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History of Racism

  • 8th Century BCE

    Amos

    Amos

    The Hebrew Prophet Amos (8th century BCE) challenged religious and national parochialism by asking in the name of God, Are ye not like the children of the Ethiopians unto me?

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  • 2000-1500 B.C.

    Rig-Veda

    Rig-Veda

    Dancer from Indus Valley civilization which thrived before the arrival from north (c. 1500 B.C.) of Indo-Europeans who imposed lower caste status on darker Dravidian peoples. Credit: National Museum, New Delhi.

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  • 1333 B.C.

    Egypt

    Egypt

    Nubians from the south-depicted here as being slain by pharaonic Sphinxes-were among the foreigners whom Egyptians viewed in racial or ethnic terms. From painted casket of Tutankhamun. Credit: Egyptian/Getty Images.

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  • 1250 B.C.

    Hebrew Slaves

    Hebrew Slaves

    Jews as slaves in ancient Egypt. Wood engraving, 19th century. Credit: The Granger Collection, New York.

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  • 63-483 B.C.

    Buddha

    Buddha

    Siddhartha Gautama (c. 563-483 BCE), the founder of Buddhism, declared that Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.

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  • 450 B.C.

    Greek Slaves

    Greek Slaves

    Young Greek master with his slave. Credit: The Granger Collection, New York.

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  • 371-289 BCE

    Mencius

    Mencius

    A contemporary of Plato, the philosopher Mencius (c. 371-289 BCE) preached that: The sense of compassion is the beginning of humanity.

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  • 4 B.C. - 65 A.D.

    Senecca

    Senecca

    The Roman philosopher Seneca taught:Remember that the man you call slave sprang from the same seed as you, enjoys the same daylight, breathes like you, likes like you, dies like you.

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  • 100 A.D.

    Roman Slaves

    Roman Slaves

    A Roman slave market. Credit: painting by Gustave Boulanger, c. 1882.

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  • 347-420 A.D.

    St. Jerome

    St. Jerome

    Saint Jerome, father of the Latin Church and harsh critic of Judaism, in his study. Oil on canvas by Albrecht

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  • 1000 A.D.

    African Slavery

    African Slavery

    Traditional African slave market. Illustration from 1850. Credit: Time Life Pictures/Getty Images.

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  • 1096 A.D.

    Crusades

    Crusades

    Christians torture Muslim prisoners at time of First Crusade.

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  • 1135-1204 C.E.

    Moses Maimonides

    Moses Maimonides

    “The Jewish philosopher Moses Maimonides (1135-1204 CE), who advocated reasonableness and moderation in religion,counseled:Anticipate charity by preventing poverty . . . This is the highest step and summit of charity golden ladder.

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  • 1181-1226 A.D.

    St. Francis

    St. Francis

    Saint Francis (c. 1181-1226) founded the preaching order in the Roman Catholic Church that bears his name, based on a vow of poverty in service of those in need.

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  • 1209-1229 A.D.

    Heretics

    Heretics

    Expulsion of Albigensian heretics (Cathars) from Carcassonne.

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  • 1250 A.D.

    Jewish Scapegoats

    Jewish Scapegoats

    Jew (in black robe) wearing yellow badge and being beaten. From British Chronicles of Offa illustrated by Matthew Paris (c. A.D. 1200-1259)

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  • 1300 A.D.

    China

    China

    An African man, possibly a merchant, in China at a time when China was importing African slaves who were sometimes disparaged with the term, hei guinu. Credit: Asian Art Museum of San Francisco

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  • 1324 A.D.

    Mansa Musa

    Mansa Musa

    Mansa Musa, ruler of Mali in West Africa’s Sudan, paid a lavish pilgrimage to Cairo and Mecca, accompanied by a gold-laden caravan with 60,000 men including a personal retinue of 12,000 slaves.

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  • 1370 A.D.

    Lepers

    Lepers

    Two lepers begging being turned away. Credit: Bridgman Art Library French Collection/Getty Images.

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  • 1400 A.D.

    Ainus

    Ainus

    “In traditional dress, a contemporary Ainus who descend from Japan’s indigenous minority who were gradually restricted to the northern island of Hokkaido and pressured to abandon their traditional culture. Credit: 1904 photograph, taken from the book, Ainu: Spirit of a Northern People. Author unknown.”

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  • 1432-1481 C.E.

    MehmetII

    MehmetII

    Turkish Sultan Mehmet II (1432-1481 CE), conqueror of Constantinople, treated his Christian and Jewish subjects with tolerance.

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  • 1480 A.D.

    Inquisition Victims

    Inquisition Victims

    Victims of the Spanish Inquisition, being beaten. From an old print.

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  • 1482 A.D.

    Homosexuals

    Homosexuals

    “Gays, lesbians, and transgender people also faced intensifying persecution for sexual deviance during the medieval and early modern periods. Marriages between gay men had once been tolerated, but this ceased to be the case during the Middle Ages. Engraving: The burning of the knight of Hohenberg with his servant before the walls of Zurich, for sodomy, 1482.

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  • 1492 A.D.

    Expulsion of the Jews

    Expulsion of the Jews

    The Edict of Expulsion (also known as the Alhambra Decree), issued on March 31, 1492, by Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, ordering the expulsion of all Jews from the Kingdom of Spain and its territories and possessions by July 31 of that year.

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  • 1500 A.D.

    Ptolemaic map

    Ptolemaic map

    “The biblical view of one human family shown in this Ptolemaic world map with portraits of Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth was challenged by the Pre-Adamite theory of multiple human origins favored by racists. Woodcut from the Nuremberg Chronicle,1493. The Granger Collection, New York.”

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  • 1540 A.D.

    De Soto

    De Soto

    Spanish Conquistador Hernando de Soto (c.1500-1542), who journeyed in search of gold from Florida as far west as Texas. Credit: The Granger Collection, New York.

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  • 1542-1605

    Mogul

    Mogul

    Akbar the Great (1542-1605), Jalaluddin Muhammad Akbar, promoted religious tolerance during his rule of the Moghal Empire in Northern India and Afghanistan.

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  • 1543

    Luther

    Luther

    “Title page of The Jews and Their Lies by Protestant Reformer Martin Luther (1483-1546) who became a bitter enemy of Jews.

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  • 1555

    Witches

    Witches

    A broadside of the public burning of three witches in Germany, 1555. Credit: The Granger Collection, New York.

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  • 1572

    Huguenots

    Huguenots

    The St. Bartholomew Day Massacre of Huguenots (French Protestants) at Paris, 1572. Contemporary painting by Francois DuBois.

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  • 1583-1645 C.E.

    Grotius

    Grotius

    The Dutch philosopher Hugo Grotius (1583-1645 CE) condemned religious persecution because if people err the only thing we can do is not to accuse them with hateful recrimination for their unintended error, but to relieve the misery of their ignorance by a kindly explanation.

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  • 1592 A.D.

    Poor

    Poor

    Elizabethan Courtier and poor English countryman. Woodcut from Robert Greene’s A Quip for an Upstart Courtier,1592. Credit: The Granger Collection, New York.

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  • 1597 A.D.

    The Merchant of Venice

    The Merchant of Venice

    Shakspeare’s villain, Shylock, hounded by children. Wood engraving after Sir John Gilbert, 19th century.

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  • 1602 A.D.

    Othello

    Othello

    Othello kills his wife Desdemona. Engraving after Heinrich Hoffman, 19th century. Credit: The Granger Collection, New York.

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  • 1603-1683 A.D.

    Roger Williams

    Roger Williams

    Roger Williams (1603-1683) Established the colony of Rhode Island, founded in 1636, as a beacon of freedom of conscience for believers of all religions.

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  • 1610 A.D.

    The Tempest

    The Tempest

    Carrying a load of wood in Shakespeare The Tempest,Caliban becomes a metaphor for the enslaved and the colonized. A detail from William Hogarth painting,Scene from Shakespeare’s The Tempest

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  • 1622 A.D.

    Jamestown

    Jamestown

    European colonists and Native Americans seek to annihilate each other, Virginia, 1622. A 1628 woodcut by Matthaeus Merian published along with Theodore de Bry’s earlier engravings in 1628 book on the New World.

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  • 1676 A.D.

    New England

    New England

    Puritan minister Increase Mather’s history of the New England Indian wars. Credit: The Granger Collection, New York.

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  • 1703-1791 A.D.

    Wesley

    Wesley

    John Wesley (1703-1791) was the founder of Methodism who pioneered religious revivals in Great Britain and the United States.

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  • 1711-1796 A.D.

    Raynal

    Raynal

    Raynal (1711-1796) was an advocate of democracy prior to the French Revolution.

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  • 1720-1772 A.D.

    Woolman

    Woolman

    John Woolman (1720-1772) was a Quaker antislavery advocate from Pennsylvania who helped to convince American Quakers and others that slavery was an evil that should be abolished.

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  • 1724-1807 A.D.

    John Newton

    John Newton

    John Newton (1724-1807) was an English slave ship captain who found religion, became an Anglican clergyman, wrote the hymn, Amazing Grace, and championed the abolition of the slave trade.

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  • 1738-1794 A.D.

    Cesare Beccaria

    Cesare Beccaria

    Cesare Beccaria (1738-1794) was an Italian philosopher who led the movement to make the criminal law more humane during the Enlightenment.

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  • 1743-1803 A.D.

    Toussaint

    Toussaint

    Toussaint Louverture (c. 1743-1803) was the slave-born liberator who led the revolution that made Haiti the first first independent black republic in the western hemisphere.

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  • 1743-1803 A.D.

    Buffon

    Buffon

    “The influential naturalist, Comte de Buffon (1707-1788), hoped that a change of climate might over the course of generations lighten the complexion of Africans. Portrait by Francois Hubert Drouais.”

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  • 1750-1831 A.D.

    Gregoire

    Gregoire

    Abbe Gregoire (1750-1831) advocated abolition of slavery and black equality during the French Revolution.

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  • 1759-1797 A.D.

    Wollstonecraft

    Wollstonecraft

    Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) was a pioneering English feminist as well as friend of the French Revolution.

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  • 1770 A.D.

    Voltaire

    Voltaire

    Enlightenment philosophe Voltaire (1694-1778) crusaded against the Catholic Church intolerance, but harbored racist views of Jews and Africans. Portrait by Nicolas de Largillier.

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  • 1775 A.D.

    Linnaeus

    Linnaeus

    “Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778) wrote Nature System which classified human beings as a primate species differentiated into four races with acute, inventive Europeans superior to crafty, indolent, and negligent Africans. Portrait by Alexander Roslin.”

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  • 1775 A.D.

    On the Varieties of Mankind

    On the Varieties of Mankind

    Johann Friedrich Blumenbach (1752-1840) invented the term Caucasian as part of his five-fold racial typology that was widely used to depict Europeans as superior to non-Europeans. Wood engraving, German from the 19th century. Credit: The Granger Collection, New York.

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  • 1789 A.D.

    Thomas Jefferson

    Thomas Jefferson

    Thomas Jefferson, returning from Paris, 1789, welcomed by slaves on his Monticello plantation. American engraving, 19th century. Credit: The Granger Collection, New York.

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  • 1791 A.D.

    Herder

    Herder

    German Romantic Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744-1803) extolled the virtues of Germanys Volk while speculating that Africans were richly endowed for sensual pleasures but lacked nobler gifts. Credit: The Granger Collection, New York.

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  • 1799 A.D.

    Mixed-Race People

    Mixed-Race People

    A mixed-race family in Rio de Janeiro.

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  • 1800 A.D.

    Russian expansion

    Russian expansion

    As the Russian Empire absorbed the Crimea in 1783 and expanded primarily eastward, a Czarist official manufactured Potemkin’s villages to create the false impression of a happy peasantry. A 1905 drawing by Richard Caton Woodville. Credit: The Granger Collection, New York.

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  • 1802-1885 A.D.

    Victor Hugo

    Victor Hugo

    Victor Hugo (1802-1885) was a French writer and humanitarian who shaped the conscience of nineteenth century Europe.

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  • 1802-1887 A.D.

    Dorothea Dix

    Dorothea Dix

    Dorothea Dix (1802-1887) was a New England-born teacher and reformer who helped revolutionize the care of the mentally ill in the United States.

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  • 1804-1876 A.D.

    George Sand

    George Sand

    “George Sand (1804-1876), pseudonym of Amandine Aurore Lucile Dupin, Baronne Dudevant, was a model for the nineteenth-century new women who challenged prevailing gender role stereotypes.

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  • 1806-1873 A.D.

    John Stuart Mill

    John Stuart Mill

    John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) was an eloquent opponent of slavery and racial inferiority whose On Liberty(1859) is a classic defense of the principles of freedom of speech, thought, and association.

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  • 1817-1885 A.D.

    Frederick Douglass

    Frederick Douglass

    Frederick Douglass (c.1817-1885) was an fugitive slave who became a leader of the American abolitionist movement and won fame as an orator, writer, and diplomat.

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  • 1818-1883 A.D.

    Karl Marx

    Karl Marx

    Karl Marx (1818-1883) was a German philosopher and activist who wrote the Communist Manifesto(1848), yet inspired not only communist revolutionaries but democratic socialists committed to peaceful change to improve the lives of the working class.”

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  • 1820-1906 A.D.

    Susan B. Anthony

    Susan B. Anthony

    Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) was a pioneering leader of the movement to secure women rights in the United States.

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  • 1820-1910 A.D.

    Florence Nightingale

    Florence Nightingale

    Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) became known as the Lady of the Lamp for her pioneering efforts raising the nursing profession to a new level of compassion and professionalism. She also was a feminist.

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  • 1828-1910 A.D.

    Leo Tolstoy

    Leo Tolstoy

    Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) was the famed Russian novelist who championed the cause of the peasantry and the philosophy of nonviolence resistance.

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  • 1830-1885 A.D.

    Helen Maria Hunt Jackson

    Helen Maria Hunt Jackson

    Helen Maria Hunt Jackson (1830-1885) was an American writer who became famous for her work exposing the ill treatment of Native Americans.

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  • 1832-1912 A.D.

    Edward Wilmot Blyden

    Edward Wilmot Blyden

    Edward Wilmot Blyden (1832-1912) founded the modern pan African movement looking toward the liberation of Africa from colonial dependence and the restoration of African cultural greatness.

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  • 1840-1902 A.D.

    Émile Zola

    Émile Zola

    Émile Zola (1840-1902) was a French novelist who exposed the degrading conditions of working-class life, and then staked his reputation on championing the cause of Jewish officer Captain Alfred Dreyfus, wrongly convicted for espionage and treason.

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  • 1840-1904 A.D.

    Chief Joseph

    Chief Joseph

    Chief Joseph (1840-1904) was the chief of the Wal-lam-wat-kain (Wallowa) band of who spoke out eloquently against the shame of U.S. government policy toward Native Americans.

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  • 1848 A.D.

    Curse

    Curse

    “Noah (far right) curses Ham and his wife (far left), the parents of the Negro race, according to the original caption from Josiah Priest’s Slavery As It Relates to the Negro or African Race (1843).

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  • 1848 A.D.

    The Proslavery Argument

    The Proslavery Argument

    Proslavery South Carolina Senator John C. Calhoun pictured as biblical Joshua ordering the sun to stand still. 1848 cartoon. Credit: The Granger Collection, New York.

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  • 1849-1887 A.D.

    Emma Lazarus

    Emma Lazarus

    Emma Lazarus (1849-1887), a crusader for immigrant rights, authored the famous inscription on the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor:Give me your tired, your poor/Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…

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  • 1850 A.D.

    The Anglo-Saxon Myth

    The Anglo-Saxon Myth

    American historian William H. Prescott (1796-1859) applied the theory of the superiority of Teutonic peoples led by Anglo-Saxons-to American history. Mezzotint, 1858. Credit: The Granger Collection, New York.

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  • 1852 A.D.

    Anti-Hispanic Racism

    Anti-Hispanic Racism

    Spanish-speaking Californians faced harsh discrimination after the American Conquest and Gold Rush. American engraving, 1852. Credit: The Granger Collection, New York.

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  • 1854 A.D.

    Crania Americana

    Crania Americana

    Dr. Samuel G. Morton of the pre-Civil War American School of Ethnology analyzed this semi-embalmed cranium of a Negress from ancient Egypt to prove that Africans were a separately created, inferior species. From Joshia C. Nott, Types of Mankind(Philadelphia, 1854).

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  • 1856-1939 A.D.

    Sigmund Freud

    Sigmund Freud

    Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) pioneered psychoanalysis and revolutionized the treatment of mental illness.Library of Congress Prints Photographs Online Catalog.

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  • 1858-1928 A.D.

    Emmeline K. Pankhurst

    Emmeline K. Pankhurst

    Emmeline K. Pankhurst (1858-1928) personified British women struggle for the vote in the early twentieth century.

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  • 1858-1942 A.D.

    Franz Boas

    Franz Boas

    Franz Boas (1858-1942)the Father of Anthropology promoted cultural relativism and tolerance.

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  • 1859-1839 A.D.

    Havelock Ellis

    Havelock Ellis

    Havelock Ellis (1859-1839) was an English sexual reformer who book,Sexual Inversion,co-authored with John Addington Symonds, was the first English medical text book on homosexuality, which Ellis did not consider a disease.

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  • 1860-1935 A.D.

    Jane Addams

    Jane Addams

    Jane Addams (1860-1935) was a pioneering social worker who founded Hull House in Chicago in 1889 to help the poor and immigrants.

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  • 1861 A.D.

    Descent of Man

    Descent of Man

    Reflecting popular discomfort in England and America with the implications of Darwin’s theory for human origins, a satire depicted a flustered servant greeting:Mr. GG-G-O-O-O-RILLA.Cartoon by John Leech, 1861. Credit: The Granger Collection, New York.

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  • 1862 A.D.

    Manifest Destiny

    Manifest Destiny

    Painting Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way glorifying American continental expansion. By Emanuel Leutze,1862. Credit: The Granger Collection, New York.

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  • 1866-1925 A.D.

    Sun Yat-sen

    Sun Yat-sen

    Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925) is revered as The Father of Modern China for striving to bring his nation and people into the modern world.

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  • 1868 A.D.

    Klan

    Klan

    Two members of the post-Civil War Ku Klux Klan that terrorized African Americans. Contemporary engraving. Credit: The Granger Collection, New York.

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  • 1868-1963 A.D.

    William Edward Burghardt Du Bois

    William Edward Burghardt Du Bois

    William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868-1963) was an African American intellectual who was a prolific writer, champion of the downtrodden, and cofounder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

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