Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of HR0024
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Full Text of HR0024  102nd General Assembly




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2    WHEREAS, It is in the interest of the House of
3Representatives to make sure the dark chapters of the history
4of the United States are not forgotten, so we do not repeat
5them; one such chapter is the eugenics movement in the United
6States; and
7    WHEREAS, The term eugenics was first coined by Francis
8Galton in the late 1800s and comes from the Greek roots for
9"good" and "origin" or "good birth"; eugenics involves
10applying principles of genetics and heredity for the purpose
11of improving the human race; eugenics claimed the scientific
12ability to classify individuals and groups as "fit" or
13"unfit"; the "unfit" were defined by race, mental and physical
14disabilities, country of origin, and poverty; and
15    WHEREAS, The eugenics movement took root in the United
16States in the early 1900s and was led by Charles Davenport, a
17prominent biologist, and Harry Laughlin, a former teacher and
18principal interested in breeding; in 1910, Davenport founded
19the Eugenics Record Office (ERO) at Cold Spring Harbor
20Laboratory on Long Island "to improve the natural, physical,
21mental, and temperamental qualities of the human family";
22eugenics was widely accepted by academics, politicians,
23intellectuals, government, the U.S. Supreme Court and



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1progressives; and
2    WHEREAS, While the English eugenics movement focused on
3selective breeding for positive traits, the eugenics movement
4in the U.S. focused on eliminating negative traits; these
5"undesirable" traits, such as poverty, mental disability,
6dwarfism, promiscuity, criminality, and others, were most
7often concentrated in poor, uneducated, and minority
8populations; and
9    WHEREAS, Along with being a scientific movement, eugenics
10also became a popular social movement that peaked in the 1920s
11and 30s; during this period, the American Eugenics Society was
12founded, in addition to many local societies and groups around
13the country; many movies and books promoting eugenic
14principles became popular; and
15    WHEREAS, Supporters of eugenics helped drive legislation
16for the forced sterilization of people deemed to have
17undesirable traits; the first state to enact a sterilization
18law was Indiana in 1907, quickly followed by California and 28
19other states by 1931; these laws resulted in the forced
20sterilization of over 64,000 people in the United States; the
21eugenics movement even received support from the Supreme Court
22in 1927 when the Court ruled that the State of Virginia had the
23legal right to forcibly sterilize Carrie Buck for promiscuity



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1(Buck vs Bell); and
2    WHEREAS, California's eugenics program was so robust that
3the Nazis turned to the state for advice on perfecting their
4own efforts; Hitler proudly admitted to following the laws of
5several American states that allowed for the prevention of
6reproduction of the "unfit"; the Nazis defense at the
7Nuremberg trials even cited Buck vs Bell as justification for
8Germany's sterilization program; and
9    WHEREAS, While Illinois did not pass any eugenics-related
10sterilization laws, the General Assembly did pass a law in
111915 which allowed for the indefinite institutionalization of
12any person deemed "feebleminded" by an expert; and
13    WHEREAS, The U.S. eugenics movement finally began to lose
14power in the 1940s and was completely discredited following
15the horrors of Nazi Germany; and
16    WHEREAS, While atrocities such as slavery and the
17treatment of Native Americas are well known, the U.S. eugenics
18movement is not as recognized and hardly appears in many high
19school U.S. history textbooks; this is despite the widespread
20impact of the eugenics movement, especially on national policy
21making and on our educational system, including the framework
22of school curriculum and standardized testing; and



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1    WHEREAS, With the current political focus on
2discrimination and racism, the inclusion of information about
3the U.S. eugenics movement in the high school American history
4curriculum would help increase awareness about this horrific
5part of American history, would help prevent future
6generations from repeating the mistakes of the past, and would
7help in rectifying the impact of those mistakes; therefore, be
11we urge the history of the eugenics movement in the United
12States be included in U.S. history classes; and be it further
13    RESOLVED, That we encourage the people of Illinois to
14educate themselves on the history of eugenics in the United
15States; and be it further
16    RESOLVED, That suitable copies of this resolution be
17delivered to the State Board of Education to be disseminated
18to all schools in Illinois, the Illinois Library Association
19to be disseminated to all libraries in the State, the Library
20of Congress, the National Archives and Records Administration,
21the National Museum of African American History and Culture,
22the DuSable Museum of African American History, the Governor



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1of Illinois, the Mayor of Chicago, and all members of the
2General Assembly.