Tag Archives: eugenics

Daniel Kevles

In 1905. Governor Samuel W. Pennypacker rejected the sterilization act of the Pennsylvania legislature with the ringing broadside: “It is plain that the safest and most effective method of preventing procreation would be to cut the heads off of the inmates.” (Not long afterward, Pennypacker wise­ cracked down a raucous political audience: “Gentlemen, gentlemen! You forget you owe me a vote of thanks. Didn’t I veto the bill for the castration of idiots?”)

Daniel Kevles, In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity, Berkeley, 1985, p. 109

Thomas Henry Huxley

It strikes me that men who are accustomed to contemplate the active or passive extirpation of the weak, the unfortunate, and the superfluous; who justify that conduct on the ground that it has the sanction of the cosmic process, and is the only way of ensuring the progress of the race; who, if they are consistent, must rank medicine among the black arts and count the physician a mischievous preserver of the unfit; on whose matrimonial undertakings the principles of the stud have the chief influence; whose whole lives, therefore are an education in the noble art of suppressing natural affection and sympathy, are not likely to have any large stock of those commodities left.

Thomas Henry Huxley, ‘Evolution and Ethics’, in Evolution and Ethics and Other Essays, London, 1884, pp. 36-37