Carleton Putnam

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Carleton Putnam (19 December 1901 – 5 March 1998) was an American businessman, biographer, writer, and segregationist.

He founded Chicago & Southern Airlines in 1933, which in 1953 was merged with Delta Air Lines. He would later serve as chief executive officer of Delta Air Lines and hold a seat on its board of directors until his death.

Race and Reason

Putnam may be most known for the 1961 Race and Reason: A Yankee View. "Although it is difficult to imagine such a thing today, Mississippi and Virginia made Race and Reason part of their high school curricula. Governor Ross Barnett of Mississippi even declared October 26, 1961 “Race and Reason Day,” and invited Putnam to Jackson to give a major address, in which Putnam emphasized that it was futile to defend Southern traditions in the name of states’ rights. It was science, not the Constitution, that would protect whites from miscegenation.

Putnam was such a force, and had so obviously captured the mood of the South that academic associations felt compelled to condemn him. The first to do so was the American Anthropological Association, which, in November 1961, voted 192-0 to “repudiate statements now appearing in the United States that Negroes are biologically and in inherent mental ability inferior to whites.” Putnam was the clear but unnamed target.

The next year the American Association of Physical Anthropologists voted to “deplore the misuse of science to advocate racism.” The president of the association and chairman of the meeting that passed the vote was Carleton Coon, who taught at the University of Pennsylvania and was the author of The Story of Man and The Origin of Races. He and Putnam were kinsmen, and agreed on many matters. Coon asked how many of the assembled anthropologists had read the book they were condemning; only one raised his hand. Later Coon wrote: “There they were, some of them old and trusted friends, apparently as brainwashed as Pavlov’s puppies. . . . I told my fellow members that I would no longer preside over such a craven lot, and resigned from the presidency.”"[1]

Stell v. Savannah-Chatham Board of Education

Putnam was important in organizing the 1963 case of Stell v. Savannah-Chatham Board of Education, which found that the Brown v. Board of Education decision had been based on incorrect facts and that segregation was justified. However, as being a decision by a lower court, it was quickly overturned on appeal as unconstitutional, and the Supreme Court refused to examine the case. Putnam wrote that "The appeal to truth, the levy upon honor, had failed.”[1]

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 The Fight Against Integration