Timeline

1859
  • 1859 - 1859

    Charles Darwin publishes The Origin of Species, introducing the concepts of “natural selection” and “survival of the fittest” as ideas underpinning the course of evolution.

  • 1866 - 1866

    Gregor Mendel publishes results of experiments with pea plants that postulate a basic biological unit of heredity.

  • 1883 - 1883

    Sir Francis Galton, a science prodigy and half cousin of Charles Darwin, coins the term “eugenics” and publishes Inquiries Into Human Faculty and its Development, in which he puts forth the idea that “able” couples should be given incentives to have children.

  • 1904 - 1904

    The Carnegie Institution of Washington establishes the Station for Experimental Evolution at Cold Spring Harbor, New York.

  • 1907 - 1907

    Indiana becomes the first state to enact sterilization legislation, followed in 1909 by Washington and California.

  • 1921 - 1921

    The Station for Experimental Evolution at Cold Spring Harbor is reorganized as the Carnegie Institution Department of Genetics.

  • 1924 - 1924

    The U.S. National Origins Act severely reduces the number of immigrants to America from southern and eastern Europe who were seen by eugenicists like Harry Laughlin to be racially inferior to the Nordic immigrants from England and Germany.

  • 1925 - 1925

     
    Charles Davenport founds and becomes the first director of the International Federation of Eugenics Organizations.

  • 1927 - 1927

    Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell legitimizes forced sterilization of patients at a Virginia home for the mentally retarded.

  • 1933 - 1933

    Eugenics Board of North Carolina by the North Carolina State Legislature by the passage a bill entitled ‘An Act to Amend Chapter 34 of the Public Laws of 1929 of North Carolina Relating to the Sterilization of Persons Mentally Defective’.

  • 1936 - 1936


    Eugenics researcher Harry Laughlin is invited to an award ceremony at Heidelberg University in Germany (scheduled on the anniversary of Hitler’s 1934 purge of Jews from the Heidelberg faculty), to receive an honorary doctorate for his work on the “science of racial cleansing.”

  • 1953 - 1953

    The structure of DNA is resolved to be a double helix by James Watson and Francis Crick.

  • 1964 - 1964

    President Lyndon B. Johnson launches War on Poverty.

  • 1968 - 1968

    The number of African Americans living below the poverty line reaches a low of 27 percent, down from from 55 percent in 1960.

  • 1971 - 1971

    President Richard M. Nixon is taped saying, “We’re going to [put] more of these little Negro bastards on the welfare rolls at $2,400 a family” and “I have the greatest affection for them [Negroes] but I know they’re not going to make it for 500 years. They aren’t. You know it, too. The Mexicans are a different cup of tea. They have a heritage. At the present time they steal, they’re dishonest, but they do have some concept of family life. They don’t live like a bunch of dogs, which the Negroes do live like.”

  • 1976 - 1976

    Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan makes his “welfare queen” speech.

  • 1977 - 1977

    North Carolina General Assembly repeals the laws authorizing the existence of the state Eugenics Board though it would not be until 2003 that the involuntary sterilization laws that underpinned the Board’s operations were repealed.

  • 1977 - 1977

    DNA is sequenced for the first time by Fred Sanger, Walter Gilbert, and Allan Maxam working independently.

  • 1978 - 1978

    US Department of Health, Education and Welfare outlines a variety of prohibited sterilization practices that were often used previously to coerce or force women into sterilization.

  • 1996 - 1996

    President Bill Clinton signs the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, also known as “welfare reform,” which some critics considered to be motivated by racism and motivated using stereotypes of lazy, overweight, slovenly, sexually indulgent African-American welfare recipients.

  • 1997 - 1997

    Dolly the sheep is cloned by Ian Wilmut and colleagues from the Roslin Institute in Scotland.

  • 2003 - 2003

    Successful completion of Human Genome Project with 99% of the genome sequenced to a 99.99% accuracy.

  • 2005 - 2005

    Mother of Steven Thomas sues paint companies claiming her son was poisoned by toxic lead in their Milwaukee home.

  • 2008 - 2008

    Stock market crashes in the midst of the subprime mortgage crisis.

  • 2010 - 2010

    Real estate developer, reality TV producer/star, and future president of the United States tells CNN: “Well I think I was born with the drive for success because I have a certain gene…. I’m a gene believer… hey when you connect two race horses you get usually end up with a fast horse…I had a good gene pool.”

  • 2013 - 2013

    North Carolina lawmakers set aside $10 million for one-time payments to an estimated 1,500 people still alive who were part of a state program that sterilized 7,600 men, women and children from 1929 to 1974.

  • 2014 - 2014

    Lead in water crisis breaks in Flint, Michigan.

  • 2017 - 2017

    President Donald Trump signs executive order banning people from certain countries from entering the US.

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2017