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From Collier’s Wonder Book, 1920.

Causes of Insanity

Thursday, May 29, 2014


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From The American Ladies’ Magazine, February, 1834.


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From Atkinson’s Casket, March, 1833.

A Simple Primer on Race Relations

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


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From Pictures and Stories for Children, Part I, 1837. This little children’s book paints an unrealistically rosy picture of Southern life (the only hint that some of these people are slaves is that the black woman is driving flies away from the white woman), but its simple message of fundamental equality is still cheering to hear today. Doubtless a Southern slaveholder would have regarded it as appalling moral relativism; and so, perhaps, in one page from a children’s book, we see why the Civil War was inevitable.


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From A System of Modern Geography, 1871. —This summary of the nonsense that passed for “ethnography” comes from a school book, so students were required to absorb, and doubtless regurgitate, the knowledge that, for example, Asian people are “limited in genius and slow in progress.” The superiority of the Caucasians is shown in their being the only race to have developed ornamental sideburns.