A hitherto unexplored aspect of Darwin's work in Adrian Desmond and James Moore's book, Darwin's Sacred Cause. The review is fascinating. I can only imagine how good the book is.
With growing horror, he [Darwin] observed slavery in Brazil and the genocide of indigenous peoples in Argentina, and decried both in his Voyage of the Beagle: "It makes one's blood boil, yet heart tremble, to think that we Englishmen and our American descendants, with their boastful cry of liberty, have been and are so guilty," he wrote in the 1845 edition of his popular travelogue.
By proving that all animal species descend from common ancestors, Darwin hoped to undercut the biological rationale for slavery without the need to draw distracting fire by addressing human origins directly, especially before he had amassed all the data he would need to prove decisively that humans also evolved.
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Two men. Born on the same day. In the same year. "Each, in his own way, fought vigorously against slavery."