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Jo Labadie and His Gift to Michigan

A Legacy for the Masses

Darwin and Evolution

 


 

 

  Exhibit Home
   
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  Introduction
  Birth and Early Life
  Marriage and Family
  Intellectual Development
  John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)
  Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)
arrow Darwin and Evolution
  Socialism and Karl Marx
  Greenbackism
  Henry George (1839-1897) and the Single Tax Movement
  Knights of Labor
  Judson Grenell (1847-1930)
  Benjamin Ricketson Tucker (1854-1939)
  Anarchism
  The Haymarket Affair
 

Later Relations to Labor Organizations

  Leon Czolgosz (1873-1901)
 

The Water Board Incident

  Bubbling Waters
  The Labadie Print Shop
  Later Years
  Agnes Inglis (1870-1952)
  Further Reading



Special Collections Library
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor



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Darwin's theories of evolution and natural selection were prime areas of philosophical debate during Jo Labadie's formative years. Skepticism about the literal truth of the Bible had been voiced from the time of Copernicus, but the Age of Enlightenment in the eighteenth century emphasized scientific inquiry and scoffed at theology. Geology dealt the first powerful blow to Genesis with the study of rock formations. The brilliant English geologist, Sir Charles Lyell (1797-1875) maintained in his Principles of Geology (1832) that sedimentary layers were formed over eons of time. Undoubtedly this prepared western society for the ready acceptance of Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species (1859) despite an intensely hostile reception by religionists who insisted on separate creation of each species by God, and others who were dismayed by the principle of survival of the fittest as the dominating force in evolution.

In some ways, Darwin's The Descent of Man (1871) was even more contentious than his earlier volume, as in it he met head-on the question of human evolution. Darwin not only stated that physical man had evolved from other forms of life but that human systems of law, customs, and morals arose, not from any divine source, but from our animal heritage. To a reader like Jo Labadie this implied that our laws and our habits could change in response to a higher mode of thought.