Monday, 21 February 2011

Racial Theory

'Josiah Clarke Nott (1804-1873), a student of Morton’s, took Morton’s findings in the differences between white and Negro cranial measurements, which were subsequently disproven by a different evaluation of his results, and promoted the theory of pluralism as further justification for slavery. Pluralists such as Louis Agassiz (1807-1873), espoused the thoughts that different races had separate origins. Despite the fact that Agassiz’s intentions were not to support ideologies of slavery, his works were used to promote the idea of the physical and mental inferiority of blacks.
Nott also published a book, “Indigenous Races of The Earth,” in 1857, which has a chapter concerning “The Cranial Characteristics of The Races Of Men.” In his writing, Nott and other scholars such as J. Aitken Meigs, alluded to the necessity for comparing cranial structures of men with those of apes to properly distinguish between the races of men. Meigs supported the theory that there were different classes of men, and those men who were in lower classes were more closely related to monkeys and other primates. Typical of the time, Meigs and Nott both found “a comparison between the cranium of a negro and that of a gorilla [to be] admirably drawn.” This limited study shows that there were several theories concerning the biological and anatomical differences between blacks and other races. Most of these theories promoted the inferiority of blacks as compared to whites, and were used to promote lower societal standing of blacks throughout history.'
Nott, J.C. and Gliddon, G.R. (1857). Indigenous Races of The Earth. Philadelphia, PA: J.B. Lippincott & Co.

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