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Original Sins
A Race to Nowhere

Were Jim Crow and American eugenics laws the models for Nazi race law?

Appeared in: Volume 13, Number 1 | Published on: June 30, 2017
Edward J. Larson is University Professor of History and holds the Hugh and Hazel Darling Chair in Law at Pepperdine University. He is also the Pulitzer Prize winning author of Sex, Race, and Science: Eugenics in the Deep South and numerous other books on science, religion, and law during the Progressive Era.
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    At the time of Hitler’s rise, America classified Native Americas, Puerto Ricans, and Filipinos as non-citizen nationals, but this applied to Native Americans living on reservations and Puerto Ricans and Filipinos living in their homelands, which were American dependencies.

    Barely a month before the United States enters World War I, President Woodrow Wilson signs the Jones-Shafroth act, granting U.S. citizenship to the inhabitants of Puerto Rico.

    The Philippines was a part of the United States as a territory until 1946 when by a majority vote the Filipino people decided to become
    a nation among nations. Up until 1946 Filipinos were United States citizens. The United States considered Filipinos character as of
    unquestionable integrity after they achieved nationhood and afforded the Filipinos the right to enter the American military directly from the
    Philippines although they were no longer American citizens.

    The Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, also known as the Snyder Act, was proposed by Representative Homer P. Snyder (R) of New York and granted full U.S. citizenship to the indigenous peoples of the United States, called “Indians” in this Act. While the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution defined as citizens any person born in the U.S., the amendment had been interpreted to restrict the citizenship rights of most Native people. The act was signed into law by President Calvin Coolidge on June 2, 1924. It was enacted partially in recognition of the thousands of Indians who served in the armed forces during World War I.


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