Darwin's Theory of Evolution Roiled U.S. on Eve of Civil War
Abolitionists embraced Darwin’s idea as an argument against slavery, while others thought the British scientist had eliminated God.
When National Geographic caught up with Fuller by phone in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he explained why both abolitionists and racist ideologues found something to like in the theory of evolution, how P.T. Barnum exploited the theory’s notoriety to mount a questionable exhibit, and how Darwin changed Henry David Thoreau’s life.
When Darwin’s book arrived on these shores in 1859, the U.S. was on the brink of civil war. John Brown’s botched raid on Harpers Ferry had just occurred, and that had ratcheted up tensions over slavery. There is language in newspapers of the time, both in the North and South, that we are two separate peoples, in a struggle to survive.
In drops this book that, among other things, suggests that the