Study Guide

The Metaphysical Club: A Story of Ideas in America - Part 2, Chapter 5 Agassiz, Section 3 Summary & Analysis

Louis Menand
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Part 2, Chapter 5 Agassiz, Section 3 Summary

Polygenism was not liked very much in the South. Many Southerners and Northerners found a problem with it because it seemed to contradict Genesis and the story of creation.

However, not all Southerners thought this way. Others used the theory of polygenism as a way to explain that the phrase in the United States Constitution, "all men" did not include black people, because the Constitution was written to protect a particular species of man, meaning Caucasian men.

A physician by the name of Samuel Cartwright helped integrate polygenism in the South by linking it to Christianity. He explained that God created animals and people, and that the black people were in the same category as the other animals. Agassiz put his brand of approval on this theory when he stated that the Bible did not give the...

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