The idea of eugenics was first introduced by Sir Francis Galton, who believed that the breeding of two wealthy and successful members of society would produce a child superior to that of two members of the lower class. This assumption was based on the idea that genes for success or particular excellence were present in our DNA, which is passed from parent to child. Despite the blatant lack of research, two men, Georges Vacher de Lapouge and Jon Alfred Mjoen, played to the white supremacists’ desires and claimed that white genes were inherently superior to other races, and with this base formed the first eugenics society. The American Eugenics Movement Essay attempted to unethically obliterate the rising tide of lower classes by immorally mandating organized sterilization and race based experimentation.
The first step in its movement to uphold the social status of white supremacists was to create a scientific base on which to build the belief that eugenics was ultimately a good cause.
Eugenicists, as the scientists responsible for the genetic “research” at the time liked to be called, had absolutely no proof that traits such as intelligence or strength were hereditary, or how to identify them. That being the case, they deferred from the science and focused more on a propaganda front for their theories. Calling immediately for sterilization would be too abrupt a change, people would refuse and resistance might rise up, so eugenicists merely stated their theory for the public. The reaction was to be expected; people heard a “scientific theory” and believed it as fact without question. People started to conform to this new idea, and it became almost a requirement for the upper class to have larger families, because it was better for society. Then came the “Fitter Families” contests, which supposedly determined whether or not you had good genes based on a series of tests or challenges (Selden 7).
Slowly society began to polarize into separate groups: the ones that knew, or thought they knew, that they were the best, and the ones that were told they never could be.
With these new boundaries formed, eugenicists began their own “testing”, classifying people as either superior or inferior based on the size of their pocket book or their social connections. Families across the country rushed to be tested and deemed genetically fit, or otherwise. While all this was going on, eugenics fans blazed across the country toting such propaganda as “Some Americans are born to be a burden on the rest” (Carlson 4), while claiming that it is the duty of the superior to ensure that the “feebleminded” did not over-run them. The hype among the higher upper class was to prove yourself worthy of being especially genetically adept, no matter what background you hailed from (the hypocrisy of this is terrible). Only when eugenicists began to actively sterilize patients did an opposite reaction to eugenics present itself.
Sterilization “on eugenic grounds” (Lombardo 1) was not legalized until 1907 in Indiana, but doctors across the nation practiced the procedure illegally before even then. Generally, the patient didn’t know about the sterilization until after the act was done, at which point they were informed of their “feeblemindedness” or other social disorder. Within 17 years of the law being instated, a recorded 3000 people were sterilized, and thousands more suspected off the record. The range of reasons for being sterilized was infinite, ranging from genuine mental disorders such as schizophrenia, to things as pointless as “excessive masturbation” (Selden 13).
It was upon seeing these tests that scientists such as Thomas Hunt Morgan took up arms to challenge eugenicists’ basis for these experiments (Allen 2).
While doctors continued to enforce sterilization on those they deemed unworthy to reproduce, the government was looking for a way to effectively cut all minorities out of the U.
S.. The Immigration Restriction League was in charge of defining who could and who couldn’t enter the U.S. legally as an immigrant; unlike today, in 1911 it was legal for the I.R.
L. to simply turn away anyone from a particular country, given a logical reason. Eugenics was, at the time, a logical reason, and eugenicists had deemed white, specifically Norse, races to be superior to others. Therefore, letting immigrants .