Abstract

Abstract:

During the Civil War, the U.S. Sanitary Commission was much more than a philanthropic soldier-relief organization. It also engaged in what commission president Henry Bellows called "truly scientific work," work that Bellows believed was the commission's main chance at "being valued as men of mark in time to come." A significant portion of that scientific work consisted of a large-scale endeavor to identify and catalog anatomical and physiological evidence of racial inferiority in the bodies of African American soldiers. Using the tools of anthropometry and social surveys, the northern white members of the commission expressed their commitment to an increasingly intransigent racial essentialism that endured long after the wartime destruction of slavery.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2159-9807
Print ISSN
2154-4727
Pages
pp. 647-676
Launched on MUSE
2018-12-03
Open Access
No
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