Evolution and Race: An Incomplete Revolution

Part of the St Antony’s/Macmillan Series book series


In November 1859 the British scientist, Charles Darwin, published an abstract of a book on which he had been working for over twenty years; its title was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.


Natural Selection Sexual Selection Human Race Dark Skin Physical Trait 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Good general accounts of Darwin’s life, work and impact are found in John C. Greene, The Death of Adam: Evolution and its Impact on Western Thought (Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University, 1969);Google Scholar
  2. William Irvine, Apes, Angels and Victorians: Darwin, Huxley and Evolution (Cleveland and New York: The World Publishing Co., 1955);Google Scholar
  3. Gertrude Himmelfarb, Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution (Garden City, New York: Anchor, 1962);Google Scholar
  4. Loren Eisely, Darwin’s Century (Garden City, New York: Anchor, 1961);Google Scholar
  5. and Michael Ruse, The Darwinian Revolution: Science Red in Tooth and Claw (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1979).Google Scholar
  6. 2.
    See Howard E. Gruber, Darwin on Man: A Psychological Study of Scientific Creativity (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1974) pp. 65–8, 182–3, 430–2, 435–6.Google Scholar
  7. 3.
    Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species. A Fascimile of the First Edition with an Introduction by Ernst Mayr (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1964) p. 488.Google Scholar
  8. 5.
    John C. Greene, ‘Darwin as a Social Evolutionist’, J. Hist. Biol. 10 (1977) 1–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 7.
    Alfred Russel Wallace, ‘The Origin of Human Races and the Antiquity of Man Deduced from the Theory of “Natural Selection”’ J. Anth. Soc. 2 (1864) clvii–clxxxvii. The J. Anth. Soc. appeared bound with the Anth. Review.Google Scholar
  10. 8.
    Charles Lyell, Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man (London: Murray, 1863)Google Scholar
  11. and Thomas Henry Huxley, Evidence as to Man’s Place in Nature (London: Williams and Norgate, 1863).Google Scholar
  12. 9.
    See Malcolm Jay Kottler, ‘Darwin, Wallace, and the Origin of Sexual Dimorphism’, Proc. Amer. Phil. Soc. 124 (1980) 203–26.Google Scholar
  13. 11.
    Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, 2 vols (London: Murray, 1871) v. I, pp. 9–33.Google Scholar
  14. 15.
    John Lubbock, The Origin of Civilisation and the Primitive Condition of Man (New York: D. Appleton, 1870) esp. chs. iv and v.Google Scholar
  15. 23.
    See Darwin, The Descent, pp. 110–11 for Darwin’s references to Galton, and pp. 131–5 for his remarks on infanticide. J. F. McLennan’s book was Primitive Marriage (London: Cambridge University Press, 1865).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 24.
    A good account of progressionism in social anthropology is given by J. W. Burrow, Evolution and Society: A Study in Victorian Social Theory (London: Cambridge University Press, 1966).Google Scholar
  17. 25.
    Neal C. Gillespie, ‘The Duke of Argyll, Evolutionary Anthropology, and the Art of Scientific Controversy’, Isis, 68 (1977) 40–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 29.
    Darwin, The Descent, v. I, pp. 253–320. See also Bernard Campbell, ed., Sexual Selection and the Descent of Man, 1871–1971 (Chicago, Aldine Press, 1972).Google Scholar
  19. 32.
    Francis Darwin, The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, 2 vols (New York: D. Appleton, 1898) v. 2, p. 272.Google Scholar
  20. 42.
    In, among other places, his review of the tenth edition of Charles Lyell’s Principles of Geology. See Alfred Russel Wallace, ‘Geological Climates and the Origin of Species’, The Quarterly Review cxxvi (1869) 185–205. Also important in the rejection of environmentalism was the idea of ‘sporting’ proposed by earlier race theorists such as Lawrence.Google Scholar
  21. See Kentwood D. Wells, ‘Sir William Lawrence (1783–1867), A Study of Pre-Darwinian Ideas on Heredity and Variation’, J. Hist. Biol. 4 (1971) 319–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 46.
    See for example Rosalind Rosenberg, ‘In Search of Woman’s Nature, 1850–1920,’ Feminist Studies 3 (1975–6) 141–54;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Flavia Ayala, ‘Victorian Science and the “Genius” of Woman’, J. Hist. Ideas 38 (1977) 261–80;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Elizabeth Fee, ‘Science and the Woman Problem; Historical Perspectives’, in Michael S. Teitelbaum, ed., Sex Differences: Social and Biological Perspectives (Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, 1976) pp. 175–223.Google Scholar
  25. 47.
    Recent studies of Wallace include those by H. Lewis McKinney, Wallace and Natural Selection (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1972);Google Scholar
  26. Barbara Beddall, ‘Wallace, Darwin and the Theory of Natural Selection’, J. Hist. Biol. 1 (1968) 261–323;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Roger Smith, ‘Alfred Russel Wallace: Philosophy of Nature and Man’, Brit. J. Hist. Sci. 6 (1972) 177–99;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. and John Durant, ‘Scientific Naturalism and Social Reform in Wallace’, Brit. J. Hist. Sci. 12 (1979) 31–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 48.
    See Malcolm J. Kottler, ‘Alfred Russel Wallace, the Origin of Man, and Spiritualism’, Isis 65 (1974) 145–92;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. and Frank M. Turner, ‘Alfred Russel Wallace: The Wonderful Man of the Wonderful Century’, in Between Science and Religion: The Reaction to Scientific Naturalism in Late Victorian England (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1974) pp. 68–103.Google Scholar
  31. 52.
    For anti-evolutionary arguments by a polygenist, see James Hunt, ‘On the Application of the Principle of Natural Selection to Anthropology’, Anth. Rev. IV (1866) 320–40, and ‘On the Doctrine of Continuity Applied to Anthropology’, Anth. Rev. V (1867) 110–20.Google Scholar
  32. 61.
    For Lyell’s views on evolution and man, see Michael Bartholomew, ‘Lyell and Evolution: An Account of Lyell’s Response to the Prospect of an Evolutionary Ancestry for Man’, Brit. J. Hist. Sci. 6 (1973) 261–303.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 62.
    Wallace, ‘Geological Climates and the Origin of Species’, The Quarterly Review CXXVI (1869) 185–205.Google Scholar
  34. Darwin’s remark to Wallace is found in James Marchant, Alfred Russel Wallace: Letters and Reminiscenses (New York: Cassell, 1916) v. I, p. 240.Google Scholar
  35. 70.
    Wallace, ‘Human Selection’, in Studies Scientific and Social, 2 vols (London: Macmillan, 1900) v. I, p. 509.Google Scholar
  36. 74.
    Wallace, The Malay Archipelago: The Land of the Orang Outan, and the Bird of Paradise. A Narrative of Travel, With Studies of Man and Nature (New York: Harper, 1869) pp. 328, 439, and especially the chapter on ‘Races of Man in the Malay Archipelago’, pp. 584–98.Google Scholar
  37. 76.
    Wallace, The Wonderful Century: Its Successes and Failures (London: Sonnenschein, 1898) pp. 159–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 77.
    On the positive side, see Cyril Bibby, Scientist Extraordinary: The Life and Scientific Work of Thomas Henry Huxley, 1825–1895 (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1972) pp. 141–4. A more critical evaluation is given by Irvine, Apes, Angels and Victorians, pp. 238–9. The question of whether Darwin was a ‘social Darwinist’ has long divided scientists and historians. John Greene, ‘Darwin as a Social Evolutionist’, reviews some aspects of the controversy. From my analysis, I find myself in essential agreement with Greene that Darwin’s explanations of racial differences, heredity and struggle all made him a ‘social evolutionist’, of a fairly recognisable sort, but not an extreme ‘racist’.Google Scholar
  39. 80.
    Leonard Huxley, Life and Letters of Thomas H. Huxley, 2 vols (New York: D. Appleton, 1901), v. I, p. 434.Google Scholar
  40. 86.
    Michael S. Helfand, ‘T. H. Huxley’s “Evolution and Ethics”: The Politics of Evolution and the Evolution of Politics’, Victorian Studies XX (1977) 159–77. Huxley’s essay was reprinted in Evolution and Ethics and Other Essays (London: Macmillan, 1894).Google Scholar
  41. 88.
    See Bernard Semmel, Imperialism and Social Reform: English Social-Imperial Thought 1895–1914 (Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, 1968) pp. 28–33, for a discussion of ‘internal’ and ‘external’ social Darwinism.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Nancy Stepan 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryYale UniversityUSA

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