Madison Grant’s The Passing of the Great Race, published in 1916, is a classic in race studies. Below, a few excerpts from the first chapter, “Race and democracy” (no ellipsis added):
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.
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.
In an aristocratic as distinguished from a plutocratic or democratic organization the intellectual and talented classes form the point of the lance while the massive shaft represents the body of the population and adds by its bulk and weight to the penetrative impact of the tip. In a democratic system this concentrated force is dispersed throughout the mass. It supplies, to be sure, a certain amount of leaven but in the long run the force and genius of the small minority is dissipated, and its efficiency lost. Vox populi, so far from being Vox Dei, thus becomes an unending wail for rights and never a chant of duty.
While democracy is fatal to progress when two races of unequal value live side by side, an aristocracy may be equally injurious whenever, in order to purchase a few generations of ease and luxury, slaves or immigrants are imported to do the heavy work. It was a form of aristocracy that brought slaves to the American colonies and the West Indies and if there had been an aristocratic form of governmental control in California, Chinese coolies and Japanese laborers would now form the controlling element, so far as numbers are concerned, on the Pacific coast.
It was the upper classes who encouraged the introduction of immigrant labor to work American factories and mines and it is the native American gentleman who builds a palace on the countryside and who introduces as servants all manner of foreigners into purely American districts. The farming and artisan classes of America did not take alarm until it was too late and they are now seriously threatened with extermination in many parts of the country. In Rome, also, it was the plebeian, who first went under in the competition with slaves but the patrician followed in his turn a few generations later.
The West Indian sugar planters flourished in the eighteenth century and produced some strong men; today from the same causes they have vanished from the scene.
During the last century the New England manufacturer imported the Irish and French Canadians and the resultant fall in the New England birthrate at once became ominous. The refusal of the native American to work with his hands when he can hire or import serfs to do manual labor for him is the prelude to his extinction and the immigrant laborers are now breeding out their masters and killing by filth and by crowding as effectively as by the sword.
Thus the American sold his birthright in a continent to solve a labor problem. Instead of retaining political control and making citizenship an honorable and valued privilege, he entrusted the government of his country and the maintenance of his ideals to races who have never yet succeeded in governing themselves, much less any one else.
Associated with this advance of democracy and the transfer of power from the higher to the lower races, from the intellectual to the plebeian class, we find the spread of socialism and the recrudescence of obsolete religious forms.