MADISON GRANT WARNS OF THE PASSING OF THE “GREAT RACE” (1918)

 

[Madison Grant’s 1918 book The Passing of the Great Race was used as the theoretical justification for new laws drastically reducing immigration.]

 

Race consciousness ...in the United States, down to and including the Mexican War, seems to have been very strongly developed among native Americans and it still remains in full vigor today in the South, where the presence of a large Negro population forces this question upon the daily attention of the whites.

 

In New England, however, whether through the decline of Calvinism or the growth of altruism, there appeared early in the last century a wave of sentimentalism, which at that time took up the cause of the Negro and in so doing apparently destroyed, to a large extent, pride and consciousness of race in the North., The agitation over slavery was inimical to the Nordic race, because it thrust aside all national opposition to the intrusion of hordes of immigrants of inferior racial value and prevented the fixing of a def­inite American type....

 

The native American by the middle of the nineteenth century was rapidly ac­quiring distinct characteristics.... The Civil War, however, put a severe, per­haps fatal, check to the development and expansion of this splendid type by de­stroying great numbers of the best breed­ing stock on both sides and by breaking up the home ties of many more. If the war had not occurred these same men with their descendants would have popu­lated the Western states instead of the racial nondescripts who are now flocking there....

 

These new immigrants were no longer exclusively members of the Nordic race as were the earlier ones who came of their own impulse to improve their social conditions. The transportation lines ad­vertised America as a land flowing with milk and honey and the European govern­ments took the opportunity to unload upon careless, wealthy and hospitable America the sweepings of their jails and asylums. The result was that the new im­migration . . . contained a large and in-creasing number of the weak, the broken and the mentally crippled of all races drawn from the lowest stratum of the Mediterranean basin and the Balkans, to­gether with hordes of the wretched, sub-merged populations of the Polish ghettos. Our jails, insane asylums and almshouses are filled with their human flotsam and the whole tone of American life, social, moral and 'political has been lowered and vulgarized by them.

 

With a pathetic and fatuous belief in the efficacy of American institutions and environment to reverse or obliterate im­memorial hereditary tendencies, these new-comers were welcomed and given a share in our land and prosperity. The American taxed himself to sanitate and educate these poor helots and as soon as they could speak English, encouraged, them to enter into the political life, first of municipalities and then of the nation....

 

These immigrants adopt the language of the native American, they wear his clothes, they steal his name and they are beginning to take his women, but they seldom adopt his religion or understand his ideals and while he is being elbowed out of his own home the American looks calmly abroad and urges on others the suicidal ethics which are exterminating his own race....

 

It is evident that in large sections of the country the native American will en­tirely disappear. He will not intermarry with inferior races and he cannot compete in the sweat shop and in the street trench with the newcomers. Large cities from the days of Rome, Alexandria, and Byzantium have always been gathering points of diverse races, but New York . . . will produce many amazing racial hybrids and some ethnic horrors that will be beyond the powers of future anthropologists to unravel.

 

One thing is certain; in any such mix­ture, the surviving traits will be determined by competition between the lowest and most primitive elements and the specialized traits of Nordic man; his stature, his light colored eyes, his fair skin and light colored hair, his straight nose and his splendid fighting and moral quali­ties, will have little part in the resultant mixture.