The Progressive Era

William L. Anderson writes an interesting article titled the Progressive Era, summarizing social and political reform attributed to the new progressives. Interestingly, he ties Margret Sanger's motivation to the rise of Darwinian Philosophy:

Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection; or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (1859) had an enormous effect on how intellectuals viewed the world. First, it seemed to vindicate the liberal elite who saw the religion of their day as mere superstition. Darwin’s theories permitted the reformers to expound on their own beliefs that they could “reform” society through the miracles of science. Second, it gave impetus to those who believed that government power could be used “wisely” to fashion a new society.

Many Progressives reasoned that if human evolution depended on “survival of the fittest,” then humans could help that process along through eugenics, which also meant “breeding” humans in a way that would advance the “superior” races and vanquish those races that were “inferior.” (Progressives supported eugenics until Hitler’s embrace of it gave it a bad name.)

For example, most people know Margaret Sanger as the founder of Planned Parenthood, but she also was a strong advocate of eugenics. In a 1939 letter, she wrote the following:
We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.
In 1921, she had written,
As an advocate of birth control I wish ... to point out that the unbalance between the birth rate of the “unfit” and the “fit,” admittedly the greatest present menace to civilization, can never be rectified by the inauguration of a cradle competition between these two classes. In this matter, the example of the inferior classes, the fertility of the feebleminded, the mentally defective, the poverty-stricken classes, should not be held up for emulation. (“The Eugenic Value of Birth Control Propaganda”; Birth Control Review, October 1921; page 5.)
At the time, so-called progressives believed that they were bringing in an age of knowledge, enlightenment, and advancement. Instead, they brought social turmoil, injustice, and a culture of death.



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