sumner and social darwinism Essay

694 Words Apr 23rd, 2014 3 Pages
Alondra Hernandez
April 10, 2014
HST 202
Sumner on Social Darwinism William Graham Sumner believed that humanity ran on the rules of Social Darwinism. He believed in the idea of Survival of the Fittest. Using the idea that only those who are strong enough to survive in the world will prosper in life, he developed a few ideas on how that relates to poverty and inequality in the United States. He also had a few ideas on how the United States should deal with the freedom of the people. Sumner was most likely influenced to write this essay by the emerging unrest of the poor/working class. William Sumner was able to use the concept of Social Darwinism to, in a way, invalidate the hard work of the lower class. Sumner believed that
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Sumner genuinely believed in this idea and was able to argue the fact that the undeserving poor were in control of their own fortunes. He disliked the idea of giving the poor because he believed that they didn’t deserve aid. “We can take the rewards from those who have done better and give them to those who have done worse” (VF p.35). He believed that this was a way to destroy liberty.
Liberty, in the eyes of William Graham Sumner, is the guarantee that “man shall not be interfered with while using his own powers for his own welfare” (VF p.36). According to him, the nation should just let the people fight their own battles because that is the truest form of liberty one’s government can give them. “Gilded Age reformers feared that with lower-class groups seeking to use government to advance their own interests, democracy was becoming a threat to individual liberty and the rights of property” (GML p.616). He wanted the competition of men to encourage their success without the government taking that away from them and diminishing that competition making everyone “lazy”.
The Gilded Age was a time where people tried to hold themselves accountable for their own success and as a result refused to give government assistance to anyone. These beliefs were heavily influenced by Charles Darwin’s theory on survival of the

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