Eugenics Movement Essay

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The twentieth century American eugenics movement was a social and scientific movement that sought to enhance the genetic quality of the human population through sterilization and selective breeding. Eugenics, the scientific practice and theory of planned breeding and racial purity, was widely popularized by an English polymath, Sir Francis Galton. Galton, cousin of Charles Darwin, supported the idea of selected marriages and breeding, which then spread to countries across the globe. The social Darwinist philosophy of the early twentieth century and the newly developing science of genetics both had an impact on the eugenics movement as it rose in popularity in the United States. The movement was backed by many well known scientists, politicians, …show more content…

Laws such as segregation and Jim Crow helped to enforce the idea of white supremacy in America, along with the re-emergence of the Ku Klux Klan into mainstream culture. A large number of Americans supported the KKK and their philosophies, seeing how there were about 4 million members in the Ku Klux Klan. Because the KKK were public supporters of the white supremacy beliefs, people would often see their writing in newspapers or public spaces. One example of the KKK’s public propaganda is seen in the Park County Herald magazine from Wyoming, the KKK stating, “The Tenants of the Christian Religion. White supremacy…Closer relationship of true Americans”. Because the Klan claimed they were a Christian group, it resonated with many Americans, therefore gaining the support they needed to back white supremacy. This evidence relates to my thesis because it shows how numerous Americans supported white supremacy and the mission to create a pure bloodline, consequently supporting eugenics. Additionally, the white supremacy support in the states created a law that forbade the marriage of mixed-race couples, in an …show more content…

Classism is the widespread prejudice based on social and economic standing. People are treated differently as a result of this type of inequality based on factors including social status, financial status, and intelligence. Eugenicists frequently held the belief that people who lived in poverty had inferior genetic makeup and that their procreation should be restricted or stopped in order to raise the genetic standard of the human population. This resulted in laws that disproportionately targeted the poor and people of color, such as forced sterilization. One of the most memorable forced sterilization cases was Buck v. Bell in 1927, in which the Supreme Court ruled that the forced sterilization of Carrie Buck was not unconstitutional. The image to the left shows Carrie Buck on the left, with her mother Emma Buck. Emma Buck was declared to be feeble minded, poverty-stricken, and sexually promiscuous, and the state of Virginia believed all traits were passed down to her daughter, Carrie. Both Carrie and her mother were forcefully institutionalized at the Virginia Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded, where Carrie became the first involuntarily sterilized person in the United States because she was “unfit” to reproduce, although she already had a daughter who was also considered to be feeble minded.

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