Eugenics was also originally for the ‘greater good’ and would only affect a very few. It was also approved by the Supreme Court in a case called Buck v. Bell.
This is the material I walked the 12th graders through:
This is a quote from Woodrow Wilson, progressive hero, and 2 term President of the USA. Read and discuss:
“Let us go back and distinguish between the two things that we want to do; for we want to do two things in modern society. We want one class of persons to have a liberal education, and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class, of necessity, in every society, to forego the privileges of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks. You cannot train them for both in the time that you have at your disposal. They must make a selection, and you must make a selection. I do not mean to say that in the manual training there must not be an element of liberal training; neither am I hostile to the idea that in the liberal education there should be an element of the manual training. But what I am intent upon is that we should not confuse ourselves with regard to what we are trying to make of the pupils under our instruction. We are either trying to make liberally-educated persons out of them, or we are trying to make skillful servants of society along mechanical lines, or else we do not know what we are trying to do.“
Woodrow Wilson – President of Princeton University,
- An Address to the New York City High School Teachers Association
- January 9, 1909
- Published in High School Teachers Association of New York, Volume 3, 1908-1909, pp.19-31 and Papers of Woodrow Wilson, 18:593-606
What is the concept of eugenics?
Eugenics is the practice or advocacy of improving the human species by selectively mating people with specific desirable hereditary traits. It aims to reduce human suffering by “breeding out” disease, disabilities and so-called undesirable characteristics from the human population.
Today we will learn about one of the most monstrous, and avoided, topics in American History. It was a Progressive dream to manage the population so that it would be improved. Eugenics has been intentionally forgotten about because it was part of the “Scientific Management” of the population. As one would manage farm animals, the people at the Top of the Pyramid made efforts to ‘improve’ the citizenry of the USA. It was typified by the Buck v Bell Supreme Court Case:
“We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes“.[A]
Holmes concluded his argument by citing Jacobson v. Massachusetts as a precedent for the decision, stating “Three generations of imbeciles are enough“. The sole dissenter in the court, Justice Pierce Butler, a devout Catholic, did not write a dissenting opinion.
Assignment – Due 11/29. Please watch the following documentary. We will begin in class. Summarize and comment on why you think this has been ignored by historians, what the morals surrounding Eugenics are all about, and how it parallels events in Animal Farm and in today’s society.
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