Lectures delivered by John Powell under the auspices of the lectureship in Music

Lectures delivered by John Powell under the auspices of the lectureship in Music

The Rice Institute Pamphlet
Volume 10, Number 3 (July 1923)
pages 107-163

Lectures delivered by John Powell
Palace Theatre of Houston
1923-04-05 through 1923-04-06

John Powell

Table of Contents

From “Music and the Nation”

This is America, a large country. We are the hope of the world. We stand for and safeguard the liberty of the world. We are the greatest country that ever existed or ever will exist. People of every race and clime have come to our shores, The white, the yellow, the red, the black, and the brown are all here in this great melting-pot. They are all free and equal in the brotherhood of man. Eventually they will fuse into a homogeneous mass, and the outcome of this amalgamation will be the highest type of humanity ever known in history—because this is America.

Nobody has more respect for America nor more pride in her than I myself. But it seems to me that the folly of this idea surpasses anything that has ever come within my knowledge. It is idiocy to suppose that mere contact with American soil can change age-old hereditary characters; that, because this is America, the action of ineluctable, biological laws will be suspended. The melting-pot should rather be termed the “witches’ cauldron.” And we can be well assured that no miraculous alchemy will transmute these tainted strains into the perfect superman. Indeed, nothing more preposterous than this theory has ever been preached to a long-suffering people. Why, we would not think of subjecting even our domestic animals to such conditions as these! Everyone knows that if he wishes to breed thorough-bred horses he cannot admix inferior breeds into the stock. The same applies to flowers, to garden vegetables. How dare we sit still and let happen to our children-bone of our bone, blood of our blood-that which we would not allow to happen to the very beasts of the field. I wish here and now to enter my protest against this insidious, this hideous doctrine with every drop of blood in my veins and every ounce of vigor in my body.

If there were no other reason for rejecting this solution of general miscegenation, the negro problem would furnish good and sufficient grounds. If the present ratio were to remain permanent, the inevitable product of the melting-pot would be approximately an octoroon. It should not be necessary to stress the significance of this point. We know that under the Mendelian law the African strain is hereditarily predominant. In other words, one drop of negro blood makes the negro. We also know that no higher race has ever beqn able to preserve its culture, to prevent decay and eventual degeneracy when tainted, even slightly, with negro blood. Sixty centuries of history establish this rule. Since the first page of recorded fact, history can show no exception. Were the American people to become an octoroon race, it would mean their sinking to the level of Haiti and Santo Domingo.

With the constant interchange of population between Europe and America, Europe would likewise inevitably become tainted. This would mean the degeneration of the whole Caucasian race, the annihilation of white civilization. For not only are the physical characteristics of the negro predominant, but the universal experience of the past, as well as the study of our own hybrids and the other negroid peoples of the present time, proves conclusively that his psychology is also hereditarily predominant. This is the reason why every race which has mixed blood with him has decayed. If we, in America, allow this contamination to proceed unchecked, our civilization is inexorably doomed, For the transmission of these characters is effected through the germ plasm; and, whether we accept or discard the more extreme deductions of Weismann, we must still admit that the poison is too deeply embedded to be eradicable by education, or by material, social, or political advantages. Once let our germ plasm become tainted, and all is irrevocably lost. For, granting that natural selection and the course of evolution might eventually produce from this contaminated mass a race of high order, even then aæons would have to elapse before any appreciable results could show themselves, and Anglo-Saxon civilization would long since have vanished eternally from the face of the earth. But if we reject this melting-pot solution, what is left to us?…

Read both papers here and here.

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