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19 Quotes from Historic Figures That Will Make You Uncomfortable

6 ½ min

1. Woodrow Wilson on the rise of the KKK

Woodrow Wilson

“The white men were aroused by a mere instinct of self-preservation — until at last there sprung into existence a great Kuklux Klan, a veritable empire of the South, to protect the Southern country.”

– Wilson in A History of the American People (1902)

2. Abraham Lincoln on race

Lincoln

“I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races.” – Lincoln, during his fourth debate with Stephen Douglas

3. Friedrich Nietzsche

Nietzche

"When a woman has scholarly inclinations there is usually something wrong with her sexual organs."

4. Lyndon Johnson, referencing the Civil Rights Act

LBJ

"I'll have those niggers voting Democratic for 200 years."

– Johnson, as quoted in the 1995 book Inside the White House

5. Margaret Sanger on eugenics and progress

Sanger

“Some method must be devised to eliminate the degenerate and the defective; for these act constantly to impede progress and ever increasingly drag down the human race.”

– Sanger in the 1923 work A Better Race Through Birth Control

6. Nikola Tesla

Tesla

"Never trust a Jew!"

7. Ben Franklin on race and immigration

Ben Franklin

“… the Number of purely white People in the World is proportionably very small. All Africa is black or tawny. Asia chiefly tawny. America (exclusive of the new Comers) wholly so… why should we in the Sight of Superior Beings, darken its People? why increase the Sons of Africa, by Planting them in America, where we have so fair an Opportunity, by excluding all Blacks and Tawneys, of increasing the lovely White and Red?”

– Franklin in a short 1751 essay titled Observations Concerning the Increase of Mankind, Peopling of Countries, etc.

8. Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt

"I don't go so far as to think that the only good Indians are dead Indians, but I believe nine out of ten are, and I shouldn't like to inquire too closely into the case of the tenth."

9. Gandhi on Indians procreating with ‘Kaffirs’

Gandhi

 “Of course, under my suggestion, the Town Council must withdraw the Kaffirs from the Location. About this mixing of the Kaffirs with the Indians, I must confess I feel most strongly. I think it is very unfair to the Indian population and it is an undue tax on even the proverbial patience of my countrymen.” – Gandhi, 1904, using a derogatory term (kaffir) for South African blacks, a word considered the equivalent of the N word in the U.S.

10. Thomas Edison

Edison

"Direct thought is not an attribute of femininity. In this, woman is now centuries behind man."

11. Martin Luther King Jr. on domestic abuse

MLK

"I would suggest that you analyze the whole situation and see if there is anything within your personality that arouses this tyrannical response from your husband." — King's advice for a woman who sought help from an abusive husband

12. H.G. Wells on eugenics

HG Wells

"The way of nature has always been to slay the hindmost, and there is still no other way, unless we can prevent those who would become the hindmost being born. It is in the sterilization of failures, and not in the selection of successes for breeding, that the possibility of an improvement of the human stock lies."

13. Salvador Dali

Dali

"Hitler turned me on in the highest."

14. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. on eugenics

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

"It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind....Three generations of imbeciles are enough."

– Holmes Jr., as quoted in Buck v. Bell, 1927

15. Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut

“Educating a beautiful woman is like pouring honey into a fine Swiss watch: everything stops.”

16. John Maynard Keynes

Keynes

"The time has already come when each country needs a considered national policy about what size of population, whether larger or smaller than at present or the same, is most expedient. And having settled this policy, we must take steps to carry it into operation.” – Keynes in The End of Laissez-Faire, 1926

17. Winston Churchill on Islam

Churchill

“Individual Muslims may show splendid qualities, but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world.”

18. Aristotle

Aristotle

"The female is a female by virtue of a certain lack of qualities; we should regard the female nature as afflicted with a natural defectiveness."

19. Albert Einstein’s list of demands to his wife

Einstein

A. You will make sure:

    1. that my clothes and laundry are kept in good order;

    2. that I will receive my three meals regularly in my room;

    3. that my bedroom and study are kept neat, and especially that my desk is left for my use only.

B. You will renounce all personal relations with me insofar as they are not completely necessary for social reasons. Specifically, You will forego:

    1. my sitting at home with you;

    2. my going out or travelling with you.

Jon Miltimore

Jon Miltimore

Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of FEE.org. His writing/reporting has appeared in TIME magazine, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, Forbes, Fox News, and the Washington Times.

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