Wickliffe Preston Draper (August 9, 1891–1972) was an American multimillionaire and an ardent eugenicist and lifelong advocate of strict racial segregation. In 1937 he founded the Pioneer Fund, a registered charitable organisation established to provide scholarships for descendants of original white American settlers and to support research into heredity and eugenics; he later became its principal benefactor.
Born in Hopedale, Massachusetts, he was the son of George A. Draper, a wealthy textile machinery manufacturer (Draper looms) and the descendant of a long line of prominent Americans. Wickliffe Draper graduated from Harvard in 1913. When the United States was slow to enter World War I, he enlisted in the British Army. When the U.S. eventually declared war, he transferred to the U.S. Army.
In 1924 Wickliffe P. Draper established the Draper Armor Leadership Award in 1924 as a means to competitively test the leadership of small Cavalry units in the US Army. The test was oriented to the platoon level of Horse Cavalry. The first Cavalry Leadership Test for small units was held at Fort Riley, Kansas--then home of the Cavalry School. In 1928, LTC Draper established a trust fund of $35,000 to perpetuate the award.
In 1927, he participated in the French mission of Captain Augiéras to the southern Sahara that discovered the remains of “Asselar Man”, an extinct human believed to belong to the Holocene or Recent Epoch. Some scholars consider it the oldest known skeleton of a black African. For this, the French Société de Géographie awarded him its 1928 Gold Medal, and in Britain he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. After the war, he traveled and went on numerous safaris. His large New York City apartment was reportedly filled with mounted trophies.
Eugenics and the Pioneer Fund
During this time, Draper became interested in the field of eugenics. Although eugenics had been a popular movement in the United States during the first three decades of the 20th century, by the early 1930s popular interest had begun to fade, as the underlying science came under question. Groups like the American Eugenics Society (AES) faced declining membership and dwindling treasuries. Draper helped ease the funding shortfall, making a special gift to the AES of several thousand dollars to support the society prior to 1932.
In August 1935, Draper traveled to Berlin to attend the International Congress for the Scientific Investigation of Population Problems. Presiding over the conference was Wilhelm Frick, the German Minister of the Interior. At the conference, Draper's travel companion, Dr. Clarence Campbell delivered an oration that concluded with the words: "The difference between the Jew and the Aryan is as unsurmountable [sic] as that between black and white. … Germany has set a pattern which other nations must follow. … To that great leader, Adolf Hitler!" Three years later, when Draper paid to print and disseminate the book, White America, by Earnest Sevier Cox, an advocate of white supremacy and racial segregation, a personal copy was delivered to Frick.
In 1937, Draper founded the Pioneer Fund, a foundation intended to give scholarships to descendants of white colonial-era families, and to support research into "race betterment" through eugenics. The scholarships were never given, but the first project of the fund was to distribute two documentary films from Nazi Germany depicting their claimed success with eugenics. The Pioneer Fund was headed by the eugenicist, Harry H. Laughlin, an advocate for restrictive immigration laws and national programs of compulsory sterilization of the mentally ill and intellectually disabled.
Draper volunteered for service again in World War II, and the 50-year-old man was assigned a post with British military intelligence in India. After the war, he returned to eugenicist and segregationist activism, and The Pioneer Fund supported the work of a number of noted and controversial researchers of race and intelligence, including William Shockley, Arthur Jensen, J. Philippe Rushton, and Roger Pearson. Though he never served as the Pioneer Fund's president, Draper remained on its board until his death, leaving his estate to the Fund. He also donated considerable funds to right-wing political organizations and candidates, including the World Anti-Communist League (WACL) which was later headed by Dr. Roger Pearson who had received extensive funding from The Pioneer Fund and Draper during his career at Southern Mississippi University.
In addition to The Pioneer Fund, Draper funded the Back to Africa repatriation movement, particularly the work of Earnest Sevier Cox who's book "White America" he also funded. During the civil rights movement of the 1960s he secretly sent $255,000 to the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission in 1963 and 1964 to support racial segregation. He had also promoted opposition to the desegregation of public schools mandated by the Supreme Court's 1954 decision, Brown v. Board of Education.  These financial contributions came to light in the 1990s, when the Sovereignty Commission records were made public. Doug A. Blackmon of the Wall Street Journal and Prof. William H. Tucker of Rutgers University discovered the incriminating documents.
Funding of the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission
Draper was one of the primary out-of-state benefactors of the Mississippi Sovereignty Commission (MSC) during 1963 and 1964. Attorney John Satterfield of the MSC identified Draper's contributions, totaling over $250,000 as originating from "The Wall Street Gang" from the North. Doug Blackmon of the Wall Street Journal uncovered evidence of these contributions via Draper's J. P. Morgan trust account and published his results on June 11, 1999 in the Wall Street Journal.
The Reverend Gerald L. K. Smith also received $1,000,000 in the Spring of 1964 to build his "Christ of the Ozarks" shrine and tourist attraction in Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Smith's Cross and the Flag periodical advanced and promulgated Draper's positions and attitudes for three decades, from 1942 to 1972 when Smith died.
Draper opposed FDR's efforts to implement the Social Security Act, expanded child labor laws, and early attempts to pass the equivalent of OSHA-styled regulations. He disliked JFK for currying favor with labor unions, for promoting civil rights advances, and for his failure to pass tariff barriers to prevent the import of foreign textiles and cotton. Draper blamed the actions of both presidents for the demise of the domestic textile industry that eventually caused the Draper Company to be dissolved by Rockwell International as an insolvent entity. But Draper had successfully converted an ever-diminising equity in The Draper Company into a $100,000,000 windfall investment in Rockwell International Preferred Stock when Rockwell began attaining new levels of profitability as the Vietnam War expanded. New York Times March 22, 1967 p. 61 Column 1. Rockwell acquires North American Phillips and Draper Company Rockwell International
Later life and personality
The Pioneer Fund described Draper as:
By nature introverted, shy, and modest, Draper refused honorary doctorates or having university buildings named in his honor. The only distinctions he accepted were for his role in the discovery of Asselar Man and his military decorations. Draper insisted that his role as benefactor to many charitable causes (including military history, archaeology, conservation, and population problems) remain anonymous. He never married and when he died in 1972, he left a significant portion of his assets to the Pioneer Fund to continue its scientific philanthropy.
Throughout his life, Draper maintained a low profile, as did the Pioneer Fund. When Draper died in 1972 from prostate cancer, he left $1.4 million to the Pioneer Fund.
Draper's work has become more controversial since the publication of The Bell Curve (1994), because the Pioneer Fund financially sponsored much of the research reported in the book. The publication of The Nazi Connection: Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism (1994) by Stefan Kühl resulted in further publicity for Draper and the Fund.
- Draper's first name is sometimes spelled "Wycliffe" in publications.
- Jackson, John P. (2005). Science for Segregation: Race, Law, and the Case against Brown v. Board of Education. NYU Press. ISBN 978-0-8147-4271-6. Lay summary (30 August 2010).
- Jeanesonne, Glenn. Gerald L. K. Smith: Minister of Hate.
- Pioneer Fund: The Founders.
- Kühl, Stefan (2002). The Nazi Connection: Eugenics, American Racism, and German National Socialism. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-514978-4. Lay summary (2 October 2010).
- Tucker, William H. (2002), The Funding of Scientific Racism: Wickliffe Draper and the Pioneer Fund, University of Illinois Press, ISBN 0-252-02762-0
- Kenny, Michael G. (2002), "Toward a Racial Abyss: Eugenics, Wickliffe Draper, and the Origins of The Pioneer Fund", Journal of History of the Behavioral Sciences 38: 259–283
- Spiro, Jonathan P. (2009). Defending the Master Race: Conservation, Eugenics, and the Legacy of Madison Grant. Univ. of Vermont Press. ISBN 978-1-58465-715-6. Lay summary (29 September 2010).
- Selected writings by Harry Weyher, former Pioneer Fund president
- Institute for the Study of Academic Racism: Pioneer Fund
- "The Tainted Sources of 'The Bell Curve'"
- Metcalf, Stephen. "Moral Courage: Is defending The Bell Curve an example of intellectual honesty?" Slate, October 17, 2005
- Blackmon, Douglas A. "Silent Partner: How the South's Fight To Uphold Segregation Was Funded Up North," Institute for the Study of Academic Racism.
- Lichtenstein, Grace. 'Fund Backs Controversial Study of "Racial Betterment"', reprinted from The New York Times, December 11, 1977.
- Reckert, Clare M. DRAPER APPROVES BID BY ROCKWELL; In Surprise Move, Board Backs Improved Offer - Indian Head Talks Off Acquisitions and Combinations Are Planned by Corporations, reprinted from The New York Times, March 28, 1967.