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This Man Stoddard

May 2021
1min read

The Writer Who Scared Tom Buchanan

This full-page ad for the works of Lothrop Stoddard appeared in the first issue of Time magazine, March 3, 1923. A lawyer and graduate of Harvard, Stoddard became a full-time writer and lecturer. Like Madison Grant, who wrote the introduction to The Rising Tide of Color , Stoddard was a hard-line eugenicist and racial anthropologist. Along with Grant, as well as Charles Davenport and Harry Laughlin, he was a member of the Galton Society and the American Genetic Association (originally the American Breeder’s Association.)

Stoddard’s The Rising Tide of Color is apparently the book that Tom Buchanan of The Great Gatsby has in mind when he praises “‘The Rise of the Coloured Empires’ by this man Goddard.” Although he had the title and author wrong, he wasn’t all that far off. Henry Goddard was, in fact, the author of the famous eugenical study The Kallikak Family .

Goddard eventually changed his mind about the supposed threat posed by hordes of the incurably feeble-minded. (“As for myself,” he wrote, “I think I have gone over to the enemy.”) Lothrop Stoddard had no such change of heart. During a visit to Germany in 1940, Stoddard was granted a personal interview with Adolf Hitler and allowed to attend a session of the Hereditary Health Courts. He came away impressed by the German determination to encourage procreation by “hereditary valuable couples” and to eliminate “inferior elements.”

—P.Q.

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