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 The Eugenics Creed One year after William Z. Ripley’s lecture at the HalfMoon Club confirmed for Madison Grant the dangers that immigration posed to the Nordic race, Grant had to face another kind of crisis. On the morning of Sunday, June 13, 1909, his sister Kathrin Manice Grant died suddenly , at the age of just thirty-six. It was, of course, a shocking personal blow to Grant, and he spent the entire summer in mourning. Madison was the firstborn, and Kathrin the only daughter; hence it had always fallen to those two to care for their aging parents and two brothers. Neither he nor Kathrin had ever married; both had grown up and lived in the same house together all their lives. (In fact, for decades all the Grant siblings, their parents, and their wives shared the same residence on East Forty-ninth Street, one block east of where Rockefeller Center is today. It was not until 1926 that Madison, at the age of sixty-one, finally moved into a place of his own—though he did not stray far: his new residence on Park Avenue, across the street from the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, was just around the corner from the family home, and his brother DeForest moved in next door to Madison.) In addition to the disturbing speculations of Ripley, Gobineau, et alia about the impending demise of the Nordic race, Grant now had to deal with an actual death within his own family. The dying of his younger sibling must have given the forty-four-year-old patrician, possibly for the first time, intimations of his own mortality. Stunningly, just five months later, on November 8, Grant’s father, Dr. Gabriel Grant, also passed away. It was obviously a time of great emotional turmoil for Madison. To the eldest son, the death of his father— the paterfamilias and heroic recipient of the Medal of Honor—was devastating. Grant went into seclusion for A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth a good fruit. Matthew 7:17, 18 some months, and we can guess that during this time his thoughts turned to the subjects of death, impermanence, and extinction. And the passing of the sister and the passing of the father may well have become intertwined with thoughts of the passing of the race. I do not think it an accident that it was around this time that Grant, searching (I believe) for personal and philosophical solace, embraced eugenics. As someone who lacked religious convictions, and who liked to think of himself as a scientist, eugenics offered to Grant—in a time of personal anguish—a body of thought that provided meaning to his existence and direction to his life. A Faith Is Born Eugenics was founded by the remarkable Sir Francis Galton (1822–1911), who believed that personality characteristics—including intelligence—are just as heritable as physical characteristics. Born into a wealthy family in Birmingham , England, Galton trained as a physician at the order of his father. But, like Houston Stewart Chamberlain, he was plagued at school (and for the rest of his life) by constant headaches and the occasional nervous breakdown. Luckily, like Chamberlain, he was financially independent and never had to work for a living. He left Cambridge without completing his degree and spent the rest of his existence, like Madison Grant, exploring, hunting, and enjoying the life of a gentleman scientist. Galton was obsessed with numbers and was one of the founders of the field of statistics; he devised a number of important tools used to this day (including the correlation coefficient and the law of regression). He also satisfied his predilection for quantification by engaging in less academic pursuits, such as using a sextant to covertly measure the buttocks of Hottentot women, tabulating the number of fidgets in an audience to determine its level of boredom, and constructing a “beauty map” of Great Britain by assigning a rating of “attractive ,” “indifferent,” or “repellent” to the women he passed on the street (it turned out that London had the most beautiful women, and Aberdeen the least). And, being British, he also collected reams of data on all the variables (temperature of the water, amount of water, amount of tea, etc.) that went into making the perfect cup of tea. Galton seemed to be interested in anything and everything, as long as numbers and measurements were involved. During his fascinating career, he led expeditions...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781584658108
Related ISBN
9781584657156
MARC Record
OCLC
667076920
Pages
508
Launched on MUSE
2012-07-31
Language
English
Open Access
No
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