Eugenics In America Essay

Eugenics Essay

1545 Words7 Pages

Eugenics, the word that got its bad reputation years ago through an event that changed history: the Holocaust. First dubbed by Francis Galton in the 1880’s, the word Eugenics stemmed from the words “good” and “generation.” (Eugenics-Meanings) Eugenics means the study of or belief in the possibility of improving the qualities of the human species or a human population. This improvement is done through discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits (negative eugenics); or encouraging reproduction by persons presumed to have inheritable desirable traits (positive eugenics). (Contemporary)There have always been heated discussions over right or wrong, moral or immoral concerning…show more content…

This interpretation of eugenics paved the way for this “Final Solution.” Following these events, the United States became increasingly concerned over its support of the practice. In 1939, after considerable reflection, the Eugenics Research Organization dropped this practice and stopped using the word in their publication name. (Eugenics-Meanings) Following those events, Eugenics was still studied but very quietly due to the new overall judgment by the people.
The Jewish Holocaust was one of the most tragic and terrifying events in the history of the world. Within only 2 years, five and a half million Jewish people were killed. (Sparks) The world stood aghast as the word spread of this mass genocide. It was also known that behind the genocide was Eugenics, an attempt at creating a master race through genetic engineering. Many children lost their parents and their lives because of this corrupt belief. An entire population was wiped out at the hands of a man that makes most people cringe: Adolph Hitler and his accomplice, Josef Mengele. He was fascinated and intrigued by this new technology that developed in the United States in the 1930’s. This technology gave him this idea and rationale for his master race movement. This was the negative reputation Eugenics received and rightfully deserved. Creating a perfect human is what Hitler tried to do in the 1930’s. Is there any guarantee that eugenics would be more socially acceptable

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Eugenics Movement Essay


Ashley Bell

Stop # 536

Mr Hepler

U.S. History II: 1877 - Present

1 November 2010

Eugenics Movement in America

Eugenics is a class of genetics and a social movement that is centered on improving the genetic make-up of the human population by getting rid of undesirable genes carried by individuals. Eugenics is a word of Greek origin that is made up of the words 'Eu' and 'Genics'; which means good and generation or origin respectively. Therefore, the word literally means 'Good Generation or Origin'. Eugenics is largely based upon Darwin's theory that seeks to explain the evolution of civilization by using the hypothesis of "man's descent from animal"; in the case of humans it was a gradual evolution from 'apes'. The theory is based on the premise that all things living and non-living have a common ancestor and that all life is related in one way or another.

The origin is from a 'simplistic ancestor'; however, with the passage of time subsequent mutations modified the genetic composition and gave rise to different species and eventually, the world took its form as we know it today. The theory further presumed that the survival of various species that emerged as results of the mutations were the result of simple adaptive mechanism to the ever-changing environment.

The stronger species survived by passing on the desirable traits on to their progeny; however, the species that couldn't adapt and their genetic code were not desirable enough soon perished and became extinct (Gross, et al 1983, Pp 450-458). This is known as a process of 'Natural selection' that is stronger species are favored by nature and thus, are the ones who survive in the end. Therefore, the main foundation of the eugenics movement was to eliminate those, who were deemed as undesirable segments of the human population and thereby, promote reproduction amongst races that were believed to possess a very desirable genetic composition.

Darwin further pointed out that all attributes and traits of an individual are inherited and Darwin's non-theistic explanation for the origin of ethics in The Descent of Man (1871): "He pointed out that other animals live in societies and cooperate, and the social instinct producing this cooperative behavior is heritable. In humans the social instincts have developed further than in most other species, and, harnessed together with expanded human cognitive abilities, produced what we call morality. The mechanism producing the increase in social instincts was, according to Darwin, natural selection through the struggle for existence. Those groups with more cooperative and self-sacrificing individuals would out-compete those groups with more selfish individuals" (p. 22).

Even though, Darwin himself was sceptical of his theory and has stated that if an organism was...

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