Jeremiah Jenks

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Jeremiah Jenks

Jeremiah Whipple Jenks (1856–1929) was an American economist and educator, born at Saint Clair, Michigan. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1878, studied for several years in Germany, taking his doctorate from the University of Halle in 1885, and after his return to the United States, studied law and was admitted to the bar. He held professorships at both Cornell University (1891–1912) as member of the President White School of History and Political Science and New York University (1912 onward). Professor Jenks was especially interested in the political aspects of economic problems and he served frequently on various government commissions and made many reports on currency, labor, and immigration issues.

Jenks was a member of the U.S. Commission on International Exchange. He was appointed in 1907 a member of the United States Immigration Commission. Jenks and his key staff assistant, anthropologist Daniel Folkmar collaborated on an extensive Dictionary of Races that became an important feature of the Commission’s report to Congress. In their Dictionary of Races, Jenks and Folkmar stated that their principal task was to discover ‘whether there may not be certain races that are inferior to other races… to show whether some may be better fitted for American citizenship than others.’ The Dictionary, along with other commission reports, was cited frequently in subsequent immigration debates. Jenks advised the governments of Mexico, Nicaragua, Germany and China on matters of financial policy, visiting Peking in 1904. He was also an active member of the National Civic Federation where in 1908 he helped to draft a bill to amend the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. Although that bill was ultimately unsuccessful, Jenks also sat on the four-man committee headed by John Bates Clark which drafted a preliminary version of the 1914 Clayton Antitrust Act.

His books include The Trust Problem (1900), The Immigration Problem (with W. J. Lauck, 1911), Principles of Politics (1909), and Governmental Action for Social Welfare (1910).

A commission under Dr. Jenks with other prominent educators drew up the Scout Oath and Scout Law for the Boy Scouts of America. The principal differences from the originals suggested by Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting, were the addition to the Scout Oath of the sentence To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight and of three additional Scout Laws-A Scout is brave, A Scout is clean, and A Scout is reverent. In 1912 Baden-Powell adopted A Scout is clean in thought, word and deed as a tenth law to his own original nine. Jenks was recognized with the Silver Buffalo Award in 1926.

Today, he is also remembered for his association with Nobel laureate Friedrich Hayek.


  • Dividing Lines: The Politics of Immigration Control in America, Daniel J. Tichenor, United States of America: Princeton University Press, 2002. 114-149.
  • A Dictionary of Races of People: Reports of the Immigration Commission, vol. 5 (New York: Arno Press and the New York Times, 1970), p. 4.)
  • Scouting Round the World, John S. Wilson, first edition, Blandford Press 1959 p. 170

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