FACE THE FACTS: “Our social problems have a basis of heredity that can no longer be rejected.”



Says Dr. Charles B. Davenport, director of the Carnegie Institution’s eugenics research center at Cold Spring Harbor, New York, interviewed for New York Times article on his work,

that is making for the betterment of the human race in general, and in particular of America; that aims to reduce the Nation’s percentage of crime and dependence and save the country much of the present immense cost of caring for its criminal, its feeble-minded, its insane; that has as one of its objects the better preservation of happier homes.

Dr. Davenport runs “the country’s clearing house for scientific race investigation,” and it is through the collection and publication of data that Dr. Davenport seeks “to bring about race progress and to lessen race deficiency.” There is a need to collect massive amounts of data because eugenics is “concerned not only with imbeciles and epileptics but with the average middle-class family and with the genius as well.”

Based on study of the first two years of statistics, Dr. Davenport reports:  “Marriage with a person of ‘bad blood’ will tend to drag down the inheritance of ‘good blood.'”  His wife is his assistant.  She rejects “the idea that there is anything freakish about eugenics”:  “The eugenist is simply a sane, sensible, well-balanced person, who works, sanely, for the betterment of the race.” The eugenics movement simply urges “that human bloodlines be relieved of the worst things, that these worst lines be cut off as much as possible,” Mrs. Davenport said. One wonders whether there is anyone in Europe who might be agreeable to such an approach.

The result, Dr. Davenport says, will be to enhance the predominance of the best blood lines, such as the “pure scholarly race” reflected in “the remarkable Dwight-Woolsey family of scholars,” and the “social leadership” race found in “the great families of Boston in the early part of the nineteenth century, and the first families of Virginia:

Just as we have strains of scholars, of military men, of lazy sots, so , too, we have strains of paupers, of sex offenders, of feeble-minded of other sorts; strains with epilepsy, strains with strong tendencies toward larceny, assault, lying, running away; strains with a lack of resistance to tuberculosis, to cancer, to excessive nervous stress.  The hereditary basis of our social problems is of the first importance.

The obvious solution, Dr. Davenport concludes, as to these bad strains, if “you value humanity,” is to segregate them from the rest of society and, above all, to “keep them from reproducing their kind.” The existence of prejudice against eugenics, Mrs. Davenport adds, is due to ignorance on the subject.

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3 Responses to FACE THE FACTS: “Our social problems have a basis of heredity that can no longer be rejected.”

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