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Middlebury College Eugenics Hypocrisy Revealed In Mead Chapel De-Naming Dispute

Middlebury College Eugenics Hypocrisy Revealed In Mead Chapel De-Naming Dispute

The school de-named Mead Chapel because of a single speech by the namesake, ignoring that Middlebury was a hotbed of eugenics support for decades. Shouldn’t the entire school be renamed by that logic?

If a college professor were to teach a class on eugenics today, he would be canceled tomorrow—or worse. In our times, that topic, irreversibly tied to Adolf Hitler and Josef Mengele, is taboo.

But in the early 1900s, eugenics was mainstream. Well-known figures including Helen Keller, Alexander Graham Bell, Margaret Sanger, and W.E.B. Du Bois supported it. It was a legitimate subject of public discourse and academic study.

So it’s not surprising that Vermont’s Middlebury College, like many other schools at that time, promoted eugenics ideology.

What is surprising, though, given its recent righteous indignation over the subject, is that Middlebury College was a eugenics hotbed: For years, its course catalogs offered and even required its study; one professor was a member of the second International Congress of Eugenics; another lectured on eugenic marriages. And Middlebury’s 20-year president, Paul Dwight Moody, chaired the state committee that studied and reported on Vermont’s racial stock.

It’s rich, because in September of 2021, the college expiated those sins by pushing someone else off the cliff: former Vermont Governor John Abner Mead, Middlebury’s renowned benefactor—all because of a speech he once gave about eugenics. For that crime, Middlebury ripped Mead’s family name off the iconic chapel he endowed.

The Mead estate, led by former Vermont Governor Jim Douglas, is suing Middlebury over the de-naming.

Background on the lawsuit, which we’ve covered from the beginning is here:

Middlebury blames Mead for sparking the eugenics movement in Vermont. But the school dances around how, exactly, one section of his departing speech as governor led to Vermont’s eugenics law enacted in 1931, 19 years after he delivered it and more than ten years after he died. That information, the school told Douglas, was confidential under its records retention policy and would remain sealed—for 75 years.

While Mead’s role in the eugenics movement remains a secret for the school to know and Mead’s family to find out, records showing Middlebury’s ties to it are in the public domain, assembled at the website.

And those ties, unlike Mead’s, run deep, casting doubt on the school’s true motive for de-naming the chapel.

“Eugenicists and Eugenics Sympathizers Were Trained at Middlebury”

Well before Mead’s 1912 Farewell Address and long after he died, Middlebury was offering courses in eugenics.

From a Middlebury Campus op-ed by Associate Professor Daniel Silva:

One only needs to browse the college’s course catalogs of the first decades of the 20th century to see the emergence of eugenics in the curriculum and across departments such as Pedagogy (later renamed Education and Psychology), Biology and Sociology. Looking at the 1931 course catalog alone, eugenics and ideas of social progress and pathology based on heredity and environment can be found in the descriptions of courses such as “Genetics and Embryology,” “Social Psychology” and “Educational Psychology,” in addition to nearly the entire course offering of the Sociology department. In this regard, Middlebury’s curriculum followed national and international trends of Europe and North America.

In fact, Middlebury began offering eugenics as far back as 1908 in a sociology course for seniors, “a study of race characteristics , heredity” … and “defectives and degenerates.” [P.46] The 1925 school bulletin includes eugenics in a required course for freshmen. [Pp. 6, 16] And as late as 1945, eugenics was taught as part of a genetics and population course. [Pp. 52, 83] It is “not a stretch” as Silva said, to conclude “that eugenicists and eugenics sympathizers were … trained at Middlebury.”

Middlebury Biology Professor: “We must blot out the unfit in our race”

Eugenicists sought to remove “defective” genes from the population by promoting eugenic marriages—i.e., “favorable matings” conducive to biological “fitness.”

In October of 1933, Middlebury College’s Biology Professor A.E. Lambert, a “strong advocate of eugenic marriages,” made the case for them in his lecture on “The Science of Modern Welfare.”

From the address:

We are living in an age of reason, an age when men are coming to the front in all branches; when science predominates. We must blot out the unfit in our race and to do this we must prevent marriages which are not eugenic. The defective strain always is in the ascendency, and it is a well established fact that when one normal person marries a feebleminded one the offspring takes to the weaker side and is sure to have some defective qualities.

If Lambert gave that speech at Middlebury today, he’d need a police escort to leave the room alive. That’s what happened in 2017 to conservative scholar Charles Murray, for his work on race and intelligence, when a bunch of Middlebury brats turned their backs on him, waving “No Eugenics” and “F*** Eugenics” posters as they shut down his speech in violent protest.

Recommended Reading: The “Best Books on Eugenics” 

Another Middlebury figure in the Vermont eugenics movement was Paul Dwight Moody. Moody was the president of Middlebury during the critical period when eugenics policy took hold in Vermont, from 1921 to 1942.

During that time, he was also chairman of the committee to study the racial stock of Vermont.

The committee recommendations, from the Burlington Daily News:

  1. That Vermonters be encouraged to keep and study their own family records with the aim of arousing their pride in the achievements and high qualities of the ancestral stock, so that the pride in turn may stimulate their better efforts and guide them in their choice of mates.

  2. That the doctrine be spread that it is the patriotic duty of every normal couple to have children sufficient in number to keep up to par the “good old Vermont stock.”

  3. That public opinion be strengthened in regard to the importance of heeding the laws of nature which affect human inheritance. That this be done through educating public opinion.  Some of the means by which this may be accomplished are reading the best library books on eugenics population, heredity and through debates, public discussions, lectures, study classes, etc.

Moody also once infamously remarked on the “fitness” of the student body at Middlebury, when asked whether any of his French Canadian students had “made a name for themselves”: “The whole of the French-Canadian population could be wiped out of Middlebury,” he replied, “and no one would miss it.”

Considering remarks like those by its president together with the school’s long history of promoting eugenics (all of which the school was aware), Middlebury should have de-named … Middlebury. If it were really concerned about erasing the legacy of eugenics, Middlebury would have looked in the mirror.

And that’s why it’s hard to see Middlebury’s de-naming as anything other than what it was: scapegoating.

For those woke virtue-signaling points, one fraction of one speech will do.

Meanwhile, as the litigation grinds on through the summer, one thing is clear: Middlebury College taught more about eugenics than Mead would ever know.


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The left still supports eugenics. It has always been a progressive idea. Whether it is abortion, sexually mutilating undesirables, killing granny they are always for it.

    fscarn in reply to geronl. | June 15, 2023 at 7:22 pm


    Imagine that there is a new scientific theory that warns of an impending crisis, and points to a way out.

    This theory quickly draws support from leading scientists, politicians, and celebrities around the world. Research is funded by distinguished philanthropies, and carried out at prestigious universities. The crisis is reported frequently in the media. The science is taught in college and high school classrooms.

    I don’t mean global warming. I’m talking about another theory, which rose to prominence a century ago.

    Its supporters included Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and Winston Churchill. It was approved by Supreme Court justices Oliver Wendell Holmes and Louis Brandeis, who ruled in its favor.The famous who supported it included Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone; activist Margaret Sanger; botanist Luther Burbank; Leland Stanford, founder of Stanford University; the novelist H.G. Wells; the playwright George Bernard Shaw; and hundreds of others. Nobel Prize winners gave support. Research was backed by the Carnegie and Rockefeller Foundations. The Cold Springs Harbor Institute was built to carry out this research, but important work was also done at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, and Johns Hopkins. Legislation to address this crisis was passed in states from New York to California.

    These efforts had the support of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Medical Association, and the National Research Council. It was said that if Jesus were alive, he would have supported this effort.

    ]read the rest]

    guyjones in reply to geronl. | June 15, 2023 at 10:07 pm

    I’m not an expert on this subject, but, this trend of screening of embryos for genetic and other disorders that is in vogue, now, would seem to cross heavily into unabashed eugenics territory.

    Valerie in reply to geronl. | June 16, 2023 at 8:58 am

    The Left supports murder. They support terrorism, war, and lethal medicine coupled with crushing oppression.

JohnSmith100 | June 15, 2023 at 6:56 pm

Eugenics was tarnished by Nazi horrible and heartless, brutal application. That does not mean all eugenics is bad. In fact it is practiced by people when then pick mates. Jewish woman are known to highly value intelligent mates. To what degree has this driven Ashkenazi Jews to have the highest average IQ of any group? Do we collectively look at the impact of mate selection with our potential offspring in mind. Do we consider economics?

At some point we nay be able to use genetic engineering to improve intelligence, that has the potential to raise intelligence & fix other defects which cause great suffering, it is just another way to do what they were trying to do with eugenics.

    SuddenlyHappyToBeHere in reply to JohnSmith100. | June 16, 2023 at 7:49 pm

    “ Jewish woman are known to highly value intelligent mates.”

    Just Jewish women do that, huh? You are an idiot and a racist.

Eugenic is the science, community, and religion of abortion.

This is Vermont we’re talking about, so “normal” and “rational” is nowhere in the general vicinity. Woke hysteria is the only team on that field.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair | June 15, 2023 at 9:59 pm

There is no question about genetics and various physical, personality, and intellectual traits. That has been known for millenia, starting with animal husbandry, but we all know how families share so many similarities in so many different aspects. Heritability and genetics is not up to question. Mating is the major driving factor in evolution. No doubt. The only point, here, is the idea that government should be in control of individual mating decisions.

Now, we do allow for government to intercede in exactly these circumstances in some specific cases – incest is disallowed (for very good reason). Evidently, New York state still requires black and latino couples to get blood tests for sickle cell (though marriage certificates are not withheld no matter the results).

But let us not get silly about mating and evolution. Heritability is the driving factor of evolution. People should certainly give it much thought in their individual mating decisions (and many groups are explicit about this, which is their right and often very sensible). But government has really no part in this. Incest should be argued to be disallowed just because we say so, without any reference to genetics and inherited weaknesses.

My shameful alma mater. What a disgrace. I had fun there and learned a few things, but, boy, this school is heading into the toilet, thanks to this obnoxious Maoist ethos.

The Gentle Grizzly | June 16, 2023 at 7:57 am

“It was a legitimate subject of public discourse and academic study.”

It still should be.

Not enough attention paid to the inhumanity of eugenics in this article and the crimes that it spawned.

    7Ford7 in reply to 7Ford7. | June 16, 2023 at 9:29 am

    Eugenics underpins the efforts of the 1% to blot out the rest of mankind. Gain of Function: eugenics. Mass vaccination without informed consent: eugenics. Take a look around you. Whenever an oligarch or a scholar with aspirations of being an oligarch embeds eugenics in their beliefs, genocide results.

Jhnmilller84 | June 16, 2023 at 9:50 am

Eugenics should still be taught. At least the concept as “the great evil that occurs when the government tries to play God.” It is after all just natural selection with authoritarianism replacing nature. We constantly see athletic couples producing athletic offspring, intellectually gifted couples producing intellectually gifted offspring, and attractive, vapid, celebrity couples producing attractive, vapid offspring. Because mate selection for desirable traits is built into human nature. The only evil in that is the same evil in most all government: when the government tries to control human nature for no reason other than to control humanity.

Our culture has been around the block about eugenics within a fairly short period of time. I was born in 1942, graduated from college in 1964, representing the post-Hitler era. My parents, born in 1914 and graduated from college in 1936, the pre-Hitler generation, believed in eugenics and selective breeding. And now today are we headed back into a eugenics era with abortion and sentiments such as “xxx lives matter”? Many are now caught up in “presentism”, digging up dirt from even a few decades ago that can be used to feel morally superior, shaming and blaming previous generations. Where this will all lead now is an open question.

What annoys me most about this is that University Students are being permitted to believe that changing a name actually changes something.

Every second-year student should know

“The word is not the thing; the map is not the territory”

Alfred Korzybski

Changing a name doesn’t change history.

E Howard Hunt | June 16, 2023 at 11:02 am

That building died long ago. How many students or faculty enter it to go down on their knees, and believing, pray to the one true Christian Lord? Were it off campus, it would have fallen into desuetude before becoming a pizza parlor or judo academy.

dave magill | June 19, 2023 at 5:56 pm

If all institutions that had bad ideas should be renamed, surely we should start with the Democrat party.