Tourgee refutes claim that Negro is of an inferior race

Tourgée was unable to keep himself from entangling the NCRA in areas outside the scope he originally intended it for, and instead of building bridges between the white and black communities, he often publicly focused on the divisions that kept the two apart.

As an example, Tourgée sent a lengthy letter, on NCRA letterhead, in April, 1892 to Professor J. W. Jenks, professor of political economy and politics at Cornell University. The letter was essentially Tourgée’s response to several points Jenkshad made in his address at the University Extension Center the night before.

Tourgée, paraphrasing the points Jenks is said to have made as related in an article on the lecture covered in the New York Times (April 8, 1892), pointedly refutes the professor’s arguments that were based on the premise that "history and science seem to show that the Negro is of an inferior race and incapable of advanced civilization.”

Tourgée begins by stating that intellectual quality cannot be determined by scientific reasoning:

"I do not believe that it is scientifically decided that the Negro is inferior to the white man because I know of no scientific formula by which superiority and inferiority may be determined…

Again, if it were true that the Negro was inferior to the white man originally, the peculiarity which distinguishes the human family from all other animals, is a capacity to outgrow initial attributes, not by the slow process of natural selection alone, but by reason of their moral and physical environments. 


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