Quotes from "The Passing of the Great Race" by Madison Grant

Or the racial basis of European history Here we have a selected list of quotes and excerpts that should serve as a nice summary for the entire book.

"The Passing of the Great Race," in its original form, was designed by the author to rouse his fellow Americans to the overwhelming importance of race and to the folly of the "Melting Pot" theory, even at the expense of bitter controversy. This purpose has been accomplished thoroughly, and one of the most far-reaching effects of the doctrines enunciated in this volume and in the discussions that followed its publication was the decision of the Congress of the United States to adopt discriminatory and restrictive measures against the immigration of undesirable races and peoples.

European history has been written in terms of nationality and of language, but never before in terms of race; yet race has played a far larger part than either language or nationality in moulding the destinies of men; race implies heredity and heredity implies all the moral, social and intellectual characteristics and traits which are the springs of politics and government.

The American sold his birthright in a continent to solve a labor problem.

The native Americans [American Nordics] are splendid raw material, but have as yet only an imperfectly developed national consciousness. They lack the instinct of self-preservation in a racial sense. Unless such an instinct develops their race will perish, as do all organisms which disregard this primary law of nature. Nature had granted to the Americans of a century ago the greatest opportunity in recorded history to produce in the isolation of a continent a powerful and racially homogeneous people and had provided for the experiment a pure race of one of the most gifted and vigorous stocks on earth, a stock free from the diseases, physical and moral, which have again and again sapped the vigor of the older lands. Our grandfathers threw away this opportunity in the blissful ignorance of national childhood and inexperience.

The Alpine, the Mediterranean and the Nordic, which enter into the composition of European populations of to-day and in various combinations comprise the great bulk of white men all over the world. These races vary intellectually and morally just as they do physically. Moral, intellectual and spiritual attributes are as persistent as physical characters and are transmitted substantially unchanged from generation to generation. These moral and physical characters are not limited to one race but given traits do occur with more frequency in one race than in another. Each race differs in the relative proportion of what we may term good and bad strains, just as nations do, or, for that matter, sections and classes of the same nation.

The moral tendency of the heredity interpretation of history is for our day and generation and is in strong accord with the true spirit of the modern eugenics movement in relation to patriotism, namely, the conservation and multiplication for our country of the best spiritual, moral, intellectual and physical forces of heredity; thus only will the integrity of our institutions be maintained in the future.

One of the curious effects of democracy is the unquestionable fact that there is less freedom of the press than under autocratic forms of government. It is well-nigh impossible to publish in the American newspapers any reflection upon certain religions or races which are hysterically sensitive even when mentioned by name. The underlying idea seems to be that if publication can be suppressed the facts themselves will ultimately disappear.

We Americans must realize that the altruistic ideals which have controlled our social development during the past century and the maudlin sentimentalism that has made America "an asylum for the oppressed," are sweeping the nation toward a racial abyss. If the Melting Pot is allowed to boil without control and we continue to follow our national motto and deliberately blind ourselves to all "distinctions of race, creed or color," the type of native American of Colonial descent will become as extinct as the Athenian of the age of Pericles, and the Viking of the days of Rollo.

Race feeling may be called prejudice by those whose careers are cramped by it but it is a natural antipathy which serves to maintain the purity of type. The unfortunate fact that nearly all species of men interbreed freely leaves us no choice in the matter. Races must be kept apart by artificial devices of this sort or they ultimately amalgamate and in the offspring the more generalized or lower type prevails.

The continuity of physical traits and the limitation of the effects of environment to the individual only are now so thoroughly recognized by scientists that it is at most a question of time when the social consequences which result from such crossings will be generally understood by the public at large. As soon as the true bearing and import of the facts are appreciated by lawmakers a complete change in our political structure will inevitably occur and our present reliance on the influence of education will be superseded by a readjustment based on racial values.

Situated on the eastern marches of Europe, the Slavs were submerged during long periods in the Middle Ages by Mongolian hordes and were checked in development and warped in culture. Definite traces remain of the blood of the Mongols both in isolated and compact groups in south Russia and also scattered throughout the whole country as far west as the German boundary. The high tide of the Mongol invasion was during the thirteenth century. Three hundred years later the great Muscovite expansion began, first over the steppes to the Urals and then across Siberian tundras and forests to the waters of the Pacific, taking up in its course much Mongolian blood, especially during the early stages of its advance.

The country villages and the farms are the nurseries of nations, while cities are consumers and seldom producers of men. The effort now being made in America to settle undesirable immigrants on farms may, from the viewpoint of race replacement, be more dangerous than allowing them to remain in crowded Ghettos or tenements.

Women in all human races, as the females among all mammals, tend to exhibit the older, more generalized and primitive traits of the past of the race. The male in his individual development indicates the direction in which the race is tending under the influence of variation and selection.

The term "Caucasian race" has ceased to have any meaning except where it is used, in the United States, to contrast white populations with Negroes or Indians or in the Old World with Mongols

One of the curious effects of democracy is the unquestionable fact that there is less freedom of the press than under autocratic forms of government. It is well-nigh impossible to publish in the American newspapers any reflection upon certain religions or races which are hysterically sensitive even when mentioned by name. The underlying idea seems to be that if publication can be suppressed the facts themselves will ultimately disappear. Abroad, conditions are fully as bad, and we have the authority of one of the most eminent anthropologists in France that the collection of anthropological measurements and data among French recruits at the outbreak of the Great War was prevented by Jewish influence, which aimed to suppress any suggestion of racial differentiation in France.

Race and Civilization

The value and efficiency of a population are not numbered by what the newspapers call souls, but by the proportion of men of physical and intellectual vigor. The small Colonial population of America was, on an average and man for man, far superior to the present inhabitants, although the latter are twenty-five times more numerous. The ideal in eugenics toward which statesmanship should be directed is, of course, improvement in quality rather than quantity. This, however, is at present a counsel of perfection and we must face conditions as they are.

The Romans died out but the slaves survived and their descendants form the great majority of the south Italians of to-day.

Slaves began to be imported into Italy in numbers in the second century B. C. to work the large plantations - latifundia - of the wealthy Romans. This importation of slaves and the ultimate extension of the Roman citizenship to their manumitted descendants and to inferior races throughout the growing Empire and the losses in internal and foreign wars, ruined the state. In America we find another close parallel in the Civil War and the subsequent granting of citizenship to Negroes and to ever increasing numbers of immigrants of plebeian, servile or Oriental races, who throughout history have shown little capacity to create, organize or even to comprehend Republican institutions.

In Rome, when this change in blood was substantially complete, the state could no longer be operated under Republican forms of government and the Empire arose to take its place. At the beginning the Empire was clothed in the garb of republicanism in deference to such Roman elements as still persisted in the Senate and among the Patricians but ultimately these external forms were discarded and the state became virtually a pure despotism.

The new population understood little and cared less for the institutions of the ancient Republic but they were jealous of their own rights of "Bread and the Circus" - "panem et circenses" - and there began to appear in place of the old Roman religion the mystic rites of Eastern countries so welcome to the plebeian and uneducated soul. The Emperors to please the vulgar erected from time to time new shrines to strange gods utterly unknown to the Romans of the early Republic. In America, also, strange temples, which would have been abhorrent to our Colonial ancestors, are multiplying and our streets and parks are turned over to monuments to foreign "patriots," designed not to please the artistic sense of the passer-by but to gratify the national preference of some alien element in the electorate.

In the Europe of to-day the amount of Nordic blood in each nation is a very fair measure of its strength in war and standing in civilization. The proportion of men of pure type of each constituent race to the mixed type is also a powerful factor.

Deep seated Castilian traditions associate aristocracy with blondness and the sangre azul, or blue blood of Spain, probably refers to the blue eye of the Goth, whose traditional claim to lordship is also shown in the Spanish name for gentleman, "hidalgo," said to mean "the son of the Goth." The fact that the blood shows as "blue" through the fair Nordic skin is also to be taken into account.

As long as this Gothic nobility controlled the Spanish states during the endless crusades against the Moors, Spain belonged to the Nordic kingdoms, but when their blood became impaired by losses in wars waged outside of Spain and in the conquest of the Americas, the sceptre fell from this noble race into the hands of the native Iberian, who had not the physical vigor or the intellectual strength to maintain the world empire built up by the stronger race. For 200 years the Spanish infantry had no equal in Europe but this distinction disappeared with the opening decades of the seventeenth century.

Nordic Race

[Nordic] race is long skulled, very tall, fair skinned with blond or brown hair and light colored eyes. The Nordics inhabit the countries around the North and Baltic Seas and include not only the great Scandinavian and Teutonic groups, but also other early peoples who first appear in southern Europe and in Asia as representatives of Aryan language and culture.

The men of Nordic blood to-day form practically all the population of Scandinavian countries, as also a majority of the population of the British Isles and are almost pure in type in Scotland and eastern and northern England. The Nordic realm includes nearly all the northern third of France with extensions into the fertile southwest; all the rich lowlands of Flanders; all Holland; the northern half of Germany with extensions up the Rhine and down the Danube; and the north of Poland and of Russia. Recent calculations indicate that there are about 90,000,000 of purely Nordic physical type in Europe out of a total population of 420,000,000.

We have shown that the Mediterranean race entered Europe from the south and forms part of a great group of peoples extending into southern Asia, that the Alpine race came from the east through Asia Minor and the valley of the Danube and that its present European distribution is merely the westernmost point of an ethnic pyramid, the base of which rests solidly on the round skulled peoples of the great plateau of central Asia. Both of these races are, therefore, western extensions of Asiatic subspecies and neither of them can be considered as exclusively European.

With the remaining race, the Nordic, however, the case is different. This is a purely European type, in the sense that it has developed its physical characters and its civilization within the confines of that continent. It is, therefore, the Homo europaeus, the white man par excellence.

In Hindustan the blond Nordic invaders forced their Aryan language on the aborigines, but their blood was quickly and utterly absorbed in the darker strains of the original owners of the land. A record of the desperate efforts of the conqueror classes in India to preserve the purity of their blood persists until this very day in their carefully regulated system of castes. In our Southern States Jim Crow cars and social discriminations have exactly the same purpose and justification.

The Hindu to-day speaks a very ancient form of Aryan language, but there remains not one recognizable trace of the blood of the white conquerors who poured in through the passes of the Northwest. The boast of the modern Indian that he is of the same race as his English ruler is entirely without basis in fact and the little swarthy native lives amid the monuments of a departed grandeur, professing the religion and speaking the tongue of his long forgotten Nordic conquerors, without the slightest claim to blood kinship. The dim and uncertain traces of Nordic blood in northern India only serve to emphasize the utter swamping of the white man in the burning South.

Eye color is of very great importance in race determination because all blue, gray or green eyes in the world to-day came originally from the same source, namely, the Nordic race of northern Europe. This light colored eye has appeared nowhere else on earth, is a specialization of this subspecies of man only and consequently is of extreme value in the classification of European races. Dark colored eyes are all but universal among wild mammals and entirely so among the primates, man's nearest relatives. It may be taken as an absolute certainty that all the original races of man had dark eyes.

Blond hair also comes everywhere from the Nordic subspecies and from nowhere else. Whenever we find blondness among the darker races of the earth we may be sure some Nordic wanderer has passed that way. When individuals of perfect blond type occur, as sometimes in Greek islands, we may suspect a recent visit of sailors from a passing ship but when only single characters remain spread thinly, but widely, over considerable areas, like the blondness of the Atlas Berbers or of the Albanian mountaineers, we must search in the dim past for the origin of these blurred traits of early invaders.

Denmark, Norway and Sweden are purely Nordic and yearly contribute swarms of a splendid type of immigrants to America and are now, as they have been for thousands of years, the chief nursery and broodland of the master race.

Sweden, after sending forth her Goths and other early Teutonic tribes, turned her attention to the shores of the eastern Baltic, colonized the coast of Finland and the Baltic provinces and supplied also a strong Scandinavian element to the aristocracy of Russia.

The coast of Finland is as a result Swedish and the natives of the interior have distinctly Nordic characters with the exception of the skull, which in its roundness shows an Alpine cross.

The population of the so-called Baltic provinces of Russia is everywhere Nordic and their affinities are with Scandinavia and Germany rather than with Slavic Moscovy. The most primitive Aryan languages, namely, Lettish, Lithuanian and the recently extinct Old Prussian, are found in this neighborhood and here we are not far from the original Nordic homeland.


This same Nordic element, everywhere the type of the sailor, the soldier, the adventurer and the pioneer, was ever the type to migrate to new countries, until the ease of transportation and the desire to escape military service in the last forty years reversed the immigrant tide. In consequence of this change our immigrants now largely represent lowly refugees from "persecution," and other social discards.

In most cases the blood of pioneers has been lost to their race. They did not take their women with them. They either died childless or left half breeds behind them. The virile blood of the Spanish conquistadores, who are now little more than a memory in Central and South America, died out from these causes.

This was also true in the early days of our Western frontiersmen, who individually were a far finer type than the settlers who followed them. In fact, it is said that practically every one of the Forty-Niners [people in search of gold] in California was of Nordic type.

It sometimes happens that an infiltration of population takes place either in the guise of unwilling slaves or of willing immigrants, who fill up waste places and take to the lowly tasks which the lords of the land despise, thus gradually occupying the country and literally breeding out their masters.

The former catastrophe happened in the declining days of the Roman Republic and the south Italians of to-day are very largely descendants of the nondescript slaves of all races, chiefly from the southern and eastern coasts of the Mediterranean, who were imported by the Romans under the Empire to work their vast estates. The latter is occurring to-day in many parts of America, especially in New England.


Where two distinct species are located side by side history and biology teach that but one of two things can happen; either one race drives the other out, as the Americans exterminated the Indians and as the Negroes are now replacing the whites in various parts of the South; or else they amalgamate and form a population of race bastards in which the lower type ultimately preponderates.

What the Melting Pot actually does in practice can be seen in Mexico, where the absorption of the blood of the original Spanish conquerors by the native Indian population has produced the racial mixture which we call Mexican and which is now engaged in demonstrating its incapacity for self-government. The world has seen many such mixtures and the character of a mongrel race is only just beginning to be understood at its true value.

It must be borne in mind that the specializations which characterize the higher races are of relatively recent development, are highly unstable and when mixed with generalized or primitive characters tend to disappear. Whether we like to admit it or not, the result of the mixture of two races, in the long run, gives us a race reverting to the more ancient, generalized and lower type. The cross between a white man and an Indian is an Indian; the cross between a white man and a Negro is a Negro; the cross between a white man and a Hindu is a Hindu; and the cross between any of the three European races and a Jew is a Jew.

It is scarcely necessary to cite the universal distrust, often contempt, that the half-breed between two sharply contrasted races inspires the world over. Belonging physically and spiritually to the lower race, but aspiring to recognition as one of the higher race, the unfortunate mongrel, in addition to a disharmonic physique, often inherits from one parent an unstable brain which is stimulated and at times overexcited by flashes of brilliancy from the other. The result is a total lack of continuity of purpose, an intermittent intellect goaded into spasmodic outbursts of energy.

Physical and psychical disharmonies are common among crosses between Indians, negroes and whites, but where the parents are more closely related racially we often obtain individuals occupying the border-land between genius and insanity.

The essential character of all these racial mixtures is a lack of harmony - both physical and mental - in the first few generations. Then, if the strain survives, it is by the slow reversion to one of the parent types - almost inevitably the lower.

In the crossing of the blond and brunet elements of a population, the more deeply rooted and ancient dark traits are prepotent or dominant. This is matter of every-day observation and the working of this law of nature is not influenced or affected by democratic institutions or by religious beliefs. Nature cares not for the individual nor how he may be modified by environment. She is concerned only with the perpetuation of the species or type and heredity alone is the medium through which she acts.

As measured in terms of centuries these characters are fixed and rigid and the only benefit to be derived from a changed environment and better food conditions is the opportunity afforded a race which has lived under adverse conditions to achieve its maximum development but the limits of that development are fixed for it by heredity and not by environment.


Mistaken regard for what are believed to be divine laws and a sentimental belief in the sanctity of human life tend to prevent both the elimination of defective infants and the sterilization of such adults as are themselves of no value to the community. The laws of nature require the obliteration of the unfit and human life is valuable only when it is of use to the community or race.

War is in the highest sense dysgenic rather than eugenic. It is destructive of the best strains, spiritually, morally and physically. For the world's future the destruction of wealth is a small matter compared with the destruction of the best human strains, for wealth can be renewed while these strains of the real human aristocracy once lost are lost forever. In the new world that we are working and fighting for, the world of liberty, of justice and of humanity, we shall save democracy only when democracy discovers its own aristocracy as in the days when our Republic was founded.

Efforts to increase the birth rate of the genius producing classes of the community, while most desirable, encounter great difficulties. In such efforts we encounter social conditions over which we have as yet no control. It was tried two thousand years ago by Augustus and his efforts to avert race suicide and the extinction of the old Roman stock were singularly prophetic of what some far seeing men are attempting in order to preserve the race of native Americans of Colonial descent.

Man has the choice of two methods of race improvement. He can breed from the best or he can eliminate the worst by segregation or sterilization. The first method was adopted by the Spartans, who had for their national ideals military efficiency and the virtues of self-control, and along these lines the results were completely successful. Under modern social conditions it would be extremely difficult in the first instance to determine which were the most desirable types, except in the most general way and even if a satisfactory selection were finally made, it would be in a democracy a virtual impossibility to limit by law the right to breed to a privileged and chosen few.

Interesting efforts to improve the quality as well as the quantity of the population, however, will probably be made in more than one country after the war [World War I] has ended.


It was to be expected that there would be bitter opposition to those definitions of race which are based on physical and psychical characters that are immutable, rather than upon those derived from language or political allegiance, that are easily altered.

To admit the unchangeable differentiation of race in its modern scientific meaning is to admit inevitably the existence of superiority in one race and of inferiority in another. Such an admission we can hardly expect from those of inferior races. These inferior races and classes are prompt to recognize in such an admission the very real danger to themselves of being relegated again to their former obscurity and subordinate position in society.

Throughout history it is only the race of the leaders that has counted and the most vigorous have been in control and will remain in mastery in one form or another until such time as democracy and its illegitimate offspring, socialism, definitely establish cacocracy [rule by the worst] and the rule of the worst and put an end to progress. The salvation of humanity will then lie in the chance survival of some sane barbarians who may retain the basic truth that inequality and not equality is the law of nature.

Democratic theories of government in their modern form are based on dogmas of equality formulated some hundred and fifty years ago and rest upon the assumption that environment and not heredity is the controlling factor in human development. Philanthropy and noble purpose dictated the doctrine expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the document which to-day constitutes the actual basis of American institutions.

The men who wrote the words, "we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal," were themselves the owners of slaves and despised Indians as something less than human. Equality in their minds meant merely that they were just as good Englishmen as their brothers across the sea. The words "that all men are created equal" have since been subtly falsified by adding the word "free," although no such expression is found in the original document and the teachings based on these altered words in the American public schools of to-day would startle and amaze the men who formulated the Declaration.

So long as there is in the world a freely breeding stock or race that has in it an inherent capacity for development and growth, mankind will continue to ascend until, possibly through the selection arid regulation of breeding as intelligently applied as in the case of domestic animals, it will control its own destiny and attain moral heights as yet unimagined.

The impulse upward, however, is supplied by a very small number of nations and by a very small proportion of the population in such nations. The section of any community that produces leaders or genius of any sort is only a minute percentage. To utilize and adapt to human needs the forces and the raw materials of nature, to invent new processes, to establish new principles, and to elucidate and unravel the laws that control the universe call for genius. To imitate or to adopt what others have invented is not genius but mimicry.

This something which we call "genius" is not a matter of family, but of stock or strain, and is inherited in precisely the same manner as are the purely physical characters. It may be latent through several generations of obscurity and then flare up when the opportunity comes. Of this we have many examples in America. This is what education or opportunity does for a community; it permits in these rare cases fair play for development, but it is race, always race, that produces genius. An individual of inferior type or race may profit greatly by good environment. On the other hand, a member of a superior race in bad surroundings may, and very often does, sink to an extremely low level. While emphasizing the importance of race, it must not be forgotten that environment, while it does not alter the potential capacity of the stock, can perform miracles in the development of the individual.

In the democratic forms of government the operation of universal suffrage tends toward the selection of the average man for public office rather than the man qualified by birth, education and integrity. How this scheme of administration will ultimately work out remains to be seen but from a racial point of view it will inevitably increase the preponderance of the lower types and cause a corresponding loss of efficiency in the community as a whole.

The tendency in a democracy is toward a standardization of type and a diminution of the influence of genius. A majority must of necessity be inferior to a picked minority and it always resents specializations in which it cannot share.

In the French Revolution the majority, calling itself "the people," deliberately endeavored to destroy the higher type and something of the same sort was in a measure done after the American Revolution by the expulsion of the Loyalists and the confiscation of their lands, with a resultant loss to the growing nation of good race strains, which were in the next century replaced by immigrants of far lower type.

In America we have nearly succeeded in destroying the privilege of birth; that is, the intellectual and moral advantage a man of good stock brings into the world with him. We are now engaged in destroying the privilege of wealth; that is, the reward of successful intelligence and industry and in some quarters there is developing a tendency to attack the privilege of intellect and to deprive a man of the advantage gained from an early and thorough classical education. Simplified spelling is a step in this direction. Ignorance of English grammar or classic learning must not, forsooth, be held up as a reproach to the political or social aspirant.

Mankind emerged from savagery and barbarism under the leadership of selected individuals whose personal prowess, capacity or wisdom gave them the right to lead and the power to compel obedience. Such leaders have always been a minute fraction of the whole, but as long as the tradition of their predominance persisted they were able to use the brute strength of the unthinking herd as part of their own force and were able to direct at will the blind dynamic impulse of the slaves, peasants or lower classes. Such a despot had an enormous power at his disposal which, if he were benevolent or even intelligent, could be used and most frequently was used for the general uplift of the race. Even those rulers who most abused this power put down with merciless rigor the antisocial elements, such as pirates, brigands or anarchists, which impair the progress of a community, as disease or wounds cripple an individual.

True aristocracy or a true republic is government by the wisest and best, always a small minority in any population. Human society is like a serpent dragging its long body on the ground, but with the head always thrust a little in advance and a little elevated above the earth. The serpent's tail, in human society represented by the antisocial forces, was in the past dragged by sheer strength along the path of progress. Such has been the organization of mankind from the beginning, and such it still is in older communities than ours.