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)

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The "American School": A brief timeline of the Monogenist / Polygenist Debate on human origins, variation, and the meaning of race.

12 February Darwin is born in Shrewsbury, England, the son of Robert Waring Darwin and Susannah Wedgwood. The same day as the birth of Abraham Lincoln.

Darwin meets Captain Robert FitzRoy and makes preparations for the voyage. Begins Beagle diary.

Rev John Bachman meets James Audubon and begins a life-long friendship and collaboration.

Bachman's wife Maria Martin becomes Audubon's assistant and paints many of the backgrounds, plants, and insects used in Birds of North America.

In mid-January, Beagle reaches St Jago, Cape Verde Islands. Darwin begins the field notebooks that he will continue to use throughout his life. From February 1832 to May 1834 the Beagle surveys the east coast of South America.

Early part of the year is spent surveying in Tierra del Fuego and the Falkland Islands. April to May Darwin and Fitz-Roy travel inland along the River Santa Cruz. From June 1834 to September 1835 the Beagle surveys the west coast of South America.

Beagle departs Lima, Darwin spends 16 September to 20 October exploring the Galapagos Archipelago, then traveled on to spend November in Tahiti and New Zealand.

Beagle drops anchor at Falmouth, England, on October 2 and on October 4 Darwin returns home to Shrewsbury. Begins to publish scientific papers.

George Gliddon and Samuel G. Morton begin corresponding. Gliddon obtains several specimens for Morton's work.

Darwin publishes The Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle (1838-43). In July begins his first notebook on the transmutation of species.

Samuel G. Morton, Crania Americana; or a Comparative view of the Skulls of various Aboriginal Nations of North and South America; to which is prefixed an essay on the Varieties of the Human Species (Philadelphia, 1839)

George Combe, Notes on the United States of America during a Phrenological Visit in 1838-1840.

Darwin marries Emma Wedgwood on 29 January; publishes Journal of Researches, later known as Voyage of the Beagle. Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Based upon many errors, the US Census suggests that Negroes are prone to violence and insanity in the North. Despite many efforts of Jarvis to correct the results, Secretary of State John C. Calhoun prevents any challenges and the results remain official. The attempts to overturn the Census result in the founding of the American Statistical Association.

Gliddon undertakes a series of widely popular lectures on Egyptology around the United States using a 800 foot long moving backdrop and many artifacts.

Samuel G. Morton, “Distinctive Characteristics of the Aboriginal Man of America,”Annual Address before the Boston Society of Natural History.

George R Gliddon, Ancient Egypt: a series of chapters on early Egyptian history, archaeology, and other subjects connected with hieroglyphical literature.

Samuel G. Morton, Crania Ægyptiaca; or Observations on Egyptian Ethnography, derived from History and the Monuments, dedicate to Gliddon.

Darwin expands an early sketch of the theory of natural selection into a longer essay. He writes a note to Emma Darwin requesting that this essay should be published if he should die unexpectedly, providing some funds as well as the names of possible editors.

Josiah Nott, “On the Pathology of Yellow Fever,” American Journal of the Medical Sciences, 9, new series, 277-293. Nott argues that those “hybrids” of “mixed” race are less likely to contract Yellow fever than Whites or Negroes.

Josiah Priest. Slavery, as it relates to the Negro... and Causes of his State of Servitude ... with strictures on Abolitionism.

Rev. John Bachman, having newly taken over as minister, actively recruits African Americans to join St. John's Lutheran Church in Charleston. Black membership reaches 200. A segregated Sunday School for African-Americans is established with 150 pupils and 30 teachers and staff.

Josiah Nott, “Unity of the Human Race,” Southern Quarterly Review, January 1846.

Louis Agassiz arrives in Boston.

Louis Agassiz in Charleston.

Thomas S. Savage and Jeffries Wyman. "Notice of the External Characteristics and Habits of Trolodytes Gorilla, A New Species of Orang from the Gaboon River." Boston Journal of Natural History. The first anatomical description of a gorilla in the United States, compares its anatomy with that of the Caucasian and the Negro. 

Charles Pickering, a supporter of the polygenic theory, publishes The Races of Mankind and their Geographical Distribution.

Josiah Nott, “Yellow Fever Contrasted with Billious Fever --- Reason for Believing it a Disease of Sui Generis... Probably Insect or Animalcular Origin,” New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal. Nott correctly suggests that Yellow Fever is transmitted by an insect.

E. George Squire and Edwin Hamilton Davis, Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley: Comprising the Results of Extensive Original Surveys and Explorations.

Josiah Nott, Two Lectures on the Connection Between the Biblical and Physical History of Man Nott advances the polygenic argument against Biblical authority and for what he called “free scientific inquiry.”

George Robins Gliddon, Handbook to the American Panorama of the Nile: being the original transparent picture exhibited in London at Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, purchased from its painter and proprietors, Messrs. H. Warren, J. Bonomi and J. Fahey.

John Bachman and John J. Audubon, Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America.

Louis Agassiz, “The Diversity of Origin of Human Races” Christian Examiner XVIII.

Josiah Nott, “Ancient and Scriptural Chronology” Southern Quarterly Review.

De Bow, “Physical Characteristics of the Negro" De Bow’s Review IX.

De Bow, “Diversity of the Human Race,” DeBow's Review X.

Samuel G. Morton, “Value of the Word Species in Zoology,” American Journal of Science and Arts11, 2nd Series, 275-276, 1851.

Josiah Nott, An Essay on the Natural History of Mankind, Viewed in Connection with Negro Slavery (Mobile, 1851).

Herbert Spencer, originator of the term “survival of the fittest” and advocate of cosmic evolution, publishes his Social Statics.

Samuel G. Morton dies.

John James Audubon dies.

Josiah Nott, “Geographical Distributions of Animals and the Races of Man” New Orleans Medical and Surgical Journal, IX

John H. Van Evrie, M.D., Negroes and Negro “Slavery”; the first an Inferior Race --- the Latter, its Normal Condition. (Baltimore, 1853)

Josiah Nott “Aboriginal Races of America” Southern Quarterly VIII 1854 - 1855

Josiah C. Nott and George R. Gliddon. 1855. Types of Mankind: or, Ethnological Researches, based upon the ancient monuments, paintings, sculptures, and crania of races, and upon their natural, geographical, philological and Biblical history:/ illustrated by selections from the inedited papers of Samuel George Morton ... and by additional contributions from Prof. L. Agassiz, LL. D., W. Usher, M. D., and Prof. H. S. Patterson.

John Bachman, “Types of Mankind.” Review, Charleston Medical Journal, IX

Samuel F. Haven, Archaeology of the United States; or Sketches, Historical and Bibliographical, of the Progress of Information and Opinion respecting the Vestiges of Antiquity in the United States. Smithsonian Institution.

1856 - 1857
Darwin begins writing up his views for a projected big book called 'Natural Selection'.

Louis Agassiz, Essay on Classification.

Josiah C. Nott, George R. Gliddon, and Louis Ferdinand Alfred Maury, Indigenous races of the earth; or, New chapters of ethnological inquiry; including monographs on special departmentsPhiladelphia, J. B. Lippincott & co.

George Gliddon dies.

Josiah Nott translates and publishes the first English edition of Gobineau’s Essay on the Inequality of the Races.

Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species. It will go through six editions in Darwin's lifetime.

Newberry College, a liberal arts college in Newberry, S.C., is founded by Rev. John Bachman

Rev. John Bachman leads the opening prayer at Institute Hall in Charleston as South Carolina votes for secession. Though opposed to secession and a social reformer in terms of slavery, Bachman fiercely defended the South and lambasted profiteering in wartime writings for South and North Carolina newspapers.

Josiah Nott admits that Darwin's theory is correct and that the polygenic theory has been refuted, but says that “at least it [Darwin's theory] is a capital dig at the parsons.”

At his church in Charleston, Bachman baptizes 67 Euro-Americans & 76 African-Americans and confirms 19 Euro- Americans and 40 African-Americans; African-Americans now constitute 35% of the membership of St. John's Lutheran Church.

Attack on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, begins Civil War.

John Bachman and Josiah Nott would both lose sons fighting in the opposing armies.

Emancipation Proclamation signed by Lincoln.

John Bachman, Characteristics of Genera and Species, as Applicable to the Doctrine of Unity in the Human Race.

Sherman begins his March to the Sea.

Charleston is evacuated and later is destroyed. Bachman attempts to move his collections and his wife's work to Newberry College for safe-keeping. Most are lost in the destruction of Charleston. Bachman is severely beaten when he encounters a detachment of Union soldiers and left partially paralyzed.

The Civil War ends.

John James Audubon and Rev. John Bachman, The Quadrupeds of North America.

Charles Darwin publishes The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex.

Louis Agassiz dies.

Josiah Nott dies.

Rev. John Bachman dies, supposedly saying at the end: “Little children... love one another.” He is buried under the alter of St. John's Lutheran Church in Charleston.

Charles Darwin dies at Down House on April 19 and is buried in Westminster Abbey. His supposed last words were "I am not in the least afraid to die."