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Darwin's Sacred Cause: Race, Slavery and the Quest for Human Origins


Darwin's Sacred Cause: Race, Slavery and the Quest for Human Origins Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

There has always been a mystery surrounding Darwin: How did this quiet, respectable gentleman come to beget one of the most radical ideas in the history of human thought? It is difficult to overstate what Darwin was risking in publishing his theory of evolution. So it must have been something very powerfuland#8212;a moral fire, as Desmond and Moore put itand#8212;that helped propel him. That moral fire, they argue, was a passionate hatred of slavery.

In opposition to the apologists for slavery who argued that blacks and whites had originated as separate species, Darwin believed the races belonged to the same human family. Slavery was a and#8220;sin,and#8221; and abolishing it became his and#8220;sacred cause.and#8221; By extending the abolitionistsand#8217; idea of human brotherhood to all life, Darwin developed our modern view of evolution.

Drawing on a wealth of fresh manuscripts, family letters, diaries, and even shipsand#8217; logs, Desmond and Moore argue that only by acknowledging Darwinand#8217;s abolitionist heritage can we fully understand the development of his groundbreaking ideas.

About the Author

Adrian Desmond is an honorary research fellow in the biology department at University College London and the author of seven other books on evolution and Victorian science, including an acclaimed biography, Huxley. James Mooreand#8217;s books include The Post-Darwinian Controversies and The Darwin Legend. He has taught at Harvard, Notre Dame, and McMaster University, and is professor of the history of science at the Open University. Desmond and Mooreand#8217;s Darwin (1991) won the James Tait Black Prize as well as three other awards; it has been widely translated.

Table of Contents



Introduction: Unshackling Creation

1. The Intimate ‘Blackamoor 

2. Racial Numb-Skulls 

3. All Nations of One Blood 

4. Living in Slave Countries 

5. Common Descent: From the Father of Man to the Father of All Mammals 

6. Hybridizing Humans 

7. This Odious Deadly Subject 

8. Domestic Animals and Domestic Institutions 

9. Oh for Shame Agassiz!  

10.  The Contamination of Negro Blood 

11. The Secret Science Drifts from Its Sacred Cause 

12. Cannibals and the Confederacy in London 

13. The Descent of the Races 




Product Details

Desmond, Adrian J.
University of Chicago Press
Desmond, A.
Desmond, Adrian
Moore, James
Great britain
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
30 halftones
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

Biography » Science and Technology
History and Social Science » Sociology » Slavery
Reference » Science Reference » Philosophy of Science
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Darwin Criticism
Science and Mathematics » Biology » Evolution
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General

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