American Civilization

February 18, 2009

Racing Science

Filed under: Jim Crow,Machine Age,Race Science,White Supremacy — equiano @ 9:45 pm

Key Terms:

“allochronism”– literally, “other-timing”. When one group places another outside of its own temporal or historical sequence as in the phrase “they’re primitives.”

anthropometry– the measuring of human features. ex. craniometry, the measurement of the skull.


“biogenetic law”– Haeckel’s term for the principle of recapitulation

blood– one of the most powerful metaphors pertaining to race and heredity. “I have Irish blood.” “My friend has Cherokee blood” etc.

“gemmule”– “Darwin’s term for a hypothetical particle of heredity carried by all cells and capable of moving to sex cells, thus permitting a direct influence of environment upon heredity”

Mendelian inheritance– certain characteristics are transferrable from parent to child. The basis of modern genetics.

monogenist: springing from a single source. “one blood”.

neo-Lamarckism– “a popular late 19th century alternative to Darwinism, postulating that adaptations arise as characters acquired by active organic responses to environment and are passed on to offspring by heredity” (Gould). ex. Giraffes go their long necks from generations of stretching to obtain leaves to eat. In human society, parents could acquire characteristics which they might then pass on to their descendants, including moral or intellectual defects.

phylogeny– “the evolutionary history of a lineage, conventionally depicted as a sequence of successive adult stages”

polygenist– “the early and mid-19th century theory that human races are separate species”

racialism– the belief that racial difference exists though no single race is superior to another. The early writings of WEB Du Bois exemplify this notion.

racism– the belief that races are ranked hierarchically in terms of abilities or attributes.

racial senescence– “the theory that lineages, like individuals, pass through prgrammed stages leading inevitably to phyletic exhuastion and death (extinction)”

recapitulation– “the repetition of ancestral adult stages in embyonic or juvenile stages of descendants”. ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny.


rule of hypodescent– the “one drop rule”

white supremacy– the ideology and practice of white social privilege at the expense of other races. Jim Crow, segregation, lynching, Asian exclusion and the convict least system are all examples of white supremacy in action.


“This is a county of white men. And as Long as I am president it will be a government for white men.”

Andrew Johnson

“The conquest of the earth, which mostly means taking it away from those who have slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much.”

–Marlow, in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

“At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races throughout the world.”

Charles Darwin, On the Descent of Man (1871)

To be a Negro in a day like this

Demands rare patience—patience that can wait

In utter darkness.

James D. Corrothers

“Then will the world enter upon a new stage of its history– the final competition of races, for which the Anglo-Saxon is being schooled.”

Josiah Strong, Our Country

“We have only to imagine what America would be to-day if she had fallen… into the hands of any other people than the Colonizing British, to see how vitally important is this question of race. America was indeed fortunate in the seed planted upon her soil…. the American of today remains true to this noble strain and is 4/5 British” (2-3).

Andrew Carnegie,  The Triumph of America (1885)

“It is highly probably that whole nations have regtrograded in the scale of life. Certain savage peoples like the Bushmen and Australians are believed by ethnologists to represent decadent stocks. Wars, famines, the encroachments of superior races, as well as inherent vices, have operated, and are still operating, to destroy entire tribes and races. The gradual extinction of the American Indians and many of the South Sea Islanders illustrates a process of degeneration that is going on in our own time.”

George Dawson (1896)

“Poverty, even, is sweeter to them than confinement. Naturally they become warlike and predatory in their habits. Assuming that ‘all is fair in war,’ they act upon the principle that ‘might makes right’, whether it be the might of brute force, or savage cunning. The comforts and restrains of social and civil life are not to be compared with trusty weapons and a swift-going steed. Despising governments, they are yet controlled by their emirs, their sheiks, and their traditions. Ishmaelites by descent, they are Ishmaelites in disposition also;  their hand against every many, they trust no an thoroughly, save their own brotherhood. Uncertain, vindictive, and selfish, they are the source of apprehension to every traveler. Living in clans or hordes, for self protection, however, rather than for love’s sake, their one pre-eminent object in life is subsistence– food, shelter, clothing” (21-22).

George Needham “Street Arabs and Gutter Snipes” (1884)


“God has… made us the master organizers of the world to establish system where chaos reigns. He has given us the spirit of progress to overwhelm the forces of reaction throughout the earth. He has made us adepts in government that we may administer government among savage and senile peoples. Were it not for a force as this the world would relapse into barbarism and night. And of all our race He has marked the American people as His chosen nation to finally lead in the regeneration of the world. This is the divine mission of America…. We are trustees of the world’s progress, guardians of its righteous peace.

“What shall history say of us? Shall it say that we renounced that holy trust, left the savage to its base conditions, the wilderness to the reign of waste, deserted duty, abandoned glory?… Our fathers… unfurled no retreating flag. That flag has never paused in its onward march. Who dares halt it now– now, when history’s largest events are carrying it forward?”

–Senator Albert Beveridge, Speech from January 9, 1900.

“Thank God for the iron in the blood of our fathers, the men who upheld the wisdom of Lincoln and bore sword or rifle in the armies of Grant! Let us, the children of the men who proved themselves equal to the mighty days, let us, the children of the men who carried the great Civil War to a triumphant conclusion, praise the God of our fathers that the ignoble counsels of peace were rejected; that the suffering and loss, the blackness of sorrow and despair, were unflinchingly faced and the years of strife endured; for in the end the slave was freed, the Union restored, and the mighty American republic placed once more as a helmeted queen among nations” (5).

Theodore Roosevelt, “The Strenuous Life” (1899)

“The cyclone of civilization rolled westward; the forests of untold centuries were swept away; streams dried up; lakes fell back from their ancient bounds; and all our fathers once loved to gaze upon was destroyed, defaced, or marred, except the sun, moon and starry skies above, which the Great Spirit in his wisdom hung beyond their reach.”

– Simon Pokagon, “The Red Man’s Greeting” at the 1893 Columbian Exposition.

“My thoughts, the thoughts of Washington, Trotter and others, were the expression of social forces more than of our own minds. These forces or ideologies embraced more than our reasoned acts. They included physical, biological and psychological forces; habits, conventions and enactments. Opposed to these came natural reaction: the physical recoil of the victims, the unconscious and irrational urges, as well as reasoned complaints and acts. The total result was the history of our day. That history may be epitomized in one word– Empire; the domination of white Europe over black Africa and yellow Asia, through political power built on the economic control of labor, income and ideas. The echo of this industrial imperialism in America was the expulsion of black men from American democracy, their subjection to caste control and wage slavery. This ideology was triumphant in 1910”

– WEB DuBois, Dusk of Dawn.

Beginnings: Race is a Lie

10929_2_03, Miss Richard Wachira

The paradox of Race is that it is a lie which has produced a kind of truth; it is a true lie.

The fundamental instability of the Race Concept is illustrated by the various ways in which it has been “explained” by experts over the last 400 years. At different moments Race has been linked to physical characteristics, culture, language, religion, geography and what we would now call ethnicity. Just as telling is the fact that over the course of time experts have designated from 3 to 60 different races. Race, then, as  a concept, is fatally incoherent. Nonetheless, from these often contradictory fragments, public policies, practices, and popular beliefs we can construct an American (US) “racial worldview”.

1. All the world’s peoples can be divided into biologically separate, discrete, and exclusive populations called races. A person can belong to only one race.

2. Phenotypic features, or visible physical differences, are markers or symbols of race identity and status. Because an individual may belong to a racial category and not have any or all of the associated physical features, racial scientists early in the 20th century invented an invisible internal element, “racial essence,” to explain such anomalies.

3. Each race has distinct qualities of temperament, morality, disposition, and intellectual ability. Consequently, races have different behaviours that are linked to their physical differences; i.e. each race has distinct behavioral traits.

4. Races are unequal. They can, and should, be ranked on a gradient of inferiority and superiority. As the 19th-century biologist Louis Agassiz observed, since races exist, we must “settle the relative rank among [them].”

5. The behavioral and physical attributes of each race are inherited and innate, therefore fixed, permanent, and unalterable.

6. Distinct races should be segregated and allowed to develop their own institutions, communities, and lifestyles, separate from those of other races.

There is no biological foundation for the Race Concept. Pick any two so-called white people and analyze their DNA. The odds are extremely likely that their genetic profiles would be less similar to one another than to a randomly chosen person of color. In other words, there is greater genetic variation within a so-called racial group than between different so-called racial groups.

Or take a tribe of chimpanzees from East Africa. There is more genetic variation within that single tribe than over the entire human species.

The biological definition of race is a sub-species, which is to say “a population of organisms differing from others of the same species in the frequency of heredity traits.” No such divergence of hereditary traits exists in the human species.

Phenotypical characteristics such as hair texture, facial or eye structure, melanin content of the skin, etc. are irrelevant. They tell us nothing about the individual. It is by giving these features semantic weight– social meaning– that the Race Concept gains currency. That we choose to note these superficial differences– we could even say construct them– is thus an ideological imperative in the sense that the Race Concept is asserted 1) as a content to have something of importance to tell us about members of different races 2) as a form to structure our thinking itself.

On the other hand, as a biological fiction Race has very real social consequences. Race– like gender and class– is a determinant of human experience and, as sociologists say, “life chances.” So Race is a biological lie which has produced a kind of social truth.

The above is a baseline for any intelligent discussion of Race.

A Rough Timeline of Race Theory with Key Concepts and Thinkers

Prior to the Age of Discovery (pre-15th century) there are few theories of human difference. The rise of deepwater navigation brings greater contact between disparate populations and thus increased speculation on human biological diversity. Some thinkers turn to the Christian bible as a source of information to explain apparent differences between groups. For instance the book of Genesis, in which Ham, the son of Noah is cursed: “cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren” (9:21-15). The curse of Ham blackened the skin of his descendants, it was thought, yet there is no textual evidence in the bible for this belief. It was only between the 2nd and 6th centuries CE that another sacred text, the Babylonian Talmud claimed Ham’s sons were black. Other biblical passages claimed that all the races were a single species born of one creation, as in Acts: God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth” (17:26).

Ancient cultures had no consistent belief in racial difference. The Race concept gained credence only at the same moment when the early stages of capitalism commenced and with the rise of slavery.

1440: Portuguese traders hold the first public slave auction in Lagos.

1445: The Pope allows Portuguese to subject all “infidels” to servitude.

1455: the island of Arguin becomes a fortified slave market.

1466: Cape Verde archipelago discovered. King of Portugal grants settlers a monopoly on the African slave trade.

1470: 83% of slaves in Naples are black Africans from the sub-Saharan region.

Late 16th century:

the word “Negro,” borrowed from Portuguese, enters the English language.

the word “race” enters the English language as a rough synonym for type, sort or kind.

1590 SPENSER F.Q. II. xii. 8 Seagulles..And Cormoyraunts, with birds of ravenous race. 1648 HERRICK Hesper., On Spalt (1869) 226 Of pushes Spalt has such a knottie race. 1715-20 POPE Iliad V. 66 Expert..In woods and wilds to wound the savage race. 1783 JOHNSON Let. to Mrs. Thrale 20 Nov., I hope [her disease] is not of the cephalick race. 1823 SCOTT Peveril xxv. (motto), Amidst the faded race of fallen leaves.

we can also see race used to describe wine

1520 WHITINTON Vulg. (1527) 15 This is a cup of good romney, and drynketh well of the rase.

and as a term related to reproduction:

1. a. The offspring or posterity of a person; a set of children or descendants. Chiefly poet.

1570 FOXE A. & M. II. 1841/1 Thus was the outward race & stocke of Abraham after flesh refused.

1520: Paracelsus, a Swiss physician, argues for a separate creation (polygenism) on the basis of the biblical story of Cain and Abel (darker people are the children of Cain).

1619: first enslaved Africans arrive in British N. America (Jamestown, VA). This is a key moment in the development of the white race. Though initially European descended indentured servants and enslaved Africans possessed virtually the same social status, and no European thought of themselves as “white,” over the course of the 17th century distinctions began to be made.

Lucilo Vanini argues that Africans are descended from apes; as proof, their color. More broadly around this time is the spread of the notion that sub-Saharan Africans are inferior. See for instance Elizabethan drama: Shakespeare criticizes this idea in Othello and seems to confirm it in Titus Andronicus, as does the character of Eleazar in Christopher Marlowe’s Lust’s Dominion.

Spanish conquest and colonization. The Ottoman Empire blocks European expansion to the east and thus impels movement westward across the Atlantic. The Spanish enslave indigenous people such as the Arawak (1,500 men, women, and children by 1495) which sparks a debate about the relative humanity of Native Americans (de Las Casas). The Americas will, over many years, register as the single most important setting/situation for philosophers and scientists interested in human difference.

1684: Francois Bernier undertakes the first formal effort to classify humans.

1774: Edward Long, The History of Jamaica: “the Negro” is “void of genius” and “incapable” of civilization. A separate species.

1758: In Systema Naturae, (10th edition) Linneaus argues for 4 basic categories of human being: Americanus, Africanus, Europaeus,and  Asiaticus.

1781: Notes on the State of Virginia: ” I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind.”

1791: Haitian Revolution enflames the imaginations of people of African descent and the paranoia of slave-holders.

late 1700s: Buffon argues that black people are the product of hotter climes with more sunlight. Over time darker skin becomes hereditary. On the other hand, Laplanders have relatively dark skin because of the extreme cold. Petrus Camper, a Dutch anatomist, develops the science of physiognimy, studying facial angles of various races as they relate to those of apes.


In general, 18th century naturalists agreed that there was a hierarchy of races, but tended to be monogenists. At the turn into the 19th century that would change as polygenism was revived.

1795: JF Blumenbach coins the term “Caucasian” in his On the Natural Variety of Mankind (pdf). He also argues for 5 races– Caucasian, Mongolian Ethiopian, American and Malay– on the basis of skin color and cranial size. This last additional race designation, according to Stephen Jay Gould, changes the theoretical “geometry” of race. Race distinctions go from being largely geographical and temperamental– a kind of linear model of difference–  to hierarchical.

1799: Charles White publishes Account of the Regular Gradation of Man:

“Where shall we find, unless in the European, that nobly arched head, containing such a quantity of brain, and supported by a hollow conical pillow, entering its centre? Where the perpendicular face, the prominent nose, and round projecting chin? Where that variety of features, and fullness of expression; those long, flowing, graceful ringlets; that majestic beard, those rosy cheeks and coral lips? Where that erect posture of the body and noble gait? In what other quarter of the globe shall we find the blush that overspreads the soft features of the beautiful women of Europe, that emblem of modesty, of delicate feelings, and of sense? What nice expression of the amiable and softer passions in the countenance; and that general elegance of features and complexion? Where, except on the bosom of the European woman, two such plump and snowy white hemispheres, tipt with vermillion?”

Note the aesthetic valuation of race here. As Stephen Jay Gould points out, aesthetic criteria for the hierarchizing of races was (and is) fairly common. In the Mismeasure of Man, Gould cites Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Oliver Wendell Holmes remark on the extermination of the North American indigenes:”and so the red-crayon sketch is rubbed out, and the canvas is ready for a picture of manhood a little more like God’s image.” As we’ll see, the concept of manhood is a crucial component of white supremacy.

Late 18th/Early 19th centuries: The rise of Anglo-Saxonism. Drawn in part from Tacitus’ Germania, published in the late 1st century CE which describes the Germanic tribes who fought Rome.

“For my own part, I agree with those who think that the tribes of Germany are free from all taint of intermarriages with foreign nations, and that they appear as a distinct, unmixed race, like none but themselves. Hence, too, the same physical peculiarities throughout so vast a population. All have fierce blue eyes, red hair, huge frames, fit only for a sudden exertion. They are less able to bear laborious work. Heat and thirst they cannot in the least endure; to cold and hunger their climate and their soil inure them.”

Theodore Parker: “‘the ethnological idiosyncrasy of the Anglo-Saxon– his restless disposition to invade and conquer other lands; his haughty contempt of humbler tribes which leads him to subvert, enslave, kill and exterminate; his fondness for material things, preferring these to beauty; his love of personal liberty, yet coupled with the most profound respect for peaceful and established law; his inborn skill to organize things to a mill, men to a company, a community, tribes to a federated state; and his slow, solemn, inflexible, industrious and unconquerable will’” (100).

1839: Samuel Morton publishes Crania Americana.

1840s: Louis Agassiz emigrates from Switzerland to the US and becomes a professor at Harvard and director of the Museum of Comparatize Zoology. Originally a monogenist (in large part because of his Christian beliefs) he undergoes a kind of negrophobic panic when he first encounters African Americans in Philadelphia. The experience is so powerful for Agassiz that he eventually embraces polygenism. He rejects the criterion of interfertility for species in order to do so.

“As much as I try to feel pity at the sight of this degraded and degenerate race, as much as their fate fills me with compassion in thinking of them as really men, it is impossible for me to repress the feeling that they are not of the same blood as us. Seeing their black faces with their fat lips and their grimacing teeth, the wool on their heads, their bent knees, their elongated hands, their large curved fingernails, and above all the livid color of their palms, I could not turn my eyes from their face in order to tell them to keep their distance, and when they advanced that hideous hand toward my plate to serve me, I wished I could leave in order to eat a piece of bread apart rather than dine with such service. What unhappiness for the white race to have tied its existence so closelv to that of the negroes in certain countries! God protect us from such contact!” (letter to his mother, Dec. 1846)

We know of the existence of the negro race, with all its physical peculiarities, from the Egyptian monuments, several thousand years before the Christian era. Upon these monuments the negroes are so represented as to show that in natural propensities and mental abilities they were pretty much what we find them at the present day,–indolent, playful, sensual, imitative, subservient, good-natured, versatile, unsteady in their purpose, devoted and affectionate, in everythink unlike other races, they may but be compared to children, grown in the stature of adults while retaining a childlike mind…. Therefore I hold that they are incapable of living on a footing of social equality with the whites, in one and the same community, without being an element of social disorder.” (letter, 10 Aug. 1863)

Agassiz began to work with Samuel Morton, a physician with a vast collection of human skulls (over one thousand at the time of his death). This was a very significant meeting of two men who would become celebrated scientists. Morton’s goal was to quantify human inequality by measuring the size of skulls and thus brains, a practice known as craniometry. Morton’s largest sample of skulls were Native American of which he possessed 338. The reason he had so many was because of the scalp bounty on Indians. Also, it is likely that there were more female and children’s skulls in that sample becuase these would have been the easiest to harvest.

1850: Robert Knox publishes The Races of Men in which he argues that democracy is a product of the Teutonic race.


1853: Comte de Gobineau, frequently referred to as the father of modern racism, publishes his Essay on the Inequality of Races which posits three major races: White, Yellow and Black. Within the White race are different sub-groups which are also races: Aryan, Nordic, Alpine and Mediterranean. The Aryan white race he held to be the purest. Americans were profoundly influenced by Gobineau’s ideas, which became the foundation for Nazi race theories especially in their emphasis on purity and the consequences of miscegenation.

1854: Nott and Gliddon publish Types of Mankind. Grouping by geography, physiology and language, they arrive at 8 different races: Arctic, Asiatic, European, African, American, Polynesian, Malayan, and Australian.

1857: Dred Scott Case. No one of African decent may be a citizen.

Herbert Spencer publishes Progress: Its Law and Cause, a work that seems to anticipate Social Darwinism before Darwin’s On the Origins of the Species is published.

1859: Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life is published. This is a watershed event.


With the publication of the Origin of the Species the polygenic theory seemed to have been refuted definitively, though many monogenists still relied on the biblical account of creation as the authoritative source for that view. The notion that humanity shared a common source did nothing to undermine the belief that the races were inherently unequal in their difference and thus inequality flourished, from the persistence of phrenology and Peter Campers’ “facial angle” which divided physiognomy into the orthagnous and prognathous categories, a system resurrected by congressmen debating the 15th amendment, to the study of differences in the size and texture of brains or the distinction between the properties of hair.

The project for the measurement of human difference was almost always undertaken in the service of hierarchizing various groups. The failure to establish any clear-cut distinctions that withstood the demands of scientific method did little to impede the search for some definitive means of justifying racial hierarchy and if some methods such as phrenology became the object of satire and charges of quackery, new methods were being developed which would prove even more resilient.

Late 19th Century: Race is a “fact” of everyday life. There is still a vast confusion about where it begins and ends, what its causes and ultimate consequences are. At the same time white supremacy is simply a given for white Americans.

1860s: Black Codes

1866: Ku Klux Klan organized in Pulaski, Tennessee. From 6 former Confederate soldiers it rapidly increases in membership.

1869: Charles Darwin’s cousin, Francis Galton, publishes Hereditary Genius which argues for the innate superiority of the English upper classes. Eventually he would develop the photographic method of “composite portraiture” to generate ‘ideal’ or averaged human (criminal) types.


1870s: Anti-Chinese movement in the American West.

1871: On the Descent of Man by Charles Darwin.

1877: RB Hayes pulls troops from the South, in effect betraying freedmen and signaling the end of Reconstruction.  White supremacy in the form of new local laws and political terror immediately worsens.

1882: Chinese Exclusion Act.

Alphonse Bertillon develops an anthropometric system for the idenification of criminals.


1883: The Civil Rights Act of 1875— establishing the right of all citizens to the “full and equal enjoyment of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of inns, public conveyances on land or water, theaters, and other places of public amusement”–is overturned by the Supreme Court.

1887 : Mound Bayou founded as an alternative to a white supremacist society. All black town.

1890s: Jim Crow fully established. Alfred Binet develops tests to measure mental ability which leads to the Stanford-Binet IQ.

1895: The Atlanta Compromise Speech by Booker T. Washington in which he essentially accedes to segregation.

Ida B. Wells publishes A Red Record.

1896: Plessy v. Ferguson

1898: Spanish-Cuban-Filipino-American War.

Wilmington “Race Riot”. Unknown number of African American citizens murdered in what amounted to a white supremacist insurrection. Yet Collier’s Weekly represents the even with the following image:


1899: Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden”


H.T. Johnson’s “The Black Man’s Burden”:

Pile on the Black Man’s Burden,

‘Tis nearest at your door,

Why heed long bleeding Cuba

Or dark Hawai’s shore;

Halt ye your fearless armies

Which menace feeble folks,

Who fight with clubs and arrows

And brook your rifles’ smoke.

Pile on the Black Man’s burden,

His wail with laughter drown,

You’ve sealed the Red Man’s problem

And now deal with the Brown.

In vain you seek to end it

With bullet, blood or death,

Better by far defend it

With honor’s holy breath.

Pile on the Black Man’s Burden,

His back is broad though sore,

What though the weight oppress him,

He’s borne the like before,

Your Jim crow laws and customs,

And fiendish midnight deed,

Though winked at by the nation

Will some day trouble breed.

Pile on the Black Man’s Burden,

At length ’twill heaven pierce,

Then on you or your children

Will reign God’s judgments fierce:

Your battleships and armies

May weaker ones appall,

But God Almighty’s justice

They’ll not disturb at all.

1890s?-1910s?: The Blues.

1899-ca. 1913: Philippine-American War. Many African American soldiers are struck by the racism directed against Filipinos by white troops. Methods used to suppress the “insurrection” include lynching, collective punishment and torture– acts that are rationalized on racist grounds.


1900: Gregor Mendel’s experiments in heritability are re-discovered after 35 years of obscurity.

Paul B. Barringer in The American Negro: His Past and Future (1900) writes that “‘sociological problems are in most cases biological problems [because] the ontogeny is the repetition of the phylogeny [and] the life history is the repetition of the race history’. The inborn characteristics of the Negro had been formed by natural selection during ‘ages of degradation’ in Africa and his savage traits could not have been altered in any significant way by a mere two centuries of proximity to Caucasian civilization in America. Thus his present ‘reversion to type’ was understandable. Lacking the discipline of slavery, ‘the young negro of the South… is reverting through hereditary forces to savagery.’” (253).

1903: WEB DuBois’ The Souls of Black Folk.

1904: St. Louis World’s Fair showcases recently conquered people of the Philippines and a Congolese man named Ota Benga who would, 2 years later, be displayed next to an orangutan at the Bronx Zoo.

1910: Eugenics Record Office founded


1913: HH Goddard publishes The Kallikak Family

Dec. 7, 1915: President Woodrow Wilson, in his third address to Congress states that

“I am sorry to say that the gravest threats against our national peace and safety have been uttered within our own borders. There are citizens of the United States, I blush to admit, born under other flags but welcomed under our generous naturalization laws to the full freedom and opportunity of America, who have poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life; who have sought to bring the authority and good name of our Government into contempt, to destroy our industries wherever they thought it effective for their vindictive purposes to strike at them, and to debase our politics to the uses of foreign intrigue…. Such creatures of passion, disloyalty, and anarchy must be crushed out. They are not many, but they are infinitely malignant, and the hand of our power should close over them at once. They have formed plots to destroy property, they have entered into conspiracies against the neutrality of the Government, they have sought to pry into every confidential transaction of the Government in order to serve interests alien to our own. It is possible to deal with these things very effectually. I need not suggest the terms in which they may be dealt with.”

1917: Robert Yerkes– with the help of HH Goddard, director of the Vineland Training School for Feeble-Minded Girls and Boys, and others– develops an IQ test  which is given to 1.75 million Army recruits whose “average mental age… stood just above the level of moronity at a shocking and meagre 13” (Gould 226).

Nov. 7, 1919: Over 10,000 “suspected” communists and anarchists– many if not most recent immigrants– arrested in the first wave of what comes to be known as the Palmer Raids. Three months later another 6,000 people are arrested and held without trial.

1920: Lothrop Stoddard publishes The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy.

Mid-1920s: KKK membership as high as 5 million in the US.


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