|Chapter 4 Progressive-Era Reform Holding on to Hierarchy|
|图书名称：From Savage to Negro:Anthropology and the Construction of Race, 1896–1954|
图书作者：Lee D. Baker ISBN：
出版社：Berkeley: University of California Press 出版日期：1998年
WJ McGee and fair organizers held onto notions of Social Darwinian evolution while fantasizing about reaching "enlightenment" to create a sense of nationalism and reflect the ascendancy of the United States for millions of visitors to the 1904 St. Louis Exposition. Perhaps working-class fairgoers believed that their station in life was the highest in the world once they contrasted themselves to the Pygmies and Negritos, but the euphoric sense of superiority soon dissipated.
In the years before the fair and in the wake of debilitating depressions that concentrated finance and industry, many Americans began to challenge laissez-faire economic policies and the callous deference given to the "survival of the fittest."
Although it is impossible to identify a single or concerted progressive movement, the concerns of agrarian populists, labor activists, and settlement-house organizers in the 1890s gained momentum and galvanized nationwide initiatives to repudiate laissez-faire economic policies, support poor people, and develop regulations for industry and finance.
A new generation of economists and sociologists played an important role in shaping government regulatory reform. Obviously, economics was used to help regulate industry and finance, and sociology was used to help urban planning and relief agencies, but what was anthropology used for in the Progressive Era? Once government regulation of industry and finance became politically popular, it did not stop. State and federal governments began to regulate peoples' bodies and reproductive organs. Crime, immoral behavior, alcoholism, and so-called feeblemindedness were all viewed as social problems with a genetic source. These problems, regulators thought, could be curbed by government controls on "better breeding." During the Progressive Era anthropology and eugenics were used to help develop immigration restrictions and sterilization laws.
Change on the Horizon?
The perils born from unscrupulous and unregulated capitalism were thrown into vivid relief by sensationalist authors and journalists who demanded reform and ushered in the Progressive Era during the first decade of the twentieth century. These authors were collectively known as "the muckrakers." Frank Norris exposed corruption and attacked the Chicago Grain Market in The Pit: A Story of Chicago (1903) and maligned the Southern Pacific Railroad in The Octopus: A Story of California (1901). Ida B. Wells-Barnett detailed the horrors of lynching in A Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynchings in the United States, 1892–1893–1894 (1895) and Mob Rule in New Orleans (1900). Lincoln Steffens exposed graft in various municipal governments in The Shame of the Cities (1904), and Upton Sinclair condemned the reprehensible conditions of the Chicago meatpacking plants in The Jungle (1906). Ray Stannard Baker's Following the Color Line: An Account of Negro Citizenship in the American Democracy (1908) was also representative of this genre, but his book did not have the same impact as the others. Unlike the other muckrakers, Baker did not advocate legislative reform. He merely suggested that education, tolerance, patience, and following "the golden rule" would resolve the deplorable conditions he exposed. In addition to these novels, the same magazines that provided a forum for proponents of racial inferiority also served as a forum for the muckrakers' call for reform.
The public sentiment aroused by the muckrakers was complemented by Theodore Roosevelt's ability to arouse Americans to an awareness of their civic duties. The president fused the need for reform and regulation with appeals for social justice to form a doctrine called the "Square Deal." The deal called for government intervention to ensure equitable relations among four competing interests or sides of a square: farmers, business, labor, and the consumer. Roosevelt's Square Deal emerged as the backbone of his domestic agenda. Racial minorities and women were kept out of the deal and, to a large extent, the purview of the muckrakers' public scorn.
The plight of African Americans during the first decade of the twentieth century was not much better than in the previous decade. Although many Africans Americans in the South were struggling in business, most were relegated to eking out an existence in the lose-lose cycle of share-cropping. Lynchings were slowly decreasing, but attacks on entire communities were on the rise, and these attacks wreaked havoc and terrorized entire Black communities in the South and the North. Labeled as race riots, these pogroms were virtually condoned by public officials as a way to keep Blacks subordinated.
The small town of Statesboro, Georgia, was rocked in August 1904 by an angry mob when two African Americans were accused of the brutal murder of a White farmer's wife and children. The two accused men were sent to Savannah for two weeks of safekeeping in an effort to keep a lynch mob from executing justice with a rope and fagot. When the men returned to Statesboro for trial, they were convicted and sentenced to be hanged. Outside the courtroom the White citizens had worked themselves into a frenzy of race hatred that heightened to a feverish pitch amid aimless chatter about insolent Niggers. When the sentence was delivered, the angry mob surged upstairs, forced itself into the courtroom, overpowered the militia, dragged the two convicted men out to the street, and burned them alive. A wild rampage ensued: innocent bystanders were flogged, a woman with a three-day-old infant was kicked as her husband was killed, homes were destroyed, stores were wrecked, and people and property were set on fire.
Atlanta's most infamous race riot was in September of 1906. During this melee, rural and urban elements of the White community joined together to besiege Black community leaders, destroy property, and wreak havoc. In the following days the riot spilled into the Black section of Atlanta known as Brownsville. Several African Americans in Brownsville attempted to protect themselves and fired rifles at the attackers, killing one police officer and wounding another. The mob threw aside any discretion they had left and set out to level the section. Many people were injured and four were slain in the carnage that rocked Brownsville.
The South was not the only location where riotous carnage took place. Pogrom attacks on African American communities occurred in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Syracuse, New York; Springfield, Ohio; Greensburg and Indianapolis, Indiana; and Decatur, Illinois. Although reform was on the horizon for unscrupulous labor practices, corrupt politicians, and unsanitary food production, heinous crimes committed against African Americans went unabated. The Progressive Era—a watershed in U.S. history—proved to be a nasty backwash for Negroes.
The Racialized Worldview of Theodore Roosevelt
African Americans were cautiously optimistic when Roosevelt assumed the Oval Office after an assassin's bullet took President McKinley's life in 1901. The urgency with which Roosevelt sought to address the Negro question was clear in a letter when he wrote to Booker T. Washington on the day he was sworn into office. "I must see you as soon as possible," Roosevelt insisted. "I want to talk over the question of possible future appointments in the South." This letter set the tenor for the Roosevelt administration's race-relation policies. As Roosevelt stated: "the salvation of the Negro lay in the development of the Booker Washington theory—that is, in fitting him to do ever better industrial work."
Roosevelt did not confront race relations head-on, and the bulk of his efforts were meted out through political appointments that were always made under the advisement of Booker T. Washington. Washington emerged as Roosevelt's advisor on all matters concerning the Negro. After a month in office, Roosevelt invited Washington for dinner at the White House. Although African Americans applauded the gesture, the reaction from the southern press was deafening.
Before his dinner with Washington the southern press gave Roosevelt good marks. Newspapers touted Roosevelt's southern background and military exploits and bragged how he crossed the party line to appoint a Democrat, Thomas Jones of Alabama, to the federal bench. The positive comments came to an abrupt halt when the news broke that Roosevelt had invited Washington to dinner. Benjamin Tillman, senator from South Carolina, suggested that the dinner would "necessitate our killing a thousand niggers" to put them back in their place. Roosevelt's calculated response to the affair was denoted in a letter he wrote to Albion W. Tourgée: "I have consulted so much with him [Washington] it seemed to me natural to ask him to a dinner to talk over this work.
… I did not think of its bearing one way or another, either my own future or on anything else. As things turned out, I am very glad that I asked him, for the clamor aroused by the act makes me feel the act was necessary." Washington's plan for the slow process of Negro uplift through thrift and industry was congruent with Roosevelt's ideas of rugged individualism and the natural inferiority of the Negro race. The president believed that the right to vote should only be bestowed on individual men of the race who worked hard to obtain the vestiges of civilization.
Roosevelt's views and policies concerning African Americans, Native Americans, and the darker races within the protectorates never escaped the vise of turn-of-the-century racialist thought. He framed his notions of race early in life, but they were honed by Spencerian-inspired scientists during the mid-nineteenth century. As a Harvard student, Roosevelt was instructed by Nathaniel Southgate Shaler, who cloaked White supremacy in rhetoric with science. Roosevelt later acknowledged that Shaler strongly influenced his views of race. He tempered Shaler's rhetoric in public, but in private correspondence he did not hold back. In 1899, for instance, he publicly reproduced common stereotypes in a Scribner's Magazine serial he wrote about his Rough Riders' charge of Cuba's San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War:
Roosevelt erroneously concluded that the action taken by the Negro soldiers (the result of jumbled orders) was a display of their innate fear. Although he did not explicitly employ Shaler's views of Negro inferiority in this context, he recounted them practically verbatim when describing the same situation privately: "I attributed the trouble to the superstition and fear of the darky, natural in those but one generation removed from slavery and but a few generations removed from the wildest savagery."
In a 1905 address to the Republican Club of New York, Roosevelt demonstrated that his notion of "separate but equal" was similar to Daniel G. Brinton's ideas in Races and Peoples (1890), Booker T. Washington's at the Cotton States Exposition (1895), and Justice Brown's in Plessy (1896). He cautioned that Republicans had to "keep in mind the fact that there must be no confusing of civil privileges with social intercourse…. Full recognition of the fundamental fact that all men should stand on an equal footing, as regards [sic ] civil privileges, in no way interferes with recognition of the further fact that all reflecting men of both races are united in feeling that race purity must be maintained."
Although Roosevelt's racial ideology was influenced by Shaler, it was also aligned with more tolerant speculations of the day. He adhered to the same neo-Lamarckian view as did Brinton, McGee, Powell, and Putnam—a view espousing racial inferiority but not dismissing the equipotentiality of different races. For example, Roosevelt believed that it was necessary to "give fair play to those [African Americans] who individually rise above the general level," but "as a race and in the mass they are altogether inferior to the whites." He rejected the vulgar struggle for existence and degenerative theories proposed by scholars like Kidd and Hoffman. Roosevelt's ideas on race can be distinguished from the hucksters of White supremacist demagoguery like Madison Grant, Charles Carroll, and William Calhoun, and their legislative cronies, such as Benjamin Tillman, John Sharp Williams, and John T. Morgan.
In 1904 Roosevelt accepted the Republican Party's nomination to head up the ticket. In his acceptance speech he stated that "this government is based on the fundamental idea that each man, no matter what his occupation, his race, or his religious belief, is entitled to be treated on his worth as a man, and neither favored nor discriminated against because of any accident in his position." We can see here a mix of neo-Lamarckian equipotentiality, rugged individualism, and the belief that individuals could pull themselves up by their bootstraps.
Roosevelt's rhetoric about the potential of equality did nothing to erode the construction of race solidified during the 1890s; rather, this construction was strengthened during his administration. Roosevelt's policies were not antiracist. His big-stick diplomacy, assimilationist policies for Native Americans, and overtures to Jim Crow were ways in which people of color were repressed during his tenure. He implemented policies and steered legislation born of the scientific and public discourses of racial inferiority. In turn, he helped create racial inequalities in the United States but explained them as products of nature. The same administration that sought to reform so many other social ills did virtually nothing to reform racism.
The virtual hegemony of Roosevelt's ideas on race was reflected by the fact that many African Americans appropriated the idioms of rugged individualism, self-help, and Social Darwinism. Many African Americans believed that to uplift the race they had to engender racial solidarity. The idea of racial solidarity, during this historic juncture, amounted to focusing on self-help while deferring to ideas of Social Darwinism and consenting to racial segregation and disfranchisement. Struggling entrepreneurs, recipients of political patronage, and the coterie of Washington's Tuskegee Machine found the philosophy of both Washington and Roosevelt congenial to their experiences and their pecuniary interests. The loudest proponents of this view were mostly self-made entrepreneurs whose economic vitality depended on segregation.
Critical to an understanding of the processes of racial construction during this period is acknowledging how pervasive and virtually uncontested the idea of a naturalized racial hierarchy was throughout U.S. society. This ideology pervaded social and educational institutions (both Black and White), popular culture, legislation, literature, and the thought and actions of the president of the United States. Anthropologists were articulating a truly ubiquitous notion of racial inferiority as science, reinforcing it.
Eugenics: Social Darwinism in the Age of Reform?
One of the most popular preachers during the 1880s, Henry Ward Beecher, thought that the cultural and religious differences of immigrants were inconsequential to their enrichment of American blood. Herbert Spencer even provided a direct confirmation of this in an 1882 interview, when he derived from "biological truths" that European immigration to the United States would produce the finest and most adaptable man in the world.
During the Gilded Age hardly any Social Darwinist directly challenged this attitude. The combination of Anglo-Saxonism and U.S. nationalism merged in an optimistic belief that the Anglo-Saxon had a remarkable capacity for assimilating similar races and absorbing their most valuable qualities. Also, European race traits and tendencies seemed too closely connected with the great Gothic family to inspire alarm. Notions about the possibility of assimilating European immigrant populations and the consequent downplaying of differences within and among European nations were necessary components in an effort to contrast, delineate, and categorize the so-called savagery and technological retardation of the lesser races. Racial categories were demarcated by the color line, and it was not until the subjugation of people of color was complete and clearly institutionalized that Eastern European immigrants were fashioned into distinct racial hierarchies. Not until color was, literally, ratified as a badge of inferiority were racial categories constructed for people not considered colored. For example, federal lawmakers denied equality and freedom to people of color by enforcing acts and decisions like the Chinese Exclusionary Act (1882), Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), the Dawes Servility Act (1887), and the Insular Cases (1901–1904). After these acts and constitutional interpretations had time to make people of color separate and unequal by vanquishing their claim to civil rights, fair housing, participatory democracy, and equal opportunity, then and only then did notions of racial inferiority become associated, for a generation, with European immigrants. Science was then used to construct buffer races or intraracial categories of inferiority that were imposed on Italians, Sicilians, Slavs, Hungarians, and Russian Jews during the first two decades of the twentieth century—the height of Eastern European immigration to the United States. However, processes of racial construction stopped short of long-term and widespread institutionalized Eastern European racial categories.
The formation of racial categories along the color line during the 1880s and 1890s was facilitated by the fact that roughly 80 percent of the immigrants who came to the United States between the 1860s and 1900 were from northern and western Europe. But as the century came to a close the number of eastern and southern European emigrants grew two hundredfold, increasing from 2 percent to 70 percent of all arriving immigrants.
By the mid 1890s people began to fear the "vast hordes of ignorant and brutalized peasantry thronging to our shores." Francis Walker, writing for the Atlantic Monthly, urged readers to convince the president and Congress to protect "the American rate of wages, the American standard of living, and the quality of American citizenship … [from] the peasantry from the countries of eastern and southern Europe." Typical of nativist rhetoric, Walker fueled the fear of immigrants by suggesting that the "millions of Hungarians, Bohemians, Poles, south Italians, and Russian Jews" would destroy the Nordic purity of the American stock because they were all "beaten men from beaten races; representing the worst failures in the struggle for existence."
The arriving immigrants did present a political and financial threat to more established Americans because they increased the incidence of diseases in impoverished and crowded inner cities, worked for nonunion wages, and filled the voter rolls, becoming cogs in Democrat political machines. However, powerful nativists couched these threats in terms of the immigrants' contribution to so-called blood chaos in the American stock. Immigrants' party affiliations were even coded with blurred markers of racial and class distinction. For example, one pundit mused:
As urban areas became overcrowded and filled with non-English-speaking, cheap laboring, and culturally distinct people, pre-Civil War nativism was rekindled and fueled anxieties regarding the future of the so-called American stock. Many native-born Americans feared that the "old stock American" would be forever compromised by these lowly peasants. These new immigrants did not completely change identities but preferred to identify themselves by language, food, customs, and neighborhood, which aided new concepts of race that began to take shape in the minds of uneasy nativists. But only the broadest outlines were clear; the pernicious details about immigrant character remained blurred and obscure, the gaps being filled by rumor and stereotypes.
With perfect timing, a new scientific field emerged to fill in the gaps that rumor and stereotypes could not: eugenics, the science of the improvement of the human race by better breeding. The eugenics movement was conceived by scientists in an age of reform to manage a vast array of social problems. Eugenics was employed to stay so-called genetic pathologies, including alcoholism, feeblemindedness, manic depression, rebelliousness, prostitution, nomadism, criminality, and immorality. During the Progressive Era eugenics emerged as a major breakthrough in the application of scientific methods to solve social problems, justify immigration restrictions, and support sterilization laws in more than thirty states. Eugenicists shared with progressives the notion that society could no longer afford to be governed by laissez-faire principles, that it had to be planned and managed according to modern principles of anthropology, sociology, and biology. Eugenicists also shared the rationale that planning and tough-minded legislation would produce an improved society. In this respect, Sir Francis Galton was to Herbert Spencer what John Maynard Keynes was to Adam Smith, both suggesting that the government should manage "natural" competitive processes.
During the first decade and a half of the twentieth century there was movement toward federal regulation. Eugenicists envisioned a way to regulate and manage the racial composition of the United States through better breeding. The shifts from laissez-faire to managed capitalism and from Social Darwinism to eugenics were not merely a matter of chance. The shifts in social and economic paradigms were parallel, each reinforcing the other.
Coming to America: Eugenics and the New Immigrants
Like Social Darwinism, the eugenics movement originated in England and became popular in the United States only when it was used as a scientific buttress for legislation and policies born of racist and nativist sentiments. Francis Galton (1822–1911) initiated the modern eugenics movement late in his life. Galton was born in 1822 and devoted the first half of his career to an array of scientific pursuits: statistics, meteorology, geography, and the study of fingerprints. After reading his cousin Charles Darwin's work On the Origin of Species (1859), he committed the balance of his life to raising "the present miserably low standard of the human race" by regulating the evolutionary process. Galton first used the term eugenics in 1883 and insisted that each individual receives at birth a "definite endowment" of certain qualities like "character, disposition, energy, intellect or physical power." It is these, he argued, "that go towards the making of civic worth." When Galton first developed eugenics he did not attract much attention on either side of the Atlantic. In 1901, however, he won critical acclaim for delivering "The Possible Improvement of the Human Breed under the Existing Conditions of Law and Sentiment," as the Huxley Lecture at the British Anthropological Institute, which was subsequently printed in both Nature and Popular Science Monthly . In it he explained how "the possibility of improving the race of a nation depends on the power of increasing the productivity of the best stock," a goal "far more important than that of repressing the productivity of the worst." Galton wanted "to improve the race … by granting diplomas to a select class of young men and women." He went on in great detail about how to award these special "diplomas" to individual men and women entrusted with advancing the race. The criteria, he suggested, "would take into consideration all favorable points in the family histories of the candidates, giving appropriate hereditary weight to each." For Galton and other eugenicists, women were reduced to objects that only contributed germ plasm to men. Although Galton suggested giving young women special diplomas too, he warned:
Galton concluded by urging people to use science to develop programs for the "improvement of the race," no matter how morally suspect: "We are justified in following every path in a resolute and hopeful spirit that seems to lead toward that end."
The address generated a flurry of public interest in eugenics throughout the United States, at the precise moment many Americans feared the "new" immigration as record numbers of Eastern Europeans were being processed on Ellis Island. Galton's ideas resonated so strongly with the fears of nativist Americans that during the next few years journals were developed, fellowships were endowed, organizations and societies were created, and laboratories were established with the explicit goal of advancing eugenics.
Many of these new institutions honored Galton's contribution to the field by naming their organizations after him. Enthusiasts who took up eugenics came from an array of professional backgrouds, including animal breeding, psychology, anthropology, and economics, and included professionals in social and criminal administration as well as activists for overtly racist and nativist organizations. Although the movement could never claim broad-based popular support, leaders of race-betterment societies shaped important social and immigration policies for the first thirty-five years of the twentieth century by using science, deploying powerful lobbies to Washington, and procuring strong financial support.
Was the eugenics movement another strand of Social Darwinian thought? Eugenics delineated essentially the same racial categories with new jargon. With the misuse of Mendelian genetics, eugenicists attempted to rank-order races and racial characteristics to explain racial inferiority. similarly, eugenics linked social and cultural characteristics to "prove" that different races were positioned in a natural hierarchy, and they revived the long-standing class bias of science by linking poverty to genetic inheritance. Eugenics research was also popularized in the mass media, which in turn helped to spur legislation that institutionalized the repression of people in poverty and of color. What most distinguished practitioners of eugenics from Social Darwinism was the use of Mendelian inheritance, the use of racial categories for Eastern Europeans, and the use of state regulations to "manage" evolutionary processes.
Eugenics researchers also produced results that were identical to those of earlier Social Darwinism when African Americans fell under their probing gaze. In 1918 Paul Popenoe and Roswell Hill Johnson (students of America's most ardent spokesperson for eugenic research, Charles B. Davenport) wrote a definitive work entitled Applied Genetics, which soon became the most popular eugenics textbook in the United States. The authors included a chapter on "The Color Line," in which they proposed that Negroes were inferior to Whites because they had made no contributions to civilization. Moreover, they argued that African Americans' resistance to disease and capacity for intellectual achievement were inferior to those of Whites. Their evidence was gleaned from health statistics gathered in poverty-stricken urban ghettos and scores generated from the new IQ test. Popenoe and Johnson stated that "we feel justified in concluding that the Negro race differs greatly from the White race, mentally as well as physically, and that in many respects it may be said to be inferior, when tested by the requirements of modern civilization and progress."
Theodore Roosevelt was critical of some aspects of eugenics but chimed in to win support for his views on race suicide. In a letter written to Charles B. Davenport on January 3, 1913, he stated that
The eugenics movement also intersected with anthropology. Specifically, it merged with new ideas developing within physical anthropology, spearheaded by Aleš Hrdli ka at the USNM. In 1903 Hrdli ka (1869–1943) became the first curator of physical anthropology at the USNM, and in 1918 he founded the American Journal of Physical Anthropology . He was largely responsible for making physical anthropology a well-defined field within the discipline and in 1929 established the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.
Hrdli ka's early work on evolution blended ideas from Lamarck and Darwin. He proposed that the environment "excited germ plasm," which in turn produced certain traits that offspring could then inherit. When Hrdli ka's results were inconsistent with his predictions, he changed his methods or omitted certain assumptions. He eventually allied himself with influential eugenicists in an effort to bolster his institutional power and strengthen his financial support. Although he has been considered "America's most distinguished physical anthropologist," he was compelled to ask the notorious racists Madison Grant and Charles B. Davenport to serve on the Anthropology Committee for the newly formed National Research Council (NRC). He also permitted John H. Kellogg, industrialist and founder of the Race Betterment Foundation, to buy his way onto the editorial board of the American Journal of Physical Anthropology . Hrdli ka only began to oppose Davenport and company when they began to compete with him for professional power and influence. The intersection between physical anthropology and the eugenics movement was expressed by Hrdli ka in a speech he delivered at American University in May 1921:
The nativist-racist thrust in both science and politics steamrolled through World War I and the Roaring Twenties. The propaganda-style scholarship of Henry Cabot Lodge, Nathaniel Southgate Shaler, Madison Grant, Henry Fairfield Osborn, Charles Davenport, Lothrop Stoddard, and so forth, together with sundry eugenic and racial-betterment societies, fostered beliefs in papal conspiracies, communist threats, and international Jewish financial plots. In addition, they composed a powerful lobby on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures. Eugenicists helped to write sterilization laws and anti-immigrant legislation, including the sweeping immigrant-quota scheme embodied in the Immigration Restriction Act of 1924.
Freedom and Liberty, Reform and Racism
The unique separation of powers in the United States fosters clashes between state and federal governments, as well as among branches within the federal government. Many of these conflicts arose during the Progressive Era, particularly between states' police powers (the ability to maintain laws to ensure health, welfare, and morals) and the Supreme Court's interpretation of section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment.
During the first decades of the twentieth century state governments, the president, and Congress responded to the country's tumultuous changes, but the majority on the Supreme Court did not. The Court held onto ideals and doctrines established during Reconstruction. Laissez-faire constitutionalism was an ideological view that dominated the Court from 1873 to 1908 and remained influential until the New Deal. It was a perspective that integrated several overlapping precepts united by a belief in an ordered society governed by natural laws.
This view had many sources, and some justices reflected it more than others. Its chief component was classical liberal economics, with its commitment to market control of the economy, entrepreneurial liberty, and hostility to government regulation. Social Darwinism was an overlapping element, with its commitment to a natural hierarchy of races and justifications for economic disparity. Laissez-faire constitutionalism also reflected so-called traditional American values like individualism, federalism, and untrammeled competition. Finally, proponents feared social unrest, especially if immigration, labor strikes, and race mixing were not severely curbed. Although these views challenged Roosevelt's Square Deal and state laws mandating reform, they did not challenge the president's approach to race relations or state laws mandating Jim Crow segregation. Whereas the Supreme Court routinely held state laws regulating industries unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment, it upheld state laws mandating racial segregation using the same amendment.
Relying on different themes of Social Darwinism, the Court used similar doctrines to interpret the Fourteenth Amendment cases concerning state laws to regulate businesses and state laws to segregate Negroes. As discussed earlier, the Court found state laws mandating segregation constitutional using the doctrine of separate but equal. Simultaneously, it routinely found state laws mandating business regulations unconstitutional using the doctrine of substantive due process or liberty of contract. Under this doctrine the Court devised a test for the due process clause that evaluated the substantive effect of regulating wages, hours, product quality, and prices. The test used a "reasonableness standard" that weighed states' police power against the common or natural law of an individual's liberty to contract his or her labor. The test tended to privilege the individual but benefit business.
The controversial Lochner v. New York (1905) case exemplifies how the doctrine of substantive due process was applied. In this case, the Court invalidated a New York law limiting the hours bakers could work to ten per day or sixty per week. In 1895 the state of New York passed this legislation after journalist Edward Marshall detailed the squalid conditions of New York City's bakeries in the New York Press . As with other muckrakers, Marshall received support for his crusade. The New York state legislature responded by enacting the Bakeshop Act, which ensured that the health of the workers and the quality of products were not compromised in the tuberculosis-ridden bakeries of tenement-house cellars. Many master bakers, including Joseph Lochner, were affected by this legislation because they ran small bakeshops by working journey-men bakers up to one hundred hours a week. Lochner claimed that the act violated the Fourteenth Amendment by depriving him of life, liberty, and property without due process of law. Opponents of the Bakeshop Act (and other government regulation) based their arguments on laissez-faire economics reinforced by Social Darwinism. Proponents of the regulation based their arguments on the public's right to health and safety.
Justice Peckham, who wrote for the bare majority, recognized that "the employee may desire to earn the extra money which would arise from his working more than the prescribed time, but this statute forbids the employer from permitting the employee to earn it." Like other substantive due process cases, the Court had to decide "which of two powers or rights shall prevail,—the power of the state to legislate or the right of the individual to liberty of person and freedom of contract." The Court found the Bakeshop Act "an illegal interference with the rights of individuals, both employers and employees, to make contracts regarding labor upon such terms as they may think best." In a famous dissent, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. challenged the majority's narrow construction of police powers and its effort to expand the liberty of contract. He recognized that these doctrines reflected the ideas of both Social Darwinism and laissez-faire economics and explained that the Constitution "is not intended to embody a particular economic theory." He attacked what he called the majority's major premise and implored: "The Fourteenth Amendment does not enact Mr. Herbert Spencer's Social Statistics."
Under the doctrine of substantive due processes, legislation that regulated child labor, dangerous conditions, endless hours, and abysmally low wages was found unconstitutional because one's liberty was denied. One's liberty was not denied, however, by legislation that segregated Negroes, forcing them to sit in Jim Crow cars, use "colored-only" bathrooms, and attend inferior schools because that legislation was found constitutional under the doctrine of separate but equal.
The way in which members of the Supreme Court used laissez-faire Constitutionalism was hostile to the health and safety of working men but policed women's right to "liberty of contract" because they were viewed as inferior to men. Only three years after Lochner, the Court in Muller v. Oregon (1908) upheld an Oregon statute limiting the maximum number of hours that a woman could work. Louis D. Brandeis, a tenacious reform lawyer, argued the case. It was similar in many respects to Lochner but involved women in factories and laundries. Brandeis submitted an unusual brief including three pages of legal argument, more than one hundred pages of sociological data, and anecdotal evidence "proving" that women were inferior to men physically and morally. Using his unique brief (a style soon to be known as a Brandeis brief), he convinced the Supreme Court to uphold Oregon's regulatory legislation, forgoing their sacrosanct belief in the liberty of contract. This was a tremendous victory for the National Consumer League and women's rights more generally, but it was not a victory won in the name of equality.
In the Court's unanimous opinion (which, of course, included Holmes's), Justice David J. Brewer explained: "[T]hat woman's physical structure and the performance of maternal functions place her at a disadvantage in the struggle for subsistence is obvious." The state's police powers could therefore abridge women's liberty of contract because "healthy mothers are essential to vigorous offspring, [and thus] the physical well-being of women becomes an object of public interest and care in order to preserve the strength and vigor of the race." Social science was used explicitly by the Court for the first time in Muller to help police a woman's right to work by confirming what many then believed about women's inequality. The Court did not stop at upholding the control of the maximum hours women could work but affirmed the control of particular women's reproductive rights through sterilization. Eugenics was soon accepted by the Court as a justification to uphold sterilization laws imposed on women by state legislators.
Although Holmes vociferously challenged the majority's Spencerian views used to decide Lochner, he was quite sympathetic to notions of evolution and Social Darwinism. He actually believed that the law was both an instrument and a result of natural selection. But he also believed that states should have full sweep of their police powers. Both of these views were made painfully evident when Holmes delivered the majority opinion in Buck v. Bell (1927), affirming a Virginia sterilization statute.
This case concerned Carrie Buck, who gave birth to a child after being raped. Both she and her mother were confined to Virginia's State Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded in Lynchburg because they had scored poorly on the revised Simon-Binet IQ test. The superintendent, Albert Priddy, was ensconced in the eugenics movement and thus believed that Carrie Buck inherited her poor morals and low IQ from her mother and subsequently passed them on to her illegitimate daughter. As a result, he recommended Carrie Buck as a candidate for the eugenical sterilization program at the colony. Buck protested: this program was to mutilate her body and reproductive rights to "prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind." The Supreme Court heard the case in 1925. The attorney for Buck argued that new classes or even races may be brought within the scope of the statute, which would make for more "forms of tyranny … inaugurated in the name of science." Holmes rejected the arguments to prevent Buck's sterilization, and the state cut her fallopian tubes without consent. Holmes explained: "She is the daughter of a feeble minded mother in the same institution, and the mother of an illegitimate feeble minded child." Accepting eugenic research, he suggested that "experience has shown that heredity plays an important part in the transmission of insanity, imbecility, etc." Holmes thus provided his rationale for constitutionalizing the application of eugenic research: "We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the state … in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world…. Three generations of imbeciles are enough."
During this period of rapid transformations the Court played an active role in structuring race, class, and gender in different but interconnected ways. Although never a consistent majority, the Court's imposition of laissez-faire constitutionalism amounted to literally picking and choosing arguments and doctrines to impose its view of an ordered society governed by natural laws. Sometimes they relied on a formalism—using logic and precedent—to defend corporations, but at other times they used social science to justify the inferiority of women. Members of the Court rejected social science, public opinion, and state laws to decide against regulating labor conditions and product quality but deferred to social science, politics, public opinion, and state laws to affirm segregation and sterilization. Whereas the Court used ideas integrated into laissez-faire constitutionalism to defend liberty and freedom during this period, these same ideas were elements of a comprehensive racial worldview that blinded the Court's majority to its abrogation of these same pillars of democracy, thus structuring inequality as the law of the land.
1. Franklin, From Slavery to Freedom, 323.
2. That same year in Brownsville, Texas, the mayor and other White citizens made allegations that Negro troops stationed at nearby Fort Brown killed a man and wounded another. President Theodore Roosevelt dismissed without honor and without a proper investigation an entire battalion of Negro troops.
3. Franklin, From Slavery to Freedom, 324.
4. Elting E. Morison, ed., The Letters of Theodore Roosevelt (8 vols.; Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1951), 3: 149.
5. Ibid., 2: 1169.
6. Roosevelt needed Washington's influence in the South to combat Mark Hanna's influence vis-à-vis McKinley's appointments, and Washington needed Roosevelt to embellish his Tuskegee Machine and bolster the Negro Business League.
7. Elliott M. Rudwick, W. E. B. Du Bois: Voice of the Black Protest Movement (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1982), 87.
8. William L. Ziglar, "Negro Opinion of Theodore Roosevelt" (Ph.D. diss., University of Maine, Orono), 47.
9. Ibid., 141-142.
10. Morison, Letters of Theodore Roosevelt, 3: 190. Albion W. Tourgée was a famous radical Reconstruction lawyer who crusaded for Negro suffrage and desegregation. He wrote two influential books that marshaled support for African American rights in 1879. The first, The Invisible Empire, detailed Ku Klux Klan activity prior to the Civil War; the second, A Fool's Errand, was an autobiographical account of his experiences during Reconstruction in North Carolina. Tourgée was also the attorney for Aldolph Plessy in Plessy v. Ferguson. See Monte M. Olenick, "Albion W. Tourgée: Radical Republican Spokesman of the Civil War Crusade," Phylon 22 (1962): 332-345.
11. Theodore Roosevelt, "The Rough Riders and Men of Action," in The Works of Theodore Roosevelt, ed. Hermann Hagedorn, national ed. (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1926), 11: 276; Emmett J. Scott and Lyman Beecher Stowe, Booker T. Washington, Builder of a Civilization (New York: Doubleday, Page, 1916), ix-xiv.
12. Kwame Anthony Kwame, In My Father's House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 13.
13. Thomas G. Dyer, Theodore Roosevelt and the Idea of Race (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1980), 6. After completing his studies at Harvard University, Roosevelt came under the influence of John W. Burgess, of the Columbia University Law School, who thought that only a few races were fit to rule.
14. Ibid., 7.
15. For an excellent discussion of Roosevelt's serial in Scribner's, see Amy Kaplan, "Black and Blue on San Juan Hill," in Cultures of United States Imperialism, ed. Amy Kaplan and Donald E. Pease (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1993), 219-236.
16. Roosevelt, "Rough Riders," 93.
17. Morison, Letters of Theodore Roosevelt, 2: 1305.
18. Theodore Roosevelt, Address of President Roosevelt at the Lincoln Dinner of the Republican Club of the City of New York, February 13, 1905 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1905), 27-28.
19. Dyer, Theodore Roosevelt, 21.
20. Stocking, Race, Culture, and Evolution, 238-268. Roosevelt developed a sophisticated understanding of the comparative method used by Powell, McGee, and Mason. In Through the Brazilian Wilderness and Papers on Natural History (1914), he adroitly applied the comparative method for sweeping characterizations in his romantic travelogue.
(Theodore Roosevelt, "Through the Brazilian Wilderness and Papers on Natural History," in The Works of Theodore Roosevelt, ed. Hermann Hagedorn, national ed. [New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1926 (1914)], 5: 178).
21. Morison, Letters of Theodore Roosevelt, 2: 102-103.
22. Ibid., 3: 191.
23. Pole, Pursuit of Equality, 280.
24. Thomas Dyer (Theodore Roosevelt, 21-44) demonstrated that Roosevelt's ideas regarding race cannot be divorced from the pervasive Social Darwinian milieu at the turn of the century. As well, many scholars have suggested that ideas about Social Darwinism served as a theoretical underpinning for these policies. See David Burton, "Theodore Roosevelt's Social Darwinism and Views on Imperialism," Journal of the History of Ideas 49 (1965): 103-118; Hofstadter, Social Darwinism, 180; Ziglar, "Negro Opinion of Theodore Roosevelt," 60. At the end of his tenure, he became obsessed with changing what he called "race suicide," which was prompted by the decreasing birthrate of White Americans.
Teasing out specific theoretical particularities between the neo-Lamarckians, Spencerians, and Darwinists is not essential in identifying Roosevelt's adherence to Social Darwinian themes. Carl N. Degler (In Search of Human Nature: The Decline and Revival of Darwinism in American Social Thought [New York: Oxford University Press, 1991], 3-55) has detailed all of the variations of this evolutionary thought.
25. Meier, "Negro Class Structure and Ideology," 266; Stepan and Gilman, "Idioms of Science," 74-76.
26. Higham, Strangers in the Land, 21.
27. Ibid., 22.
28. Ibid., 33.
29. Thomas C. Patterson and Frank Spencer, "Racial Hierarchies and Buffer Races," Transforming Anthropology 5 (1994): 20-27. Something of a precursor of this trend occurred in the early nineteenth century, when racial categories were socially constructed for Irish immigrants (Higham, Strangers in the Land, 4-7).
30. Michael Omi and Howard Winant, Racial Formation in the United States (New York: Routledge, 1986), 65.
31. Francis A. Walker, "Immigration Restriction," Atlantic Monthly 77 (1896): 823.
32. Ibid., 823. Francis A. Walker (1840-1897) followed in his father's footsteps and became a prominent political economist. Like his peer and colleague John Wesley Powell, Walker advanced quickly as a government scientist, becoming superintendent of the Census Bureau in 1870. In 1872 he was appointed professor of political economy and history at Yale's Sheffield Scientific School. While he continued to be involved in government affairs, he lectured part-time at Johns Hopkins University. In 1881 he left Yale University to assume the presidency of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Walker was struck by the 1890 census figures. He saw a "monstrous" rise in the immigration of strange peoples, coupled with a drop in the birthrate of U.S.-born, which compelled him to launch a public campaign to urge the government to restrict immigration (Ross, Origins of American Social Science, 55, 62, 78, 147; Patterson and Spencer, "Racial Hierarchies," 22).
33. Walker, "Immigration Restriction," 829, 828.
34. "The Presidency and Mr. Olney," Atlantic Monthly 77 (1896): 676.
35. Higham, Strangers in the Land, 62-74.
36. Pole, Pursuit of Equality, 284.
37. Garland E. Allen, "Eugenics and American Social History," Genome 31 (1989): 885-887.
38. Ibid., 888.
39. Sir Francis Galton, Hereditary Genius: An Inquiry into Its Laws and Consequences (London: Macmillan, 1925 ), xxvii.
40. Sir Francis Galton, "The Possible Improvement of the Human Breed under the Existing Conditions of Law and Sentiment," Popular Science Monthly 60 (1902): 219.
41. Ibid., 218-233; Sir Francis Galton, "The Possible Improvement of the Human Breed under the Existing Conditions of Law and Sentiment," Nature 64 (1901): 659-665.
42. Galton, "Possible Improvement," Popular Science Monthly, 229.
43. Ibid., 228.
45. Ibid., 233.
46. Tucker, Racial Research, 52; S. Dale McLemore, Racial and Ethnic Relations in America (Needham Heights, Mass.: Simon and Schuster, 1991), 89.
47. Tucker, Racial Research, 52.
48. Ibid., 550.
49. Garland E. Allen, "The Misuse of Biological Hierarchies: The American Eugenics Movement, 1900-1940," History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 5 (1983): 107.
50. Ibid., 114.
51. Ibid., 179.
52. William B. Provine, "Geneticists and Race," American Zoology 26 (1986): 867.
53. Paul Popenoe and Roswell Hill Johnson, Applied Genetics (New York: Macmillan, 1918), 292. The reason the authors gave to condemn miscegenation was similar to ideas that Lewis Henry Morgan had proposed forty-one years earlier, in Ancient Society (1877): "A race of nothing but mediocrities will stand still, or very nearly so; but a race of mediocrities with a good supply of men of exceptional ability and energy at the top, will make progress in discovery, invention, and organization, which is generally recognized as progressive evolution" (Popenoe and Johnson, Applied Genetics, 293).
54. Theodore Roosevelt, "Campaigns and Controversies," in The Works of Theodore Roosevelt, ed. Hermann Hagedorn, national ed. (New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1926), 14: 167-178; Dyer, Theodore Roosevelt, 143-167.
55. Roosevelt to Davenport, January 3, 1913, Theodore Roosevelt Papers, Series I, Reel 355, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
56. Michael L. Blakey, "Skull Doctors: Intrinsic Social and Political Bias in the History of American Physical Anthropology," Critique of Anthropology 7, no. 2 (1987): 12.
57. M. F. Ashley Montagu, "Ale Hrdli ka, 1869-1943," American Anthropologist 46 (1944): 117.
58. Blakey, "Skull Doctors," 12.
59. Ale Hrdli ka, "Lecture 27, Delivered at the American University, May 27, 1921," National Anthropological Archives, National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C., 16. Hrdli ka also detailed this relationship in his "Physical Anthropology: Its Scope and Aims; Its History and Present Status in America," American Journal of Physical Anthropology I (1918): 21.
60. Alexander, "Prophet of American Racism," 73-90.
61. "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
62. Examples of decisions that reflected these precepts included the dissents in the Slaughter House Cases (1873), which initiated the doctrine of substantive due process. Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Co. v. Minnesota (1890), Allgeyer v. Louisiana (1897), Lochner v. New York (1905), and Adkins v. Children's Hospital (1923) employed a doctrine derived from substantive due process known as the liberty of contract. The Court found these state laws that regulated wages and labor conditions inimical to the Constitution because they denied individuals the liberty of entering into a contract. Somehow, the Court did not find state laws denying "colored" individuals the liberty of entering into a hotel, school, or train unconstitutional, as in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). Laissez-faire constitutionalism also supported federalism. In Pollock v. Farmers' Loan & Trust Co. (1895) the Court limited federal taxing power striking down an income tax. It also curbed federal regulatory power. The Court would not even allow federal child-labor laws, as in Hammer v. Dagenhart (1918) and Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Co. (1922). Additionally, the Court showed unconcealed hostility to labor, as in Loewe v. Lawlor (1908), Adair v. United States (1908), and In re Debs (1895).
In The Chief Justiceship of Melville W. Fuller, 1888-1910 ([Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1995], 57-82), James W. Ely Jr. makes a compelling argument that Social Darwinism was not "written into the Constitution" during this period. However, he views Social Darwinism as only scientific theory and suggests that it was Hobbes more than Spencer who was used as the social theorist who guided the Court's jurisprudence. The point here is that Hobbes and Spencer used similar themes about the "natural" order of society. These common themes were among the constituent elements of the racial worldview that Audrey Smedley describes in Race in North America. Perhaps Spencer was not written into the Constitution, but the Court's interpretation of the Fourteenth Amendment reflected a racial worldview of which ideas of evolutionism formed important constituent elements, in turn structuring racial inequality and reinforcing the worldview.
63. Herbert Hovenkamp, "The Political Economy of Substantive Due Process," Stanford Law Review 40 (1988): 379. Substantive due processes was used in such cases as Allgeyer v. Louisiana (1897), where the Court overturned a Louisiana law requiring all corporations doing business with Louisiana residents to pay fees to the state. It was also used in Lochner v. New York (1905), where the Court found a maximum-hours statute unconstitutional. In Adair v. United States (1908) the Court used it to invalidate the Erdman Act of 1898, protecting union members who worked in interstate transportation from signing "yellowdog" contracts or being blacklisted for union activities. This provided the precedent for striking down state laws protecting union employees, as in Coppage v. Kansas (1915). This doctrine of substantive due process, or "liberty of contract," was employed by the U.S. Supreme Court (and other courts) between 1885 and 1937, when the Court began to support New Deal regulatory reform.
Although the Court did not consistently find state regulations unconstitutional, there was a pattern. For example, the Court upheld state laws that regulated land reform and zoning laws as well as maximum working hours for women. During the progressive movement the Court generally struck down state regulations that favored working men, particularly legislation supporting union activities. Land-reform and zoning laws created disputes between merchants and manufactures, not management and labor.
64. Paul Kens, "Lochner v. New York," in The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States, ed. Kermit T. Hall (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 509.
65. Lochner v. New York, 198 US 52-53 (1905).
66. Lochner v. New York, 198 US 57 (1905).
67. Lochner v. New York, 198 US 61 (1905).
68. Lochner v. New York, 198 US 75 (1905). Originally published in 1850, Spencer's "Social Statistics" was abridged, revised, and bound with another essay, "Man versus the State," in 1892. Together, these essays were routinely reissued (in 1892, 1893, 1896, 1897, and 1904). In "Social Statistics" Spencer attacked reform and regulatory legislation by strengthening arguments for laissez-faire with biological imperatives, discarding utilitarian ethics. He framed an ethical standard based on natural rights, in which every man has the right to do as he wishes as long as he does not abrogate the rights of other individuals. Ultimately, the responsibility of the state is to ensure that these natural or common-law rights are not abridged.
69. Laura Kalman, "From Realism to Pluralism: Theory and Education at Yale Law School, 1927-1960" (Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1982), II.
70. Muller v. Oregon, 208 US 421 (1908). Brewer insisted that this judgment did not overturn Lochner. The Court in Adkins v. Children's Hospital (1923) did find it unconstitutional to have a law mandating a minimum wage specifically for women. However, this decision came after the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified and women were given the right to vote. Although many women viewed this as a loss for women's rights, the more radical women in the National Women's Party filed an amicus brief in favor of striking the law down. The party insisted that in the wake of the Nineteenth Amendment, women should be viewed as equal to men. See Karen O'Connor, Women's Organizations' Use of the Courts (Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, 1980).
71. Sheldon M. Novick, "Oliver Wendell Holmes," in The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States, ed. Kermit T. Hall (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 407.
72. Buck v. Bell, 274 US 207 (1927).
73. Fred D. Ragan, "Buck v. Bell," in The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States, ed. Kermit T. Hall (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 98.
74. Buck v. Bell, 274 US 206, 207 (1927).
75. Buck v. Bell, 274 US 207 (1927).
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