“To Eliminate the Defectives”

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One of the main arguments of those in favor of eugenic sterilization and segregation was the supposed financial drain “defectives” had on America’s financial resources. In this statement by Alexander Johnson of the National Conference of Charities & Corrections, Johnson suggests that isolating “feebleminded” from “normal” Americans and eliminating their ability to have children would save taxpayers from the expense of prisons, reform homes, and orphanages in which he claims these people will inevitably end up.

Today, politicians and talking heads make similar arguments about the financial burden of caring for people with disabilities, low-income families, and immigrants. What would America look like if we were concerned with all members of society rather than just those who are deemed “productive”?

Images Courtesy of the American Philosophical Society