College of Arts and Sciences
Master of Arts in History - Thesis (MA)
David L. Snead
Eugenics, Personhood, Progressive Era, Naturalism, Jurisprudence, Culture
History | Philosophy
Blackburn, Bessie Sue, ""Eugenics is Euphemism”:The American Eugenics Movement, the Cultural Law of Progress, and Its International Connections & Consequences" (2021). Masters Theses. 717.
While often hidden under the guise of race betterment in both a scientific and even moral sense, eugenics was a bioethical movement that captivated many at the turn of the 19th century and through the Progressive Era—which was defined by a crisis of identity in the American mind. Sir Francis Galton, the coiner of the term "eugenics," predicted that this science would first infiltrate academia, then become a practical concern, and finally enter into the conscience as a new religion. This thesis examines this prophecy through the lens of the Scopes Monkey Trial, Carrie Buck's case, and the later horrors of the Holocaust. Further, this thesis gives special attention to the symbiotic relationship found between the zeitgeist of the culture and the decision of the courtroom.