Madison Grant (1865-1937) was an American scientific racist and conservationist. In 1916 he wrote the book that Hitler called his Bible: “The Passing of the Great Race”, a best-seller in America. He helped to shape American laws on immigration, marriage and even deer hunting and was a friend of Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover. He was a founder of the Bronx Zoo and was behind putting Ota Benga there.
Grant worked not just to save the redwoods, bisons and bald eagles of North America but also the Nordics.
Nordics are the white people from northern Europe. Nearly all the white people who came to America before 1845 were Nordics. Grant himself was one. They tend to be tall, have long, narrow noses, long heads and eyes of blue, green or grey. He said they are natural adventurers, soldiers, lovers of freedom and leaders of men. They possess high intelligence.
Grant said Darwinian evolution made them the best humans in the world: the hard, unforgiving winters in northern Europe killed off the fools who did not have enough food and clothing for the winter.
Further south life was easier, so people were ruled more by their passions, more given to crime and drink. Life required less intelligence so there was less of it. Southern Europe was bad enough, but black Africa was the worst.
He saw that in the New York of his day: whites from southern and eastern Europe and blacks from the American South were pouring into the city bringing poverty and crime. They voted for corrupt political machines, showing they cared little for freedom.
Grant said they were just born that way, so the only way to save America from becoming a crime-ridden banana republic was through eugenics:
- Stop them from coming in large numbers through immigration laws.
- Stop them from having so many children – through birth control and for some outright government sterilization.
- Stop them from marrying Nordics.
To warn the nation he wrote “The Passing of the Great Race”, throwing every bit of science he could find behind his racism along with some bad reasoning to prove it. It sold 1.6 million copies in America.
Then he worked to change the laws. Coming from an old, rich New York family he had the ear of plenty of powerful men.
Two notable laws that he had a hand in:
- The Johnson Act of 1924, which cut way down on eastern and southern Europeans coming to America and cut off Asians altogether.
- Virginia’s Racial Integrity Act of 1924, which outlawed whites from marrying blacks. This was the very law that the Supreme Court struck down in 1967 in Loving v Virginia.
He did not stop there: he wanted anthropology to be based on race, on the physical. Franz Boas, who as a Jew and a Marxist had little patience for Grant’s ideas, wanted to base it on the cultural. In the end Boas won.
The death blow for Grant’s ideas came when the Nazis used them at the Nuremberg Trials to defend their crimes.