Author: Adam Cohen
Release Date: 2017-03-07
"In 1927, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling so disturbing, ignorant, and cruel that it stands as one of the great injustices in American History. In Imbeciles, bestselling author Adam Cohen exposes the court's decision to allow the sterilization of a young woman, Carrie Buck, it wrongly thought to be 'feebleminded' and to champion the mass eugenic sterilization of undesirable citizens. The 8-1 ruling was signed by many revered figures in American law -- including Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former U.S. president; and Louis Brandeis, a progressive icon. Oliver Wendell Holmes, considered by many to be the greatest Supreme Court Justice in history, wrote the majority opinion, declaring, 'Three generations of imbeciles are enough.' In this shocking story, Cohen overturns cherished myths and demolishes lauded figures in relentless pursuit of the truth. With the intellectual force of a legal brief and the passion of a front-page exposé, Imbeciles is an ardent indictment of our champions of justice and our optimistic faith in progress, as well as a triumph of American legal and social history." -- Back cover.
Author: Adam Seth Cohen
Publisher: Penguin Press HC
Release Date: 2016
One of America's great miscarriages of justice, the Supreme Court's infamous 1927 Buck v. Bell ruling made government sterilization of "undesirable" citizens the law of the land New York Times bestselling author Adam Cohen tells the story in Imbeciles of one of the darkest moments in the American legal tradition: the Supreme Court's decision to champion eugenic sterilization for the greater good of the country. In 1927, when the nation was caught up in eugenic fervor, the justices allowed Virginia to sterilize Carrie Buck, a perfectly normal young woman, for being an "imbecile." It is a story with many villains, from the superintendent of the Dickensian Virginia Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded who chose Carrie for sterilization to the former Missouri agriculture professor and Nazi sympathizer who was the nation's leading advocate for eugenic sterilization. But the most troubling actors of all were the eight Supreme Court justices who were in the majority - including William Howard Taft, the former president; Louis Brandeis, the legendary progressive; and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., America's most esteemed justice, who wrote the decision urging the nation to embark on a program of mass eugenic sterilization. Exposing this tremendous injustice--which led to the sterilization of 70,000 Americans--Imbeciles overturns cherished myths and reappraises heroic figures in its relentless pursuit of the truth. With the precision of a legal brief and the passion of a front-page exposé, Cohen's Imbeciles is an unquestionable triumph of American legal and social history, an ardent accusation against these acclaimed men and our own optimistic faith in progress.
Author: Adam Cohen
Release Date: 2016-03-01
Longlisted for the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction One of America’s great miscarriages of justice, the Supreme Court’s infamous 1927 Buck v. Bell ruling made government sterilization of “undesirable” citizens the law of the land In 1927, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling so disturbing, ignorant, and cruel that it stands as one of the great injustices in American history. In Imbeciles, bestselling author Adam Cohen exposes the court’s decision to allow the sterilization of a young woman it wrongly thought to be “feebleminded” and to champion the mass eugenic sterilization of undesirable citizens for the greater good of the country. The 8–1 ruling was signed by some of the most revered figures in American law—including Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former U.S. president; and Louis Brandeis, a progressive icon. Oliver Wendell Holmes, considered by many the greatest Supreme Court justice in history, wrote the majority opinion, including the court’s famous declaration “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” Imbeciles is the shocking story of Buck v. Bell, a legal case that challenges our faith in American justice. A gripping courtroom drama, it pits a helpless young woman against powerful scientists, lawyers, and judges who believed that eugenic measures were necessary to save the nation from being “swamped with incompetence.” At the center was Carrie Buck, who was born into a poor family in Charlottesville, Virginia, and taken in by a foster family, until she became pregnant out of wedlock. She was then declared “feebleminded” and shipped off to the Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded. Buck v. Bell unfolded against the backdrop of a nation in the thrall of eugenics, which many Americans thought would uplift the human race. Congress embraced this fervor, enacting the first laws designed to prevent immigration by Italians, Jews, and other groups charged with being genetically inferior. Cohen shows how Buck arrived at the colony at just the wrong time, when influential scientists and politicians were looking for a “test case” to determine whether Virginia’s new eugenic sterilization law could withstand a legal challenge. A cabal of powerful men lined up against her, and no one stood up for her—not even her lawyer, who, it is now clear, was in collusion with the men who wanted her sterilized. In the end, Buck’s case was heard by the Supreme Court, the institution established by the founders to ensure that justice would prevail. The court could have seen through the false claim that Buck was a threat to the gene pool, or it could have found that forced sterilization was a violation of her rights. Instead, Holmes, a scion of several prominent Boston Brahmin families, who was raised to believe in the superiority of his own bloodlines, wrote a vicious, haunting decision upholding Buck’s sterilization and imploring the nation to sterilize many more. Holmes got his wish, and before the madness ended some sixty to seventy thousand Americans were sterilized. Cohen overturns cherished myths and demolishes lauded figures in relentless pursuit of the truth. With the intellectual force of a legal brief and the passion of a front-page exposé, Imbeciles is an ardent indictment of our champions of justice and our optimistic faith in progress, as well as a triumph of American legal and social history. From the Hardcover edition.
Author: J. David Smith
Release Date: 1999
Though she had normal intelligence, Carrie Buck was labeled "feebleminded" because she was young, poor, female and powerless. Her child was taken away and she was sterilized. Her landmark Supreme Court case, which led to the sterilization of 50,000 Americans and was cited as the precedent for the Nazi race hygiene program, is still making headlines today.
Author: Thomas C. Leonard
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Release Date: 2016-01-12
Genre: Business & Economics
In Illiberal Reformers, Thomas Leonard reexamines the economic progressives whose ideas and reform agenda underwrote the Progressive Era dismantling of laissez-faire and the creation of the regulatory welfare state, which, they believed, would humanize and rationalize industrial capitalism. But not for all. Academic social scientists such as Richard T. Ely, John R. Commons, and Edward A. Ross, together with their reform allies in social work, charity, journalism, and law, played a pivotal role in establishing minimum-wage and maximum-hours laws, workmen's compensation, antitrust regulation, and other hallmarks of the regulatory welfare state. But even as they offered uplift to some, economic progressives advocated exclusion for others, and did both in the name of progress. Leonard meticulously reconstructs the influence of Darwinism, racial science, and eugenics on scholars and activists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, revealing a reform community deeply ambivalent about America's poor. Illiberal Reformers shows that the intellectual champions of the regulatory welfare state proposed using it not to help those they portrayed as hereditary inferiors but to exclude them.
Author: Nancy Ordover
Publisher: U of Minnesota Press
Release Date: 2003
Traces the history of eugenics ideology in the United States and its ongoing presence in contemporary life. The Nazis may have given eugenics its negative connotations, but the practice--and the "science" that supports it--is still disturbingly alive in America in anti-immigration initiatives, the quest for a "gay gene, " and theories of collective intelligence. Tracing the historical roots and persistence of eugenics in the United States, Nancy Ordover explores the political and cultural climate that has endowed these campaigns with mass appeal and scientific legitimacy. American Eugenics demonstrates how biological theories of race, gender, and sexuality are crucially linked through a concern with regulating the "unfit." These links emerge in Ordover's examination of three separate but ultimately related American eugenics campaigns: early twentieth-century anti-immigration crusades; medical models and interventions imposed on (and sometimes embraced by) lesbians, gays, transgendered people, and bisexuals; and the compulsory sterilization of poor women and women of color. Throughout, her work reveals how constructed notions of race, gender, sexuality, and nation are put to ideological uses and how "faith in science" can undermine progressive social movements, drawing liberals and conservatives alike into eugenics-based discourse and policies.
Author: Paul A. Lombardo
Publisher: Indiana University Press
Release Date: 2011
In 1907, Indiana passed the world's first involuntary sterilization law based on the theory of eugenics. In time, more than 30 states and a dozen foreign countries followed suit. Although the Indiana statute was later declared unconstitutional, other laws restricting immigration and regulating marriage on "eugenic" grounds were still in effect in the U.S. as late as the 1970s. A Century of Eugenics in America assesses the history of eugenics in the United States and its status in the age of the Human Genome Project. The essays explore the early support of compulsory sterilization by doctors and legislators; the implementation of eugenic schemes in Indiana, Georgia, California, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Alabama; the legal and social challenges to sterilization; and the prospects for a eugenics movement basing its claims on modern genetic science.
The hidden brain is the voice in our ear when we make the most important decisions in our lives—but we’re never aware of it. The hidden brain decides whom we fall in love with and whom we hate. It tells us to vote for the white candidate and convict the dark-skinned defendant, to hire the thin woman but pay her less than the man doing the same job. It can direct us to safety when disaster strikes and move us to extraordinary acts of altruism. But it can also be manipulated to turn an ordinary person into a suicide terrorist or a group of bystanders into a mob. In a series of compulsively readable narratives, Shankar Vedantam journeys through the latest discoveries in neuroscience, psychology, and behavioral science to uncover the darkest corner of our minds and its decisive impact on the choices we make as individuals and as a society. Filled with fascinating characters, dramatic storytelling, and cutting-edge science, this is an engrossing exploration of the secrets our brains keep from us—and how they are revealed.
Author: Adam Cohen
Release Date: 2009-01-08
"A fascinating account of an extraordinary moment in the life of the United States." --The New York Times With the world currently in the grips of a financial crisis unlike anything since the Great Depression, Nothing to Fear could not be timelier. This acclaimed work of history brings to life Franklin Roosevelt's first hundred days in office, when he and his inner circle launched the New Deal, forever reinventing the role of the federal government. As Cohen reveals, five fiercely intelligent, often clashing personalities presided over this transformation and pushed the president to embrace a bold solution. Nothing to Fear is the definitive portrait of the men and women who engineered the nation's recovery from the worst economic crisis in American history.
Author: Nathaniel Deutsch
Publisher: Univ of California Press
Release Date: 2009-01-05
This book tells the stranger-than-fiction story of how a poor white family from Indiana was scapegoated into prominence as America's "worst" family by the eugenics movement in the early twentieth century, then "reinvented" in the 1970s as part of a vanguard of social rebellion. In what becomes a profoundly unsettling counter-history of the United States, Nathaniel Deutsch traces how the Ishmaels, whose patriarch fought in the Revolutionary War, were discovered in the slums of Indianapolis in the 1870s and became a symbol for all that was wrong with the urban poor. The Ishmaels, actually white Christians, were later celebrated in the 1970s as the founders of the country's first African American Muslim community. This bizarre and fascinating saga reveals how class, race, religion, and science have shaped the nation's history and myths.
With our success in mapping the human genome, the possibility of altering our genetic futures has given rise to difficult ethical questions. Although opponents of genetic manipulation frequently raise the specter of eugenics, our contemporary debates about bioethics often take place in a historical vacuum. In fact, American religious leaders raised similarly challenging ethical questions in the first half of the twentieth century. Preaching Eugenics tells how Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish leaders confronted and, in many cases, enthusiastically embraced eugenics-a movement that embodied progressive attitudes about modern science at the time. Christine Rosen argues that religious leaders pursued eugenics precisely when they moved away from traditional religious tenets. The liberals and modernists-those who challenged their churches to embrace modernity-became the eugenics movement's most enthusiastic supporters. Their participation played an important part in the success of the American eugenics movement. In the early twentieth century, leaders of churches and synagogues were forced to defend their faiths on many fronts. They faced new challenges from scientists and intellectuals; they struggled to adapt to the dramatic social changes wrought by immigration and urbanization; and they were often internally divided by doctrinal controversies among modernists, liberals, and fundamentalists. Rosen draws on previously unexplored archival material from the records of the American Eugenics Society, religious and scientific books and periodicals of the day, and the personal papers of religious leaders such as Rev. John Haynes Holmes, Rev. Harry Emerson Fosdick, Rev. John M. Cooper, Rev. John A. Ryan, and biologists Charles Davenport and Ellsworth Huntington, to produce an intellectual history of these figures that is both lively and illuminating. The story of how religious leaders confronted one of the era's newest "sciences," eugenics, sheds important new light on a time much like our own, when religion and science are engaged in critical and sometimes bitter dialogue.
Author: Mark A. Largent
Publisher: Rutgers University Press
Release Date: 2011
From the Publisher: Most closely associated today with the Nazis and World War II atrocities, eugenics is sometimes described as a government-orchestrated breeding program, other times as a pseudo-science, and often as the first step leading to genocide. Less frequently is it depicted as a movement having links to America-a nation that has historically prided itself for its scientific rationality. But eugenics does have a history in the United States-a history that is largely the story of biologist Charles Davenport. Davenport, who led the Eugenics Records Office in the late nineteenth century, provided physicians, social scientists, and lawmakers with the scientific data and authority that enabled them to coercively sterilize men and women who were thought to be socially deviant, unfit to pass on their genes, and unable to raise healthy children. Moreover, Mark A. Largent shows how even in modern times, remnants of eugenics philosophies persist in this country as certain public figures advocate a brand of birth control-such as progesterone shots for male criminals-that are only steps away from the castrations that were once performed.