skin was corrupted by wrinkled stock. Wrinkled pea pods ultimately became a powerful image to those who found the human simile compelling.

Mendel's scientific paper, describing ten years of tedious work, was presented to a local scientific society in Brno and mailed to several prominent biologists in Europe, but it was ignored by the scientific world. Mendel grew more unhappy with the rejection. His combative exchanges with local officials on unrelated issues were so embarrassing to the order that when Mendel died in 1884, the monastery burned all his notes. [18]

In May of 1900, however, the esteemed British naturalist and Darwin disciple William Bateson unexpectedly discovered references to Mendel's laws of heredity in three separate papers. The three papers were independently researched and simultaneously submitted by three different students. Amazed at Mendel's findings, an excited Bateson announced to the world through the Royal Horticultural Society that he had "rediscovered" Mendel's crucial studies in plant heredity. The science that Bateson called genetics was born. Mendel's laws became widely discussed throughout the horticultural world. [19]

But Galton's eugenic followers understood that the biological arithmetic of peapods, cattle and other lower species did not ordain the futures of the most complex organism on earth: Homo sapiens. Height, hair color, eye color and other physical attributes could be partially explained in Mendelian terms. But intelligent, thought-driven humans beings were too subtle, too impressionable, too variable and too unpredictable to be reduced to a horticultural equation. Man's environment and living conditions were inherent to his development. Nutrition, prenatal and childhood circumstances, disease, injury, and upbringing itself were all decisive, albeit not completely understood, factors that intervened in the development of any individual. Some of the best people came from the worst homes, and some of the worst people came from the best homes.

Hence, during the first decade of the twentieth century, as Mendel was being debated, most Galtonian eugenicists admitted that their ideas were still too scantily clad to be called science, too steeped in simple statistics rather than astute medical knowledge, too preliminary to even venture into the far-reaching enterprise of organized human breeding. Eugenics was all just theory and guesswork anyway. For example, in 1904 Galton wrote to his colleague Bateson seeking any initial evidence of "Mendelianism in Man," suggesting that any data could contribute to what he still called a "theoretical point of view." In another 1904 letter, Galton reminded Bateson, "I do indeed fervently hope that exact knowledge may be gradually attained and established beyond question, and I wish you and your collaborators all success in your attempts to obtain it." [20]

As late as 1910, Galton's most important disciple, mathematician Karl Pearson, head of the Eugenics Laboratory, admitted just how thin their knowledge was. In a scientific paper treating eugenics and alcoholism, Pearson confessed, "The writers of this paper are fully conscious of the slenderness of their data; they have themselves stated that many of their conclusions are probabilities ... rather than demonstrations. They will no doubt be upbraided with publishing anything at all, either on the ground that what they are dealing with is 'crude and worthless material' or that as 'mathematical outsiders,' they are incapable of dealing with a medico-social problem." Pearson added in a footnote that he also understood why some would find the linkage of eugenics and alcoholism an act of inebriation in itself. He went on to quote a critic: "The educated man and the scientist is as prone as any other to become the victim ... of his prejudices .... He will in defense thereof make shipwreck of both the facts of science and the methods of science ... by perpetrating every form of fallacy, inaccuracy and distortion." [21]

Galton himself dismissed the whole notion of human breeding as socially impossible -- with or without the elusive data he craved. "We can't mate men and women as we please, like cocks and hens," Galton quipped to Bateson in 1904. At the time, Galton was defending his recently published Index to Achievements of Near Kinfolk, which detailed how talent and skill run in the same celebrated families. Wary of being viewed as an advocate of human breeding, Galton's preface cautioned Mendelian devotees with strong conditionals, ifs and buts. "The experience gained in establishing improved breeds of domestic animals and plants," he wrote, "is a safe guide to speculations on the theoretical possibility of establishing improved breeds of the human race. It is not intended to enter here into such speculations but to emphasize the undoubted fact that members of gifted families are ... more likely ... to produce gifted offspring." [22]

Nor did Galton believe regulated marriages were a realistic proposition in any 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 suggesting such utopian marriages. "I was too much disposed to think of marriage under some regulation," he conceded, "and not enough of the effects of self-interest and of social and religious sentiment." [23]

Unable to achieve a level of scientific certainty needed to create a legal eugenic framework in Britain, Galton hoped to recast eugenics as a religious doctrine governing marriages, a creed to be taken on faith without proof. Indeed, faith without proof constitutes the essence of much religious dogma. Eugenical marriage should be "strictly enforced as a religious duty, as the Levirate law ever was," wrote Galton in a long essay, which listed such precedents in the Jewish, Christian and even primitive traditions. He greeted the idea of a religion enthusiastically, suggesting, "It is easy to let the imagination run wild on the supposition of a whole-hearted acceptance of eugenics as a national religion." [24]

Many of Galton's followers agreed that founding a national religion was the only way eugenics could thrive. Even the playwright George Bernard Shaw, a eugenic extremist, agreed in a 1905 essay that "nothing but a eugenic religion can save our civilization." Late in his life, in 1909, Galton declared that eugenics in a civilized nation would succeed only as "one of its religious tenets." [25]

But in America, it did not matter that Galton and his followers found themselves fighting for intellectual acceptance with little evidence on their side. Nor did it matter that British eugenic leaders themselves admitted that eugenics did not rise to a level of scientific certainty sufficient to formulate public policy. Nor did it matter that Mendel's newly celebrated laws of heredity might make good sense for peapods, but not for thinking, feeling men, women and children.

In America, racial activists had already convinced themselves that those of different races and ethnic backgrounds considered inferior were no more than a hereditary blight in need of eugenic cleansing. Many noted reformers even joined the choir. For example, in a 1909 article called "Practical Eugenics," the early twentieth-century education pioneer John Franklin Bobbitt insisted, "In primal days was the blood of the race kept high and pure, like mountain streams." He now cautioned that the "highest, purest tributaries to the stream of heredity" were being supplanted by "a rising flood in the muddy, undesirable streams." [26]

Bobbitt held out little value for the offspring of "worm-eaten stock." Although considered a social progressive, he argued that the laws of nature mandating "survival of the fittest" were constantly being countermanded by charitable endeavors. "Schools and charities," he harangued, "supply crutches to the weak in mind and morals ... [and] corrupt the streams of heredity." Society, he pleaded, must prevent "the weaklings at the bottom from mingling their weakness in human currents." [27]

Defective humans were not just those carrying obvious diseases or handicaps, but those whose lineages strayed from the Germanic, Nordic and/or white Anglo-Saxon Protestant ideal. Bobbitt made clear that only those descended from Teutonic forefathers were of pure blood. In one such remonstration, he reminded, "One must admit the high purity of their blood, their high average sanity, soundness and strength. They were a wellborn, well-weeded race." Eugenic spokesman Madison Grant, trustee of the American Museum of Natural History, stated the belief simply in his popular book, The Passing of the Great Race, writing that Nordics "were the white man par excellence." [28]

Indeed, the racism of America's first eugenic intellectuals was more than just a movement of whites against nonwhites. They believed that Germans and Nordics comprised the supreme race, and a typical lament among eugenic leaders such as Lothrop Stoddard was that Nordic populations were decreasing. In The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy, Stoddard wrote that the Industrial Revolution had attracted squalid Mediterranean peoples who quickly outnumbered the more desirable Nordics. "In the United States, it has been much the same story. Our country, originally settled almost exclusively by Nordics, was toward the close of the nineteenth century invaded by hordes of immigrant Alpines and Mediterraneans, not to mention Asiatic elements like Levantines and Jews. As a result, the Nordic native American has been crowded out with amazing rapidity by these swarming, prolific aliens, and after two short generations, he has in many of our urban areas become almost extinct." Madison Grant agreed: "The term 'Caucasian race' has ceased to have any meaning." [29]

By no means did the eugenics movement limit its animus to non- English speaking immigrants. It was a movement against non-Nordics regardless of their skin color, language or national origin. For example, Stoddard denigrated the "swart cockney" in Britain "as a resurgence of the primitive Mediterranean stock, and probably a faithful replica of his ancestors of Neolithic times." All mixed breeds were vile. "Where the parent stocks are very diverse," wrote Stoddard, "as [in] matings between whites, Negroes and Amerindians, the offspring is a mongrel -- a walking chaos, so consumed by his jarring heredities that he is quite worthless." [30]

Grant's tome lionized the long-headed skulls, blue eyes and blond hair of true Nordic stock, and outlined the complex history of Nordic migrations and invasions across Eurasia and into Great Britain. Eventually, these Nordic settlements were supplanted by lesser breeds, who adopted the Nordic and Anglo-Saxon languages but were in fact the carriers of corrupt human strains. [31]

Indeed, those Americans descended from lower-class Scottish and Irish families were also viewed as a biological menace, being of Mediterranean descent. Brunette hair constituted an ancestral stigma that proved a non- Nordic bloodline. Any claims by such people to Anglo-Saxon descent because of language or nationality were considered fraudulent. Grant railed, "No one can question ... on the streets of London, the contrast between the Piccadilly gentleman of Nordic race and the cockney costermonger [street vendor] of the Neolithic type." [32] Hence, from Ulster County to the Irish slums of Manhattan, to the Kentucky and Virginia hills, poor whites were reviled by eugenicists not for their ramshackle and destitute lifestyles, but for a heredity that supposedly made pauperism and criminality an inevitable genetic trait.

Even when an individual of the wrong derivation was healthy, intelligent and successful, his existence was considered dangerous. "There are many parents who, in many cases, may themselves be normal, but who produce defective offspring. This great mass of humanity is not only a social menace to the present generation, but it harbors the potential parenthood of the social misfits of our future generations." [33]

Race mixing was considered race suicide. Grant warned: "The cross between a white man and an Indian is an Indian; the cross between a white man and a Negro is a Negro; the cross between a white man and a Hindu is a Hindu; and the cross between any of the three European races and a Jew is a Jew." [34]

The racial purity and supremacy doctrines embraced by America's pioneer eugenicists were not the ramblings of ignorant, unsophisticated men. They were the carefully considered ideals of some of the nation's most respected and educated figures, each an expert in his scientific or cultural field, each revered for his erudition.

So when the facts about Mendel's pea pods appeared in America in 1900, these influential and eloquent thinkers were able to slap numbers and a few primitive formulas on their class and race hatred, and in so doing create a passion that transcended simple bigotry. Now their bigotry became science -- race science. Now Galtonian eugenics was reborn, recast and redirected in the United States as a purely and uniquely American quest.

To succeed, all American eugenics needed was money and organization.

Enter Andrew Carnegie.

Steel made Andrew Carnegie one of America's wealthiest men. In 1901, the steel magnate sold out to J.P. Morgan for $400 million and retreated from the world of industry. The aging Scotsman would henceforth devote his fortune to philanthropy. The next year, on January 28, 1902, the millionaire endowed his newly created Carnegie Institution with $10 million in bonds, followed by other endowments totaling $12 million. The entity was so wealthy that in 1904, Washington agreed to reincorporate the charity by special act of Congress, chartering the new name "Carnegie Institution of Washington." This made the Carnegie Institution a joint incarnation of the steel man's money and the United States government's cachet. [35]

The Carnegie Institution was established to be one of the premier scientific organizations of the world, dedicated by charter "to encourage, in the broadest and most liberal manner, investigation, research, and discovery, and the application of knowledge to the improvement of mankind." Twenty-four of America's most respected names in science, government and finance were installed as trustees. The celebrated names included National Library of Medicine cofounder John Billings, Secretary of War Elihu Root and philanthropist Cleveland Dodge. Renowned paleontologist John C. Merriam became president. Merriam and his staff were required under the bylaws to closely scrutinize and preapprove all activities, audit all expenditures and regularly publish research results. [36]

Several principal areas of scholarly investigation were identified from the worthy realms of geophysics, astronomy and plant biology. Now another scientific endeavor would be added: negative eugenics. The program would quickly become known as "the practical means for cutting off defective germ-plasm" and would embrace a gamut of remedies from segregation to sterilization to euthanasia. [37] This radical human engineering program would spring not from the medical schools and health clinics of America, but from the pastures, barns and chicken coops -- because the advocates of eugenics were primarily plant and animal breeders. Essentially, they believed humans could be spawned and spayed like trout and horses.

America's formless eugenics movement found its leader in zoologist Charles Davenport, a man who would dominate America's human breeding program for decades. Davenport, esteemed for his Harvard degrees and his distinguished background, led the wandering faithful out of the wilderness of pure prejudice and into the stately corridors of respectability. More than anyone else, it was Davenport who propelled baseless American eugenics into settled science -- wielding a powerful sociopolitical imperative.

Who was Charles Benedict Davenport?

He was a sad man. No matter how celebrated Davenport became within his cherished circles, throughout his career he remained a bitter and disconsolate person boxing shadows for personal recognition. Even as he judged the worthiness of his fellow humans, Davenport struggled to prove his own worthiness to his father and to God. Ironically, it was his mother who inspired the conflict between devotion to science and subservience to God that Davenport would never bridge. [38]

Davenport grew up in Brooklyn Heights as the proud descendent of a long line of English and Colonial New England Congregationalist ministers. His authoritarian father, Amzi Benedict Davenport, did not join the clergy, but nonetheless cloaked his family's world in the heavy mantle of puritanical religion. The elder Davenport's business was real estate. But as a cofounder of two Brooklyn churches -- ruling elder of one and a longtime deacon of the other -- Amzi Davenport infused his household with pure fire and brimstone, along with the principles of commerce and market value. He demanded from his family impossible levels of Bible-thumbing rectitude and imposed an unyielding disdain for joy. [39]

A close friend described the father's face as one of "bitter unhappiness," and characterized his parental manner as "harsh masterfulness." Charles Davenport was the last of eleven children. Siblings were born like clock work in the Davenport home, every two years. Rigorous and often punishing Gospel studies intruded into every aspect of young Davenport's upbringing, morning and night. The boy's diary records one typical entry about grueling Sunday school lessons. Using personal shorthand and misspelling as a boy would, young Davenport scribbled, "stuiding S.S. lesson from 8:30 A.M. to 9:30 P.M. All day!" Once, it was the day after Christmas, he jotted, "Woke at 6:30 A.M. and was late for prayers. After breakfast father sent me to bed for that reason for two hours." [40]

Ancestry was a regular theme in the Davenport household. The elder Davenport organized two extensive volumes of family genealogy, tracing his Anglo-Saxon tree back to 1086. That was the year William the Conqueror compiled his massive Domesday census book. [41] Shades of Davenport's glorified fore bearers must have pursued the boy at every moment.

Yet in the midst of young Davenport's dour, patriarchal domination, his mother Jane was somehow permitted to live a life of irrepressible brightness. A Dutch woman, Jane offered unconditional affection to her children, a wonderful flower garden to delight in, and a fascination with natural history. Young Davenport's refuge from the severe and unapproachable man he trepidatiously called "Pa" was the world of beauty his mother represented. [42]

When Davenport as a young man escaped from theology into academia, it was to the world of measurable mysteries: science, math and engineering. In doing so, he declared that God's work was not infinite-it could indeed be quantified. That surely spurned the absolutist precepts of his father's sermonizing. Later, Davenport dedicated his first scientific book, Experimental Morphology, "to the memory of the first and most important of my teachers of Natural History -- my mother." Such inscriptions were not a sign of intellectual liberation. Davenport was never quite comfortable with his defection to the world of nature. At one point, he formally requested his father's written permission to study the sciences; seven weeks later he finally received an answer permitting it. His father's written acquiescence hinged on "the question of prime importance, [that] is how much money can you make for yourself and for me." [43]

After his graduation from Brooklyn Polytechnic, Davenport became a civil engineer. His love of animals and natural history led Davenport to Harvard, where he enrolled in nearly every natural science course offered and quickly secured his doctorate in biology. In the 1890s, he became a zoology instructor at Harvard. Later, he held a similar position at the University of Chicago. [44]

Long-headed and mustachioed, Davenport always looked squeezed. His goatee created a slender but dense column from chin to lower lip; as he aged, it would fade from black to white. With a deeply parted haircut hanging high above his ears, Davenport's face tapered from round at the top to a distinct point at the inverted apex of his beard. [45]

Davenport married Gertrude Crotty in 1894. A fellow biologist, Gertrude would continually encourage him to advance in personal finance and career. However, Davenport never escaped his upbringing. Puritanical in his sexual mores, domineering in his own family relationships, inward and awkward in most other ways, Davenport was described by a close lifelong colleague as "a lone man, living a life of his own in the midst of others, feeling out of place in almost any crowd." Worse, while Davenport's thirst for scholarly validation never quenched, he could not tolerate criticism. Hearing adverse comments, reading them, just sensing that rejection might dwell between the lines of a simple correspondence caused Davenport so much distress, he could blurt out the wrong words, sometimes the exact opposite of his intent. Criticism paralyzed him. [46] Yet this was the scientist who would discover and deliver the evidence that would decide the biological fate of so many.

Davenport's pivotal role as eugenic crusader-in-chief began taking shape at the very end of the nineteenth century. He found a modicum of professional and personal success directing the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences's biological laboratory on Long Island. There, he could apply his precious Harvard training. The quiet, coveside facility at Cold Spring Harbor was located about an hour's train and carriage ride from Manhattan. Situated down the road from the state fish hatchery, and ensconced in a verdant, marshy inlet ideal for marine and mammal life, the biological station allowed Davenport to concentrate on the lowest species. He investigated such organisms as the Australian marine pill bug, which clings to the underside of submerged rocks and feeds on rotted algae. He employed drop nets to dredge for oysters and other mollusks. Flatfish and winter flounder were purchased for spawning studies. [47]

To supplement his income during school breaks, Davenport, aided by botany instructors from other institutions, offered well-regarded summer courses at Cold Spring Harbor. Students in bacteriology, botany and animal biology from across the nation were attracted to these courses. [48] Davenport also corresponded with other academic institutions, which pleased him greatly.

While at the Brooklyn Institute's biological station, Davenport became fascinated with Galton. In a series of fawning missives to Galton during the spring of 1897, Davenport praised the British scientist's work, requested his photograph, and ultimately tried to schedule a meeting in London that summer. Galton hardly knew what to make of the unsolicited admiration. "I am much touched," Galton replied to Davenport's earliest praise, "by the extremely kind expression in your letter, though curious that you ascribe to me more than I deserve." [49] The two exchanged brief notes thereafter. Davenport's were formal and typed. Galton's were scrawled on monarch stationery.

Davenport incorporated the statistical theories of Galton and Galton's disciple, Pearson, into an 1899 book, Statistical Methods with Special Reference to Biological Variation. He wanted the volume to be a serious scientific publication of international merit, and he proudly mailed a copy to Galton for his inspection. Galton penned back a short word of thanks for "your beautiful little book with its kindly and charming lines." Later, Galton sent Davenport some sample fingerprints to examine. [50] But meteorology, statistics and fingerprints were only the threshold to the real body of Galtonian knowledge that riveted Davenport. The precious revelation for the American biologist was the study of superiority and ancestry, the principle Galton called eugenics.

Eugenics appealed to Davenport not just because his scientific mind was shaped by a moralized world choked with genealogies and ancestral comparisons, but because of his racial views and his obsession with race mixture. [51] Davenport saw ethnic groups as biologically different beings -- not just physically, but in terms of their character, nature and quality. Most of the non-Nordic types, in Davenport's view, swam at the bottom of the hereditary pool, each featuring its own distinct and indelible adverse genetic features. Italians were predisposed to personal violence. The Irish had "considerable mental defectiveness," while Germans were "thrifty, intelligent, and honest." [52]

Social reformers may have held out hope that America's melting pot might one day become a reality, but eugenicists such as Davenport's outspoken ally Lothrop Stoddard spoke for the whole movement when he declared, "Above all, there is no more absurd fallacy than the shibboleth of 'the melting pot.' As a matter of fact, the melting pot may mix but does not melt. Each race-type, formed ages ago, and 'set' by millenniums of isolation and inbreeding, is a stubbornly persistent entity. Each type possesses a special set of characters: not merely the physical characters visible to the naked eye, but moral, intellectual and spiritual characters as well. All these characters are transmitted substantially unchanged from generation to generation." [53]

When Mendel's laws reappeared in 1900, Davenport believed he had finally been touched by the elusive but simple biological truth governing the flocks, fields and the family of man. He once preached abrasively, "I may say that the principles of heredity are the same in man and hogs and sun-flowers." [54] Enforcing Mendelian laws along racial lines, allowing the superior to thrive and the unfit to disappear, would create a new superior race. A colleague of Davenport's remembered him passionately shaking as he chanted a mantra in favor of better genetic material: "Protoplasm. We want more protoplasm!" [55]

Shortly after the Carnegie Institution appeared in 1902, in its pre- Congressional form, Davenport acted to harness the institution's vast financial power and prestige to launch his eugenic crusade. The Carnegie Institution was just months old, when on April 21, 1902, Davenport outlined a plan for the institution to establish a Biological Experiment Station at Cold Spring Harbor "to investigate ... the method of Evolution." Total initial cost was estimated to be $32,000. [56]

By the time Davenport penned his formal proposal to Carnegie trustees two weeks later on May 5, 1902, his intent was unmistakably racial: "The aims of this establishment would be the analytic and experimental study of ... race change." He explained how: "The methods of attacking the problem must be developed as a result of experience. At present, the following seems the most important: Cross-breeding of animals and plants to find the laws of commingling of qualities. The study of the laws and limits of inheritance." Davenport tantalized the trustees with the prospect: "The Carnegie fund offers the opportunity for which the world has so long been waiting." [57]

Hence from the very start, the trustees of the Carnegie Institution understood that Davenport's plan was a turning-point plan for racial breeding.

Redirecting human evolution had been a personal mission of Davenport's for years, long before he heard of Mendel's laws. He first advocated a human heredity project in 1897 when he addressed a group of naturalists, proposing a large farm for preliminary animal breeding experiments. Davenport called such a project "immensely important." With the Carnegie Institution now receptive to his more grandiose idea, Davenport knew it was important to continue rallying support from the scientific establishment. He convinced the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Science, which controlled the lab site at Cold Spring Harbor, to form a prestigious scientific committee to press the "plan for a permanent research laboratory ... in connection with the Carnegie Institution at Washington." [58]

Knowing Carnegie officials would refer the question to the institution's Zoological Committee, Davenport elicited support from prominent zoologists. [59] In May of 1902, he sent a letter of tempting intrigue to his friend Professor Henry Fairfield Osborn, director of the New York Zoological Society and the American Museum of Natural History. "I do not think this is the place to tell in detail what I should expect to do," wrote Davenport, adding only, "The station should undertake to do what is impracticable elsewhere." [60]

Osborn, a like-minded eugenicist, wrote back with encouragement, reporting that Carnegie's committee had considered the general topic before. British eugenicists had already approached Andrew Carnegie directly. But Osborn assured, "I know of no one better qualified to do this work than you." [61]

Shoring up his knowledge and enlisting wider consensus, Davenport traveled to Europe for four months, where he briefly visited with Galton. The founding eugenicist warned Davenport that any such effort must be a serious scientific enterprise, not just "any attempt at showy work, for the sake of mere show." Untroubled, Davenport traveled to several European marine life research centers gathering academic accord for his project. [62]

Fresh from his European travels, and fortified with the latest international views on eugenics, Davenport dispatched to the Carnegie Institution a more detailed letter plus a lengthy report on the state of human evolution studies to date. The documents made clear that far-reaching American race policy could not be directed without supportive scientific data based on breeding experiments with lower species. The results of those experiments would be applied in broad strokes to humans. "Improvement of the human race can probably be effected only by understanding and applying these methods," he argued. "How appalling is our ignorance, for example, concerning the effect of a mixture of races as contrasted with pure breeding; a matter of infinite importance in a country like ours containing numerous races and subspecies of men." [63]

Davenport hoped to craft a super race of Nordics. "Can we build a wall high enough around this country," he asked his colleagues, "so as to keep out these cheaper races, or will it be a feeble dam ... leaving it to our descendants to abandon the country to the blacks, browns and yellows and seek and an asylum in New Zealand." [64]

Man was still evolving, he reasoned, and that evolution could and should be to a higher plane. Carnegie funds could accelerate and direct that process. "But what are these processes by which man has evolved," posited Davenport, "and which we should know ... in hastening his further evolution." He disputed the value of improved conditions for those considered genetically inferior. He readily admitted that with schooling, training and social benefits, "a person born in the slums can be made a useful man." But that usefulness was limited in the evolutionary scheme of things. No amount of book learning, "finer mental stuff" or "intellectual accumulation" would transfer to the next generation, he insisted, adding that "permanent improvement of the race can only be brought about by breeding the best." [65]

Drawing on his belief in raceology, Davenport offered the Carnegie trustees an example he knew would resonate: "We have in this country the grave problem of the negro," he wrote, "a race whose mental development is, on the average, far below the average of the Caucasian. Is there a prospect that we may through the education of the individual produce an improved race so that we may hope at last that the negro mind shall be as teachable, as elastic, as original, and as fruitful as the Caucasian's? Or must future generations, indefinitely, start from the same low plane and yield the same meager results? We do not know; we have no data. Prevailing 'opinion' says we must face the latter alternative. If this were so, it would be best to export the black race at once." [66]

Proof was needed to fuel the social plans the eugenicists and their allies championed. Davenport was sure he could deliver the proof. "As to a person to carry out the proposed work," he wrote Carnegie, "I am ready at the present moment to abandon all other plans for this." To dispel any doubt of his devotion, Davenport told the institution, "I propose to give the rest of my life unreservedly to this work." [67]

The men of Carnegie were impressed. They said yes.


During 1903, while the esteemed men of the Carnegie Institution were readying their adventure into eugenics, Davenport worked to broaden support for the perception of American eugenics as a genuine science. Since the great men of medicine were, for the most part, devoted to improving individual health, not stunting it, few of them wanted to be affiliated with the nascent movement. So Davenport instead turned to the great men of the stable, the field and the barnyard.

He found a willing ear at the newly established American Breeders Association. The ABA was created in 1903 by the Association of Agricultural Colleges and Experimental Stations, after four years of preparatory effort spurred by a request from the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. The American government urged animal breeders and seed experts to "join hands." The idea of bringing the two groups together was first suggested to Washington in 1899 by the Hybridizer's Conference in London meeting under the auspices of the Royal Horticultural Society. In light of Mendel's discoveries about peapods, the American government pushed the plan. [68]

Many breeders were convinced that their emerging Mendelian knowledge about corn and cattle was equally applicable to the inner quality of human beings. A typical declaration came from one New York State breeder: "Every race-horse, every straight-backed bull, every premium pig tells us what we can do and what we must do for man .... The results of suppressing the poorest and breeding from the best would be the same for them as for cattle and sheep." [69]

At the ABA's first annual meeting in St. Louis during the chilly final days of December 1903, Davenport was well received and elected to the permanent five-man oversight committee. Two organizational sections were established: Plants and Animals. But Davenport prevailed upon the ABA to add a third group, a so-called Eugenics Committee. The establishing resolution declared the committee should "devise methods of recording the values of the blood of individuals, families, people and races." The resolution specified that the goal was to "emphasize the value of superior blood and the menace to society of inferior blood." [70]

Eventually, Davenport bluntly confessed to an ABA audience: "Society must protect itself; as it claims the right to deprive the murderer of his life, so also it may annihilate the hideous serpent of hopelessly vicious protoplasm." A report to the committee called for broad public awareness through "popular magazine articles, in public lectures ... in circular letters to physicians, teachers, the clergy and legislators." The report decried "such mongrelization as is proceeding on a vast scale in this country .... Shall we not rather take the steps ... to dry up the springs that feed the torrent of defective and degenerate protoplasm?" In the process, the report claimed, the United States would curtail the $100 million in annual expenditures for the destitute, insane, feebleminded, defective and criminal elements-a group comprised of at least two million people. How? The report, circulated to the entire ABA membership and the federal government, was explicit: "By segregation during the reproductive period or even by sterilization." [71]

Once defectives were eliminated in America, the same methods could be employed worldwide. ABA president Willet Hays, who also served as assistant secretary of agriculture, authored an article entitled "Constructive Eugenics" for American Breeders Magazine, in which he proposed a global solution to all unwanted races. "Eugenic problems are much the same throughout as the problems of plant breeding and animal improvement," wrote Hays, adding, "May we not hope to ... lop off the defective classes below, and also increase the number of the efficient at the top?" His suggestion? A massive international numbering convention, assigning descriptive eleven-digit "number names" to every man, woman and child on earth using census bureaus. By creating a series of nearly 100 billion numbers, for an estimated world population of only 1.5 billion, Hays hoped to enroll "every person now living, any person of whom there is any history, and any person who might be born in the next thousand years .... No two persons would have the same number." These eleven-digit "number names" would not only identify the individual, they would trace his lineage and assign a genetic rating, expressed as a percentage. Methodically, one nation after another would identify its population and eliminate the unwanted strains. "Who, except the prudish, would object if public agencies gave to every person a lineage number and genetic percentage ratings, that the eugenic value of every family and of every person might be available to all who have need of the truth as to the probable efficiency of the offspring." [72]

On January 19, 1904, the Carnegie Institution formally inaugurated what it called the Station for Experimental Evolution of the Carnegie Institution at bucolic Cold Spring Harbor. Davenport's annual salary was fixed at $3,500 plus travel expenses. It was a significant compensation package for its day. For example, in 1906, the president of the University of Florida received only $2,500 per year, and Northwestern University's librarian earned only $1,200. [73]

A new building for the experimental station costing $20,000 was approved. Everything would be first class, as it should be, endowed by Andrew Carnegie's fortune. The undertaking was not merely funded by Carnegie, it was an integral part of the Carnegie Institution itself. Letterhead prominently made it clear at the top that the station was wholly part of the Carnegie Institution. Moreover, the purse strings would be tightly held with the smallest activity being considered in advance and authorized after approval. "The sum of $300 [shall] be paid to Prof. Davenport to enable him to procure certain animals for the proposed laboratory," instructed Carnegie's chairman, John Billings, "... provided that he shall furnish properly acceptable vouchers for the expenditure of this money." [74]

Billings was fastidious about record keeping and supervision. He was one of America's most distinguished citizens. Some would eventually call him "the father of medical and vital statistics" in the United States. He ensured that medical statistics were included in the United States Census of 1880, and he took a leadership role in drawing up the nation's vital statistics for the censuses of 1890 and 1900. During Billings's tenure in the Surgeon General's Office, he was considered America's foremost expert on hygiene. [75]

Billings and the Carnegie Institution would now mobilize their prestige and the fortune they controlled to help Davenport usher America into an age of a new form of hygiene: racial hygiene. The goal was clear: to eliminate the inadequate and unfit. Now it was time to search the nation, from its busiest metropolises to its most remote regions, methodically identifying exactly which families were qualified to continue and which were not.
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Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

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Hunting the Unfit

The Carnegie Institution's Station for Experimental Evolution at Cold Spring Harbor opened for business in 1904. But in the beginning, little happened. The experimental station's first years were devoted to preparatory work, mostly because Davenport was fundamentally unsure of just how he would go about reshaping mankind in his image. "I have little notion of just what we shall do," Davenport confided in a note. "We shall reconnoiter the first year." [1]

So Davenport focused on the basics. Lab animals were purchased: a tailless Manx cat, long-tailed fowl, canaries and finches for breeding experiments. Hundreds of seeds were acquired for Mendelian exercises. A staff was hired, including an animal keeper from Chicago, several research associates, an expert in botany and entomology, plus a gardener and a librarian. The librarian assembled shelf after shelf of the leading English, German and French biology publications: 2,000 books, 1,500 pamphlets, and complete sets of twenty-three leading journals, including American Journal of Physiology, Canadian Entomologist, Der Zoologische Garten and L'Annee Biologique. Associates were recruited from the scholarly ranks of Harvard, the University of Chicago, Columbia University and other respected institutions to actively research and consult. Corresponding scientists were attracted from Cambridge, Zurich, Vienna, Leipzig and Washington, D.C. to share their latest discoveries from the fields of entomology, zoology and biology. [2]

Davenport was so busy getting organized that the Carnegie Institution did not issue its official announcement about the experimental station until more than a year later, in March of 1905. [3]

Indeed, only after Davenport had recruited enough scholars and amassed enough academic resources to create an aura of eugenic preeminence, did he dispatch a letter to Galton, in late October of 1905, inviting him to become a so-called "correspondent." Clearly, Davenport wanted Galton's name for its marquee value. "Acceptance of this invitation," Davenport wrote, "[is] implying only [a] mutual intention to exchange publications and occasionally ideas by letter." But Galton was reluctant. "You do me honor in asking," Galton scribbled back, " ... but I could only accept in the understanding that it is an wholly honorary office, involving no duties whatever, for I have already more on my head than I can properly manage." That said, Galton asked Davenport to "exercise your own judgment" before using his name "under such bald restriction." [4]

During the next two years, Davenport's new experimental station confined its breeding data to the lower life forms, such as mice, canaries and chickens, and he contributed occasional journal articles, such as one on hereditary factors in human eye color. [5]

But how could Davenport translate his eugenic beliefs into social action?

Talk and theories gave way to social intervention at the December 1909 American Breeders Association meeting in Omaha, Nebraska. Subcommittees had already been formed for different human defects, such as insanity, feeblemindedness, criminality, hereditary pauperism and race mongrelization. Davenport encouraged the ABA to escalate decisively from pure hereditary research into specific ethnic and racial investigation, propaganda and lobbying for legislation. He convinced his fellow breeders to expand the small Eugenics Committee to a full-fledged organizational section. ABA members voted yes to Davenport's ideas by a resounding 499 to 5. Among his leading supporters was Alexander Graham Bell, famous for inventing the telephone and researching deafness, but also a dedicated sheep breeder and ardent eugenicist. [6]

Now the real work began. Davenport and Bell had already devised a so-called "Family Record" questionnaire. Bell agreed to use his influence and circulate the forms to high schools and colleges. The ABA also agreed to distribute five thousand copies. Davenport's eugenic form asked pointed questions about eye defects, deafness and feeblemindedness in any of a suspect family's ancestry. Bell wondered why Davenport would not also trace the excellence in a suspect family, as well as its defects. [7]

But Davenport was only interested in documenting human defects in other races and ethnic groups, not their achievements. He believed that inferiority was an inescapable dominant Mendelian trait. Even if a favorable environment produced a superior individual, if that individual derived from inferior ethnic or racial stock, his progeny would still constitute a biological "menace." [8]

Davenport's scientific conclusion was already set in his mind; now he craved the justifying data. Even with the data, making eugenics a practical and governing doctrine would not be easy. American demographics were rapidly transforming. Political realities were shifting. Davenport well understood that as more immigrants filed into America's overcrowded political arena, they would vote and wield power. Race politics would grow harder and harder to legislate. It mattered not. Davenport was determined to prevail against the majority -- a majority he neither trusted nor respected.

The inspiration to persevere against a changing world of ethnic diversity would come weeks later, during a visit to Kent, England. Davenport called the experience "one of the most memorable days of my life." That morning, the weather was beautiful and Davenport could not help but walk several miles through the bracing English countryside. He found himself at Downe House, Darwin's longtime residence. For an hour, the American eugenicist pondered Darwin's secluded walking paths and gardens. "It is a wonderful place," Davenport wrote, "and seems to me to give the clue to Darwin's strength -- solitary thinking out of doors in the midst of nature. I would give a good deal for such a walk .... Then I would build a brick wall around it .... I know you will laugh at this," he continued, "but it means success in my work as opposed to failure. I must have a convenient, isolated place for continuous reflection." [9]

Davenport returned to America and began constructing his scientific bastion, impervious to outside interference. The first step would be to establish the so-called Eugenics Record Office to quietly register the genetic backgrounds of all Americans, separating the defective strains from the desired lineages. Borrowing nomenclature and charting procedures from the world of animal breeding, these family trees would be called pedigrees. Where would the ERO obtain the family details? "They lie hidden," Davenport told his ABA colleagues, "in records of our numerous charity organizations, our 42 institutions for the feebleminded, our 115 schools and homes for the deaf and blind, our 350 hospitals for the insane, our 1,200 refuge homes, our 1,300 prisons, our 1,500 hospitals and our 2,500 almshouses. Our great insurance companies and our college gymnasiums have tens of thousands of records of the characters of human bloodlines. These records should be studied, their hereditary data sifted out and properly recorded on cards, and [then] the cards sent to a central bureau for study ... [of] the great strains of human protoplasm that are coursing through the country." [10]

At the same time, Davenport wanted to collect pedigrees on eminent, racially acceptable families, that is, the ones worth preserving. [11]

The planned ERO would also agitate among public officials to accept eugenic principles even in the absence of scientific support. Legislation was to be pressed to enable the forced prevention of unwanted progeny, as well as the proliferation by financial incentives of acceptable families. Whereas the experimental station would concentrate on quotable genetic research, the ERO would transduce that research into governing policy in American society.

In early 1910, just after the impetus for the new eugenics section of the American Breeders Association, Davenport swiftly began making his Eugenics Record Office a reality. Once more, the undertaking would require a large infusion of money. So once again he turned to great wealth. Reviewing the names in Long Island's Who's Who, Davenport searched for likely local millionaires. Going down the list, he stopped at one name: "Harriman." [12]

E.H. Harriman was legendary. America's almost mythic railroad magnate controlled the Union Pacific, Wells Fargo, numerous financial institutions and one of the nation's greatest personal fortunes. Davenport knew that Harriman craved more than just power and wealth; he fancied himself a scientist and a naturalist. The railroad man had financed a famous Darwin-style expedition to explore Alaskan glaciers. The so-called "Harriman Expedition" was organized by famous botanist and ornithologist C. Hart Merriam, a strong friend of eugenics. In 1907, Merriam had singlehandedly arranged a private meeting between Davenport's circle of eugenicists and President Theodore Roosevelt at the president's Long Island retreat. [13]

Harriman died in 1909, leaving a fabulous estate to his wife, Mary. [14]

Everything connected in Davenport's mind. He remembered that three years earlier, Harriman's daughter, also named Mary, had enrolled in one of Cold Spring Harbor's summer biology courses. She was so enthusiastic about eugenics, her classmates at Barnard College had nicknamed her "Eugenia." Mrs. Harriman was the perfect candidate to endow the Eugenics Record Office to carry on her husband's sense of biological exploration, and cleanse the nation of racial and ethnic impurity. [15]

Quickly, Davenport began cultivating a relationship with the newly widowed Mrs. E.H. Harriman. Her very name invoked the image of wealth and power wielded by her late husband, but identified her as now possessing the power over that purse. Even though the railroad giant's wife was now being plagued by philanthropic overtures at every turn, Davenport knew just how to tug the strings. Skilled in the process, it only took about a month. [16]

In early 1910, just days after the ABA elected to launch the Eugenics Record Office, Davenport reconnected with his former student about saving the social and biologic fabric of the United States. Days later, on January 13, Davenport visited Mary to advance the cause. On February 1, Davenport logged an entry in his diary: "Spent the evening on a scheme for Miss Harriman. Probably time lost." Two days later, the diary read: "Sent off letter to Miss Harriman." By February 12, Davenport had received an encouraging letter from the daughter regarding a luncheon to discuss eugenics. On February 16, Davenport's diary entry recorded: "To Mrs. Harriman's to lunch" and then several hours later, the final celebratory notation: "All agreed on the desirability of a larger scheme. A Red Letter Day for humanity!" [17]

Mrs. E. H. Harriman had joined the eugenic crusade. She agreed to create the Eugenics Record Office, purchasing eighty acres of land for its use about a half mile from the Carnegie Institution's experimental station at Cold Spring Harbor. She also donated $15,000 per year for operations and would eventually provide more than a half million dollars in cash and securities. [18]

Clearly, the ERO seemed like an adjunct to the Carnegie Institution's existing facility. But in fact it would function independently, as a joint project of Mrs. Harriman and the American Breeders Association's eugenic section. "As the aims of the [ABA's] Committee are strongly involved," Davenport wrote Mrs. Harriman on May 23, 1910, "it is but natural that, on behalf of the Committee, I should express its gratitude at the confidence you repose in it." [19]

Indeed, all of Davenport's numerous and highly detailed reports to Mrs. Harriman were written on American Breeders Association eugenic section letterhead. Moreover, the ABA's eugenics committee letterhead itself conveyed the impression of a semiofficial U.S. government agency. Prominently featured at the top of the stationery were the names of ABA president James Wilson, who was also secretary of the Department of Agriculture, and ABA secretary W. M. Hays, assistant secretary of the Department of Agriculture. In fact, the words "U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington D.C." appeared next to Hays's name, as a credential. [20] The project must have seemed like a virtual partnership between Mrs. Harriman and the federal government itself. [21]

Although the establishment of the Eugenics Record Office created a second eugenics agency independent of the Carnegie Institution, the two facilities together with the American Breeders Association's eugenic section in essence formed an interlocking eugenic directorate headquartered at Cold Spring Harbor. Davenport ruled all three entities. Just as he scrupulously reported to Carnegie trustees in Washington about the experimental station, and ABA executives about its eugenic section, Davenport continuously deferred to Mrs. Harriman as the money behind his new ERO. Endless operational details, in-depth explanations regarding the use of cows to generate milk for sale at five cents per quart to defray the cost of a caretaker, plans to plant small plots of hay and com, and requests to spend $10 on hardware and $50 on painting -- they were all faithfully reported to Mrs. Harriman for her approval. [22] It gave her the sense that she was not only funding a eugenic institution, but micromanaging the control center for the future of humanity.

While the trivialities of hay and hardware consumed report after report to Mrs. Harriman, the real purpose of the facility was never out of anyone's mind. For example, in his May 23, 1910 report to Mrs. Harriman, Davenport again recited the ERO's mission: "The furtherance of your and its [the ABA's] ideal to develop to the utmost the work of the physical and social regeneration of our beloved country [through] the application ... of ascertained biological principles." Among the first objectives, Davenport added, was "the segregation of imbeciles during the reproductive period." No definition of "imbeciles" was offered. In addition, he informed Mrs. Harriman, "This office has addressed to the Secretary of State of each State a request for a list of officials charged with the care of imbeciles, insane, criminals, and paupers, so as to be in a position to move at once ... as soon as funds for a campaign are available. I feel sure that many states can be induced to contribute funds for the study of the blood lines that furnish their defective and delinquent classes if only the matter can be properly brought to their attention." [23]

Referring to the increase in "defective and delinquent classes" that worried so many of America's wealthy, Davenport ended his May 23 report by declaring, "The tide is rising rapidly; I only regret that I can do so little." [24]

Davenport could not do it alone. Fundamentally, he was a scientist who preferred to remain in the rarefied background, not a ground-level activist who could systemize the continuous, around-the-clock, county-by-county and state-by-state excavation of human data desired. He could not prod the legislatures and regulatory agencies into proliferating the eugenic laws envisioned. The eugenics movement needed a lieutenant to work the trenches -- someone with ceaseless energy, a driven man who would never be satisfied. Davenport had the perfect candidate in mind.

"I am quite convinced," Davenport wrote Mrs. Harriman, "that Mr. Laughlin is our man." [25]


Fifty-five miles west of where northeast Missouri meets the Mississippi River, rolling foothills and hickory woodlands veined with lush streams finally yield to the undulating prairie that seats the town of Kirksville. In colonial times, mound-building Indians and French trappers prowled this region's vast forests hunting beaver, bear and muskrat pelts. After the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, only the sturdiest pioneers settled what became known as the state of Missouri. Kirksville was a small rural town in its northeast quadrant, serving as the intellectual and medical center of its surrounding agricultural community. [26]

In 1891, the Laughlin clan was among the tough middle-class pioneer families that settled in Kirksville, hoping to make a life. George Laughlin, a deeply religious college professor, migrated from Kansas to become pastor at Kirksville's Christian Church. The next year, the classically trained Laughlin was hired as chairman of the English Department of the Normal School, the area's main college. [27] Quickly, the Laughlins became a leading family of Kirksville.

In a modest home on East Harrison Street, the elder Laughlin raised ten children including five sons, one of whom was Harry Hamilton Laughlin. Young Harry was expected to behave like a "preacher's kid," even though his father was a college professor and no longer a clergyman. Preacher's kid or not, Harry was prone to youthful pranks and was endearingly nicknamed "Hi Yi" by his siblings. Once, on a sibling dare, Harry swung an axe at his younger brother Earl's hand, which was poised atop a chopping block. One of Earl's fingers was nearly severed, but was later reattached. [28]

Ancestry and social progress were both important in the Laughlin household. Reverend Laughlin could trace his lineage back to England and Germany, and it included U.S. President James Madison. His mother, Deborah, a Temperance League activist, acknowledged that her great-grandfather was a soldier in the English Light Dragoons during colonial times. [29]

When a well-educated Harry Laughlin graduated from college, he saw himself destined for greater things. Unfortunately, opportunity did not approach. So Laughlin became a teacher at a desolate one-room schoolhouse in nearby Livonia, Missouri. Life in Livonia was an unhappy one for Laughlin. He had to walk through a small stream just to reach the front door of the schoolhouse. Laughlin referred to his ramshackle school as being "20 miles from any civilized animal." Sneering at the locals, he wrote, "People here are 75 years behind the times." Laughlin denigrated his students as "very dull" and admitted to "a forced smile" when he wasn't grumbling. [30]

Laughlin returned to Kirksville at his first chance. Initially, he hired on as principal of the local high school in 1900. However, he soon advanced to the Department of Agriculture, Botany and Nature at his college alma mater, the Normal School. His wife Pansy had also graduated from there. Hence, it was where Laughlin felt most comfortable. Indeed, despite the wide travels and illustrious circles he ultimately attained, Laughlin always considered simple Kirksville his true home and refuge. [31]

Still, Laughlin was convinced his days at Normal were temporary. A political dreamer, Laughlin had already drafted the first of numerous outlines for a one-world government comprised of six continental jurisdictions, complete with an international parliament apportioning seats in favor of the hereditarily superior nations. In Laughlin's world scheme, the best stocks would rule. Laughlin submitted his detailed plans to heads of state and opinion makers, but to no avail. No one paid attention. [32]

Highfalutin proposals for a personally crafted world order were only the outward manifestations of a man who desperately sought to make a mark, and not just any mark, but an incandescent mark visible to all. In pursuit of this, Laughlin spent a lifetime submitting his writings on everything from politics to thoroughbred horseracing to world leaders and influential personalities, seeking favorable comments, approval and recognition. And if none of that was possible, just a simple "thank you" would do.

It was not unusual for Laughlin to mail an obscure journal article or scientific paper to dozens of perfect strangers in high places, soliciting any measure of written approbation. These reply letters typed on important letterheads were then filed and cherished. Many were little more than polite but depthless two-sentence acknowledgments written by well-placed people who scarcely understood why they had been contacted. For example, Laughlin sent one immigration study to dozens of embassies, newspaper editors, business tycoons and private foundation leaders seeking comment. The Columbian Ambassador to Washington formally wrote back: "I take pleasure in acknowledging receipt of ... the books ... which I will be glad to look over." The editor of Foreign Affairs magazine issued a curt two-sentence thank you, indicating, "It will be useful in our reference files." An assistant in Henry Ford's office dashed off a two-sentence pro forma note, "We ... wish to take this opportunity of thanking you on behalf of Mr. Ford for the copy of your work .... " [33]

Self-promotion was a way of life for Laughlin. [34] But no matter how high his station, it was never high enough. "If I can't be great," Laughlin once confessed to his mother, at least "I can certainly do much good." [35]

Laughlin's desperate quest for greatness turned a historic corner on May 17, 1907, when he wrote to Davenport asking to attend one of Cold Spring Harbor's continuing summer biology courses. His application was immediately approved. [36] The relationship between Davenport and Laughlin finally ignited in January of 1909 when both men attended the American Breeders Association meeting in Columbia, Missouri. [37] The next year, after Mrs. Harriman approved the ERO, Laughlin was Davenport's number one choice.

Within Davenport's grandiose ideas about reshaping mankind, Laughlin could both find a niche and secure personal gratification. Working in the eugenics movement, with his notions of a one-world government, Laughlin might achieve a destiny he could barely imagine in any other endeavor.

Davenport understood Laughlin's deeply personal needs. As such, he structured Laughlin's employment to be more than just a career. The Eugenics Record Office would become Laughlin's life-from morning to night and into the next morning. Laughlin found such rigor comforting; it represented a personal acceptance he'd never known. Davenport had certainly chosen the right man.

Stressing to Mrs. Harriman that the ERO's task was a long-term project, Davenport proposed that Laughlin be hired for at least ten years. Laughlin's residence would actually be on the grounds of the Eugenics Record Office, and his title would be "superintendent." Davenport understood human nature. The very title "superintendent" was reminiscent of railroad station managers, the kind who had catered to Mrs. Harriman's late husband's steel-tracked empire. "Do you wish first to see Mr. Laughlin," Davenport asked Mrs. Harriman with apparent deference, but quickly added, "or do you authorize me to offer Mr. Laughlin $2,400 for the first year?" [38]

Mrs. Harriman approved. Davenport notified Laughlin. The campaign to create a superior race would soon be launched.


By late 1910 the Laughlins had arrived at Cold Spring Harbor to open the facility. They lived on the second floor of the ERO's main building, where they enjoyed four large rooms and a fifth smaller one. Laughlin would have continuous access to the library, dining room and kitchen adjacent to the main business area on the first floor. He would eat and sleep eugenics. Working fastidiously on the smallest details of the ERO's establishment, it was not uncommon to find him in the office seven days a week including most holidays. [39]

The Eugenics Record Office went into high gear even before the doors opened in October of 1910. Its first mission was to identify the most defective and undesirable Americans, estimated to be at least 10 percent of the population. This 10 percent was sometimes nicknamed the "submerged tenth" or the lower tenth. At the time, this amounted to millions of Americans. When found, they would be subjected to appropriate eugenic remedies to terminate their bloodlines. Various remedies were debated, but the leading solutions were compulsory segregation and forced sterilization. [40]

No time was wasted. During the ERO's preparatory summer months, a dozen field workers, mainly women, were recruited to canvas prisons and mental institutions, establishing good working relationships with their directors. The first junket on July 15, 1910, proved to be typical. First, field workers visited the notorious prison at Ossining, New York, known as Sing Sing, where they were granted a complete tour of the "hereditary criminals" they would be studying. After Sing Sing, the group traveled to the State Asylum at Matteawan, New York, where Superintendent Lamb promised to open all patient records to help "demonstrate at once the hereditary basis of criminal insanity." An albino family was then examined in nearby Millerton, New York. The eugenic investigators ended their outing at a school for the feebleminded in Lakeville, Connecticut. In Lakeville, once again, "the records were turned over to us," Davenport reported to Mrs. Harriman, enabling the "plotting on a map of Connecticut the distribution of birth-places of inmates." None of the institutions hesitated to turn over their confidential records to the private ERO -- even before the agency opened its doors. [41]

After a few weeks of training in eugenic characteristics and principles, Laughlin's enthusiastic ERO field investigators swept across the eastern seaboard. Their mission was to identify those perceived as genetically inferior, as well as their extended families and their geographic concentrations. By pegging hotspot origins of defectives, eugenic cleansing priorities could be established. By no means was this a campaign directed solely against racial groups, but rather against any individual or group -- white or black -- considered physically, medically, morally, culturally or socially inadequate in the eyes of Davenport and Laughlin. Often there was no racial or cultural consistency to the list of those targeted. The genuinely lame, insane and deformed were lumped in with the troubled, the unfortunate, the disadvantaged and those who were simply "different," thus creating a giant eugenic underclass simply labeled "the unfit."

The hunt began.

ERO researcher A. H. Estabrook traveled to western Massachusetts and Connecticut to collect family trees on albino families. He was then "attached" to the State Asylum at Matteawan to research criminal insanity. Thereafter, Laughlin assigned him to search for "degenerates in the isolated valleys around the upper Hudson [River]." Estabrook developed 35 pages of pedigrees and 168 pages of personal descriptions in his first forays, but Laughlin became most interested in one "large family with much intermarriage that promises to be as interesting as the Juke or Zero family." [42]

Mary Drange-Graebe was assigned to Chicago where she worked with the Juvenile Psychopathic Institute under Dr. William Healy. After four months in Chicago, she was reassigned to track down the so-called Ishmael clan of nomadic criminals and vagabonds in and around Indianapolis. The tribe of racially mixed white gypsies, Islamic blacks and American Indians had been described years earlier in the study The Tribe of Ishmael: a Study in Social Degeneration, as a prime example of genetic criminality. This book had become a fundamental text for all eugenics. Now the ERO considered the book, written a generation earlier, as "too advanced for the times." So Drange-Graebe would resume tracing the family lineages of the infamous Ishmaelites. Within months, she had assembled 77 pages of family pedigrees and 873 pages of individual descriptions. [43]

Criminal behavior was hardly a prerequisite for the ERO's scrutiny. Field worker Amey Eaton was assigned to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to report on the Amish. Buggy-riding Amish folk, the most conservative wing of Mennonite Christians, were among the most law-abiding, courteous and God-fearing people in America. But they were also known for their unshakable pacifism, their peculiar refusal to adopt industrial technology and their immutable clannishness. This made them different. "In this small sect," Laughlin reported, "considerable intermarriage has occurred. These people kindly cooperated in our efforts to learn whether ... these consanguineous [family-linked] marriages had resulted in defective offspring." [44]

The ERO's sights were broad, so their workers continued fanning out. Helen Reeves sought records of so-called feebleminded patients in various New Jersey institutions. Another researcher was sent to trawl the files of the special genealogy collection of the New York Public Library, looking for family ties to unfit individuals. Various hospitals around the country were scoured, yielding records on eighty immigrant families with Huntington's chorea, a devastating disease of the central nervous system. Even when Davenport vacationed in Maine, he used the occasion to visit the area's islands and peninsulas to record the deleterious effects of intermarriage in groups considered unfit. Idyllic Washington and Hancock counties in Maine were of particular interest. [45]

Epileptics were a high-priority target for Laughlin and the ERO. Field worker Florence Danielson was dispatched to collect the family trees of epileptics at Monson State Hospital for Epileptics in Massachusetts. Monson had previously been an almshouse or poorhouse. In line with eugenic thought, Monson's administrators believed that epilepsy and poverty were genetically linked. [46]

Laughlin dispatched a second ERO investigator, Sadie Deavitt, to the New Jersey State Village for Epileptics at Skillman to chart individual pedigrees. At Skillman, Deavitt deftly interviewed patients and their families about the supposed traits of their relatives and ancestors. The ERO's scientific regimen involved ascribing various qualities and characteristics to epileptic patient family members, living or dead. These qualities included medical characteristics such as "deaf" or "blind," as well as strictly social factors such as "wanderer, tramp, confirmed runaway" and "criminal." [47] The definition of "criminal" was never delineated; it included a range of infractions from vagrancy to serious felony.

Miss Deavitt employed warmth and congeniality to extract family and acquaintance descriptions from unsuspecting patients, family members and friends. A New Jersey State instructive report explained, "The investigator visits the patients in their cottages. She does this in the way of a friendly visit and leads the patient on to tell all he can about his friends and relatives, especially as to addresses. Often they bring her their letters to read and from these she gleans considerable information. Then comes the visit to the [family's] home. It is the visitor's recent and personal knowledge of the patient that often assures her of a cordial welcome." By deftly gaining the confidence of one family member and friend after another, Miss Deavitt was able to map family trees with various social and medical qualities penned in with special codes. "Sx" meant "sexual pervert"; "im" stood for "immoral." [48] None of the hundreds of people interviewed knew they were being added to a list of candidates for sterilization or segregation in special camps or farms.

Laughlin and the ERO focused heavily on the epileptic menace because they believed epilepsy and "feeblemindedness" were inextricably linked in human nature. Indeed, they often merged statistics on epileptic patients with those of the feebleminded to create larger combined numbers. The term "feeblemindedness" was never quite defined; its meaning varied from place to place, and even situation to situation. The eugenically damning classification certainly included genuine cases of severely retarded individuals who could not care for themselves, but it also swept up those who were simply shy, stuttering, poor at English, or otherwise generally nonverbal, regardless of their true intellect or talent. [49] Feeblemindedness was truly in the eye of the beholder and frequently depended upon the dimness or brightness of a particular moment.

But there was little room for gray in Laughlin's world. To accelerate the campaign against epileptics, Laughlin distributed to hospital and institutional directors a special thirty-page bulletin, filled with dense scientific documentation, number-filled columns, family charts and impressive Mendelian principles warning about the true nature of epilepsy. The bulletin, entitled "A First Study of Inheritance of Epilepsy," and first published in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, was authored by Davenport and a doctor employed by New Jersey's epileptic village. The treatise asserted conclusively that epilepsy and feeblemindedness were manifestations of a common defect, due to "the absence of a protoplasmic factor that determines complete nervous development." The bulletin emphasized that the genetic menace extended far beyond the family into the so-called genetic "fraternity," or the lineages of everyone related to every person who was considered epileptic. The more such "tainted" defectives were allowed to reproduce, the more numerous their epileptic and feebleminded descendants would become. In one example, the research declared that "in 28 families of normal parents of epileptic children every one shows evidence of mental weakness." [50]

The ERO dismissed the well-known traumatic causes of epilepsy or insanity, such as a fall or severe blow to the head, in favor of hereditary factors. In one typical insanity case originally blamed on a fall, the bulletin explained, "This defect may be purely traumatic but, on the other hand, he has an epileptic brother and a feeble-minded niece so there was probably an innate weakness and the fall is invoked as a convenient 'cause.''' [51]

Strikingly, the ERO's definition of epilepsy itself was so sweeping that it covered not only people plagued by seizures, but also those suffering from migraine headaches and even brief fainting spells possibly due to exhaustion, heat stroke or other causes. "Epilepsy is employed in this paper," Davenport wrote, "in a wide sense to include not only cases of well-marked convulsions, but also cases in which there has been only momentary loss of consciousness." [52]

The prospect of epileptics in the population would haunt Laughlin for decades as he feverishly launched every effort to identify them. Once he identified them, Laughlin wanted to neutralize their ability to reproduce. The ERO's epilepsy bulletin concluded: "The most effective mode of preventing the increase of epileptics that society would probably countenance is the segregation during the reproductive period of all epileptics." [53]

America's geography was diverse. Since the western regions of the United States were still being settled, the ERO understood that many family trees in those regions would be incomplete. Indeed, many people moved out West precisely because they wanted to begin a new life detached from their former existence. Public records in western locales often lacked information about extended family and ancestry. Overcoming the challenge of documenting the population of a vast continent with only broken bits of family data, the ERO promised that "the office is now prepared to index any material, no matter how fragmentary or how extensive, concerning the transmission of biological traits in man; and it seeks to become the depository of such material." To that end, the ERO contacted "the heads of all institutions in the United States concerned with abnormal individuals." [54]

Extending beyond the reach of his field workers, Laughlin promised the eugenics movement that the ERO would register information on all Americans no matter where they lived to "[prevent] the production of defective persons." While defectives were to be eliminated, the superior families were to be increased. The eugenics movement would seek out and list "men of genius" and "special talents," and then advocate that those families receive special entitlements, such as financial rewards and other benefits for increased reproduction. [55] Eventually, the superior race would be more numerous and would control American society. At some point, they alone would comprise American society.

The eugenic visions offered by Davenport and Laughlin pleased the movement's wealthy sponsors. On January 19, 1911, Andrew Carnegie doubled the Carnegie Institution's endowment with an additional ten million dollars for all its diverse programs, including eugenics. Mrs. Harriman increased her enthusiastic grants. John D. Rockefeller's fortune also contributed to the funding. A Rockefeller philanthropic official became "much interested in eugenics and seems willing to help Dr. Davenport's work," reported one eugenic leader to Mrs. Harriman in a handwritten letter. "His preference is to give a small sum at first ... raising the amount as the work advances." Initial Rockefeller contributions amounted to just $21 ,650 in cash and were earmarked to defray field worker expenses. But the highly structured Rockefeller philanthropic entities donated more than just cash; they provided personnel and organizational support, as well as the visible name of Rockefeller. [56]

Clearly, eugenics and its goal of purifying America's population was already more than just a complex of unsupported racist theorems and pronouncements. Eugenics was nothing less than an alliance between biological racism and mighty American power, position and wealth against the most vulnerable, the most marginal and the least empowered in the nation. The eugenic crusaders had successfully mobilized America's strong against America's weak. More eugenic solutions were in store.


On May 2 and May 3, 1911, in Palmer, Massachusetts, the research committees of the ABA's eugenic section adopted a resolution creating a special new committee. "Resolved: that the chair appoint a committee commissioned to study and report on the best practical means for cutting off the defective germ-plasm of the American population." Laughlin was the special committee's secretary. He and his colleagues would recruit an advisory panel from among the country's most esteemed authorities in the social and political sciences, medicine and jurisprudence. The advisory panel eventually included surgeon Alexis Carrel, M.D., of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research, who would months later win the Nobel Prize for Medicine; O. P. Austin, chief of the Bureau of Statistics in Washington, D.C.; physiologist W. B. Cannon and immigration expert Robert DeCourcy Ward, both from Harvard; psychiatrist Stewart Paton from Princeton; public affairs professor Irving Fisher from Yale; political economist James Field from the University of Chicago; renowned attorney Louis Marshall; and numerous other eminent men of learning. [57]

Commencing July 15, 1911, Laughlin and the main ABA committee members met at Manhattan's prestigious City Club on West Forty-fourth Street. During a number of subsequent conferences, they carefully debated the "problem of cutting off the supply of defectives," and systematically plotted a bold campaign of "purging the blood of the American people of the handicapping and deteriorating influences of these anti-social classes." Ten groups were eventually identified as "socially unfit" and targeted for "elimination." First, the feebleminded; second, the pauper class; third, the inebriate class or alcoholics; fourth, criminals of all descriptions including petty criminals and those jailed for nonpayment of fines; fifth, epileptics; sixth, the insane; seventh, the constitutionally weak class; eighth, those predisposed to specific diseases; ninth, the deformed; tenth, those with defective sense organs, that is, the deaf, blind and mute. In this last category, there was no indication of how severe the defect need be to qualify; no distinction was made between blurry vision or bad hearing and outright blindness or deafness. [58]

Not content to eliminate those deemed unfit by virtue of some malady, transgression, disadvantage or adverse circumstance, the ABA committee targeted their extended families as well. Even if those relatives seemed perfectly normal and were not institutionalized, the breeders considered them equally unfit because they supposedly carried the defective germ-plasm that might crop up in a future generation. The committee carefully weighed the relative value of "sterilizing all persons with defective germ-plasm," or just "sterilizing only degenerates." The group agreed that "defective and potential parents of defectives not in institutions" were also unacceptable. [59]

Normal persons of the wrong ancestry were particularly unwanted. "There are many others of equally unworthy personality and hereditary qualities," wrote Laughlin, "who have ... never been committed to institutions." He added, "There are many parents who, in many cases, may themselves be normal, but who produce defective offspring. This great mass of humanity is not only a social menace to the present generation, but it harbors the potential parenthood of the social misfits of our future generations." Davenport had consistently emphasized that "a person who by all physical and mental examinations is normal may lack in half his germ cells the determiner for complete development. In some respects, such a person is more undesirable in the community than the idiot, (who will probably not reproduce), or the low-grade imbecile who will be recognized as such." [60]

How many people did the eugenics movement target for countermeasures? Prioritizing those in custodial care -- from poor houses to hospitals to prisons -- the unfit totaled close to a million. An additional three million people were "equally defective, but not under the state's care." Finally, the group focused on the so-called "borderline," some seven million people, who "are of such inferior blood, and are so interwoven in kinship with those still more defective, that they are totally unfitted to become parents of useful citizens." Laughlin insisted, "If they mate with a higher level, they contaminate it; if they mate with the still lower levels, they bolster them up a little only to aid them to continue their unworthy kind." The estimated first wave alone totaled nearly eleven million Americans, or more than 10 percent of the existing population. [61]

Eleven million would be only the beginning. Laughlin readily admitted that his first aim was at "ten percent of the total population, but even this is arbitrary." Eugenics would then turn its attention to the extended families deemed perfectly normal but still socially unfit. [62] Those numbers would add many million more.

Indeed, the eugenicists would push further, attempting a constantly upward genetic spiral in their insatiable quest for the super race. The movement intended to constantly identify the lowest levels of even the acceptable population and then terminate those families as well. "It will always be desirable," wrote Laughlin on behalf of the committee, "in the interests of still further advancement to cut off the lowest levels, and encourage high fecundity among the more gifted." [63]

The committee was always keenly aware that their efforts could be deemed unconstitutional. Legal fine points were argued to ensure that any eugenical countermeasure not "be considered as a second punishment ... or as a cruel or unusual punishment." The eugenic committee hoped to circumvent the courts and due process, arguing that "sterilization of degenerates, or especially of criminals, [could] be legitimately effected through the exercise of police functions." In an ideal world, a eugenics board or commission would unilaterally decide which families would be the targets of eugenic procedures. The police would simply enforce their decisions. [64]

Human rights attorney Louis Marshall, the committee's main legal advisor, opined that eugenic sterilization might be legal if ordered by the original sentencing judge for criminals. But to venture beyond criminals, he wrote, targeting the weak, the diseased and their relatives, would probably be unconstitutional. "I understand that the operation of vasectomy is painless," wrote Marshall, "... other than to render it impossible for him to have progeny .... The danger, however, is that it might be inflicted upon one who is not a habitual criminal, who might have been the victim of circumstances and who could be reformed. To deprive such an individual of all hope of progeny would approach closely to the line of cruel and unusual punishment. There are many cases where juvenile offenders have been rendered habitual criminals who subsequently became exemplary citizens ... the very fact that they exist would require the exercise of extreme caution in determining whether such a punishment is constitutional." [65]

Marshall added with vagueness, "Unless justified by a conviction for crime, it [eugenical sterilization] would be a wanton and unauthorized act and an unwarranted deprivation of the liberty of the citizen. In order to justify it, the person upon whom the operation is to be performed has, therefore, the right to insist upon his right to due process of law. That right is withheld if the vasectomy is directed ... by a board or commission, which acts upon its own initiative .... I fear that the public is not as yet prepared to deal with this problem." [66]

But Laughlin and his fellow breeders envisioned eugenical measures beyond mere sterilization. To multiply the genetically desired bloodlines, they suggested polygamy and systematic mating. Additional draconian remedies that were proposed to cut off defective germ-plasm included restrictive marriage laws, compulsory birth control and forced segregation for life -- or at least until the reproductive years had passed. Davenport believed mass segregation or incarceration of the feebleminded during their entire reproductive years, if "carried out thoroughly" would wipe out most defectives within fifteen to thirty years. All the extra property acquired to incarcerate the inmates could be sold off for cash. As part of any long-term incarceration program, the patient could be released if he or she willingly submitted to sterilization "just prior to release." This was viewed as a central means of bypassing the need for a court order or even a commission decision. These sterilizations could then be called "voluntary." [67]

One option went further than any other. It was too early to implement. However, point eight of the American Breeders Association plan called for euthanasia. [68]

Despite the diversity of proposals, the group understood that of the various debated remedies, the American public was only ready for one: sterilization. The committee's tactic would be to convince America at large that "eugenics is a long-time investment" appealing to "far-sighted patriots." The agenda to terminate defective bloodlines was advocated and its underlying science was trumpeted as genuine, even as the committee confessed in their own summary report, "our knowledge is, as yet, so limited." Laughlin and his colleagues pursued their mission even as the original Galtonian eugenicists in London publicly declared they were "fully conscious of the slenderness of their data." American eugenicists pressed on even as Pearson of the Eugenics Laboratory openly quoted criticism by a fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, "The educated man and the scientist is as prone as any other to become the victim ... of his prejudices .... He will in defence thereof make shipwreck of both the facts of science and the methods of science ... by perpetrating every form of fallacy, inaccuracy and distortion." [69] America's eugenicists continued even as their elite leaders acknowledged, "public sentiment demanding action was absent." [70]

Laughlin and the American eugenics movement were undeterred by their own lack of knowledge, lack of scientific evidence, and even the profound lack of public support. The crusade would continue. In their eyes, the future of humanity -- or their version of it -- was at stake.

Moreover, America's eugenicists were not satisfied with merely cleansing the United States of its defectives. The movement's view was global. The last of eighteen points circulated by Laughlin's committee was entitled "International Cooperation." 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." Point eighteen made clear that Laughlin's ERO and the American eugenics movement intended to turn their sights on "the extent and nature of the problem of the socially inadequate in foreign countries." [71]
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Re: War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America's Campaign to

Postby admin » Wed Jul 30, 2014 11:27 pm



Legitimizing Raceology

When Galton's eugenic principles migrated across the ocean to America, Kansas physician F. Hoyt Pilcher became the first in modern times to castrate to prevent procreation. In the mid-1890s, Dr. Pilcher, superintendent of the Kansas Home for the Feebleminded, surgically asexualized fifty-eight children. Pilcher's procedure was undertaken without legal sanction. Once discovered, Kansas citizens broadly condemned his actions, demanding he stop. The Kansas Home's embattled board of trustees suspended Pilcher's operations, but staunchly defended his work. The board defiantly proclaimed, "Those who are now criticizing Dr. Pilcher will, in a few years, be talking of erecting a monument to his memory." Later, Pilcher's national association of institution directors praised him as "courageous" and as a "pioneer, strong [enough] to face ignorance and prejudice." [1]

Enter Dr. Harry Clay Sharp, physician at the Indiana Reformatory at Jeffersonville. Sharp earned his medical degree in 1893. Two years later, he was hired by the Indiana Reformatory as its doctor. The Indiana Reformatory, the state's first prison, was proud of its progressive sanitation and medical policies. Sharp was already performing extralegal medical castrations to cure convicts of masturbation. In early 1899, he read an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) by distinguished Chicago physician Albert John Ochsner, who later cofounded the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Ochsner advocated compulsory vasectomy of prisoners "to eliminate all habitual criminals from the possibility of having children." In this way, Ochsner hoped to reduce not only the number of "born criminals" but also "chronic inebriates, imbeciles, perverts and paupers." [2]

Sharp combined Ochsner's idea with a second suggestion by another Chicago doctor, Daniel R. Brower. Brower read a paper before the American Medical Society, reprinted in JAMA, similarly urging that someone employ vasectomy on convicts to prevent the propagation of a criminal class. [3]

Sharp was willing to be that someone. In October of 1899, he became the first in the world to impose vasectomy on a person in custody. A nineteen- year-old Indiana Reformatory prisoner complained of excessive masturbation, and Sharp used the opportunity. After disinfecting the prisoner's scrotum, the doctor made a one-inch incision, severed the ducts, and then buried a stitch. Sharp was pleased with his work. During the next several years, he performed the same operation on scores of additional inmates, becoming the world expert in human sterilization. Each operation took about three minutes. Anesthetic was not used for subsequent operations. [4]

The Indiana prison doctor proudly lectured his colleagues about the procedure's advantages in a 1902 article in the New York Medical Journal. He presented the surgery strictly as a tool for human breeding. Quoting an old essay, Sharp railed: "We make choice of the best rams for our sheep ... and keep the best dogs ... how careful then should we be in begetting of children!" [5]

Sharp's article described his method in instructive, clinical detail. Yet involuntary sterilization was still not legal, and was thought by many to be unconstitutional. So he urged his fellow institutional doctors to lobby for both restrictive marriage laws and legal authority for every institutional director in every state to "render every male sterile who passes its portals, whether it be an almshouse, insane asylum, institute for the feeble minded, reformatory or prison." Sharp declared that widespread sterilization was the only "rational means of eradicating from our midst a most dangerous and hurtful class .... Radical methods are necessary." [6]

It is no wonder that the world was first prompted to embrace forced sterilization by Indiana. Within the state's mainly rural turn-of-the-century population existed a small but potent epicenter of radical eugenic agitation. For decades, Indiana law provided for the compulsory servitude of its paupers. They could be farmed out to the highest bidder. Unwashed homeless bands wandering through Indiana were reviled by many within charitable circles as genetically defective, and beyond help. [7]

Reverend Oscar McCulloch, pastor of Indianapolis's Plymouth Congregational Church, was known as a leading reformer and advocate of public charity. Ironically, McCulloch actually harbored an intense hatred of paupers and the displaced. He was greatly influenced by the publication of Dugdale's The Jukes, which traced a Hudson Valley family of paupers and criminals as a living example of the need to improve social conditions. But McCulloch was foremost among those who twisted Dugdale's work from a cry for social action into a vicious hereditary indictment. [8]

McCulloch went even farther, adding his own genealogical investigation of Indiana's thieving vagabonds, the so-called Tribe of Ishmael. He proffered their stories as further scientific proof of degeneration among the impoverished. McCulloch preached to his fellow reformers at the 1888 National Conference of Charities and Corrections that paupers were nothing more than biologically preordained "parasites" suffering from an irreversible hereditary condition. By 1891, McCulloch had become president of the National Conference of Charities and Corrections, further ingraining his degeneracy theories upon the nation's charity and prison officials, who were only too quick to accept. [9]

Reverend McCulloch's outspoken sermons and investigations of the Ishmael tribe drew the attention of another leading Indianian, biologist David Starr Jordan, president of the University of Indiana. Convinced that paupers were indeed parasites, as McCulloch so fervently claimed, Jordan lectured his students and faculty to accept that some men were "dwarfs in body and mind." Quickly, Jordan became America's first eminent eugenic theorist. His 1902 book, Blood of a Nation, first articulated the concept of "blood" as the immutable basis for race. He readily proclaimed, "The pauper is the victim of heredity, but neither Nature nor Society recognizes that as an excuse for his existence." Jordan left Indiana in 1891 to become the first president of the newly created Stanford University, founded by the estate of wealthy railroad entrepreneur Leland Stanford. While at Stanford, Jordan used his position to further champion the eugenic cause, damning paupers in his writings and leading the like-minded elite in national eugenic organizations. [10]

Among the staunchest of Indiana's radical eugenicists was Dr. J. N. Hurty, who quickly rose from his insignificant station as the proprietor of an Indianapolis drug store to become the secretary of Indiana's State Board of Health. A close colleague of Hurty's once recalled for a eugenic audience: "It was not until Hurty had become the State Health Officer and had observed the stupidity of mankind, the worthlessness and the filthiness of certain classes of people, that he became really greatly interested in the subject [eugenics]." Once, when a prominent minister argued that all human beings were God's children, subject not to the laws of Mendel, but to the laws of grace, Hurty retorted, "Bosh and nonsense! Men and woman are what they are largely because of the stock from which they sprang." Hurty was eventually elected president of the American Public Health Association. [11]

By 1904, Sharp had performed 176 vasectomies as a eugenic solution designed to halt bloodlines. But the procedure was still not legal. So for three years, Drs. Sharp and Hurty lobbied the Indiana legislature to pass a bill for mandatory sterilization of all convicts. No distinction was made between lesser or graver crimes. There was no groundswell of public support for the measure, just the private efforts of Sharp, aided by Hurty and a few colleagues. The men stressed the social cost to the state of caring for its existing degenerates, and promised the new procedure would save Indiana from caring for future degenerates. [12] Drs. Sharp and Hurty were not immediately successful. But they did not give up.

It was an uphill battle. Indiana was not the first state to consider reproductive intervention, but until now, the idea had been rebuffed. In 1897, in the wake of Dr. Pilcher's first castrations, Michigan's legislature rejected a proposed law to make such actions legal. From 1901 through 1905, a key Pilcher supporter, Dr. Martin Barr, director of the Pennsylvania Training School for the Feebleminded, pushed for compulsory sterilization of mental defectives and other degenerates. Barr was undoubtedly among those responding to Sharp's early call to seek legislation. In 1905, both houses of Pennsylvania's legislature finally passed an "Act for the Prevention of Idiocy." The bill mandated that if the trustees and surgeons of the state's several institutions caring for feebleminded children determined "procreation is inadvisable," then the surgeon could "perform such operation for the prevention of procreation as shall be decided safest and most effective." [13]

Pennsylvania Governor Samuel Pennypacker's veto message denounced the very idea: "It is plain that the safest and most effective method of preventing procreation would be to cut the heads off the inmates," wrote Pennypacker, adding, "and such authority is given by the bill to this staff of scientific experts .... Scientists, like all other men whose experiences have been limited to one pursuit ... sometimes need to be restrained. Men of high scientific attainments are prone ... to lose sight of broad principles outside their domain .... To permit such an operation would be to inflict cruelty upon a helpless class ... which the state has undertaken to protect." Governor Pennypacker ended his incisive veto with five words: "The bill is not approved." No effort was made to override. [14]

What failed in Michigan and Pennsylvania found greater success in Indiana. Throughout 1906, Sharp ramped up his campaign. But the Indiana legislature was still resistant. So Sharp reminded Indiana's governor, J. Frank Hanley, that he was constantly performing vasectomies anyway, and his total had by now surged to 206. "I therefore wish to urge you," Sharp wrote the governor, "to insist upon the General Assembly [that] passing such a law or laws ... will provide this as a means of preventing procreation in the defective and degenerate classes." [15]

On January 29, 1907, Indiana Representative Horace Reed introduced Sharp's bill. The measure's phrasing was an almost verbatim rendering of the previously vetoed Pennsylvania bill. Three weeks later, with little debate, Indiana's House approved the eugenic proposal, 59 in favor and 22 opposed. About two weeks later, again with virtually no debate, Indiana's Senate ratified the bill, 28 voting aye and 16 nay. This time, there was no governor's veto. [16] Indiana thereby made its mark in medical history, and became the first jurisdiction in the world to legislate forced sterilization of its mentally impaired patients, poorhouse residents and prisoners. Sharp's knife would now be one of a multitude, and the practice would crisscross the United States.


In 1907, most Americans were unaware that sterilization had become legal in Indiana. Nor did they comprehend that a group of biological activists were trying to replicate that legislation throughout the country. Frequently, the dogged state lobbying efforts were mounted by just one or two individuals, generally local physicians who carried the eugenic flame. [17]

In February of 1909, Oregon's first woman doctor, Bethenia Owens- Adair, promoted Bill 68, sporting provisions virtually identical to Indiana's law, but vesting the sterilization decision in a committee of two medical experts. Both Oregon houses ratified and Governor George Chamberlain had promised to sign the bill into law. But when Chamberlain finally comprehended the final text, he vetoed the bill. In a letter to Dr. Owens-Adair, the governor explained, "When I first talked to you about the matter, without knowing the terms of the Bill in detail, I was disposed to favor it." But, he added, there were too few safeguards to prevent abuse. [18]

In early 1909, several additional attempts in other states also failed. Illinois's Senate Bill 249 authorized either castration or sterilization of confirmed criminals and imbeciles when a facility doctor felt procreation was "inadvisable"; it failed to pass. Wisconsin's Bill 744 to sterilize the feebleminded, criminals, epileptics and the insane on the recommendation of two experts was also rejected despite an amendment. [19]

But three states did ratify eugenic sterilization in 1909. Washington targeted "habitual criminals" and rapists, mandating sterilization as additional punishment for the "prevention of procreation." Connecticut enacted a law permitting the medical staff at two asylums, Middletown and Norwich, to examine patients and their family trees to determine if feebleminded and insane patients should be sterilized; the physicians were permitted to perform either vasectomies on males or ovariectomies on women. [20]

California was the third state to adopt forced sterilization in 1909; Chapter 720 of the state's statutory code permitted castration or sterilization of state convicts and the residents of the California Home for the Care and Training of Feebleminded Children in Sonoma County. Two institutional bureaucrats could recommend the procedure if they deemed it beneficial to a subject's "physical, mental or moral condition." [21]

During the next two years, more states attempted to enact eugenic sterilization laws. Efforts in Virginia to pass House Bill 96, calling for the sterilization of all criminals, imbeciles and idiots in custody when approved by a committee of experts, died in the legislature. But efforts in other states were successful. Nevada targeted habitual criminals. Iowa authorized the operation for "criminals, idiots, feebleminded, imbeciles, drunkards, drug fiends, epileptics," plus "moral or sexual perverts" in its custody. The Iowa act was tacked onto a prostitution law. [22]

New Jersey's legislation was passed in 1911. Chapter 190 of its statutory code created a special three-man "Board of Examiners of Feebleminded, Epileptics and Other Defectives." The board would systematically identify when "procreation is inadvisable" for prisoners and children residing in poor houses and other charitable institutions. The law included not only the "feebleminded, epileptic [and] certain criminals" but also a class ambiguously referred to as "other defectives." New Jersey's measure added a veneer of due process by requiring a hearing where evidence could be taken, and a formal notice served upon a so-called "patient attorney." No provision permitted a family-hired or personally selected attorney, but only one appointed by the court. The administrative hearing was held within the institution itself, not in a courtroom under a judge's gavel. Moreover, the court-designated counsel for the patient was given only five days before the sterilization decision was sealed. Thus the process would be swift, and certainly beyond the grasp of the confused children dwelling within state shelters. New Jersey's governor, Woodrow Wilson, signed the bill into law on April 21, 1911. The next year, he was elected president of the United States for his personal rights campaign known as the "New Freedoms." Stressing individual freedoms, Wilson helped create the League of Nations. President Wilson crusaded for human rights for all, including the defenseless, proclaiming to the world the immortal words: "What we seek is the reign of law, based upon the consent of the governed, and sustained by the organized opinion of mankind." [23]

New York was next. In April of 1912, New York amended its Public Health Law with Chapter 445, which virtually duplicated New Jersey's eugenic legislation. New York law created its own "Board of Examiners for feebleminded, epileptics and other defectives," comprised of a neurologist, a surgeon and a general physician. Any two of the three examiners could rule whether family history, feeblemindedness, "inherited tendency" or other factors proved that procreation was inadvisable for the patients or prisoners they reviewed. Once again, a so-called "patient attorney" was to be appointed by the court. Vasectomies, salpingectomies (tubal ligations), and full castrations were authorized, at the discretion of the board. [24]

Despite the spreading patchwork of state eugenic sterilization laws, by late 1911 and early 1912, the Cold Spring Harbor stalwarts of the American Breeders Association, its Eugenic Record Office and the Carnegie Institution's Experimental Station remained frustrated. Their joint Committee to Study and Report the Best Practical Means of Cutting off the Defective Germ-plasm of the American Population knew that few Americans had actually undergone involuntary sterilization. True, in the years since 1907, when Indiana legalized such operations, Sharp had vasectomized scores of additional prisoners and even published open appeals to his professional colleagues to join his eugenic crusade. More than two hundred had been forcibly sterilized in California. Connecticut's Norwich Hospital had performed the operation on fewer than ten, mostly women. But only two eugenic sterilizations had been ordered in Washington state, and both were held in abeyance. An extralegal vasectomy had been performed on one Irish patient in a Boston hospital constituting a juridical test. However, none were authorized in Nevada, Iowa, New Jersey, or New York. [25]

Many state officials were clearly reluctant to enforce the laws precisely because the results were radical and irreversible. The legality of the operations and the question of due process had never been satisfactorily answered. The Eugenics Section of the American Breeders Association admitted in a report that the prior legislation had been pushed by "some very small energetic groups of enthusiasts, who have had influence in the legislatures ... [but] it was a new and untried proposition. Public sentiment demanding action was absent. Law officers of the state were not anxious to undertake defense of a law the constitutionality of which was questioned." [26]

Moreover, the whole concept of eugenic solutions, such as marriage restriction, forced segregation and involuntary sterilization was still disdained by most Americans. Catholics by and large considered the termination of reproductive capability to be an act against God. "It is evident," the report continued, "that active hostility and opposition will arise as soon as there is any attempt to carry out the laws in a through-going manner." The report concluded, "So we must frankly confess that ... this movement for race betterment is as yet little more than a hobby of a few groups of people." [27]

The Eugenics Section declared, "It is, therefore, easy to see why little has been actually done. The machinery of administration has to be created .... Much more extensive education of the public will be necessary before the practice of sterilization can be carried out to the extent which will make it a factor of importance." [28]

Clearly, the eugenics movement needed scientific validation, standards to identify exactly who was feebleminded and unfit, and most importantly, society's acceptance of the need to cut off defective families. Eugenicists in other countries, who had been corresponding together for some years, also felt the need to broaden acceptance of their beliefs. All of them wanted eugenic solutions to be applied on a global basis. Their mission, after all, was to completely reshape humanity, not just one corner of it. Toward this end, the Americans, working closely with their counterparts in Germany and England, scheduled an international conference in London. July of 1912 was selected because it coincided with a visit to London by Stanford University's Jordan and other eugenic leaders. [29]

Galton had died in January of 1911. By that time, his original theories of positive marriage, as well as his ideas on biometric study, had been circumvented by a more radical London group, the Eugenics Education Society. The Eugenics Education Society had adopted American attitudes on negative eugenics. By now, America's negative eugenics had also been purveyed to like-minded social engineers throughout Europe, especially in Germany and the Scandinavian nations, where theories about Nordic superiority were well received. Hence, this first conference was aptly called the First International Congress on Eugenics, bringing together some several hundred delegates and speakers from across America, Belgium, England, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and Norway. [30]

Not a few of the conferees would attend simply to investigate the emerging field of eugenics. But many of the Europeans attended because they harbored their own racial or ethnic biases against their nations' indigenous, immigrant or defective populations. For example, Jon Alfred Mj0en of Norway was that country's leading raceologist and eugenicist. He believed that crossing blond-haired Norwegians with native dark-haired Lapps produced a defective mulatto-like breed. Another major delegate was Alfred Ploetz, the spiritual father of Germany's race hygiene and eugenics movement. [31]

Organizers draped the conference with some of the most prestigious names in the world. Major Leonard Darwin, son of Charles Darwin, was appointed president. Britain's First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, would represent the king. Churchill was alarmed at Britain's growing population of "persons ... of mental defect" and advocated a eugenic solution. The vice presidents would include David Starr Jordan, Davenport, Ploetz and Alexander Graham Bell. To impress American governors and scientific organizations, the Eugenics Congress leadership wanted the U.S. State Department to send an official American delegate. Missouri's representative on the all-powerful House Appropriations Committee proffered the request. However, the State Department could not comply because the meeting was nongovernmental; therefore the U.S. government could not participate. [32]

Instead, Secretary of State P. C. Knox agreed to write the invitations on official letterhead and mail them to distinguished Americans in the realms of science, higher learning and state government all across the country. The U.S. State Department invitations would be officially extended on behalf of Alfred Mitchell Innes, the British Embassy's charge d'affaires in Washington, who in turn was submitting them on behalf of the Eugenics Education Society in London. Hence the invitations bore the clear imprimatur of the U.S. Secretary of State, yet technically Secretary Knox was merely conveying the invitation. The Knox letter also promised "to be the medium of communication to the Embassy" for any reply. [33]

Knox's official-looking invitations were each virtually alike. "At the request of the British Embassy at this capital, I have the honor to send you herewith an invitation extended to you by the Organizing Committee of the First International Eugenics Congress." Kansas Governor Walter Stubbs received one. Kentucky Governor James McCreary received one. Maryland Governor Phillip L. Goldsborough received one. Every governor of every state received one. Invitations were also sent to the presidents of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences, the American Economic Association at Yale University, the American Philosophical Society, and many other esteemed organizations of science and academic study. Knox also mailed an invitation to every president of every leading medical society, including the American Gynecological Society, the American Neurological Association, the American Pediatric Society and, of course, the American Medical Association. Hundreds of such letters were posted on a single day -- June 20, 1912. [34]

Because the invitations were distributed just a few weeks before the London congress, few if any of the invitees could actually attend. This fact must have been understood in advance. After all, many received the invitation quite late, often only after their summer travels were complete. Nonetheless, nearly every recipient issued a gracious decline, and a personal note of thanks expressing their regret at missing an important event. All but one, that is. Secretary of War Henry Stimson dashed off a stern rebuff reminding Secretary of State Knox that such official involvement in a private conference was precluded by law. Stimson quoted the law in his reply: "No money ... shall be expended ... for expenses of attendance of any person at any meeting or convention of members of any society or association" unless authorized by statutory appropriation. [35]

The message was clear. Knox had, for all intents and purposes, turned the State Department into a eugenics post office and invitation bureau. From Knox's point of view, however, he was undoubtedly only too happy to help the eugenics program of the Carnegie Institution. Prior to his service as secretary of state, Knox had been an attorney for the Carnegie Steel Company, and was once called by Carnegie "the best lawyer I have ever had." [36]

Proper or not, eugenics had overnight been packaged into an officially recognized and prestigious science in the eyes of those who counted.


Some four hundred delegates from America and Europe gathered at the University of London in late July of 1912, where for five days a diverse assemblage of research papers were presented exploring the social science and heredity of man. Two French doctors reviewed Parisian insanity records for the previous half-century. Alcoholism as an inheritable trait was debated. But the proceedings were dominated by the U.S. contingent and their theories of racial eugenics. Galton's hope of finding the measurable physical qualities of man, an endeavor named biometrics, had become passe. One leading eugenicist reported, "'Biometry' ... might have never existed so far as the congress was concerned." Indeed, Galton's chief disciple, Karl Pearson, declined to even attend the congress. [37]

Instead, the racial biology of America's ERO, and its clarions for sterilization, dominated. The preliminary ABA 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." [38]

One key British eugenicist added that if Galton were still alive and could "read the recent reports of the American Eugenics Record Office, which have added more to our knowledge of human heredity in the last three years than all former work on that subject put together, [he] would quickly seek to set our own work in this country upon the same sure basis." [39]

The medical establishment began to take notice as well, presenting eugenics as a legitimate medical concept. The Journal of the American Medical Association's coverage glowed. JAMA's headline rang out: "The International Eugenics Congress, An Event of Great Importance to the History of Evolution, Has Taken Place." Its correspondent enthusiastically portrayed the eugenicists' theory of social Darwinism, spotlighting the destructive quality of charity and stressing the value of disease to the natural order. "The unfit among men," the JAMA correspondent reported from a key congress speech, "were no longer killed by hunger and disease, but were cherished and enabled to reproduce their kind. It was true, they [society] could not but glory in this saving of suffering; but they must not blind themselves to the danger of interfering with Nature's ways. Cattle breeders bred from the best stocks .... Conscious selection must replace the blind forces of natural selection." [40]

Legitimacy, recognition and proliferation were only the beginning. In 1911, Davenport had authored a textbook entitled Heredity in Relation to Eugenics. It had been published by the prestigious Henry Holt & Co. The volume blended genuine biological observation with bizarre pseudoscientific postulations on personal habits and even simple preferences commanded by one's heredity. "Each 'family' will be seen to be stamped with a peculiar set of traits depending upon the nature of its germ plasm," wrote Davenport. "One family will be characterized by political activity, another by scholarship, another by financial success, another by professional success, another by insanity in some members with or without brilliancy in others, another by imbecility and epilepsy, another by larceny and sexual immorality, another by suicide, another by mechanical ability, or vocal talent, or ability in literary expression." [41]

Davenport's book promulgated a law of heredity that condemned the marriage of cousins as prohibited consanguinity, or marriage of close relatives. "[Should] a person that belongs to a strain in which defect is present ... marry a cousin or other near relative ... such consanguineous marriages are fraught with grave danger." Nonetheless, Davenport and his colleagues extolled the marriage of cousins among the elite as eugenically desired; for example, they commonly pointed to great men, such as Darwin, who married his first cousin. [42]

In the same textbook, Davenport insisted that if immigration from southeastern Europe continued, America would "rapidly become darker in pigmentation, smaller in stature, more mercurial, more attached to music and art, more given to crimes of larceny, kidnapping, assault, murder, rape and sex-immorality." He added a scholarly note about Jews: "There is no question that, taken as a whole, the horde of Jews that are now coming to us from Russia and the extreme southeast of Europe, with their intense individualism and ideals of gain at the cost of any interest, represent the opposite extreme from the early English and the more recent Scandinavian immigration with their ideals of community life in the open country, advancement by the sweat of the brow, and the uprearing of families in the fear of God and the love of country." [43]

Davenport's textbook concluded, "In other words, immigrants are desirable who are of 'good blood'; undesirable who are of 'bad blood.''' [44]

The volume declared that, without question, Mendel's laws governed all human character: "Man is an organism -- an animal; and the laws of improvement of corn and of race horses hold true for him also." In Davenport's mind, this axiom spawned far-reaching social consequences. Applying Mendelian formulas to pauperism, for example, Davenport cited "shiftlessness" as a genuine genetic trait, which could be rated for severity. On page 80 of his textbook, Davenport explained with mathematical authority, "Classifying all persons in these two families as very shiftless, somewhat shiftless, and industrious, the following conclusions are reached. When both parents are very shiftless, practically all children are very shiftless or somewhat shiftless .... When both parents are shiftless in some degree, about 15 percent of the known offspring are recorded as industrious." Not even the sudden onset of a prolonged disease incapacitating or killing the family breadwinner, and thereby creating financial woes for widows and orphans, was an excuse for poverty. "The man of strong stock," Davenport's textbook explained, "will not suffer from prolonged disease." [45]

As a solution to society's eugenic problem, Davenport's textbook strongly advocated for mass compulsory sterilization and incarceration of the unfit, a proliferation of marriage restriction laws, and plenty of government money to study whether intelligence testing would justify such measures against a mere 8 percent of America's children or as many as 38 percent. [46]
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