In mountains, ‘lineage of England’s pauperism’

“Anthony Stokes [a Loyalist refugee from Georgia in 1783] spoke for many when he wrote of ‘a swarm of men’ he called ‘Crackers,’ who were overrunning western Virginia and North Carolina. ‘Many of these people are descended from convicts that were transported from Great Britain to Virginia at different times and inherit so much profligacy from their ancestors that they are the most abandoned set of men on earth….’

“David Starr Jordan [author of “The Heredity of Richard Roe, a Discussion of the Principles of Eugenics,” 1911] wrapped himself in the mantle of dispassionate fact as he dissected a mass of degenerate Anglo-Saxons. Pity, for example, the poor whites of the North Carolina mountains consigned by Jordan ‘to the lineage of England’s pauperism transported first to the colonies, afterward driven from the plains to the mountains.’ ”

— From “The History of White People” by Nell Irvin Painter (2010)

Although his advocacy of eugenics hasn’t aged well, Jordan (1851-1931) did compile quite a resume: College president (Indiana and Stanford).  Influential ichthyologist (he and his students discovered more than 2,500 species of fish). Early proponent of evolution, pacifism and Unitarianism. And then there’s this from the “Dictionary of Unitarian and Universalist Biography”: “In 1909, after he addressed the California Socialist Party, a scheduled lecture at the University of North Carolina was canceled.”

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