Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Straining Credulity: Eugenics and America By Scott Preston Collins

Straining Credulity

Eugenics, when most people hear or read this word they think of Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. They think of race purity and white supremacy. Justifiably so, as it's basic tenants found outward and grotesque expression within that degenerate and evil atmosphere of hate. Few people know or understand this suedo science and its origins. “EUGENICS is the science which deals with all influences that improve the inborn qualities of a race; also with those that develop them to the utmost advantage.” 

(1) Sir Francis Galton has been dubbed the “Father of Eugenics”.  In his 1865 article “Hereditary Talent and Character” and his 1869 book “Hereditary Genius”,  Sir Francis Galton invented the ideas and practices of Eugenics based on his cousin Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution in Darwin’s book “Origin of Species.” Galton believed that certain mechanisms of natural selection were potentially threatened and spoiled by human activity. “He reasoned that, since many human societies sought to protect the underprivileged and weak, those societies were at odds with the natural selection responsible for extinction of the weakest; and only by changing these social policies could society be saved from a "reversion towards mediocrity", a phrase he first coined in statistics and which later changed to the now common "regression towards the mean.”

(2) In Galton’s introductory opening to his book “Hereditary Genuis,” he wrote, “ I propose to show in this book that a man's natural abilities are derived by inheritance, under exactly the same limitations as are the form and physical features of the whole organic world. Consequently, as it is easy, not with standing those limitations, to obtain by careful selection a permanent breed of dogs or horses gifted with peculiar powers of running, or of doing anything else, so it would be quite practicable to produce a highly-gifted race of men by judicious marriages during several consecutive generations.”

(3)Galton first coined the term Eugenics in his 1883 book entitled “Inquiries Into Human Faculty and Its Development.”(4) The goal of this discourse was to implement social policies that created people with desirable qualities and virtues as envisioned by the elite upper class. (In America, racist eugenics ideas were in use before Galton.)

The group of people that would grab a hold of these ideas included Charles B. Davenport, Albert E. Wiggam, Sir Julian S. Huxley, George B. Shaw, Bertrand Russell, Arthur H. Estabrook and Walter A. Plecker. Of these, for the purpose of this article, the first and last two men would become important in understanding the influence and direct actions taken by the Eugenics program in the United States and the subsequent present day actions by award winning researchers of Melungeon/MixedBlood/Tri-Racial/ Native American heritage.

Charles B. Davenport was an American scientist. He was responsible for the implementation of the ideas of eugenics not only in America, but around the world. He was involved in the sterilization programs of the United States and had a strong influence on Nazi Germany’s Holocaust.

(5) Davenport received his funding from the Carnegie Institution of Washington to direct and found the Biological Experiment Station at Cold Spring Harbor in 1904 and the Eugenics Records Office in 1910. In 1925 Davenport became the founder and first president of the International Federation of Eugenics Organizations.(6) Other prominent figures in this circle of evil were Ernst Ruden, Alfred Ploetz, Harry Laughlin, Havelock Ellis, Irving Fischer, Eugen Fischer, Madison Grant, Lucien Howe and Margaret Sanger of Planned Parenthood.

Arthur H. Estabrook, “Dr. Arthur Howard Estabrook was born on May 9, 1885, to Arthur Francis and Susan Rebecca (Breck) in Leicester, Massachusetts. Estabrook earned the A.B. degree in 1905 and the A.M. in 1906 from Clark College in Worcester, Massachusetts. He was a fellow and assistant in zoology at Clark in 1906-1907. Estabrook received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins in 1910 and was a student at the School of Philanthropy in New York in 1914. Estabrook married Jessie McCubbin on October25, 1911, and married Anne Ruth Medcalf on July 8, 1931, after his first wife's death. He worked in the Eugenics Record Office of Carnegie Institution of Washington (1910-1929) and served as a special investigator for the Indiana State Commission on Mental Defectives (1916-1918). Estabrook traveled to Virginia on behalf of the Eugenics Record Office to study the issues and people involved in the Virginia sterilization case of Carrie Buck.

Estabrook served in the U.S. Army in 1918-1920 as a Captain in the Sanitary Corps. He began working for the American Society for the Control of Cancer in 1929 and served as president of the Eugenics Research Association in 1925-1926.”(7) Estabrook began publishing his work in 1912. His article “The Jukes in 1915”, was published in Paper No. 25 of The Station For Experimental Evolution At ColdSpring Harbor, Carnegie Institution, 1916, Washington, D.C. This article was a re-analyzing of the work that Richard Dugdale had written about in his 1877 study entiteled “The Jukes: A Study in Crime, Pauperism, Disease, and Heredity.” Estabrook argued that heredity created the undesirables as opposed to Dugdale’s argument that environment was the key factor. 

Estabrook conceived the plan of action that such undesirable families were to be thwarted and restricted from reproducing since, by his estimations, environmental changes would have no affect to change genetic propensity for criminality. “He was only one of many who used the Jukes family to prove the uselessness and wastefulness of social improvement and to advocate for heredity-controlling legislation, eugenic segregations, and sterilization.”(8) Estabrook and Davenport together published a study in 1912 entitled, “The Nam Family: A Study in Cacogenics.” This was only one of several studies and publications sponsored and paid for by John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie and E. H. Harriman. In 1926 Estabrook published “Mongrel Virginians: The Win Tribe,” along with Ivan Eugene McDougle, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Dept. of Genetics, The Williams & Wilkins Company, 1926.{Ivan E. McDougle was an investigator: "The Investigators," Ivan E. McDougle and assistants (Gwendolyn Watson, Martha Lobingier, Eleanor Harned), in Amherst County, Virginia}. 

Estabrook’s compiled studies, notes and publications can be accessed at  His racist work is voluminous to say the least, and his involvement in the suppression of Native American and African American mixed bloods is evident.

Walter A. Plecker was a doctor and public health advocate. Plecker moved to Hampton, VA in 1892 and became the public health officer in 1902. He helped to found and served as the first registrar for Virginia’s Bureau of Vital Statistics beginning in 1912 and held that office until 1946. He was a white supremacist and an avid purveyor of eugenics belonging to his local chapter of the white supremist group the Anglo-Saxon Clubs of America founded in 1922 by John Powell at the College of William and Mary. Plecker felt that the Native American population in Virginia had become “mongrelized” from intermarriage with African Americans.  Plecker’s writings are legion, however in "The New Virginia Law To Preserve Racial Integrity", Virginia Health Bulletin, v. 16, extra no. 2, March 1924, he began a campaign to disenfranchise Native American Indians in Virginia. Continued ranting from Plecker can be seen in, "Virginia's Attempt to Adjust the Color Problem", The American Journal of Public Health, 15 (February 1925), pages 111–115. 

The following statement is obtained regarding the Pamunkey and Mattaponi, “Their example has been an incentive for the non-reservation Indian people, who, around the time of the Civil War, began to resurface as identified enclaves. In the early 1900s, these enclaves reorganized into tribes. The move by Indian descendants to form tribes was seen as a threat by some people who wanted to keep the white race "pure." Led by Dr. Walter A. Plecker, a group called the Anglo-Saxon Club of America prevailed upon the General Assembly to pass the Racial Integrity Law in 1924. According to this law, in matters of births, marriages, and deaths, the Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics recognized only two races—white and black. U.S. Census figures in 1930 showed 779 Native Americans living in Virginia; by 1940, the figure dropped to 198. 

In effect, people of Indian descent did not exist. Since the Indians were not accepted into white churches and schools, they opened their own. However, Indian schools in Virginia did not go beyond seventh grade until the late 1950s.”(9) In order to understand more fully these campaigns against Indain mixed bloods in Virginia we must go back to 1843. Many of the purveyors of the idea that any African blood negated or ended treaties with Indian tribes began in earnest with the Thomas W.S. Gregory Petition of January 1843, “…it alleges that they allowed free Negroes to live on the reservation and marry their people “until their Indian character has vanished,” and therefore their two reservations should be sold and the people dispersed. 

No evidence is presentedand no details are provided to prove these allegations. Instead, most of the petition is about the white signers’ belief about free non-whites in general: the supposedly bad character of all such people (the “badness” being described at length), the threat they presented to a slave-owning community, and the“necessity” of removing all of them from Virginia. The petition is expressly aimed at removing from the state the “anomalous institution” of a legally constituted free non-white community. Calling the Pamunkeys “Mulattoes” and asserting that they were no longer the kind of Indians for whom the colonial government had established the reservations was a way of doing it legally.”(10)

During this 1940 to 1943 time period Frank G. Speck was in the process of field study and aiding the Virginia tribes in their efforts to gain recognition. When the efforts began to cover-up Indain heritage Speck advised the Indians to gather affidavits from their white neighbors. Plecker countered by banning Specks books from Virginia’s libraries. Unfortunately this was an embarrassment to Speck as a professional and Speck left the field studies of Virginia and the Indians therein. Fortunately there were others that had stepped in previously to the 1940’s and subsequent to that decade. Supporters such as James Mooney, John Swanton, Steven Weeks, Swan Burnett, Hamilton McMillan and others would be the first line of defense for the beleaguered tribes of the East. 

Supporting such actions and biased conclusions of the eugenics mongers, you will find the following researchers and writers that either supported, or cited as reference, these eugenicists; William H. Gilbert, Jr., Edward T. Price, Calvin Beale and Thomas J. Harte.

William Harlen Gilbert, Jr. in 1946 published, “Memorandum Concerning the Characteristics of the Larger Mixed-Blood Racial Islands of the Eastern United States” in a periodical called Social Forces. This article has been utilized on a regular basis from then till now.

Edward T. Price, in 1950, submitted his doctoral dissertation entitled “Mixed-Blood Populations of Eastern United States as to Origins, Localizations, and Persistence” at the University of California. In April of 1951 he published an article called “The Melungeons: A Mixed-Blood Strain of the Southern Appalachians” in the Geographical Review published by American Geographical Society. In June of 1953 he published,  “A Geographic Analysis of White-Negro-Indian Racial Mixtures in Eastern United States” in the Annals of the Association of American Geographers.

Calvin L. Beale, in December of 1957,published “American Tri-racial Isolets: Their Status and Pertinence to Genetic Research” in the Eugenics Quarterly. In June of 1972 he published “An Overview of the Phenomenon of Mixed Racial Isolates in the United States” in the American Anthropologists in co-operation with the American Anthropological Association.

Thomas J. Harte, in March of 1959, published “Trends in Mate Selection in a Tri-Racial Isolate” in Social Forces, a periodicalproduced by the University of North Carolina.
 During the time between 1940 and 1975, these men and their faulty biased work would impact the Native American mixed blood community through erasure in the records both statistical and academic. Lies compounded upon lies which were based on biased blatant racism and white elitist supremacy.


(1)The American Journal of Sociology,VolumeX; July, 1904; Number 1,”Eugenics: Its Definition, Scope, and Aims”, by SirFrancis Galton.

(3) Sir Francis Galton, “Hereditary Genius”, chapter 1

(4)Edward J. Larson, “Evolution”, 2004, pg. 179; and Sir Francis Galton,“Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development”, 1883, pg 17, {see footnote1}.

(5)Edwin Black, “War Against the Weak: Eugenics andAmerica's Campaign to Create a Master Race”, pg. 293

(6)Edwin Black, War Against the Weak:Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race”, pg. 40, 47 and 240

(7)“Who's Who in America”, 1935-1936 edition, Marquis; and, accessed August 14th,2011.

(10) HelenC. Rountree, “Pocahontas’s People: The Powhatan Indians of Virginia Through FourCenturies”, pg. 194, see notes 61-64. {(61)LegislativePetitions, King William County, January 20, 1843. (62)Legislative Petitions,King William County, November 26, 1842, and January 12, 1843.(63)This assertionis refuted by firsthand observations of Gatschet, Mooney, and Pollard in thelate nineteenth century (see below).(64)The “Pamunkeys” in the petition areactually the Pamunkeys and the “Mattaponis,” since both reservation tracts arementioned. Apparently the counterpetitions were written on behalf of theresidents of both reservations tracts, whose administrative title was“Pamunkey.”}

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