Better for All the World

Better for All the World

The Secret History of Forced Sterilization and America's Quest for Racial Purity

Book - 2006
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InBetter for All the World,Harry Bruinius charts the little-known history of eugenics in America--a movement that began in the early twentieth century and resulted in the forced sterilization of more than 65,000 Americans. Bruinius tells the stories of Emma and Carrie Buck, two women trapped in poverty and caught up in a new scientific quest for racial purity.Buck v. Bellbecame a test case brought before the Supreme Court, which voted 8--1 to make sterilization a constitutionally valid way for the state to prevent anyone deemed "unfit" from having children. The court's majority opinion was written by Oliver Wendell Holmes: "It is better for all the world," Holmes wrote, "if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. . . . Three generations of imbeciles are enough." Eugenicists believed that the human race must begin to take control not just of human reproduction, but of ethnic intermingling. With the natural and objective methods of science they hoped to breed only the biologically best of the races and prevent the propagation of the worst. The result: marriage restriction, anti-miscegenation, and immigration laws. InBetter for All the World,Harry Bruinius shows how reformers across the nation transformed haphazard, locally run systems of charity and welfare--mostly church handouts and town asylums--into government-run systems of welfare that aspired to make America a place where social and moral purity could reign, free from the "hereditary defectives" of the past. Those who supported the programs included Theodore Rooseve
Publisher: New York : Knopf, 2006.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780375413711
Branch Call Number: 363.92 Bruinius 2006
Characteristics: 401 p. :,ill. ;,25 cm.


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