Virginia Lawyer

VaLawyer_June/July 2013

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Three Generations by Frank Overton Brown Jr. To paraphrase philosopher George Santayana's famous quote: "Those who do Frank Overton Brown Jr.'s private Richmond practice concentrates on wills, trusts, estate planning, estate and trust administration, and related tax matters. He is a fellow of the Virginia Law Foundation and is a fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. He is past chair of the Senior Lawyers Conference of the Virginia State Bar, and is a past member of the Virginia State Bar Council. He is co-founder of the University of Richmond Annual Estate Planning Seminar, which has been held annually at the University of Richmond for forty years. He is author of the Virginia Probate Handbook and holds bachelors, masters, and juris doctor degrees from the University of Richmond. 26 not learn, who forget, or choose not to remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Since ancient times, in various religions, cultures, and societies, the people would gather periodically to hear and talk about important history, laws, beliefs, traditions, and events, lest they be forgotten, or in the cases of younger generations, lest they not be learned at all. It is especially important now that we stand at our vantage point and look at where we have been, where we are now, and in what direction we are going. This article is a look back at the women of three generations in Virginia — mother, daughter, and granddaughter — at how they lived, and how they were treated, portrayed, and affected by people of power and influence, by people that they should have been able to trust. It is a picture that starkly portrays distinctions of class, education, financial status, and views about the role of government in people's lives. It is not a pretty picture, but it is one that we, as lawyers and citizens, must look at and remember. The three generations are those of Emma Harlow Buck, who was born on November 18, 1872; Emma's daughter, Carrie Buck, who was born on July 2, 1906, and; Carrie's daughter, Vivian Buck, who was born on March 28, 1924. The New York Times, on December 22, 1917, reported that Mrs. E. H. Harriman (who was a railroad fortune heiress) had donated the $500,000 Eugenic Records establishment at Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, New York to the Carnegie Institution at Washington (depending upon what indexes are used, the value of $500,000 in 1917 would be at least $6 million and probably more today). The gift consisted of eighty acres, a brick office building, a fine large house, and the valuable records already compiled. She also donated a fund yielding $12,000 a year to assist in the maintenance of the work. According to The New York Times, "The conveyance is made, it is said, to insure a permanent continuance of the work. The Eugenic Records was established at Cold Springs Harbor in 1910, and has since that time been conducting a series of investigations, which have attracted the attention of eminent biologists, political economists, and medical men in all parts of the world. . . . A large number of prison inmates have been examined, also the insane and feeble-minded and other persons under State care. . . ." There was a growing interest in eugenics in the United States, and its development in the U.S. was closely followed in Germany, where eugenics eventually took a more sinister turn. From an etymological standpoint, "eugenics" means well-born. The term was coined by Francis Galton, whose interest in heredity was piqued and focused by reading Origin of Species, written by his cousin, Charles Darwin. On May 16, 1904, when Galton was 82 years old, he read a paper to the Sociological Society at a meeting in the London School of Economics. The paper was published in The American Journal of Sociology, Volume X; July, 1904; Number 1. The subject of the paper was the definition, scope, and aims of eugenics. In discussing the aims of eugenics, he said: ". . . It must be introduced into the national conscience, like a new religion. It has, indeed, strong claims to become an orthodox religious tenet of the future. . . . Overzeal leading to hasty action would do harm, by holding out expectations of a near golden age, which will certainly be falsified and cause the science to be discredited. The first and main point is to secure the general intellectual acceptance of eugenics as a hopeful VIRGINIA LAWYER | June/July 2013 | Vol. 62 | SENIOR LAWYERS CONFERENCE www.vsb.org

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