Defending the Master Race

Defending the Master Race

Conservation, Eugenics, and the Legacy of Madison Grant

eBook - 2009
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"Scholars have labeled Madison Grant everything from 'the nation's most influential racist' to 'the greatest conservationist that ever lived.' His life illuminates early twentieth-century America as it was heading toward the American Century, and his legacy is still very much with us today, from the speeches of immigrant-bashing politicians to the international efforts to arrest climate change. This insightful biography shows how Grant worked side-by-side with figures such as Theodore Roosevelt. Andrew Carnegie, and John D. Rockefeller, Jr., to found the Bronx Zoo, preserve the California redwoods, and save the American bison from extinction. In commemoration of his conservation efforts, the world's tallest tree, located in northern California, was dedicated to Grant in 1931. But Madison Grant was also the leader of the eugenics movement in the United States. He popularized the infamous notions that the blond-haired blue-eyed Nordics were the 'master race' and that the state should eliminate members of inferior races who were of no value to the community. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Grant's ideas appeared in the sermons of ministers, the pages of America's leading magazines, and the speeches of presidents, Grant's behind-the-scenes machinations land manipulation of scientific data convinced Congress to enact the immigration restriction legislation of the 1920s that eliminated the immigration of non-Nordic races. Grant also influenced many states to pass coercive sterilization statutes under which tens of thousands of Americans deemed to be unworthy were sterilized from the 1930s through the 1970s, and he collaborated with Southern white racists to pass laws banning interracial marriage. Although most of the relevant archival materials on Madison Grant have mysteriously disappeared over the decades since Grant's death in 1937, Jonathan Peter Spiro has devoted many years to reconstructing the hitherto concealed events of Grant's life. His astonishing feat of detective work reveals how a founder of the Bronx Zoo wound up writing. The passing of the Great Race (1916), the book that the Nazis later used to justify the exterminationist policies of the Third Reich"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: Burlington, Vt. : University of Vermont Press ; Hanover, NH : Published by University Press of New England, ©2009
ISBN: 9781584658108
Characteristics: 1 online resource (xvi, 487 pages) : illustrations, map


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