Eugenics in America Essay

Eugenics in America Essay

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Eugenics in America


Eugenics profoundly impacted the culture of the twentieth century. Coined in 1893 by Sir Francis Galton, it studied the heredity and selection of favorable traits. Born out of the social tumults of the late nineteenth century, it represented the Western elite’s attempt to protect itself from so called “inferior” cultures of the colonies and “new wave” immigration.

The late eighteenth century was a turbulent time throughout America. An influx of immigrants packed into massive cities such as New York and Chicago. As opposed to previously northern European immigration, a wave of “new” immigration in the 1890’s brought immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, who vastly differed culturally and religiously from their northern European counterparts. Some immigrants brought radical ideologies with them such as Marxism, anarchism, and monarchism, which completely differed from the American ideals of free markets, elections, and democracy. The massive influx of people crowded into sordid city blocks brought a slew of social problems such as alcoholism, poverty, murder, rape, and violence. Coupled with falling birth rates among the elite and rising birth rates among immigrants, Anglo-culture sought out an answer to defend itself against the “siege” of “inferior” cultures.

The late nineteenth century saw the rise of “eugenics” throughout academia. Founded by Francis Galton (the word came into existence in 1893), eugenics was the study of the selection of favorable traits in society. Deeply influenced by Darwin, Galton published his first eugenicist tract in 1865 Hereditary Genius, which posited that man’s strength, talent, and skill is passed down genetically fr...


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...“degenerate” or “inferior.” Popularized in the early twentieth, it manifested itself throughout American culture from textbooks to advertisements for household goods. Eugenics represented American culture’s vain attempt to grapple with non-western European cultures and cope with a quickly evolving social landscape.

Bibliography

Dolan DNA Learning Center, Cold Spring Laboratory, http://www.eugenicsarchive.org/eugenics/

School of Mathematics and Statistics at St. Andrew’s University

http://www-gap.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Galton.html

Pucker, Johnathan, History in the Influences of Intelligence Theory and Testing

http://www.indiana.edu/~intell/galton.html

Linden, Jeremy

http://students.vassar.edu/jelinden/galton.htm

McCleymer, Professor at Assumption College

http://www.assumption.edu/users/McClymer/his394/contagion.html

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