Essay about The American Eugenics Movement

Essay about The American Eugenics Movement

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The idea of eugenics was first introduced by Sir Francis Galton, who believed that the breeding of two wealthy and successful members of society would produce a child superior to that of two members of the lower class. This assumption was based on the idea that genes for success or particular excellence were present in our DNA, which is passed from parent to child. Despite the blatant lack of research, two men, Georges Vacher de Lapouge and Jon Alfred Mjoen, played to the white supremacists’ desires and claimed that white genes were inherently superior to other races, and with this base formed the first eugenics society. The American Eugenics Movement attempted to unethically obliterate the rising tide of lower classes by immorally mandating organized sterilization and race based experimentation.
     The first step in its movement to uphold the social status of white supremacists was to create a scientific base on which to build the belief that eugenics was ultimately a good cause. Eugenicists, as the scientists responsible for the genetic “research” at the time liked to be called, had absolutely no proof that traits such as intelligence or strength were hereditary, or how to identify them. That being the case, they deferred from the science and focused more on a propaganda front for their theories. Calling immediately for sterilization would be too abrupt a change, people would refuse and resistance might rise up, so eugenicists merely stated their theory for the public. The reaction was to be expected; people heard a “scientific theory” and believed it as fact without question. People started to conform to this new idea, and it became almost a requirement for the upper class to have larger families, because it was better for society. Then came the “Fitter Families” contests, which supposedly determined whether or not you had good genes based on a series of tests or challenges (Selden 7). Slowly society began to polarize into separate groups: the ones that knew, or thought they knew, that they were the best, and the ones that were told they never could be.
With these new boundaries formed, eugenicists began their own “testing”, classifying people as either superior or inferior based on the size of their pocket book or their social connections. Families across the country rushed to be tested and deemed genetically fit, or otherwise...


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...ll those who believe that they deserve to live and reproduce, and that there are others who shouldn’t. Because of the American Eugenics Movement, the U.S. lost almost an entire generation of lower class children, and created laws that blatantly violate a persons rights as a human being. All to conserve the status quo of the nation, to ensure that those in power would stay in power, if only for a little bit longer.
















Works Cited

Allen G.E.. “Flaws In Eugenics Research”. 2001 New York: Cold Spring Harbor Lab. Archives.
Carlson, J.. Traits Studied By Eugenicists. 1996 LA: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
Cravens, H.. “White America”. 1991 Richmond: White American Society.
Perkins, H.F.. A Decade of Progress in Eugenics: Scientific Papers of the Third International Congress of Eugenics. 1993 Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins Company.

Lombardo, P.. “Eugenic Laws Restricting Immigration”. 2003 New York: National Human Genome Institute.

Selden, S.. “Popularization of Eugenics”. 2001 New York: National Human Genome Institute.

Thorndike, E.L.. Funding the Eugenics Movement. 1989 New York: Century Company.
Weismann, A.. A Study of American Intelligence. 1994 New York: Howard Fertig Co.

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