The Species Problem: Nineteenth-Century Concepts of Racial Inferiority in the Origin of Man Controversy



The species problem and its implications in the origin of man controversy had grown in importance in prewar America owing largely to the question of slavery. Implicit in the problem was the position of the so-called inferior races in society. The monogenists, despite their emphasis on environmentalism, were no more favorable to the Negro, except in their remote theoretical stance. The Civil War—not Darwin—brought the controversy to an end in America, but it continued to rage in Europe. The apparent synthesis of the schools during the 1870s did not disturb the stereotyped ideas of racial inferiority. The “inferior races” remained the basis of evolutionary discussion, leaving them as remote outcasts of the evolutionary struggle.