Darwin sought to not only produce a new scientific truth, but also to put an end to polygenism, the current scientific discourse on human origins that gave tacit and at times explicit support for slavery: ‘... when the principle of evolution is generally accepted, as it surely will be before long, the dispute between the monogenists and polygenists will die a silent and unobserved death.’ (Charles Darwin, Descent of Man, p. 235)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Asa Gray writes to Darwin on the death of Abraham Lincoln and the end of slavery.

From Gray's Elements of Botany
Asa Gray writes to Charles Darwin on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, relations between England and the United States, and the end of slavery
....You have always been sympathising and just, and I appreciate your hearty congratulations on the success of our just endeavors. You have since had much more to rejoice over, as well as to sorrow with us. But the noble manner in which our country has borne itself should give you real satisfaction. We appreciate too the good feeling of England in its hearty grief at the murder of Lincoln.

Don’t talk about our “hating” you,—nor suppose that we want to rob you of Canada—for which nobody cares.

We think we have been ill-used by you, when you thought us weak and broken.— & when we expected better things. We have learned that we must be strong to live in peace & comfort with England,—otherwise we should have to eat much dirt. But now that we are on our feet again, all will go well, and hatred will disappear. Indeed, I see little of that. We do not even hate the Rebels, and may not even execute so much of justice as to convict of treason & hang their President, whom we have just caught,—but I hope we shall,—hang the leader & spare the subordinates. We are now feeding the south, who starved our men taken prisoners.

Slavery is thoroughly dead. We have a deal to do, but shall do it, I trust, and deserve your continued approbation. We have a load to carry—heavy, no doubt, but a young & re-invigorated country, with a future before it can do and bear, & prosper under what might stagger a full-grown, mature country of the Old world.
From: Gray, Asa
To: Darwin, Charles.  Sent from: Cambridge, Mass. 
May 15-17, 1865.
CULDAR 165: 147