Fit in Every Way

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An excerpt from a 1914 high school textbook, The New Civic Biology:

In the early decades of the 20th century, eugenics found its way into the curriculum of U.S. schools. The following passage is excerpted from a 1914 high school textbook, The New Civic Biology, by George William Hunter:

Since our knowledge of heredity has been increased, the demand has become more urgent that we do something to prevent the race from handing down diseases and other defects, and that we apply to man some of the methods we employ in breeding plants and animals.

This is not a new idea; the Greeks in Sparta had it, Sir Thomas More wrote of it in his Utopia, and today it has been brought to us in the science of eugenics. The word comes from the Greek word eugenes, which means well born.

Eugenics is the science of being well born, or born well, healthy, fit in every way. A tendency to cancer, or tuberculosis, or chorea, or feeblemindedness is a handicap which it is not merely unfair, but criminal, to hand down to posterity.