Francis galton heredity and eugenics
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Francis Galton: Heredity and Eugenics. (1822-1911). Francis Galton, in Hereditary Genius.

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Francis Galton:Heredity and Eugenics


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Francis Galton, in Hereditary Genius

  • I have no patience with the hypothesis occasionally expressed, and often implied, especially in tales written to teach children to be good, that babies are born pretty much alike, and that the sole agencies in creating differences between boy and boy, and man and man, are steady application and moral effort. It is in the most unqualified manner that I object to pretensions of natural equality. The experiences of the nursery, the school, the University, and of professional careers, are a chain of proofs to the contrary.

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The influence of Charles Darwin

  • THE publication in 1859 of the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin made a marked epoch in my own mental development, as it did in that of human thought generally. Its effect was to demolish a multitude of dogmatic barriers by a single stroke, and to arouse a spirit of rebellion against all ancient authorities whose positive and unauthenticated statements were contradicted by modern science.

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Heredity and Humanity

  • Speaking generally, (before Francis Galton) most authors agreed that all bodily and some mental qualities were inherited by brutes (i.e. animals), but they refused to believe the same of man. Moreover, theologians made a sharp distinction between the body and mind of man, on purely dogmatic grounds.

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Books on Heredity

Galton wrote the following books on heredity:

  • Hereditary Genius, 1869;

  • English Men of Science, 1874;

  • Human Faculty, 1883;

  • Natural Inheritance, 1889

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Experiment on free Will

  • A Galton text linked here

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Galton on Eugenics

  • I think that stern compulsion ought to be exerted to prevent the free propagation of the stock of those who are seriously afflicted by lunacy, feeble- mindedness, habitual criminality, and pauperism, but that is quite different from compulsory marriage. How to restrain ill-omened marriages is a question by itself, whether it should be effected by seclusion, or in other ways yet to be devised that are consistent with a humane and well-informed public opinion. I cannot doubt that our democracy will ultimately refuse consent to that liberty of propagating children which is now allowed to the undesirable classes, but the populace has yet to be taught the true state of these things. A democracy cannot endure unless it be composed of able citizens; therefore it must in self-defence withstand the free introduction of degenerate stock.