The Miscegenation Hoax

Ter Ellingson

in The Myth of the Noble Savage

Published by University of California Press

Published in print January 2001 | ISBN: 9780520222687
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520925922 | DOI:
The Miscegenation Hoax

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In early 1864, a pamphlet called Miscegenation was published anonymously in the United States. This chapter examines P. T. Barnum's account of it in Humbugs of the World. Barnum describes the adroit manipulations of politicians and the media used to make the pamphlet an international sensation and to associate it in the public mind with the Republicans—then the party of Lincoln, emancipation, and racial equality—to discredit them in that year's election campaign. In the five years from 1859 to 1864, three great anthropological discursive hoaxes had been successfully constructed and sold to a broad consumership: the “Noble Savage,” the “missing link,” and “miscegenation.” Crawfurd had been instrumental in promoting two of the three, including the Noble Savage, which would have the longest-running success of all.

Keywords: Miscegenation; Humbugs of World; P.T. Barnum; racial equality; Noble Savage; John Crawfurd

Chapter.  1983 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural Anthropology

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