Extra Credit Blogpost: Louis Agassiz: Creator of American Science by Yoojin Lee

The “Louis Agassiz: Creator of American Science” event was a presentation about a man from the 1800’s. He was not quite as famous as he should have been. Perhaps because Darwin was the one who was getting all the attention during that era. Louis Agassiz disagreed with many of Darwin’s ideas, which might have led people to be a bit disbelieving of Agassiz’s ideas. But we now know him as as one of the greatest scientists of the 19th century.

The most obvious reason that this relates to American history is because it was about a man who helped with the advancing of American science. “Creator of AMERICAN science”.

But as I was listening to presentation, I saw a lot of parallels between Louis Agassiz and the history of America itself.

First of all, Louis Agassiz was an immigrant from Switzerland. He came to America in 1846 to study the geology of North America, and he remained here ever since.
America is made up of immigrants; the first people that stepped foot in the land that was to become America were immigrants (with the exceptions of Native Americans). The ancestors of the Founding Fathers were immigrants.

Next, I learned that Louis Agassiz had a tendency to take parts and pieces of other people’s ideas, bring them together, and form an idea that was his own.
Isn’t that what America is made of? America is nicknamed the “melting pot”; we have people of all races and cultures. Everyone contributes a bit of their own heritage, and that is what makes up the culture of America. Even way back in American history, when the Constitution was being made, the Founding Fathers took the great ideas of constitutions they had previously known (Britain and other European countries’) and put them in America’s own Constitution.

There is a negative side of Louis Agassiz; he was extremely racist. He believed in polygenism, an idea stating that human races’ origins are different and therefore unequal. He believed that whites were superior.
Although it is sad to admit so, this is also a parallel with America. For centuries, America drifted in clouds filled with racism. The white men who founded the nation thought that they were superior to any other race including Indians and Blacks. Had they not thought that their race was superior, slavery might have never existed in the U.S.

Although it seems like I might have stretched a bit to make this sound related to American history, I actually didn’t! Louis Agassiz was not only a part of U.S. history, his life actually represents it.

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