The Brain of the American Negro and American Negroes in the Civil War
OffprintWILDER, Burt G. The Brain of the American Negro. New York: National Negro Committee, 1909. Octavo, original printed wrapper, numerous illustrations. 66, 222-225 pages as issued. An offprint from the rare first Proceedings of the National Negro Conference which included important work by W.E.B. Du Bois and Ida Wells-Barnett. Burt Green Wilder (1841-1909) was a white neurologist at Cornell University who had spent the Civil War years as the surgeon of the 55th Massachusetts Infantry, which welcomed African-American troops. In this piece, Wilder makes a scientific argument that there is no 'natural' inferiority of the African-American. It begins with the question, "Do any physical characteristics of the brain of the American Negro warrant discrimination against him?" and concludes "There has been found no constant feature by which the Negro brain may certainly be distinguished from that of a Caucasian, whereas either of them is at once distinguishable from the brain of an ape" (page 40). Numerous illustrations of brains are included to underscore his point. The article then takes an unexpected turn with a section titled "American Negroes in the Civil War," drawing on his personal war experience as evidence that the soldiers of the 55th Massachusetts exhibited "as high a kind of moral courage as has been chronicled in the history of the world." Minor wear to backstrip; minimal wear to contents. In very good condition.
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