All socialism involves slavery… Herbert Spencer


Illustration shows Herbert Spencer as a statue of a large dog at the entrance to a public building emitting rays of light labeled "Science"; many diminutive men, wearing oversized top hats, scamper about with ladders and muzzles in an attempt to silence Spencer's views on religion and science. On a nearby flagpole hangs a banner that states "Freedom of Thought".

Illustration shows Herbert Spencer as a statue of a large dog at the entrance to a public building emitting rays of light labeled “Science”; many diminutive men, wearing oversized top hats, scamper about with ladders and muzzles in an attempt to silence Spencer’s views on religion and science. On a nearby flagpole hangs a banner that states “Freedom of Thought”.

In all fairness to Darwin he never believed his theory was anything other than a theory – speculation about an incomplete set of facts – but just as the cotton gin prevented slavery from dying out as a failed economic model the Spencerians applied Darwin’s model to social engineering and we have been suffering ever since. This book does not offer a profound analysis of how Darwinism was been corrupted by both the right and left to foster totalitarian regimes or simply to make everyday life miserable in the nanny state but it does offer a view of the beginnings of the onset of intellectual and moral rot that drives the current political order.

Illustration shows a boxing ring with Henry Ward Beecher, Thomas De Witt Talmage, and the "Rev. Dr. Monck" who has knocked them both out at a "Tournament of Sensationalism"; he wears a bandana labeled "Holy Healing Power" around his head and his right hand is inscribed "Worth $50,000 a Year", he has hugely oversized fists. Beecher is slumped against the ropes, with a blackeye; Tilton, not wearing boxing gloves, hangs over the ropes.

Illustration shows a boxing ring with Henry Ward Beecher, Thomas De Witt Talmage, and the “Rev. Dr. Monck” who has knocked them both out at a “Tournament of Sensationalism”; he wears a bandana labeled “Holy Healing Power” around his head and his right hand is inscribed “Worth $50,000 a Year”, he has hugely oversized fists. Beecher is slumped against the ropes, with a blackeye; Tilton, not wearing boxing gloves, hangs over the ropes.

Banquet at Delmonico’s: great minds, the Gilded Age, and the triumph of evolution in America New York: Random House, c 2009 Barry Werth Social Darwinism United States History 19th century Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. xxxi, 362 p.; 25 cm.  Includes bibliographical references (p. [317]-325) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Illustration shows Puck standing next to the symbolic figure labeled "Independent" who is undergoing a blood transfusion with an old man labeled "Democracy" sitting in a chair; among the men depicted observing the operation are Carl Schurz, Henry Ward Beecher, and Henry Watterson.

Illustration shows Puck standing next to the symbolic figure labeled “Independent” who is undergoing a blood transfusion with an old man labeled “Democracy” sitting in a chair; among the men depicted observing the operation are Carl Schurz, Henry Ward Beecher, and Henry Watterson.

In Banquet at Delmonico’s, Barry Werth draws readers inside the circle of philosophers, scientists, politicians, businessmen, clergymen, and scholars who brought Charles Darwin’s controversial ideas to America in the crucial years after the Civil War. The United States in the 1870s and ’80s was deep in turmoil – a brash young nation torn by a great depression, mired in scandal and corruption, rocked by crises in government, violently conflicted over science and race, and fired up by spiritual and sexual upheavals. Secularism was rising, most notably in academia. Evolution – and its catchphrase, “survival of the fittest” – animated and guided this Gilded Age.

Illustration shows Henry Ward Beecher as Gulliver holding on his knee a small building labeled "Plymouth Church" and reaching his left hand out, in a friendly gesture, toward a crowd of "Liliputians" who are scampering about, some with ropes labeled "Partisan Rope, Caucus Rope, [and] Political Slavery", others with signs that state "Down with him. He defeated Blaine!!, No freedom Allowed in Politics, [and] Edict of Ostracism".

Illustration shows Henry Ward Beecher as Gulliver holding on his knee a small building labeled “Plymouth Church” and reaching his left hand out, in a friendly gesture, toward a crowd of “Liliputians” who are scampering about, some with ropes labeled “Partisan Rope, Caucus Rope, [and] Political Slavery”, others with signs that state “Down with him. He defeated Blaine!!, No freedom Allowed in Politics, [and] Edict of Ostracism”.

Darwin’s theory of natural selection was extended to society and morals not by Darwin himself but by the English philosopher Herbert Spencer, father of “the Law of Equal Freedom,” which holds that “every man is free to do that which he wills,” provided it doesn’t infringe on the equal freedom of others. As this justification took root as a social, economic, and ethical doctrine, Spencer won numerous influential American disciples and allies, including industrialist Andrew Carnegie, clergyman Henry Ward Beecher, and political reformer Carl Schurz. Churches, campuses, and newspapers convulsed with debate over the proper role of government in regulating Americans’ behavior, this country’s place among nations, and, most explosively, the question of God’s existence.

Print shows the "Light of Reason", containing bust portraits of "Johannes Kepler, I. Kant, Th. Paine, Jefferson, B. de Spinoza, Franklin, Voltaire, E.H. Haeckel, Tyndall, Huxley, [and] Darwin", beaming against a large umbrella labeled "Bigotry, Supernaturalism, [and] Fanaticism" behind which are hiding various members of the clergy, including the Pope, Henry Ward Beecher, and Thomas De Witt Talmage. In the upper left, a vignette shows three female figures around an infant in a crib, with caption "God made Man and Endowed him with Free Will, Memory, and Understanding"; in the lower right is another vignette showing the Pope and other members of the clergy torturing a man, filling him with "Superstition", with caption "But it took a Deal of Altering in the Man before he could be made a 'Good Citizen'".

Print shows the “Light of Reason”, containing bust portraits of “Johannes Kepler, I. Kant, Th. Paine, Jefferson, B. de Spinoza, Franklin, Voltaire, E.H. Haeckel, Tyndall, Huxley, [and] Darwin”, beaming against a large umbrella labeled “Bigotry, Supernaturalism, [and] Fanaticism” behind which are hiding various members of the clergy, including the Pope, Henry Ward Beecher, and Thomas De Witt Talmage. In the upper left, a vignette shows three female figures around an infant in a crib, with caption “God made Man and Endowed him with Free Will, Memory, and Understanding”; in the lower right is another vignette showing the Pope and other members of the clergy torturing a man, filling him with “Superstition”, with caption “But it took a Deal of Altering in the Man before he could be made a ‘Good Citizen'”.

In late 1882, most of the main figures who brought about and popularized these developments gathered at Delmonico’s, New York’s most venerable restaurant, in an exclusive farewell dinner to honor Spencer and to toast the social applications of the theory of evolution. It was a historic celebration from which the repercussions still ripple throughout our society. Banquet at Delmonico’s is social history at its finest, richest, and most appetizing, a brilliant narrative bristling with personal intrigue, tantalizing insights, and greater truths about American life and culture.

Cartoon showing Thomas DeWitt Talmage on one side, trying to get people to come into Museum of Monstrosities, and Rev. Henry Ward Beecher on the other side holding sign "Here you are! Solid junks of religion ...".

Cartoon showing Thomas DeWitt Talmage on one side, trying to get people to come into Museum of Monstrosities, and Rev. Henry Ward Beecher on the other side holding sign “Here you are! Solid junks of religion …”.

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