151. Your Family Tree: The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto from archive.org
Your Family Tree
In 1896, Latin and Slavic immigration exceeded in body count for the first time the numbers arriving from the ancient lands of the Anglo-Saxons. In certain circles that was deemed a catastrophe second only to the Deluge. This moment hadbeen anticipated for years, of course, and protections for good blood, or "the gene pool" as some preferred to call it, were popping like corn in the form of exclusionary associations you've seen and others like them. This was defensive. But other implements of war were being fashioned, weapons of offensive capability, social engines like modern factory schools, standing armies, social work empires designed to remake incoming aliens into shapes more agreeable to the spirit of the "Great Race," a term I'll explain in a moment. This machinery was grinding out "Americanized" Americans by 1913, just sixty-two years after the Know-Nothing Party of Massachusetts invented the term.
New hereditary societies took a leading hand in Americanization. So did important monied interests. Chicago financial power got the Children's Court idea rolling at the beginning of the twentieth century, just as Boston railroad, mining, and real estate interests had initiated the compulsion school idea in the nineteenth. The Children's Court institution was nationalized rapidly, a most effective intimidation to use against uncooperative immigrants. Such courts soon displayed a valuable second side, supplying children to the childless of the politically better-connected sort with few questions asked. The similarity of this transfer function to the historic "Baby Trains" of Charles Loring Brace's "Children's Aid Society" fifty years earlier wasn't lost on the new breed of social engineer graduating from the right colleges in 1900.
These new activist graduates, trained in the Chicago school of sociology and its anthropological variants by Ross, Cooley, Boas, and other seminal figures, had little sentimentality about individual destinies or family sovereignty either. All thought in terms of the collective improvement of society by long-range evolution. In the short run all were environmental determinists who believed protoplasm was wonderfully malleable, if not entirely empty.
In 1898 the D.A.R., best known of all hereditarian societies, began issuing scientifically designed propaganda lectures on American history and government. By 1904, the Society of Colonial Dames was preparing school curriculum. In the same year, the Sons of the American Revolution distributed millions of pieces of historical interpretation to schools, all paid for by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Social Register, founded 1887, quickly became a useful index for the new associational aristocracy, bearing witness to those who could be trusted with the exciting work underway. Tiffany's started a genealogy department in 1875 to catch the first business from elites made edgy by The Descent of Man and, as the century ended, genealogical reference books — the Gore Roll, Boston's American Armoury and Blue Book, and more — came tumbling off the assembly line to assist Anglo-Saxons in finding each other.
As late as 1929, even with Mein Kampf in bookstalls telling the story of Aryans past and present, David Starr Jordan, president of Stanford, published his own guide to good blood, Your Family Tree. It provided in painstaking detail the descent of America's new industrial aristocracy, from monarchs of great Aryan houses. Abe Lincoln, Grover Cleveland, and John D. Rockefeller, said Jordan, came out of the house of Henry I of France; Ulysses S. Grant was in a line from William the Conqueror; Coolidge and Shakespeare descended from Charlemagne. William Howard Taft, J. P. Morgan, and Jordan himself from King David of Scotland! So it went. 4 Was this all just simple amusement or did the game have some implications for the rest of us not so blue- blooded? Who were these fabulous Aryans the scholars were talking about? What was this "Great Race"? The answers were to prove both fabulous and chilling.
4. The Crane plumbing family rejected the coat of arms suggested for them, a hand gripping the handle of a toilet chain with the motto "Apres moi le deluge."
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