Barbarism: Its Physical Causes

  • Philip D. Curtin


Faced, as they were, with the necessary adjustment to the era of “legitimate trade,”the British began to look more closely at African society. Any rationally conceived policy required some understanding of what Africa would become if left to herself, and what she might become under British influence. This understanding, in turn, called on the theoretical knowledge of scholars and scientists—on their beliefs about the nature of race, environment, and culture.


Skin Color Early Nineteenth Century Physical Anthropology Century Neces African Culture 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    T. Winterbottom, An Account of the Native Africans in the Neighbourhood of Sierra Leone, 2 vols. (London, 1803), II, 255–56.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    J. F. Blumenbach, “Contributions to Natural History,” in T. Bendyshe, Ed., Anthropological Treatises of Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (London, 1865). First published in 1806;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. G. Cuvier, The Animal Kingdom, 16 vols. (London, 1827–1835), I, 80;Google Scholar
  4. Sir William Lawrence, Lectures on Physiology, Zoology, and the Natural History of Man (London, 1819), p. 493;Google Scholar
  5. J. C. Prichard, Researches into the Physical History of Man, 2nd ed., 2 vols. (London, 1826), II, 586–87.Google Scholar
  6. 5.
    A. C. Haddon, History of Anthropology, 2nd. ed. (London, 1934), p. 40;Google Scholar
  7. J. Barzun, Race: a Study in Modern Superstition (New York, 1937), pp. 64–65.Google Scholar
  8. 7.
    E. W. Count (Ed.), This is Race (New York, 1950), PP. 40 and 706.Google Scholar
  9. 15.
    For a convenient summary of the system see J. C. Fliigel, A Hundred Years of Psychology, 1833–1933, 2nd ed. (London, 1951), PP. 36–44.Google Scholar
  10. 16.
    George Combe, A System of Phrenology (New York, 1845), p. 423. The first edition was published in 1819 under the title Essays on Phrenology. Later editions were much enlarged. The fourth London edition of 1836 served as the basis for the American edition of 1845.Google Scholar
  11. 17.
    W. F. Edwards, “Des caractères physiologiques des races humaines, considérés dans leurs rapports avec l’histoire … ,” Mémoires de la Société Ethnologique, I (1), 1–108 (1841). First published as a separate book in 1829. See also Edwards, “Esquisse de l’état actuel de l’Anthropologie ou de l’historie naturelle de l’homme,” Mémoires de la Société Ethnologique, I (1), 123–25 for the author’s retrospective appreciation of his own earlier achievement.Google Scholar
  12. 18.
    Edward Griffith and others, “Supplemental History of Man,” in G. Cuvier, The Animal Kingdom, 16 vols. (London, 1827–1835), esp. I, 172–74.Google Scholar
  13. 20.
    S. M. X. Golberry [S. M. X. de Golbéry], Travels in Africa Performed during the Years 1785, 1786, 1787, 2 vols. (London, 1803), I, 75;Google Scholar
  14. J. Corry, Observations upon the Windward Coast of Africamade in the years 1805–1806 (London, 1807), p. 96.Google Scholar
  15. 22.
    Richard Shannon, Practical Observations on the Operation and Effects of Certain Medicines in the Prevention and Cure of Diseases to which Europeans are Subject in Hot Climates and in these Kingdoms (London, 1794), p. 395.Google Scholar
  16. 23.
    Prichard, Researches (1826), II, 548–49; Lawrence, Lectures, 508–10; William C. Wells, An Account of a Female of the White Race of Mankind, Part of Whose Skin Resembles that of a Negro; with some Observations on the Causes of the Differences in Color and Form Between the White and Negro Races of Men Appended to Two Essays: One Upon Single Vision with Two Eyes and the Other on Dew … (London, 1818), pp. 435–46.Google Scholar
  17. 25.
    R. H. Shryock, “The Strange Case of Wells’ Theory of Natural Selection,” in M. F. Ashley (Ed.), Studies and Essays in the History of Science and Learning in Honor of George Sarton (New York, 1944).Google Scholar
  18. 28.
    This view was put forward by J. C. Prichard in many of his writings. For his final argument on the subject see Prichard, Researches into the Physical History of Man, 4th ed., 5 vols. (London, 1851), II, 388Google Scholar
  19. and 340–46 or his Natural History of Man, 4th ed., 2 vols. (London, 1855), I, 97–101.Google Scholar
  20. 32.
    [William Singleton and others], Report of the Committee Managing a Fund Raised by Some Friends for the Purpose of Promoting African Instruction; with an Account of a Visit to the Gambia and Sierra Leone (London, 1822), p. 25.Google Scholar
  21. See also John Morgan, Reminiscences of the Founding of a Christian Mission on the Gambia (London, 1864), p. 45, for a similar reaction on the author’s first arrival in Bathurst in 1827.Google Scholar
  22. 34.
    Abbé Henri Baptiste Grégoire, De la litérature des nègres, ou recherches sur leur facultés intellectuelles, leur qualités morales, et leur litérature (Paris, 1808), translated by D. B. Warden as An Enquiry Concerning the Intellectual and Moral Facilities and Literature of Negroes … (Brooklyn, 1810).Google Scholar
  23. 36.
    Baron J. L. de Vastey, Reflexions sur une lettre de Mazères, ex-colon français, adressée à M. J. C. L. Sismonde de Sismondi, sur les noires et blancs, le civilisation de l’Afrique, le Royaume d’Hayti, etc. (Paris, 1816).Google Scholar
  24. 37.
    Richard Watson, “The Religious Instruction of Slaves in the West India Colonies Advocated and Defended,” Works of the Rev. Richard Watson (London, 1834), II, 94. The sermon was first preached in April 1824.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Regents of the University of Wisconsin 1964

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip D. Curtin

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations