Daniel Payseur was born in 1795 in New York City. His father died when he was young, and he lived with his mother until she died when he was twenty years old. At age thirty-five, he married Mary Kepner. They had two children: a son named John (1820–1911) and a daughter named Annie (1822–1900). He worked as a clerk at the U.S. Treasury Department from 1848 to 1861. He then became a reporter for the New York Evening Post and later the New York Tribune, where he covered many political events. During his time in both newspapers, he developed strong ties with abolitionists and other radicals. By 1860, he was working as a correspondent for Harper’s Weekly and writing columns for the American Mercury newspaper.
In 1863, Payseur was appointed assistant secretary of war under President Abraham Lincoln. After the Civil War ended, he served as a member of Congress from 1865 to 1869. He retired from politics in 1870 and spent most of his remaining years as a writer and lecturer.
In 1876, he published his first book, A History of the United States Since 1789; or How it Has Been Changed by Slavery and Abolitionism. He died in 1907 at the age of 112.
The will stipulated that his estate should be used to create a university dedicated to the storage and dissemination of knowledge. It appointed James H. Billington as trustee and established the following purposes:
In 1887, the school opened its doors as the “first institution of higher education to be devoted to the new field of industrial education”. A year later, the school’s name was changed to Washington College in honor of Billington’s best friend, George Washington. In 2014, the college became affiliated with the University of Maryland.
Today, it is officially known as University of Maryland University College and is the oldest center for lifelong learning in the United States.
Hewitt was a strong believer in eugenics and “racial hygiene”. He was also a follower and corresponded with eugenicist Charles Davenport. From their letters, it seems that Hewitt tried to use Payseur’s money (or at least a portion of it) to found a eugenics laboratory and research institution.
In addition, he used the money to fund the American Eugenics Society, which he served as president from 1938 to 1944.
In more recent years, the Trust has been relatively under-the-radar. The website was last updated in 2008 and its annual reports can no longer be accessed. Recently, however, the City of Carlsbad is considering using some of the Trust’s funds to build a Centre of Life, which would include a museum dedicated to the Eugenia Institute (another name for the Payseur Trust) and the history of Carlsbad.
The new museum would be located in the downtown area.
The first exhibit in the museum, which is expected to open in 2016, will be dedicated to the city’s namesake, Baron Munchausen. The exhibit will contain artifacts that were collected by Payseur in the 1820s and 1830s.
Due to Hewitt’s work on eugenics and the Trust’s under-the-radar involvement in backing eugenics research, a controversy has long surrounded the Payseur family and the heirs who inherited the Trust. It is unknown what direct relationship (if any) there was between Bill I. Payseur, David H.
Payseur and Bill II. Payseur (the three men who were the main benefactors of the Eugenics Movement) and their family’s ties to eugenics. It is known, however, that members of the family have been made aware of their ancestor’s connection to eugenics. A notable example was in 2001 when a member of the family approached The Center For History and Ethics at Duke University with questions about the controversy. To this day, the family has not made a statement on the matter or addressed it further.
In 2003, the Trust started acquiring art, especially works by local artists. Today, the collection includes over 100 paintings and drawings by Carlsbad artists, including a 1948 portrait of Bill I. Payseur by his friend and fellow artist, Clem Wehlburg.
In addition to artwork by Wehlburg and other local artists, the Trust has several pieces of furniture dating from the early 20th century. A notable piece is a desk which once belonged to Clem Wehburg.
Sources & references used in this article:
The effect of acute alcohol ingestion on systemic hemodynamics and sleep architecture in young, healthy men by DK Payseur, JR Belhumeur, LA Curtin… – Journal of American …, 2020 – Taylor & Francis
HEMODYNAMICS AND SLEEP ARCHITECTURE FOLLOWING ACUTE ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION IN COLLEGE AGE MALES by DK Payseur – 2013 – libres.uncg.edu
Effects of tai chi chuan on anxiety and sleep quality in young adults: lessons from a randomized controlled feasibility study by KL Caldwell, SM Bergman, SR Collier… – Nature and science of …, 2016 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Demographic history of a recent invasion of house mice on the isolated I sland of G ough by …, RJ Cuthbert, PG Ryan, BA Payseur – Molecular …, 2014 – Wiley Online Library
Alcohol Use and Blood Flow in College Men: The Relationship with Personality by JR Belhumeur – 2015 – libres.uncg.edu
Effects of Tai Chi Chuan on Anxiety and Sleep Quality in Young Adults: Lessons From a Randomized Controlled Feasibility Study By: Caldwell KL, Bergman S … by NT Triplett, R Quin, J Bergquist, CF Pieper – libres.uncg.edu
Connecting theory and data to understand recombination rate evolution by AL Dapper, BA Payseur – Philosophical Transactions of …, 2017 – royalsocietypublishing.org
Linkage disequilibrium between STRPs and SNPs across the human genome by BA Payseur, M Place, JL Weber – The American Journal of Human …, 2008 – Elsevier