Category Archive: Progressive Era

Taussig: The breeding of men, eugenics, and progress. 1911

SOURCE: Frank Taussig, Principles of Economics, Volume II, 1911.  Pages 233-237. This movement is steadily extending, and is gradually affecting not only those who are usually thought of as being in a more special sense “native born,” but the descendants of the immigrants as well. The influence of free institutions and of free opportunities is …

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Eugenics as a Religion and Social Darwinism, Collin Wells

Source: Dr. Collin Wells, “Social Darwinism” a paper presented in 1907, found in The American Journal of Sociology, pages 706-709 Finally, what is the evolutionary value of certain ideals? Let us take individualism, the ideal of democracy, which has tacitly figured in many of the phenomena to which I have already referred. Let us go …

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E.A. Ross and the Difference in Races

Source: E.A. Ross, discussing ‘Social Darwinism’  in American Journal of Sociology 12 (March 1907), 715. Strongly attracted as I am by the hopeful and noble views that have been expressed, I cannot but feel that Dr. Wells’s is right.  The theory that races are virtually equal in capacity leads to such monumental follies as lining …

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Sterilization Like Vaccination!

The argument that compulsory sterilization was justified on the same grounds as compulsory vaccination was common, and eventually won Supreme Court Sanction in Buck vs. Bell. Source: “Sterilization: A Progressive Measure?”  In Wisconsin Magazine of History, Spring of 1960,  wisconsin-sterilization-progressives-21585 As Dr. T.W. Williams of Milwaukee wrote, the fate of the present [compulsory sterilization] bill …

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Objections to Compulsory Sterilization “are essentially sentimental.”

While eugenics today is castigated as ‘pseudoscience,’ the eugenicists themselves might say that the chief difference between progressives then versus now, is the latter is hindered by ‘sentimentality.’ E.A. Ross, Letter to Charles McCarthy, January 30, 1907.  (As found in Rudolph J. Vecoli’s “Sterilization: A Progressive Measure” in Wisconsin Magazine of History, Spring 1960.  LINK: wisconsin-sterilization-progressives-21585 …

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Sydney Webb: The parasites should not be allowed to compete as wage-earners, for it prevents natural selection from working…

Sydney Webb in Industrial Democracy (regarding the minimum wage) – 1920  The problem of the Unemployable is not created by the fixing of a National Minimum by law. The Unemployable we have always with us. With regards to certain sections of the population, this unemployment is not a mark of social disease, but of social …

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Eugenics Quote of the Day: ‘Defective (ie, ‘disabled’) people should not be allowed to reproduce for the good of the state.’ RZ Mason, mayor of Appleton, WI

R.Z. Mason, mayor of Appleton, WI, “The Duty of the State in its Treatment of the Deaf and Dumb, the Blind, the Idiotic, the Crippled and Deformed, and the Insane.” [Source] In the progress of modern civilization, the state has come slowly to a recognition of certain duties and obligations to these unfortunate classes.  At …

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The Duty of the State in the Treatment of the Deformed: R. Z. Mason, Appleton WI, 1879

R.Z. Mason, mayor of Appleton, WI, “The Duty of the State in its Treatment of the Deaf and Dumb, the Blind, the Idiotic, the Crippled and Deformed, and the Insane.” [Source / Italics added, bold text added] In the progress of modern civilization, the state has come slowly to a recognition of certain duties and …

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Leon Cole on the Social Body and Our Duty to Future Generations

From The Relation of Philanthropy and Medicine to Race Betterment by Leon J. Cole, University of Wisconsin, at the First Conference for Race Betterment (1914) Among those who have in their treatment of this subject emphasized the importance of the natural selection viewpoint may be mentioned especially Herbert Spencer, Francis Galton, and Karl Pearson, the …

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Letter by Theodore Roosevelt to Charles Davenport: Society should not permit degenerates to reproduce their kind.

From The Outlook, January 3rd letter of 1913 [Source] My dear Mr. Davenport: I am greatly interested in the two memoirs you have sent me.  They are very instructive, and, from the standpoint of our country, very ominous.  You say that  those people are not themselves responsible, that it is “society” that is responsible.  I …

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