Essay about The American Eugenics Movement

1455 Words Jul 15th, 2005 6 Pages
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 attempted to unethically obliterate the rising tide of lower classes by immorally …show more content…
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 from countries such as Italy or Spain into the U.S. would be essentially contaminating the gene pool, adding inferior traits to a dominant society (Weismann 37). That is the conclusion the I.R.L. came to, and that is why they set up tests at Ellis Island to determine whether or not each immigrant met the specifications to enter our country. The traits that constitute denial of entry, as of 1917, were as follows:
"all idiots, imbeciles, feebleminded persons, epileptics, insane persons…,"
"persons of constitutional psychopathic inferiority…, and"
"mentally or physically defective…," (Lombardo 5)
These definitions of the "socially inadequate" were presented to the house of representatives by Harry H. Laughlin and agreed upon to set the standard for all incoming immigrants not of Norse descent.
These two horrible acts were the

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