Josiah Clark Nott


Josiah Clark Nott

Josiah Clark Nott (1804-1873) graduated from Penn's Medical School in 1827. Originally from Columbia, South Carolina. Nott later became a prominent physician and anthropologist in Alabama. Following his graduation from Penn, Nott worked as an anatomy demonstrater and lecturer until 1829 under Dr. William Edmonds Horner of Virginia, who later became Dean of the Medical School and Dr. Philip Syng Physick.

Nott's earliest extant publication is an '1834 article in the American Journal of Medical Sciences entitled 'The Mulatto a Hybrid-Probably Extermination of the Two Races If the Whites and Blacks Are Allowed to Marry.' In the piece, Nott argues:

'the Mulattos are intermediate in intelligence (and)... less capable of endurance than whites or blacks.'

Nott's argument aims to prove that racial difference constituted two distinct- therefore incompatible- species.

Nott Book Types of Mankind.jpg

Image from Nott's Types of Mankind

In 1844, Nott published Two Lectures on the Natural History of the Caucasian and Negro Races, which advanced his earlier argument of polygenesis, the 'doctrine that human races are distinct and immutable, with separate origins.' In the years preceding the Civil War, Nott wrote Types of Mankind (1854) and Indigenous Races of the Earth.

In both works, Nott advances the theory of polygenesis. Types of Mankind was published in Philadelphia, by Lippincott, Grambo, and Co. Throughout the book, Nott attempts to create a scientific basis for white supremacy, often attempting to connect his scientific theories to religion. In this sense, Nott purposefully aligns his (pseudo)scientific claims with obvious political motives:

'The Caucasian races, which have always been the representatives of civilization, are those alone that have extended over and colonized all parts of the globe. The Creator has implanted in this group of races an instinct that... drives them through all difficulties to carry out their great mission of civilizing earth.'

~ Carson Eckhard