Racism existed during the 19th century as “scientific racism“, which attempted to provide a racial classification of humanity. In 1775 Johann Blumenbach divided the world’s population into five groups according to skin color (Caucasians, Mongols, etc.), positing the view that the non-Caucasians had arisen through a process of degeneration. Another early view in scientific racism was the polygenist view, which held that the different races had been separately created. Polygenist Christoph Meiners for example, split mankind into two divisions which he labeled the “beautiful White race” and the “ugly Black race”. In Meiners’ book, The Outline of History of Mankind, he claimed that a main characteristic of race is either beauty or ugliness. He viewed only the white race as beautiful. He considered ugly races to be inferior, immoral and animal-like.
Anders Retzius demonstrated that neither Europeans nor others are one “pure race”, but of mixed origins. While discredited, derivations of Blumenbach’s taxonomy are still widely used for the classification of the population in the United States. Hans Peder Steensby, while strongly emphasizing that all humans today are of mixed origins, in 1907 claimed that the origins of human differences must be traced extraordinarily far back in time, and conjectured that the “purest race” today would be the Australian Aboriginals