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Mike Sutton
Mike Sutton
Dr Mike Sutton is the author of 'Nullius in Verba: Darwin's greatest secret'.


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Good Grief! In 1839, A Remarkable Scotsman Appears to have Invented the Peace Corps - Not President Kennedy or any of his Associates.

Dec. 16, 2013 3:11 pm

Please Note: this blog post was updated with links to my work on "knowledge contamination" on 9th February 2015.

Before the invention and popularization of the internet, a perfectly rational case was made to dismiss the veracity of arguments, based upon etymological evidence, that were being used by Professor Loren Eiseley in his efforts to prove that Charles Darwin had committed a research fraud by way of plagiarizing , among others, Patrick Matthew’s book On Naval Timber and Arboriculture (1831).

In support of his argument against Eiseley’s ‘Darwin the plagiarist’ etymological evidence, Professor Kentwood Wells (1973, p. 245) wrote:

‘Deducing intellectual influence merely from similarity of language is a risky business at best. As an extreme example, it might be noted that in Emigration Fields, Matthew proposed the formation of a “peace corps” in New Zealand to help the natives set up schools and train native teachers. Certainly no historian would suggest that John F. Kennedy got the idea of the Peace Corps from reading Patrick Matthew.’

Actually, if the Internet, WWW, Google and the ID research method (Sutton 2013) had been invented back in the autumn of 1973 when Wells’ article was published he would not have used that analogy without first checking to see who did first coin the term 'Peace Corps'. Next he would have found out with ID just how often it was used between that first publication and President Kennedy’s use of it. Because, as we are going to see, Wells appears to have been fundamentally wrong on his facts if not his contemporary reasoning.

Personally, rather than lecture on the dangers of etymological fallacies, which were a genuine danger for scholars of our recent past. I begin my research on this issue by using ID to search whether or not the term ‘Peace Corps’ appears to have been coined before 1839 – the date when Matthew’s second book, Emigration Fields, was published. If Matthew was, apparently, the only person to use the term before Kennedy, we should be a lot less ready to jump to the immediate conclusion that Kennedy, one of his speech writers, or policy wonks, came up with it independently. Rather, we should see if there are any links between Matthew’s book Emigration Fields, the terminology within it and President Kennedy’s men who 'discovered' the name 'Peace Corps' for him.

Using ID, it is immediately discoverable that the first currently known publication of the term ‘peace corps’, most amazingly, is in Matthew’s ‘Emigration fields’. He wrote (Matthew 1839, p146):

‘By means of this peace corps, a great well combined, effort should be made to christianize and civilize the whole native population of the group; forming normal schools, and even colleges, for the instruction of native teachers, as well clergymen as schoolmasters, and especially instructing the rising generation in the English language.’

From this discovery, we can fairly confidently assert, strange though it is, that in the current absence of any disconfirming evidence, Patrick Matthew coined both the name and originated the basic concept of the Peace Corps.

After about two to three hours reviewing all the scanned literature on the internet, I determined that ‘Peace Corps’ was an exceedingly rare term until President Kennedy’s announcement of the US Peace Corps volunteer program on 1st March 1961.

Pre-1961, other than Patrick Matthew (1839), the only other person, discoverable with Google, to use the term was Matthew Hale (1869;1871), who used it in the context of an armed force using threat of force to keep peace to quell a pro-slavery, anti-abolitionist, riot in New York (1869) and thereafter as the armed militia being a standing peace-keeping deterrent against those bent on potential violent civil disorder (1871).

Matthew proposed the Peace Corps in Chapter Ten of his book ‘Emigration Fields’. Essentially, he saw Protestant and Catholic missionaries as particularly effective educators of the Maori inhabitants of New Zealand, in order to effectively colonise the country without massacre. He proposed that these missionary educators would be supported by attachments of military units to keep the peace. He wished to see teachers, clergymen and those trained in the medical profession so employed.

We might be inclined to leave it at that and quite reasonably, like Wells, suppose that Kennedy or his political advisors simply must have come up with the phrase independently of its originator Patrick Matthew. However, a little further ‘triangulation’ searching suggests that the legacy of Matthew’s book and his Scots New Zealand Company (see Salesa 2011) might actually be the source of the naming of the US Peace Corps. Because, files containing notes on conversations with Christian missionary educators seem to be at the root of what we now know is the myth that Professor Peter Grothe coined the term in 1948 via Senator Humphrey, who is then said to have passed it on to Kennedy. The following text, taken from Coyne (2011), is what Grothe had to say about how the Corps was established and named:

‘In the late 50’s Humphrey was inspired by the example of the American Friends Service Committee (the Quakers) doing successful literacy training in some developing countries. When I went to work as the very young Foreign Relations Adviser for the Senator in 1960, I came across his idea in the files and asked if I could work on it. The Senator, never known for a lack of passion, enthusiastically supported the idea.

I spent the next six weeks interviewing anyone I could find who had some sort of relevant experience, which mainly meant Christian missionaries doing community development work in the developing world.’

I certainly never expected that Matthew could possibly be the originator of the term and concept of the Peace Corps as well as the originator of the natural law of the process of natural selection. But the fact that his well-received book, ‘Emigration Fields,’ (Matthew 1839) was written as a policy handbook for the implementation of his concept, by Christian missionaries, makes the discovery, of possible oral "knowledge contamination" from Missionaries to Kennedy's men - in the above two paragraphs particularly interesting[1]. It seems on the face of it that the down the years Matthew’s term the Peace Corps might well have remained part of the oral tradition and self-identity of Christian missionaries throughout the years that followed their establishment in 19th century European colonization of various parts of the Globe. In effect, it appears, in entire current absence of any dis-confirming evidence, that Matthew’s term ‘Peace Corps’ might have been adopted by those recruited to do the very work he proposed for them under the very name he wanted them called by. It seems plausible that their name was kept alive for over 100 years within the missionary movement until President Kennedy’s men heard and seized upon it to re-invent, re-brand and expand the movement as though its name and aims were a unique American invention. Given that Matthew is discovered, at least at the time of writing, to be apparently first (at least out of the 30 million+ publications so far in Google's Library Project) to have coined the term for 19th-century missionaries, and given that and 20th century missionaries spoke to the men who supposedly invented the term, then the knowledge contamination hypothesis can't be ruled out, which means Matthew should - rationally - be attributed with coining the term and given full priority over Kennedy for both the term and concept.

In absence of any dis-confirming evidence that the apparent originator influenced the replicator, and in the presence of plausible confirmatory evidence that they did via knowledge contamination of some kind, this is the exact same reasoning, in light of the newly discovered data about who cited Matthew's 1831 book pre-1858 - who actually knew Darwin - for arguing why Matthew now has full priority over Darwin and Wallace for his prior-published discovery of the 'natural process of selection' in 1831 (See Sutton 2014).

Of course, dis-confirming evidence might turn up at any time in such cases And if that happens we should weigh it in the balance. This is how knowledge evolves and, hopefully, progresses towards veracity.

I think Kentwood Wells would clearly agree that deducing, and also inducing, intellectual influence from similarity of language is at last a lot safer and productive than it used to be. I, for one, would never have found out who is responsible for coining the name and concept of the US Peace Corps had it not been for his considered remarks of 1973. However, with the benefit of ID we can now see that Wells made a complete blunder, albeit one that was impossible to prove as such at the time.

The wonderful symmetry of the Kentwood Wells' story is that his Peace Corps argument was at the time a perfectly sound rationale against etymological fishing for phrases. But now it, ironically, serves as proof that – with new technology - the method actually is sound research practice, at least with regard to words, terms, and phrases coined before the first half of the 19th century - because the 30+ million documents in the Google Library Project is comprised mostly of just such out of copyright materials. Moreover, before the arrival of the steam-mechanised press of the second half of the 19th century, there were far fewer publications.

Perhaps time will tell us a different story, but, weird as it is, for now the best evidence we have is that Patrick Matthew coined the name and originated the concept of the US Peace Corps.

More importantly then this quirky tale, as I will shortly reveal in a future blog, Matthew is known to have also discovered the 'natural process of selection', 28 years before Darwin and Wallace replicated it and each claimed to have discovered it independently. What is new about my research is that, contrary to current 'knowledge beliefs', I can prove that Darwin and Wallace stole Matthew's hypothesis to commit the greatest research fraud in history. Watch this space.

POSTSCRIPT (8th Feb. 2015)


Thinker Media IncUsed only with express written permission

Nullius in Verba

In 1844, we find Matthew's Peace Corps idea had been ignored by the British Government and that the combination of that failure - linked to Captain Fitzroy's dreadful governorship - is blamed for the New Zealand "uprising" at Cloudy Bay (here). And in case you never knew it - that is the same Fitzroy who captained the Beagle! Later, after plagiarizing his book of 1831 Darwin went on to disingenuously portray Matthew as an obscure Scottish author on forest trees (Sutton 2014).

All this - and far, far, more uniquely revealed and explained with newly discovered and independently verifiable hard data in my book Nullius in Verba: Darwin's greatest secret


Coyne, J. (2011) Seeds of the Peace Corps: Peace Corps Worldwide. Posted on Tuesday, August 23rd.

Hale, M. H. (1869) Sunshine and shadow in New York. Hartford. J. B. Burr and company

Hale, M. H. (1871) Twenty years among the bulls and bears of Wall street. Hartford. J. B. Burr and company.

Matthew, P (1831) On Naval Timber and Arboriculture; With a critical note on authors who have recently treated the subject of planting. Edinburgh. Adam Black.

Matthew, P. (1839) Emigration fields: North America, the Cape, Australia, and New Zealand; describing these countries, and giving a comparative view of the advantages they present to British settlers. Edinburgh. Adam and Charles Black.

Salesa, D, L (2011) Racial Crossings: Race, Intermarriage, and the Victorian British Empire. Oxford. Oxford University Press.

Sutton, M. (2013) Sutton's Internet Date-Detection (ID) Guide: The Mythbusting Tool-kit (Part 1) Best Criminology: The Blog of Mike Sutton. October 30th

Wells, K. D. (1973) The Historical Context of Natural selection: The Case of Patrick Matthew. Journal of the History of Biology. Vol. 6. N0. 2. pp. 225-258.

[1] Although in Emigration Fields Matthew thought that Catholic and Protestant missionaries might be better suited for the job than Quakers who might encourage too much dangerous philosophical contemplation among the natives.

September 30, 2015 at 10:59 am
Peace Corps

Dear Mike

I have used your ID method and it seems that Matthew was not the first who coined the term "peace corps".

[URL Removed - Visitors cannot post links - describe reference sourse instead]

Please correct me if I wrong.



Thinker's Post
Mike Sutton
September 30, 2015 at 2:56 pm


That's most interesting. BestThinking has removed your link under the rules (I've not seen it, therefore).

Could you possibly tweet the link to me? I'm on

Alternatively can you supply the author's name, date of publication, publisher and the name of the book or article in which you found the term please.

Or else email me the details on

Then I'll check it out. Hopefully, you made a new discovery,

Many thanks.

October 1, 2015 at 7:32 am

Dear Mike

I found on Google books a strange citation from Edmund Burke, Dodsley's Annual Register 1815, vol. 56, p. 195:

"and frontiers, their differences, and on Decem- under an engagement that such ber 24th signed a treaty of peace corps shoul I be employed within and amity between Great Britain certain specified limits."

But my intuition was wrong, because Google search engine connected the text which was divided into columns.

So, it seems that Matthew was the first.



Thinker's Post
Mike Sutton
October 1, 2015 at 11:01 am


Many thanks. Here then is your original html link. (here it is) If you look at the publication carefully you will see it is column text. The prose runs within each column, not across. So the words "peace" and "corps" are on the same page but they are not used together as a term or phrase.

Hence one sentence in the right hand column reads " Whilst measures were thus agitating which seemed to portend a renewal of hostilities in the coming year on a scale proportioned to the force of the two contending powers the commissioners at Ghent laudably zealous for restoring the blessings of peace to the two countries compromised their differences and on December 24th signed a treaty of PEACE and amity between Great Britain and the United States."

Then in the earlier left-hand column the text reads: "The letter itself contained a report of what was deemed necessary to place the war establishment upon a proper footing two articles of which were that the present military establishment amounting to 62,448 men should be preserved and rendered complete and that an additional permanent force of at least 40,000 men should be raised for the defence of the cities and frontiers under an engagement that such CORPS should I be employed within certain specified limits.

I actually found this one myself during my own research. As you can see it is not a publication containing the term "peace corps".

But an earlier one to Mathew's 1831 apparent first use might yet turn up as more books are scanned.

Howard L. Minnick
February 9, 2015 at 10:03 am
Athenauem Clubs Plural


Your forgetting the sister club here in the United States The Boston Athenaeum Club whose membership included both John F. and Edward M. Kennedy's with a circulation library of over 600,000 books... meanwhile while back in London Dr. Weale's former boss Professor Rick Trainer just retired as the Head of Lords College in London and is also a member of the London Athenaeum Club. I wonder if the Boston chapter has both books. One that I traced is at Harvard University....where several Kennedy's went to school. JFK was known to have an interest in Darwin...Just a thought.....

Thinker's Post
Mike Sutton
February 10, 2015 at 2:57 am

Well you never know Howard. This is the kind of way that the famous British and American "special relationship" has been maintained.

The problem is that none of us - including the late Darwin, Wallace, Matthew, and Kennedy were/are robots who write down everything we do, everyone we meet, everything we read etc. So finding 100 proof of such things is rare.

The best we have is reasonable probability based upon the fact that someone has replicated a prior-published unique term, phrase or concept. In the case of Darwin and Wallace we have that now it has been newly discovered who did read Matthew's book and the fact those people met with Darwin and Wallace.

What could be looked for next is who cited Emigration Fields. We know Robert Chambers did. and he toured the USA! As you know, I'm currently writing a book on him with my deceased co-author Iris Macfarlane..

What Chambers got up to in the USA besides geologising I'm not at all sure and we never will be. Thank goodness for that. But what with the newly invented abilities of smart TV's and our smartphones to use their microphones to relay all out conversations to their manufacturers (here) that may one day change,

Howard Minnick
February 10, 2015 at 12:28 pm

Ok... Mike I'm sorry ...but... I'm a little tad confused me out please. Explain "deceased". Was she your Cambridge connection that I... without having yet asked about ...wondered... when were they going to enter into the fray of these discussions???


Thinker's Post
Mike Sutton
October 7, 2015 at 7:13 am

Hi Howard

Apologies for the lapse of 8 months in replying to your question. Somehow I failed to spot it until today - or else read it in February and forgot to respond due to some distraction or other.

Iris McFarlane died some time ago. I have an unpublished manuscript she wrote on Robert Chambers. Her son, Professor Alan McFarlane has kindly allowed me to add some key materials to the manuscript and some additional chapters and to then seek to have it published as a book on the Life of Robert Chambers - to be co-authored with Iris..

Howard Minnick
February 8, 2015 at 4:24 pm
Matthew Bills


If there was any one who would have been just as informed of Patrick Matthew as was Wulf and or Errol Jones then it would have been Matthew Bills. There are think tanks especially in the CIA and even the UK's M I intelligence organizations who do nothing but read and research ideas from the writings of thousands of others. Do Not dismiss the significance of this possible connection.


Thinker's Post
Mike Sutton
February 9, 2015 at 3:31 am

Good point Howard.

I am intrigued by the Athenaeum Club, London

It was Darwin's favourite club. Joseph Hooker and Lyel were also members. And it was in that club that Darwin's Darwinists formed the notorious X-club to promote Darwin and his ideas. The members virtually took over the British Assoc. For Advancement of Science and the Royal Society.

It was the journal of that club that sought to dissuade people form investing in Matthew's Scottish New Zealand company (before it went bankrupt). Darwin and Charles Dickens joined the club on the same day. In Dickens' Journal "'Round the World' a review of The Origin ended with a large segment of text taken directly from Matthew's book. But it never named him. Thee author simply wrote "Some writers believe".. It intrigues me that the British Govt. is named in the New Zealand Journal for stubbornly rejecting Matthew's Peace Corps idea.And what a marvelous coincidence that the great man of God - Captain Fitzroy of the Beagle was the Governor at the time!

The same Athenaeum Journal embarrassingly named Robert Chambers as the anonymous author of the Vestiges whilst he was still alive.

I'm not proposing any kind of conspiracy. It seems to me that fear of Matthew's Chartist past and fear of association with the ideas of a heretical botanist led more than one or two people to despise him.

A copy of Matthew's book is held in the Library of Congress Howard. - For the record I tracked one to Kew Gardens (now stolen) In the 19th century one was in the British Library (London) and one in major Manchester Library. John Murray and co London (Darwin's publisher) must have had a copy because their journal reviewed it!

Howard L. Minnick
February 8, 2015 at 10:57 am
Kennedy Peace Corp

Mike and Mike,

Suggest you familiarize yourself and review the wording of what is now known as the Freedom from War Act that Kennedy proposed on Sept 25, 1961. Almost in the same breath as his Peace Corp program. The creation of State Department Publication 7277 is a result. It talks about the role of an international Peace keeping force being created after all world armies have been disarmed and Weapons of Mass destruction neutralized. But it doesn't end there it goes well beyond in disarming it's citizens as well.. This is a dangerous proposal against Constitutional rights of citizens... especially the right to bear arms. and the right of states to have well organized militias like our Army National Guard which is where my entire Military Career was spawned from. If you look at the entire document you will see similarities to some of the exact same things things that Patrick Matthew was promoting but not for the same reasons.... His were pure and simple....these of Kennedy's may have originally been as well but are no longer. This is a converted proposition for the enslavement of the worlds people not for world Peace.

Howard L. Minnick
February 15, 2015 at 1:22 pm


I've been delving into the Peace Corp issue here and continuously analyzing the wording of P.M's analogues of references to create what I could easily myself term Specialized Forces...another name that could have had its origins from the same sector of writing inspiring the young JFK. Actually the language is very indicative towards the possibility of an even greater spread of ideas. I don't think that Kennedy was the only President influenced by P. M.'s Emigration Fields from this portion of the text. If you continue on into the first portions of Chapter XI you can also easily extrapolate the creation of the Civilian Conservation Corp ( Franklin D. Roosevelt ) well the civilian branch of the Army's Corp of Engineers (Dwight D. Eisenhower as well as both FDR and Theodore Roosevelt ...first Teddy with the building of the Panama Canal then FDR during the Great Depression using the Army Engineers to build the levies, dikes and diversionary canals needed to help prevent flooding along the Missisippi and other major rivers of the Mid West and parts of the South Eastern United States. Eisenhower then added the Civilian branch of the Army Corp of Engineers to also build the huge Dams and Hydro Electric power installations... all of which are still managed, maintained and supervised by the Army Corps of Engineers.

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