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Event Title

How Did Eugenics Become So Quickly Accepted in America?

Date

4-10-2021

Location

Online

Description

The "science" of eugenics, or grouping people into categories of genetically inferior and superior, thrived during early 20th century America. While the term "eugenics" was only first coined in 1883 England by Francis Galton, it did not take long for the concept to garner attention and support. While Galton advocated for "positive eugenics," pushing for marriage between those considered to be of the "best stock," a competing school of thought called "negative eugenics" quickly caught fire in the United States. Negative Eugenicists argued that undesirable inferiors (immigrants, people of color, paupers, unmarried mothers, the disabled, the mentally ill, etc.) needed to be identified and controlled so that their inferior hereditary traits could not spread within America. Proponents of eugenics promoted their ideas to the American people as necessary for the country’s future well-being. Due to the fear of inferior populations consuming supposedly superior populations, eugenics was outwardly accepted within America and resulted in new kinds of restrictive marriage laws, immigration laws, and state-sanctioned involuntary sterilization laws. Ultimately, the American eugenics movement of the 1920s culminated with the decision of Buck v. Bell, which affirmed American eugenic fears of human differences as something that needed to be controlled by law.

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Poster

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How Did Eugenics Become So Quickly Accepted in America?

Online

The "science" of eugenics, or grouping people into categories of genetically inferior and superior, thrived during early 20th century America. While the term "eugenics" was only first coined in 1883 England by Francis Galton, it did not take long for the concept to garner attention and support. While Galton advocated for "positive eugenics," pushing for marriage between those considered to be of the "best stock," a competing school of thought called "negative eugenics" quickly caught fire in the United States. Negative Eugenicists argued that undesirable inferiors (immigrants, people of color, paupers, unmarried mothers, the disabled, the mentally ill, etc.) needed to be identified and controlled so that their inferior hereditary traits could not spread within America. Proponents of eugenics promoted their ideas to the American people as necessary for the country’s future well-being. Due to the fear of inferior populations consuming supposedly superior populations, eugenics was outwardly accepted within America and resulted in new kinds of restrictive marriage laws, immigration laws, and state-sanctioned involuntary sterilization laws. Ultimately, the American eugenics movement of the 1920s culminated with the decision of Buck v. Bell, which affirmed American eugenic fears of human differences as something that needed to be controlled by law.